Wednesday 30 January 2019

In defence of my Scottie cousins...

I suspect my Down Under Scottie friends Bella and Macdui might have something to say about the issues raised in today's blog post...

Does your human ever read books containing unsuitable material?

Mine apparently does.

As followers of Final Fiction Friday will already be aware, Gail is currently immersed in Jenny Landreth's  'Swell: A Waterbiography'; a must read, it seems, for all those who take pleasure in voluntary aquatic submersion (not me, obviously).

I'll be honest, as soon as I spotted a book about swimming resting on the bedside table, a feeling of unease pervaded my perfectly formed body.

The fact that the book's main subject was the history of women's swimming, and not, for example, a tome devoted to 'how to bathe your dog in icy rivers', did little to allay my fears.

And my worst suspicions were confirmed when I read (in a chapter about the battle for men and women to be allowed to use the same swimming pool at the same time) the following shocking sentence:

One of the most vocal opponents to mixed bathing was a Tonbridge councillor, Mr David Clark, who raved that 'by making girls look like wet Scotch terriers, mixed bathing stops more marriages than any other cause'.

How dare he? JUST HOW DARE HE!!!

To use a simile linking ANY breed of terrier to marital undesirability is beyond outrageous. I'm sure you'll agree.

And by the way, I for one can think of many human females who would be delighted to be considered as attractive as a Scottie, no matter the state of that Scottie's furs...

Oh and finally, here's a reminder of handsome WFT, today out enjoying the freshly fallen snow.

Monday 28 January 2019

The hundred metre exclusion zone

Bertie's 'exclusion zone'
Bertie near the boundary of the exclusion zone

Can you believe that I am sometimes criticised by my owner for "taking my house-training to the extreme"?

Well of course we all know that it is wrong to poo (or pee) inside one's home. Or other people's.

I think pee-ing in the garden is just about acceptable. And can in fact be helpful - plants might need watering (even in Aberdeen) and surely it's good to leave the occasional message warning off feline intruders.

But as for what some human's refer to as "number twos"... Well I hope you agree with me that operating an exclusion zone of 100 metre radius, centred on one's house, is appropriate and not at all unreasonable.

I understand that certain dogs rather let the side down and tolerate being turned out into the garden/yard to 'do their business' before bedtime.

Not me!

I insist on a proper walk.

And after all, a late evening stroll is good for one's human too,  don't you think?  Even if it means she has to lay down her book or turn off the telly, rouse herself from the warmth and comfort of the sofa, don the many layers of clothing required for even a short venture outdoors at this time of year and check her pockets for poo bags and a torch before accompanying me into the darkness.

Surely no owner who truly loved their dog could object to such a routine?

Friday 25 January 2019

FFF: Bertie has a nightmare

I'm afraid that this month, with just a few hours to go before the deadline, neither Bertie nor his assistant had even started on their monthly Final Friday Fiction assignment for dear YAM-Aunty. In truth, they had been wondering whether to take part this year.

But late on Thursday evening Gail picked up her library book, 'Swell: A Waterbiography' by Jenny Landreth, and on page 87, located these lines as per the FFF instructions:

Line 8: at all suitable for swimming. Some women's clubs had
Line 12: Premier Club. Other familiar names pop up - on a 1903
Line 16: is this our Mrs Fawcett, famous suffragist? The dates fit, the

But by then Bertie was very tired, and as he drifted off to sleep words and phrases from the selected lines mingled in his mind with a scene from a recent watery weekend....

.....So the bold little dog confidently crossed the narrow bridge, pausing as he did so to look down at the raging torrent beneath. Gosh, this river does not look at all suitable for swimming, he said to himself. A few minutes later his owner tried to follow him across, but she tripped as she was stepping on to the bridge, tumbled down the bank into the water, and within seconds was being carried down towards the sea. At times she was completely submerged, then, buffeted by the powerful current, an arm, a leg or her head would pop up again. Initially the little dog did not panic. He thought, well, my owner is, for a woman of her age, a reasonably fit and strong swimmer, surely she'll be OK? But as she was swept further downstream, doubts intruded and troubling thoughts flitted across his mind. Who would feed him and take him for walks in the hills if she didn't survive? Would he find another home where he would be allowed to cuddle up to his human at night, and be given a dinner of fried liver on his birthday? Oh it was all too terrible to contemplate...

But then Bertie felt a warm foot nudging his rear end, and woke up with a start, and was mightily relieved to realise that it was all just a bad dream and he and Gail were safe and dry in their home in Aberdeen.

Oh well, perhaps you should go over to the links on YAM-Aunty's blog to see if any of the other FFF-ers did better with the 'fiction' element of the challenge this month...

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Little and Large

You meet the most interesting types when out and about in Aberdeenshire. But Gail says it was wise of me to desist from telling the deerhounds that they need to buck up their ideas and get chasing after our out of control deer population. After all there we four of them and they were HUGE.

