Saturday 30 September 2017

Hill top photo etiquette - a wee tutorial

An incident on the summit of Scolty Hill near Banchory this afternoon called to my attention that there are pups at large who are not well informed about the correct etiquette with regard to posing for photographs in such situations.

Let me explain.

You are enjoying a pleasant weekend walk with your owner and her friends (let's call them John and Fran├žoise).

It is a lovely sunny late September day, and you have reached the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view reaching from the North Sea in one direction to the Cairngorm plateau in the other.

Naturally your owner wishes to take a photo of you, perhaps posing nicely with her friends, in exchange for which you are of course offered treat.

It is all going so well until some cheeky little ball of high maintenance fluff arrives on the scene.

First she gets under the feet of the photographer, nearly causing her to drop her precious Samsung Galaxy S6, again...

I hope no-one thinks I am being racist when I mention that said ball of fluff is a Japanese Spitz and her name is Yuki. (pronounced You-key not Yucky).

Yuki totally bombs your photo shoot without so much as a by-your-leave...

And then she scarpers, caring not one jot that once disturbed, one might find it hard to regain the composure required of a successful model.

Fran├žoise tries to calm you down ...

... but your only focus now is to chase away the impudent intruder, all thoughts of "posing nicely" dissolving into a blur of red-blooded terrier action...

I am sure my readers will agree with me that Yuki's behaviour was wholly unacceptable, and furthermore that she should right away be disabused of any notion she might have about getting away with such stunts just because some humans might find her "super cute"...


Thursday 28 September 2017

Leader of the pack

Things have been looking up since my last post.

Long time readers will know that I have been a regular participant in the annual Grampian Tibet Support Group sponsored walk.

Traditionally, the event has taken place in early July, but this year they waited until September, last Sunday in fact, so the University of Aberdeen students could attend. And what a good idea that turned out to be. 

We always have a lovely day, and this one was no exception.

The walk started in Gourdon, a wee fishing village about 25 miles south of Aberdeen.

Look, here I am, leading out the merry pack, young and old.

We headed south along the coastal path to Johnshaven, where the weather was warm enough (just) for the group to enjoy a picnic lunch.

From Johnshaven we turned inland and uphill and walked along a grassy footpath. I was way ahead of slowcoach Gail at this point, so do not feature in the photo.

Where the path was too overgrown, we tramped through the adjacent field. I want you to know that the only reason I am not still leading the pack here is that barley stubble is mighty uncomfortable on WFT paws.

It was thirsty work too, but I'm pleased to say the students were all being so kind an encouraging.

We had a snoop around the old mill at Benholm before returning to the coast path.

And of course I posed nicely for more photos at the end of the walk, still looking sprightly and relatively clean after nine miles!

Sunday 24 September 2017

Reflections on absence

Was it really only two weeks and three days
That you were gone and I was left bereft
Of all home comforts?

Abandoned in what I would not describe
As a 'pet haven', although I'm told that's what it's called.

Where was the comfy lap
On which to cuddle of an evening?
I barked (and barked) but no-one paid attention
(The other dogs were barking too).

Let me assure you,
A pad in a concrete kennel
Is no substitute
For a shared double bed (with goose down quilt).
And it's hard to sleep at night,
Unbolstered by the warm bulk of a human leg.

On too short walks with unfamiliar pups,
I yearned for Duthie Park.
For favourite trees, park benches, monuments,
For all my friends.


Did you miss me too?
My eager little fuzzy face,
And the endearing way my ears flap
As I trot daintily along
On my more compact than average paws?

You did?

Thursday 21 September 2017

Bertie allows Gail to show some holiday pictures (just this once)

So this post is going to be all about Gail's recent holiday in the USA, and is the result of a painstakingly negotiated settlement whereby photos involving bicycles are balanced by dog and other animal related images.

Well let's get the boring biking bit out out of the way for starters.
Marse's dog Josh supervises the reassembly of Gail's bicycle
I had understood that Gail went to the USA to join her old friend Marse and a bunch of Marse's friends for an eight day bike ride around NW Montana.

