Friday 31 October 2014

Addi and Bertie's Halloween revenge on Jake

Oh I was so thrilled to learn that my sweetheart Addi was coming over to join me on a Halloween adventure again this year.

Now I'm sure my readers will remember how I got hurt by my flat-coated retriever neighbour Jake back in September?

And I'm equally sure you will agree with me that he needed teaching a lesson, big time.

Of course, my wonderful best girl was keen to back me up.

When our humans first heard of our plan, they suggested Addi and I wear masks and frighten Jake that way. And just to humour them we agreed to try them on.

However, as some of you will already be aware, Addi and I have at our disposal a weapon far scarier than pathetic little face masks.

Yes, we have The Tank.

It was all guns blazing as we set off in search of Jake.

We had received special intelligence that Jake (the coward), on hearing Addi was in town to help me out, had barricaded himself up inside what he mistakenly imagined was a safe house.

It didn't take Addi and I long to sniff him out...

Oh and isn't Addi looking gorgeous! I think she even might have added some muscle since I last saw her. So magnificent in every respect. I could have stood there all day admiring her big boned perfection. But we had work to do.

To find out what happened next, you need to click here to go to Addi's blog.

Thursday 30 October 2014

FFHT: Life on Mars or Space Oddity?

It's Murphy and Stanley's FFHT time again! (Posting one day early this month 'cos of Halloween).


Bouncing Bertie Boffin, Scientific Advisor to Blogville here! 

Surely, space travel is every scientist’s dream?

Ever since I was a wee pup, I have fantasized about becoming an astronaut.
A realistic ambition, for sure, given that in the Soviet Union, dogs like Laika (above) preceded humans into space. OK so they were all bitches ‘cos apparently it was thought that a leg cocking tendency was incompatible with rocket hygiene (yes, truly) but that is a minor obstacle is it not?

Oh I was excited beyond measure when I saw an advert in one of my favorite magazines, ‘Canine Astronaut Weekly’


Joint US/Europe/Russian space agency seeks fit, flexible, intelligent young adult dogs (male or female) with a sense of adventure, a friendly nature and a sound grasp of science and technology.

No previous experience necessary as training will be provided.

To apply, please send CV and covering letter (human assistance with typing is permitted).

You can bet I sent off my application faster than you could say ‘one small step for dogs….’

You are thinking it was a foregone conclusion that a high achieving pup like me would be selected and you are of course correct.

Gosh I was so bouncing with excitement when I arrived at the Star City Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow, I nearly achieved escape velocity under my own steam.

A programme of intensive and rigorous instruction ensued. I overcame my aversion to clothing and learned how to get comfortable in my spacesuit. It did take a while to achieve the necessary accuracy in using the zero-gravity toilet (one of my fellow trainees, a husky from Siberia, called it the Poo-tin). A lot of the training was focused on how to achieve successful Space Walkies, something that of course came naturally to an outdoorsy type like me, although it was disappointing to learn that on a Space Walkie one must always have the walking string attached.

It was only when I sampled the dehydrated rations and learned that sausage would be unavailable on the spacecraft that doubts crept in.

Oh, and when the novelty had worn off, after a month or so, I did start to miss Gail, and wonder whether she would still be there for me when I returned at the end of the four year mission.

But, with so much invested in my training, and so much pride at stake, I knew there was no turning back now.

It was only three weeks to blast off when we were all sent for public relations training. Obviously, these days, the canine astronaut is encouraged to be active on social media, to communicate our adventures to the public. I could tell that my instructor Boris Borzoi was interested to hear I have been writing a blog for, well, like forever. He even wrote down the url.

Next morning I was pulled out of my Advanced Rocket Science class unexpectedly and asked to visit the big boss, Top CAT*

Who was not looking at all happy.

On her computer screen I saw displayed my blog post about ‘An Incident at Newcastle Station’.

“Bertie” she said,  “we at Mission Control have been reading your blog with interest and great concern. It seems to me that the CV you submitted to us contained important omissions which were also not mentioned in your covering letter.

"In your blog you record several incidents that, had we known about them beforehand, would most certainly have prevented you from being offered a place on our prestigious Mars mission training programme. What, you look surprised? Blue poo, chewing cashmere sweaters, getting into fights with neighbour dogs, nearly giving your owner a heart attack by escaping from a train at Newcastle, …. need I go on?

"OK, I will.

