Wednesday 31 May 2017

Artemis the Westie

So we have a new dog in the Duthie Park. A fluffy white Westie pup, all of three months old.

Nothing remarkable about that, I hear you say. And indeed it is true there is no shortage of cute wee Westies (and some larger and grumpier ones) in these parts.

But this new friend does have one unusual feature: her name!  None of your common or garden  Kirsties or Floras or Mollies for this little lady.

"Artemis! How very distinguished!" Gail exclaimed, and I experienced a brief pang of jealousy, wishing for a moment that I was named after a rather awesome Greek deity.

When folk hear my name, the most common response is thus.

"Bertie? Oh yes, he looks like a Bertie!"

And what's more, it is said in a voice which suggests the person is suppressing a gentle chuckle, hardly calculated to make a chap feel important or distinguished. 

What do people say when they learn your name for the first time?

PS We do not have a photo of Artemis, so you will have to make do with yet another picture of me in the park, taken a couple of weeks ago - there are far more leaves on the trees now.

Sunday 28 May 2017

Imagining a different future

We've been having super lovely weather in NE Scotland this week, and my paws are now feeling tip top, so on Saturday morning (I'm delighted to report) Gail decided to abandon the household chores and take me for a walk up Morven, long our favourite Deeside hill.

One learns, given the climate in these parts, to seize the moment.

Half way up the initial steep ascent, we ran in to a chap who Gail knows a bit through her work, who was out walking with his wife. It was a good excuse to stop for a breather, and it turns out this couple are both geologists and hail from the southwest of France, near the Pyrenees. Wife was ever so friendly and as she tickled my belly in a way I might describe as 'très agréable' her husband warned Gail to keep a close eye on me, as wife yearns for a dog and he said there was a danger I might be kidnapped.

You know what, I am thinking, would it really be so bad to be kidnapped by a French geologist and maybe end up living close to the Pyrenees?

I am imagining a life spent hiking in the dramatic mountain landscapes, enjoying croissants for petit dejeuner, a selection of smelly fromages for lunch and maybe cassoulet cooked with generous quantities of goose fat for dinner.

Gail could still come to visit and perhaps even fulfil a lifetime ambition of cycling up the Col du Toumalet.

Who knows, I could get the chance to visit my blogging friends Bob and Sophie and thank them properly for sending me that comfy soft collar earlier in the year.

Oh and if I stay in France long enough, that nice young Monsieur Macron might yet permit me to retain my precious EU passport?

For some reason, when we reached the summit, Gail seemed keen to hold me tight …

… and was reluctant to let me get too close to the French couple (that's them, sat behind me in the picture below, sheltering from the inevitable wind).

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Diagnosis: dainty feet

No soon as I'd settled myself back at home in Aberdeen, than I was bundled into the car first thing Tuesday morning and told we were going on some sort of a 'special' visit to Glasgow.

I should have realised it was not going to be a good sort of 'special' when Gail refused to give me any breakfast.

After hours of driving, and some not very polite language from behind the steering wheel as we negotiated the complex tangle of city centre motorways, Gail pulled up on this rather unpromising looking street.

We then went for a short walk around the neighbourhood and for a moment I got quite excited when I spotted the famous Ibrox stadium, thinking perhaps we were headed for an 'Old Firm' football game, and wishing I knew the lyrics to 'The Sash'.

But then we turned around and I was directed up the steps of a fine sandstone terraced building.

And the reason for the 'special' trip became clear.

I confess, having seen the other patients in the waiting room, to being somewhat relieved when I was quickly ushered in to the office of dermatology specialist Peter Forsythe.

Gosh Mr Forsythe asked a lot of questions about my paws. He tried to examine the pads, although I was not too keen on that idea. He observed that I have very compact, dainty feet, well formed but with deeper clefts between the pads than is common, and this combined with the abundant wiry fur between the pads means that mud and dirt gets impacted (despite daily paw washes) and this is likely the root cause of my interdigital cysts.

He said it wasn't worthwhile testing for allergies as I didn't have any other symptoms of 'atopic dermatitis'.

