Thursday 29 May 2014

Tulip inspection

So I went to check up on the tulips when I was down in the park last Friday and found they were still standing to attention and in good order.

But today they were all gone.

I wonder what they'll plant here next.

Do you still have tulips out where you live?

Monday 26 May 2014

A question about a pet passport

To: Alex Salmond, The First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party.

26th May 2014

Dear Mr Salmond,


First of all, I want to apologise for making cheap jokes about your name, your physique and your horse-riding ability, in my post a short while back. On reflection, my owner Gail had a point, I was guilty of being trivial.

Well today, Mr Salmond, I want to address a genuinely important issue.

I am sure you will agree that one of the things that has made Scotland great is that so many of our intrepid and adventurous citizens have performed with distinction on the world stage.

I am thinking of David Livingstone, John Muir, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Glover, to name but a few.

Oh I too would so love to travel, to visit my friends beyond these island shores, and to show the world what Scots born creatures can accomplish. (One can only go so far with an internationally renowned blog).

I am imagining a tour of continental Europe, for starters.

Can you believe that I do not yet possess a passport? I know for a fact that my predecessor Hamish the Westie had one, as I remember overhearing Gail tell a friend that it had cost a small fortune and never was used.

Well surely nobody will dispute that I am worth it, but there is another complication - one that I hope you can address.

So please, Mr Salmond, can you tell me what will happen if I go to the vets and obtain a British passport and then, in September, the human citizens of Scotland vote for independence?

Will my British pet passport still be valid? Will I need a Scottish passport and have to show it at the border when we visit Human Granny in England? Will I still be entitled to a British passport on the grounds that my owner was born and bred in England? How much will it all cost?

I have searched long and hard through the Scottish National Party's policy documents, but found nothing, absolutely nothing, about the crucial issue of travel documentation for dogs.

I would like to think that, even as I type (or rather, dictate to my human assistant) you will have a phalanx of dedicated policy wonks addressing this gaping hole in your supposedly comprehensive 'White Paper' on Scotland's future. I have to tell you that Gail feels less confident of this, saying, somewhat uncharitably, that there are many other glaring gaps in the SNP vision of Scottish Independence that do not appear to have been properly thought through...

Mr Salmond, I am a terrier, hard-wired to be independent minded but also trusting.

I am sure that you can give me the answers to all my questions and that they will be satisfactory.

I await your reply with eager anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

Bouncing Bertie (wire-haired fox terrier),

PS I know you are a busy chap, but perhaps you would enjoy a break and a wee peek at some photos of my recent weekend in Torridon.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Window shopping in Banchory

I saw this Scotch whisky in a shop window in the town of Banchory last weekend and I just had to find out more. Oh how thrilling it was to learn from Mr Google that the drink had been named  in memory of Binks, a much loved fox terrier who belonged to the owners of Douglas Laing and Co,  a Glasgow-based firm of whisky bottlers and blenders.

Apparently the fellow pictured was a bit of a 'scallywag'. A wire-haired fox terrier. Who would have guessed? You can read more about him if you click here.

I have asked Gail if, in the statistically highly probable event that I pre-decease her, she would consider arranging for a whisky to be named after me.

The 'Bouncing Bertie Blend' has a nice ring to it, although a single malt would be classier.

Sunday 18 May 2014

What's in a name? (plus bonus training video)

When random people we meet in the park hear that my name is Bertie, they often say:

"Awww, but he looks just like a Bertie".

Have you any idea what they mean?

I would love to know what it is about me that conveys the essence of Bertieness?

On another matter. You know we actually had a couple of warm days in Aberdeen last week? So much so that I had the opportunity to make a video demonstrating how to cool off in the river, WFT style.

You will notice that one keeps one's belly dry. It is all in the nose and beard action.

Thursday 15 May 2014

R 'n' R in Morrone Birkwood

 After a day and a half of dog agility, Gail and I had had our fill and it was time to head home.

We took the scenic route back from Scone Palace, stopping on the way for a relaxed stroll in Morrone Birkwood, a nature reserve near Braemar.

After the rigorous discipline of the competition ring, it was time to cut loose.

So I posed nicely for one photo….

…and then merrily went exploring….

…leaving Gail to savour the beauty of the Cairngorm landscape.

I hope you like it too.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

The need for speed...

Gail, can I have quiet word? You see I am feeling rather disappointed.

Disappointed? Oh Bertie, it's not because we didn't have a chance to mingle with any of those wedding guests at the Sky Lodge Hotel in New Scone on Saturday night is it?

No, no, no Gail, it's not that. After all, I was too tired to be on 'meet and greet' duty anyway. No, I am disappointed that my best position at the Fair City Dog Agility Show was second, when to progress to Grade 2, I needed a win.

Oh Bertie, but I was so proud of you. Two clear rounds out of three, and no eliminations. You did brilliantly. If only you had been a wee bit faster, you would have had a first for sure. 

Well yes. A bit faster. Quite. So Gail, I wanted to ask you something about your cycling club friends.

My cycling friends! Bertie, whatever next?

I am right in thinking, am I not, that you have been knocking around with these folk since you lived in London in the 1980's and 90's?

Er yes…..

Well it seems to me that, given, you know, all we've read in the papers about Lance Armstrong etc, that maybe some of your friends might, er, might be able to advise me on how to, well, er, to chemically enhance my performance…?

BERTIE! Did I hear that right? I am SO SHOCKED. My friends are touring cyclists not racing cyclists and certainly we have NEVER taken those sorts of drugs. You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking such a thing.