Marse lives in Tacoma, WA. It seems she, Gail and the other riders drove all 450 miles from Tacoma  to the start point in St Regis, Montana on Tuesday September 5. And all the way back again the next day...  I, Bertie, think they were wimps to bottle out of the planned bicycle tour, just 'cos the route they'd planned, up to Glacier National Park, went right through the heart of an area of ferocious wildfires, and the whole state was blanketed in smoke so thick that people were being advised to staying indoors with windows closed and avoid all exertion...
Smoke covering Washington, Idaho and Montana
Gail had been looking forward to seeing all the Montana wildlife, but had to make to with this moose by the lake at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Marse and Moose
Even in Tacoma, the parked vehicles were covered in ash, reminding folk of the 1980 Mount St Helens eruption.

So the bike group re-thought their plans and organised rides around the South Puget Sound area and in Mount Rainier National Park, where the air was relatively clear. Gail says she thinks they did this mostly for her benefit, feeling bad that she had travelled such a long way with her bicycle, only to have the main event cancelled.

One day they started from the Cascade Bike Club HQ in Seattle (Gail was awestruck by the facilities), and toured the campus of 'U-Dub' (aka the University of Washington).

Another day they rode up to Black Diamond for a hearty lunch.

Then came a visit to Harstine Island, where the ride ended with a barbecue at cyclist Bill's gorgeous holiday home.

Next, the bike group spent a few lovely days enjoying more hospitality at Jim and Lori's cosy cabin in Ashford, near Mount Rainier National Park.

From the cabin, one day they rode up the 3600 ft ascent to the appropriately named Paradise.

Later that same day, back at Jim and Lori's cabin, Gail was instructed in the essential American campfire ritual of making s'mores, the perfect follow-up to all that exertion on the bike.
Lori exhibits the perfect s'more
Another day they hiked up to High Rock lookout, where they disturbed the peace of a solitary young man and his handsome dog Champ.

And afterwards drove miles and miles along forest track to harvest Lori's secret huckleberry garden.

Returning to base in Tacoma, Marse had other things on her mind. It turns out that her dog Josh is something of an escapologist, and has recently taken to scaling her 4 ft high fence, and roaming the neighbourhood. I don't see why this is a problem, but for some reason Marse was intent on installing a DIY 'coyote roller'. This apparently involved fixing lengths of plastic tubing on top of the fence so that it rolls in such a way as to make it difficult for coyotes and/or dogs to clamber over.

Oh, just to confuse you, the dog pictured about is not Josh, but seventeen year old Liddie, who also used to exhibit Houdini-like traits, but now is a sedate, if still charmingly cheeky, senior lady.

Finally, here is some bird-related artwork by the shore in Tacoma, plus one more photo of Josh and Liddie, as by my reckoning, there is still an imbalance in favour of bike photos on this blog post...

OK, finally, finally. Gail insists on posting this video she shot at a beach party one fine evening early in her visit, where Marse's nieces Marena and Soroa provided a memorable musical interlude.

PS Next and future posts, I promise, will revert to being all about ME (Bertie).

Monday 18 September 2017

I'm back! And so is Gail.

And not before time...

You know what? I am so used to Gail arriving home from holidays empty handed, I could not believe my deep-set little eyes when she placed this super toy on the front doorstep and said it was for me.

This was such uncharacteristic behaviour on her part, I began to wonder is she and her friend Marse had been filling up with something other than petrol (sorrry, 'gas') on their travels in the Pacific Northwest...

Of course it all became clear when I was told the gift was actually from fellow terriers Wyatt and Tegan, and delivered via our esteemed blogging friends, Murphy and Stanley, whom Gail met (along with Bob and Carol) a couple of Sundays ago at Point Defiance in Tacoma.

Thank you so much Wyatt and Tegan!

Gail tells me she and Marse had such a super hike together with the Doods and family,  and Carol even succeeded in educating Marse's pup Josh in the fine art of posing for blog photos.

(You can see more photos of the meet-up on Murphy and Stanley's blog today.)

Now my friends, perhaps you can help resolve a wee argument I am having with Gail just now. You see she has come home with a ton of photos and a mistaken belief that she should be allowed to post some more of them on my blog later in the week. But surely this is most unfair as I was locked up in 'camp' for the duration, without access to a camera or phone?

We have negotiated a provisional agreement that at least every other holiday picture Gail posts on this blog should feature a dog or other animal, and that shots involving bicycles should be kept to a minimum. Themes to be covered covered will apparently include wildfires and smoke, Mount Rainier, Gail learning how to cook s'mores, and installation of a coyote roller...

Does this seem fair to you?