Thursday 26 February 2015

Wire-haired fox terrier problems (1)

This is the first of what I intend to be an occasional series of short posts dealing with life problems affecting (but surely not unique to) my own breed.

It has come to my attention that in certain human circles the phase 'first world problems' is used, often dismissively, to indicate someone might be complaining about an issue too trivial to merit a sympathetic response.

Let me assure you that 'wire-haired fox terrier problems' in no way belong in this category.

Today I want to address the topic of what to do when one is out on a walk and finds one's progress impeded by a small but prickly twig caught uncomfortably in one's wiry furs.

I am pleased to report that the solution to this particular problem is fairly straightforward.

What you need to do is first to stop in your tracks, ignoring all calls to "come Bertie COME". Then you adopt a stance which indicates slight discomfort, and gaze up at your human with a pathetic, pleading look.

Pretty soon your human will approach you and, at minimal inconvenience to yourself, will grab hold of said twig and gently but firmly (this may take them a bit of practice) extract the offending item from your furs, allowing you to continue unencumbered on your walk.

The speed of the response will, obviously, depend on your human's level of training and general alertness. For example, it took several 'twig in furs' episodes before Gail learned that I was not just "making a fuss about nothing"…

As if.

Monday 23 February 2015

Friday 20 February 2015

Too much woolly thinking?

I expect some of you have been wondering, whatever happened to the Shetland wool jumper Gail is supposed to be knitting for yours truly?

And thinking that if a certain person does not get a move on, then it will be summer already.

Well I guess we can cut Gail some slack on the timing issue, given that what most of the world would deem winter wear is entirely appropriate for our Scottish so-called summers too.

But a recently overheard phone conversation between Gail and a friend gave me new cause for concern:

"It's boring knitting something straightforward isn't it? I like a bit of a challenge, to keep my brain in gear while I'm on unpaid leave from work to look after my mum. So I downloaded some 'pattern generator' instructions from Ravelry and the first thing you have to do is measure your dog and calculate the number of stitches appropriate for his size. Then I decided it would be nice to have some decoration across the back and I found some instructions for a child's cardigan and took the Fair Isle design from that. Only it needs six colours and I have only four so I had to rethink it a bit".

Now all this would be fine if we were talking about someone whose knitting output has, over the past thirty years, amounted to more than one hat, one doggy sweater and one bicycle seat cover. But we are not.

To compound my worries, I then caught Gail watching a YouTube video titled 'Five ways of casting on'.

Like, call me an knitting ignoramus, but this is pretty basic stuff, is it not?

Well finally, earlier this week, Gail swung into action with the needles and yarn, and amidst much cursing, she at last succeeded in casting on the 70 stitches using some fancy schmancy technique suitable for edging a ribbed collar.

A few rows later...

Er, Gail, are you sure you got your sums right? That will have to go over my head you know.

What's that they say about not giving up the day job?

A couple of days on, and things are looking a bit more promising. The colours - totally natural, no dye involved - are quite manly aren't they?

Unfortunately progress has again stalled 'cos a certain person underestimated the amount of yarn needed so an emergency order has been placed with Julia of Hand Knitted Things.

Maybe it'll be ready for my 6th birthday...

Wednesday 18 February 2015

The best birthday present.

So Gail comes bouncing down the stairs this morning.

"Happy Birthday Bertie! I can't believe you are five years old already. And guess what, I have the BEST EVER birthday present for you."

I wait politely, slightly surprised (based on past experience), that she has actually remembered it is my birthday. Given that Gail is also the world's least imaginative present giver, I have no great hopes of scoring the sort of birthday bonanza that many of my blogging pals might confidently expect.

"Bertie, can you imagine? Human Granny is coming out of hospital today. She is going to a rehabilitation facility now for a few weeks, where they will try to get her walking again. isn't that just brilliant news? Not so long ago we were thinking she wouldn't survive her illness."

"Better yet, I think you might even be allowed to visit her once she has settled in. Won't that be fun?"

Well of course I am thrilled that Human Granny is getting better and that I might see her again soon.

But it's not so very selfish, is it, to hope for something just a wee bit more, er, tangible in the way of a gift on one's fifth birthday?

I give Gail my best expectant look.

"OK Bertie, and now we are off for a walk to the local Co-op store. I think a celebratory meal of liver and bacon is in order for tonight, don't you?"

That's more like it.

Monday 16 February 2015

Disturbing dog-related image of the week...

Really, you will be grateful that there is no photo attached to this post.

From page 3 of the 'i' newspaper this morning:

Adams: I trampoline in nude with my dog

Gerry Adams enjoys trampolining naked with his dog, he has revealed. Talking to radio station Newstalk, the Sinn Fein leader was asked about the leisure activity. "Yeah, I do it naked," he said. "The dog does it with me. It saves taking him for a walk".

Gail tells me that quarter of a century ago, this Irish republican leader was deemed a terrorist so dangerous that his voice was always dubbed in news reports on the BBC.

How things change.

Saturday 14 February 2015

Goodbye TANK, hello SPACESHIP...

It is so important, isn't it, not to allow one's relationship to become stuck in a rut?

Now the more literal minded amongst you might be thinking, no danger of that with you and Addi, is there Bertie, with such a splendid tank at your disposal?

But of course I am referring to a metaphorical rut, and, well anyway, this year I decided that my darling Addi deserved something altogether more special and uplifting by way of transportation to the Heart to Heart Valentine's Dance

Oh I thought long and hard about the matter. Eventually, inspiration struck. What could be more uplifting than a spaceship!