But, but, but. Oh I am sorry Gail, I didn't mean to cause offence. It's just that some of the other agility dogs are so much quicker than me. Like, the one who beat me to second place got round in ten seconds less than I took. I just don't think I can run that fast without some sort of extra help.

Well now Bertie, I agree that a couple of your rivals would appear to be rocket propelled, but they also make mistakes. You are accurate and clever on the tight turns and rarely knock poles over or miss your contacts. Of course, it doesn't help when you just amble over the dog walk admiring the view. But remember Bertie, there is no point in doing agility if you and I are not having fun. If you don't want to carry on, just say.

Not carry on with agility? You are joking, right? I mean, going to training and seeing all my pals is the highlight of my week. And I have noticed that you Gail are finally starting to get a bit better at giving me directions and your arm signals are less confusing than formerly. It is satisfying to watch you improve.

And anyway, where else could I find such a rich source of material for my blog…

Saturday 10 May 2014

A disaster waiting to happen…?

 Gosh I have been so looking forward to this weekend.

I am competing in the 'Fair City Dog Agility Show' in the grounds of Scone Palace near Perth, on both Saturday and Sunday!

But even more, I am looking forward to staying on Saturday night at the nearby Sky Lodge Hotel.

You know, we nearly didn't get in. When Gail phoned the hotel earlier in the week she was told they only had one basic single room left, as they were super busy, with "both a dog show and a wedding party".

What a treat it will be for all those all those smartly dressed wedding guests, to share their accommodation with a bunch of over-excited agility dogs.

Oh and the forecast is for heavy rain all weekend.

What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday 8 May 2014

Something fishy about Scotland's future?

Can one trust the statements of a party led by two piscine politicians?

Alex SALMONd (leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party)

Nicola STURGEON (deputy leader of the SNP)

Whereas you have to love a campaign called Better Together and led by a man with the name Alistair DARLING. After all, there's nothing wrong with having some white furs and some black ones.

I, Bertie, am coming to the conclusion that Scotland is BETTER TOGETHER with the rest of the UK.

And I think our First Minister Mr Salmond needs to be PUTIN his place. Give that man a ticket Moscow.
PS: Whilst Gail agrees with my sentiments, she is worried that I am trivialising the issue. But do my friends really want to read more about sterling currency union, EU membership, bank debt and rapidly (and inexorably) declining North Sea oil revenues….?

Tuesday 6 May 2014

In the Park and In the Pink

OK, so this last one is on the way home from Duthie Park.

Sunday 4 May 2014

It seems Angus is right about French customer service

Apologies to those readers who do not follow Bob and Sophie's French Adventure. (But really, why don't you? It's brilliant).

For several years now, Gail and I have been hooked on transplanted Scotsman Angus's account of life in rural France and the antics of his Polish lowland sheepdogs, but I have to confess, we have occasionally wondered if Angus was being a bit unfair in his implied criticisms of the local attitude to customer service.

Now, ever since she returned from her Jura holiday, Gail has been going on and on and on about what a wonderful time she had in France, especially when she met up with Bicontinental Dachshund Tootsie (my doggy godmother) and her family.

But yesterday, she let slip that there was one incident of slight unpleasantness, amusing in retrospect, but which supports the impression given by Angus's blog.

So Gail and Tootsie and her Mom and Dachshund Daddy had arrived at their accommodation in Mouthe, 'Le Chalet de la Source du Doubs' mid afternoon on Good Friday. By then the weather has turned quite nasty. On entering the chalet they were promptly pushed back out into the cold by a cross young woman telling them not to wake the baby. After a short while, Dachshund Daddy, a fluent French speaker, braved re-entry only to be ushered outside again the proprietress who grumpily pointed to a chalkboard by the front door and said: "You speak the language. So read the sign!"

And yes indeed, there it was, a sign giving instructions for new arrivals.

But how hard would it have been to say a few words of welcome to the guests and tell them which bedrooms they were in?

You know, my adorable godmother Tootsie has quite short furs, and it upsets me to think she was forced to wait around in the chilly weather by this not so friendly person.

Tootsie, if you came to visit me in Scotland, you would be embraced with open arms. And paws.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Tail envy?

Really, there are few situations in life which are not improved by having a tail.

Now Gail is questioning whether my readers (with the obvious exception of esteemed Mayoress Madi), will bear yet another post on the topic of my rear-end appendage.

Do you think she could possibly be suffering from Tail Envy?

It must be so limiting, to have to use just your facial muscles to express joy, anticipation, delight, friendliness, uncertainty, vigilance, anger and fear, do you not agree?

I am thinking that all those not-so-young actresses with faces immobilised by botox might get hired again, if only they were able to access a nicely flexible tail to help convey emotion.

And did you know that us wire-haired fox terriers really are very special and unique in this area of anatomy?

It's not only that we don't mind a bit if you tug at our tail, quite hard, in a way which would cause offence to most pups. According to Gail's vet friend Kirsty, when (heaven forbid) WFT's are put under anaesthetic, our tails twitch in a manner unique to our breed*. Isn't that something else?

Some folk, e.g. dog show judges, would claim I am over-endowed, tail-wise.

Clearly, that is a ridiculous concept.

*Gail was intrigued by this snippet of terrier lore, and later asked Kirsty if the trait had been documented anywhere, but was disappointed to learn the evidence is merely "anecdotal".