"It is clear from your record at agility shows that your performance under pressure is erratic at best. The letter your cousin Coco sent last December detailing your behaviour as a guest in her home makes us doubt your ability to fit in with your fellow space travellers, and the egocentricity indicated by post titles such as the recent “WFTs come first, right?” is a sure sign that you lack the team spirit required on the long journey to another planet.

"In short, you are not made of the Right Stuff.

“So, Bertie, I regret to have to inform you that since you fail to meet the high standard we expect from our canine (and human) candidates for space flights to Mars I am dismissing you from the training programme forthwith. You may collect your belongings and go home."

And so my dream of being an astronaut came to an abrupt end.

I guess I am not the first and nor shall I be the last creature to have a promising career blighted by their social media pawprint.

But secretly, between you and me, I was a just wee bit relieved to be home and see Gail again before she became a wizened old lady.

 *CAT = Canine Astronaut Trainer.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Preparing for my next adventure with Addi

Later this week I shall be meeting my sweetheart Addi for a Halloween adventure. So of course I had to go and make sure our transport was in good nick.

 I set to work to make it all spick and span.

'Cos Addi is worth it.

What a girl!

Sunday 26 October 2014

Unintended outcomes

Have you ever had a bloggie pal come to visit in the flesh?

So exciting isn't it?

I mean, with Gail's 'normal' friends, I can accept that they might be interested in me, or they might not.

But it is a given, surely, that where the point of contact is my blog, then I will be the main focus of attention throughout their stay?

This weekend started so well. My 'Aunty Yam' came up on the train from Dunoon and was all keen to visit Duthie Park so off we went. What a warm, friendly, cheerful person she is.

I was having such fun I even didn't mind that I was being photographed from in front and behind simultaneously.

We all had a good smile at a new sign by the park entrance.

Back home the conversation was initially proceeding in a satisfactory manner with much emphasis on me and my blog, as is only right and proper. OK so this was interspersed with stories about Aunty Yam's experiences in Australia and India (quite interesting, actually), and talk about family and work and all the usual human stuff one has come to expect. I guess that was OK too.

It was only after Gail took Aunty Yam down to the harbour to look at the ships and I was asked to stay at home that things took a turn for the worse.

When they returned, there was much poring over the laptop.

Of course I assumed that they would be looking at my blog or, if not that, then at least something else related to dogs.

Imagine my horror when I saw that the source of fascination was a website called!

 And all I was hearing was Gail going "wow what a great website, Yam, thank you so much for showing me that, how interesting to be able to find out about the ships visiting Aberdeen, and where they're going and what they do….."

They were looking at it for ages. Simply ages.

Well HELLO. Bertie here! The dog with the blog. The reason you met….

OK, to be fair,  Gail and Aunty Yam did eventually refocus their attention on yours truly.

And so on balance, I am going to advise Gail that, should an invitation ever be issued, I am happy to allow her to visit Dunoon under the following conditions:
 (1) I too can accompany her at all times
 (2) Only WFT-relevant material will be viewed on the computer for the duration….

Friday 24 October 2014

Attempting the impossible

Fellow pups does this ever happen to you?

There you are, out on a walk, happily romping around with your park pals in a carefree manner, when you are called to attention by your camera wielding human (in this case Gail)?

"Oh Bertie, do come over here. I have spotted a great photo opportunity. Look, there are a couple of poppies still out in this wild flower patch. If you stand just here, I think I can get you, the poppies, and that tree in golden leaf in the background which will be a good indicator of the season and thus the remarkableness of the poppy being still in bloom on this Friday morning in late October…"

Have you ever heard such twaddle?

I mean it's obvious right away that Gail is trying to cram too many things into one picture and that her camera will not be able to cope with me in the foreground, a feeble display of nearly expired poppies behind me and a tree somewhere in the distance.

Can you blame me for having no patience with the whole charade?

Thursday 23 October 2014

Sunday 19 October 2014

WFTs come first, right?

I have to tell you that Gail is worried she was being inconsiderate to our fellow passengers on the 12:52 train from Newark North Gate to Edinburgh last Monday. In fact, she wishes to make an apology.

I have spent all week trying to tell her she did nothing wrong. Nothing at all.

I mean, how can she be to blame if the lady with the refreshments trolley was all over me like a rash no soon as she'd spotted me in the aisle (or rather, nearly reversed into me, truth to tell)?