He said a lot more stuff too, which I can't quite remember.

Then Gail abandoned me (again!) and things went a bit blurry for a couple of hours. On waking up, my paws felt oddly clean and bare, the fur between the pads having been trimmed away.

And so ended my 'special' day in Glasgow.

PS from Gail: Bertie's frequently recurring problem with inter-digital cysts prompted the regular vet in Aberdeen to refer Bertie to a dermatology specialist. I had expected the specialist to test Bertie for allergies, but he explained carefully why he thought that the problem lay elsewhere, saying that an allergic condition would affect more that just Bertie's feet, and in fact the rest of his skin is in great condition. So the current theory is that dirt combined with hair gets impacted in the deeper than normal clefts between Bertie's paw pads and 'foreign bodies' enter his feet causing an inflammation reaction which manifests itself as swellings (the so-called interdigital cysts) on the upper side of his paw. Until now, I had been concentrating on washing the upper side of Bertie's paws but the new instruction is to try to clean the undersides thoroughly too, still using the antimicrobial solution 'Hibiscrub' (containing chlorhexidine) as before. I am not confident that Bertie will cooperate with a routine of rigorous washing between his pads. We shall see… The situation will be reviewed again in a couple of months. I'm pleased to report that, at least for the moment, Bertie is walking fine and his paws are not swollen.

Monday 22 May 2017

Home sweet home

Cuddles and ear scritches are all very well…

…but I am absolutely going to insist on a visit to the bar at Inverness railway station very soon.

(We all knew these so-called "cycling trips" were just a front, didn't we?)

PS Can you believe Gail is now making rude comments about my personal hygiene and saying I must have been doused with some special "antidote to kennel odour" spray before I was released from Fairways Pet Haven...

Thursday 18 May 2017

A postcard from Gail

Missing you already Bertie!

Sunday 14 May 2017

Time and tide wait for no dog...

7:30 a.m. by the River Dee near Duthie Park

Six hours later and a mile away at the Aberdeen city beach

PS I am signing off now for a week as my blog helper has abandoned me to go cycling across Scotland with her friends. Let's hope it does not rain all the time for them, and the midgies are not too hungry just yet...

Thursday 11 May 2017

Life's ups and downs

So on Sunday I was dragged away from this…

And returned home to Aberdeen to face this...

And if having the decorator in all week wasn't bad enough, I have just learnt that yet again I am shortly to be abandoned for a week in favour of this...

 And consigned to a so-called 'Pet Haven' where the daily regime looks like this…

As the song goes, "Things Can Only Get Better".

Sunday 7 May 2017

An exemplary roll model?

We were over at the Torridon cottage this weekend, catching the tail end of an extended period of atypically warm and dry weather - a rare event indeed in Scotland's NW Highlands.

On Saturday morning, Gail was hard at work in the garden and so I decided to give her a nice surprise and help out.

You might gave noticed that the patch of grass in front of the cottage is somewhat uneven.

Now it is true that I am not an expert gardener (and believe me neither is Gail) but I have heard how the done thing is to roll your lawn.

So I gave that a go while Gail's attention was elsewhere.

Who knew that lawn rolling is such hard work? With that and the heat (20°C!) I was soon exhausted so retreated inside to recuperate.

For some reason, when Gail came in and spotted me on the sofa, she was less than appreciative of my efforts… 

On Sunday we took a break from the garden and climbed up the Mountain Trail in the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. It was my first proper hill walk in ages, and I'm pleased to report that my paws are feeling really good just now!

The picture below shows you the bottom of the trail and the new header photo was taken near the top. It is a steep climb in places. I try not to feel too insulted when being repeatedly told how my predecessor Hamish the Westie was much more confident at scrambling over rocks than I am.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Is it OK...

… for your human to wear a picture of you on her socks?

And how about when she goes to work?

Oh and I would like to point out to clothing retailer Hobbs that wire-haired fox terriers have russet ears, not black.

PS Just a reminder, it is not too late to contribute to my important and very scientific research into dog and human fitness (see previous post).