Surely, to experience weightlessness is the dream of every larger lady. And as you know, Addi is a plus sized gal.

(So much gorgeousness. Aren't I the luckiest pup in the world?)

But I can tell you, it took some planning, this trip into space, to the realm of zero-gravity.

Of course, my scientific credentials helped secure me a place on NASA's elite astronaut training programme. Having passed all the required courses with flying colours, I was certified fit to command my very own spaceship.

The next challenge was to overcome Addi's natural reluctance to don the required protective wear. It was only when she saw how handsome I looked in the unisex blue spacesuit, that she was persuaded this was one outfit which could in no way be deemed 'girlie'.

Finally, on the eve of February 14, we were ready for blast off...

Click here to find out what happened next….

PS from Gail: I am indebted to Murphy and Stanley's brilliantly talented mom Carol for the wonderful photoshopped images in this post. 

Thursday 12 February 2015

HGY update + interesting fact about Nottingham!

It is very tedious that us pups are not allowed inside hospitals, so I haven't been able to check out for myself how things are with Human Granny.

However, Gail has been visiting every day and tells me that HGY is much better than a week ago and the doctors are thrilled with her progress, although she is still unable to walk.

Yesterday HGY had an MRI scan, which was 'clear'. She is receiving treatment for a suspected infection of the brain - viral encephalitis.

I feel duty bound, in my scientific adviser role, to point out that the technology behind the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technique was developed here at Nottingham University by physicist Sir Peter Mansfield who, along with the American chemist Paul Lauterbur, won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work.

I wonder if my readers can name any other famous Nottinghamians (aside, of course, from the Sheriff!)

Friday 6 February 2015

Finding the ideal mate (scientifically)

Fellow pups, thank you all so much for your many and various responses to the question I posed last month, when I asked you to tell me what attracts you to a potential mate.

In good time for Valentine's Day, based on the data you kindly provided, plus my own unique in-depth analysis using specially devised scientific algorithms, I can now exclusively reveal the perfect, evidence-based formula for a successful partnership.

It seems that to appeal to the 'typical' (I refuse to say 'average') Blogville citizen, you need to be:

PLAYFUL (this is absolutely the most important thing) + WELL ACCESSORIZED (e.g. a ball, a bucket and spade, a sharp suit) + POSSESSED OF DESIRABLE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES (long legs, nice tail and sexy ears are particular priorities) + BEHAVIOURALLY COMPATIBLE (e.g. both enjoy being treated like royalty) + RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS' SENSITIVITIES (not all pups like to play rough) + A GOOD HUNTER (effective rodent killing seems to be a preferred trait, especially amongst the terriers) + ROTUND (indicating access to a great food supply - impressive logic there Stella!) + OPEN WITH YOUR EMOTIONS (not a problem with most pups, I suspect).

What else did I learn?

(1) Diva cats (yes I am thinking of you, Mayoress Emeritus Madi) are picky, picky, picky.
(2) Although many dogs are open to a romance with different breed groups, there does seem to be a tendency for terriers to favour other terriers.
(3) The delicate topic of neutering was, perhaps surprisingly, only raised once and in general one must conclude that the lack of, er, 'equipment' does not dampen romantic ambitions.
(4) It is well known that dogs as a species vary more in size than other animals. Amongst most Blogville citizens, common sense prevails and partners of approximately the same height are generally sought.
(5) Finally, full marks to Aunty Yam for pointing out that us four leggers are SO MUCH better than our humans at keeping things simple and straightforward in affairs of the heart.

I trust you found this analysis helpful. Wishing you all the best for February 14th…

My darling Addi 
Bouncing Bertie Boffin
(Director of Scientific Affairs).

PS Addi, you are the only girl for me...

Monday 2 February 2015

What will my Duthie Park pals say?

Gail, I am a bit worried about, er, about...

Yes dear little Bertie, I am worried too about Human Granny. We though we were going to lose her at the weekend, but today when I visited the Queen's Medical Centre she seemed to have rallied a bit and…

No Gail that is not what's concerning me just now. I mean I am of course very anxious for HGY, but today I wanted to discuss what will happen when we go back to Scotland…

Oh please don't worry your fuzzy little head about that. I know it's been a long time, but you know it's more important at the moment that we stay down here in Nottingham near Human Granny…

No no no Gail, you must stop interrupting and listen to me! I am worried about what my pals in Duthie Park will say about my new haircut.

Bertie, your new haircut is very smart. I think Maggie's Dog Grooming Room did an excellent job this morning, don't you? It looks neat, but natural. I'm sure your Scottish friends will be most impressed.

Well Gail, the thing is, I've never wanted to admit this before, but sometimes the rougher dogs in the park call me names and make fun of me for having an English owner. They even say I bark with an 'affected' whine. I fear that with my extended stay down here and my fancy trim they will jeer at me for being a 'soft southerner' or an 'effete English dog'.

Bertie what nonsense! I can't believe I'm hearing this. And you such a tough wee terrier. Whatever will Addi think? Time to man up! 

And remember you are shortly heading to NASA for your VERY SPECIAL training programme in preparation for Valentine's Day aren't you? (Ooops, was I supposed to keep that secret?) Anyway, I can assure you the short back and sides will be most appropriate... 

Sunday 1 February 2015

Snowy nose Sunday

Thank you so much for all your kind words and prayers for Human Granny. I wish we had better news, but she is still in hospital and poorly. I am doing my bit by making sure Gail gets walked daily, whatever the weather.

PS I am being subjected 'treated' to my first ever professional grooming session tomorrow. I am unsure of the correct etiquette in such establishments. Perhaps my friends could advise?