The fact that this lovely lady, herself a wire-haired fox terrier owner, stopped to engage in a lengthy WFT-based conversation with Gail is entirely a Good Thing, in my opinion.

So what if the passengers further down the carriage were hungry and thirsty? One could say Gail did them a favour by helping them avoid the temptation to pay a king's ransom for lukewarm coffee and a tired sandwich.

The wiry theme continued when we took a break in Edinburgh to meet my pal Horatio, plus his Vizsla brother Harris and human Amanda. It was a damp and blustery afternoon for a romp up the slippery volcanic rocks of Arthur's Seat. Gail seemed particularly keen to stay away from any ponds and avoid a repeat of the Green Dog incident….

Can you tell Horatio and me apart?

The onward train from Edinburgh didn't arrive in Aberdeen until late evening and, would you believe it, just as we were about to disembark, Gail spotted a smaller version of your truly in the adjacent carriage. Turns out she is called Poppy, is eight months old, very cute (of course) and, like me, started life at Granddach Kennels.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty perfect day. And absolutely no apologies are necessary.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

A plea to the badgers of Cragmoor Road

No need to prove it Mr Brock,
That you are strong is clear.
I see you rolled aside this rock
And dug under the hedge right here.

You black and white guys with the good PR,
Wise Friend to Ratty, Mole and Mister Toad,
Admired by wildlife lovers near and far,
Though not the folk who live on Cragmoor Road,

Have you a notion what distress
These night time raids cause? So much damage done
By scratching up the grass, as if
You sought first prize in excavation?

For decades my beloved HGD
Nurtured his back lawn with tender care.
Now Human Granny worries night and day
That his hard work is wasted, and despairs.

So Mister Badger I am begging you,
Go dig your worms on someone else’s lawn.
It is so sad. Dear Human Granny, who
Cared long and lovingly for HGD with all her strength,
Feels she has let him down now he is gone.

Sunday 12 October 2014

War stories or home guard?

I was just getting nicely settled in at Human Granny's when it became obvious that she and Gail were going out for the day, and, you know how us pups can sense these things, it was also clear they were not planning to take me along.

I tried barricading the front door, but to no avail.

When they returned several hours later Gail showed me this photo.
Human Granny, Janet and 'Fossy'
It turns out Gail had taken Human Granny to a school reunion in York. HGY attended a Church of England convent boarding school in Yorkshire and the whole school was evacuated to Canada during the World War Two. The two ladies with HGY are her school friends Janet and 'Fossy'. They all been together in Toronto, away from their families, between the ages of nine and thirteen.

Gosh, how I wish I could have attended the reunion too, and heard all their stories.

So many questions I would like to have asked.

So not fair that I was forced to stay behind, guarding HGY's back lawn against further badger damage.

Thursday 9 October 2014

I need a better story...

Later today I am going to be travelling with Gail by train to Nottingham as we are visiting Human Granny for a few days (hooray). It is a long journey, and experience has taught me that during the trip I shall attract the attention of several admiring fellow passengers.

Although my wound is healing nicely, the scar on my shoulder is still noticeable and I fear it is inevitable that someone will ask about the injury.

Now please bear with me just a minute for what might seem like (but isn’t) a random digression.

Gail has a young Venezuelan colleague called Hugo. You will immediately recognise that Hugo and I have much in common when I tell you that he is notably good looking, smart as a whip, charming, generous in spirit and full of cheerful, friendly bounce.

And like me, Hugo this year sustained a painful injury in somewhat inglorious circumstances.

Since Hugo does not have a Gail to take him for energetic expeditions in the hills, he maintains his well honed physique by means of frequent and vigorous gym workouts. But a few months ago when lifting weights he felt something snap in his right arm, followed by excruciating pain, and an x-ray later confirmed that he had broken his humerus clean in two. Yes really. Ouch indeed.

Surgery was required to put Hugo back together again and as a result he now wears a rather impressive scar on his upper arm.

Having recovered both his arm movement and his sense of humour, Hugo recently asked his colleagues if they could think of a “better story” for him.  Just, you understand, in case a beautiful and solicitous young lady should approach him, say in a bar in Aberdeen, and ask him how he came by his scar.

Apparently Gail's workmates proposed a number of increasingly improbable scenarios, beginning with Hugo getting hurt while rescuing a damsel from the jaws of a killer shark in the River Dee.

I think you can see where this is going…

Like Hugo, I need a better story.

Please, my friends, any suggestions for ‘embellishments’ to my woeful tale of being set upon by a big but not normally aggressive dog, would be much appreciated!

Tough terrier squares up to a Highland 'Coo' in Torridon last weekend.

Monday 6 October 2014

Torridon dilemmas

Gail and I went over to the Torridon cottage for the weekend.

Although, as usual, I had a super time, I want to share with you a couple of serious dilemmas which are now troubling me.

The first concerns the Torridon General Store and Cafe.

As you can see in the pictures above, this is a quite magnificent establishment. Situated at the head of Loch Torridon, you can drink in the stunning mountain landscape along with your perfectly assembled cappuccino. That the cheese scones are quite delicious, I can verify, having been offered a morsel more than once. Liquid refreshments for dogs are even provided, and if you are in luck, biscuits too.

Now, by the most amazing coincidence, Gail and the friendly cafe owner Jo used to work for the same company based in Grand Buildings, Trafalgar Square, London, many eons ago. For once, on Saturday, Jo was not rushed off her feet and came outside for a chat. She mentioned that her business has been nominated for 'Best Café/Restaurant/Pub' award in the 'Great Outdoors' magazine, and, in exchange for taking our photos, she 'suggested' that Gail might like to log on to the magazine's website and vote.

So what's the dilemma, I hear you ask.

Well, consider this. When observing me through the camera lens Jo also said the following:

"Bertie's looking a bit more rotund around the rear end these days isn't he? Too many treats perhaps?"

The outrage!

Is a woman who clearly cannot distinguish between fluff on the haunches and genuine heft really deserving of a prestigious award?

Should I allow Gail to vote for her café?

What do you think?

The second dilemma concerns two balls of wool.

Readers may remember my post earlier this year about our lovely Torridon neighbour Julia, and her Shetland sheep. That's Julia in the black waterproof, enjoying a chat with me outside her croft at the weekend.

Anyway, these balls of wool, which Julia has kindly given to Gail, are from the very same sheep featured in my post back in June.

I now have to help Gail decide what she will knit with the wool.

Apparently she is thinking of a hat for herself. Do you not think this is a teeny weeny bit selfish? Surely, these natural sheep colours would look most splendid on yours truly. Perhaps Gail could knit me a wee sweater, with a simple Fair Isle pattern or something?

I will confess that I am not a fashion expert. I wonder if my friends can help me here and suggest a suitably masculine pattern for a two-toned garment to be worn by a rugged terrier type?

Or should I let Gail have her hat after all?

Again, your thoughts on this issue would be most welcome.

PS from Gail: You can learn more about the Shetland wool on Julia's blog 'Hand Knitted Things'.

Saturday 4 October 2014

A PINK taco?

Oh I am so thrilled to be taking part in Angel Jazzi's Taco Day

We all remember Jazzi don't we? The funniest, cutest and all round most adorable Scottie you could ever hope to meet. She left us far too soon.

Now Jazzi was world famous for her love of tacos, and what better way to remember this incomparable character than by sharing in her appreciation of her favourite foodstuff?

Oh look, there is something that Gail tells me is a taco on the table here. 

As tacos are not part of the Scottish diet, you will forgive the, er, 'unusual' interpretation of this dish from across the Pond.

Oh, I get it. This a PINK taco. 'Cos if there was one thing Jazzi loved almost as much as tacos, it was the colour pink. Gail and I  always looked forward to seeing her wearing her pretty pink dresses. Her she is modelling the 'Back to School' outfit, one of our favourites.

Mmmm, back to the taco. Although the combination of ingredients is unusual*, I think I might try some. For Angel Jazzi's sake, you understand.


Nom, nom, nom. I do wish Addi were here to share it with me. I could show her my manly scar too...

*Pink taco ingredients: ham, red onion, beetroot and sesame paste, radishes, prawn cocktail, and raspberries in yoghurt, all held in a soft taco shell which had been dipped in pink food dye and baked until crisp. 

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Bertie regains his bounce.

Gail says that a week ago she was thinking of rechristening me 'Deflated Bertie'. 

But now she knows that Toughness and Resilience are my middle names.

And anyway, how could I fail to get better again quickly when so many dear friends, old and new, were wishing me well?

Thank you all so very much.

Normal service will resume on Saturday when I'll be celebrating Angel Jazzi's Taco Day with a quite, er, unique concoction.