PS And talking of Aberdeenshire, would any of my friends still under the impression that humans are the clever species please click here.

Sunday 20 January 2019

A fishy business..

When Gail comes home from work she has a habit of telling me the news from the office (whether or not I asked). Last week, her Perthshire-based colleague Beth was apparently all excited to be attending a big event celebrating the start of the Scottish salmon fishing season. Beth's husband is a ghillie on the River Tay.

Well yesterday Gail and I went for an amble along our local salmon river, the Dee, but failed to spot any anglers standing in the icy waters. After the walk we passed by a shop in Banchory and, noticing a 'dogs welcome' sign on the door, went in to have a look round.

In one quiet corner of the shop, I spotted some interesting activity and called Gail over to have a look...

Within seconds I was surrounded by admirers.

"Ooh a fox terrier!"
'Such splendid dogs, we had them when I was a boy."
"What a fine specimen, this one, so alert."
"A real terrier, bursting with character."

All true of course.

Rather rudely, I thought, Gail interrupted my new fan club to ask about the equipment on the table.

We learned that we'd chanced upon a fly tying workshop and these men were engaged in the delicate art stitching together assorted feathers and fluff in the hope of fashioning a lure that will prove irresistible to our notoriously wary salmon.

Oh, and apparently the fish on the Dee can swim safely for another couple of weeks, as the men (it almost always is men) with the rods and flies are not let loose until 1st February in this part of Scotland.

I shall report back from the river next month.

Friday 18 January 2019

Bertie worries about the primroses

Nature's Tricks

I thought I'd wear my tartan scarf,
To brighten up the winter gloom.
How unexpected then, to see,
For colour, I had company,
A clutch of precious yellow blooms.

Insistently proclaiming spring,
Our primroses are all confused.
For surely we shall soon have snow.
What then for such a pretty show?
Nature can be so hard and cruel.

We're thrilled to be taking part in Rosy and the LLB Gang's Nature Friday blog hop. Why not jump aboard! 

Monday 14 January 2019

A good day for waterfalls

The rain was lashing against the window of our cottage in the Northwest Highlands on Saturday morning and to be honest I would have been quite content to stay indoors in front of the fire all day.

For a while Gail did occupy herself with diary reading and writing, then at noon, this:

"Come on Bertie, there's only a few hours of daylight left. We really ought to get some fresh air and exercise. I know, let's go and check out the waterfalls around Loch Torridon, they will be looking quite impressive just now."

Having established that there was an adequate supply of 'posing treats' in Gail's jacket pocket, I reluctantly agreed to brave the ongoing downpour.

After a couple of hours, bedraggled and aware that Gail's pocket was now empty, I made it quite clear I'd had enough.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures at least...

Thursday 10 January 2019

Bertie deconstructs Brexit, sort of...

Hmmm. It's hard for those of us who live in the UK to avoid the dread topic of 'Brexit' altogether, much though many of us would like to.

First let me belatedly congratulate my fox terrier brethren, pictured below, who took centre stage at a special canine anti-Brexit rally in the autumn last year. Well done my friends - I'm proud of you!

You will have noticed that one of the posters in the photo refers to Brexit as a 'dog's dinner'. Many a commentator over here has made use of the same phrase, or the morning time equivalent, 'dog's breakfast'.

While I understand that this is meant to imply that the whole Brexit business has become one colossal mess (which is undoubtedly true), please forgive me for being a tad pedantic here and regretting the implied slur on the eating habits of my species.

I for one believe that my customary dinner, which consists of kibble with maybe an add-in of 'Butcher's Tripe' for taste, should in no way be used as a metaphor for disorder and confusion.

In fact, I would suggest we might rather look at a certain human's eating habits in this context.

I guess the problem is that describing Brexit as: "A single woman's dinner after a busy day at work, resulting from her googling the random (and probably past their use-by date) contents of her fridge plus the word 'recipe', and conjuring up some bizarre concoction of dubious nutritional value", does not neatly fit into the space allowed for the typical newspaper headline....

If only we could all just agree to 'Remain'...

Sunday 6 January 2019

Sniffer dog: job application...

To: The Transportation Security Administration (sniffer dog division), U.S.A.

7th January, 2019.

Dear Head of Recruitment at the TSA,

Re: Application to be a Sniffer Dog

Last week, my attention was caught by a newspaper article claiming that in the USA sniffer dogs with 'floppy ears' are being recruited for airport security because, unlike the traditional pointy eared German Shepherds and so forth, 'they don't scare the passengers'.

First, let me congratulate you on your commitment to diversity in your hiring practices.

However, I would like to point out that your otherwise estimable organisation appears to have neglected one important category of dog ear. As a (very adorable) wire fox terrier, my (impossibly cute) little ears are neither pointy nor floppy, rather they are flappy. The characteristic is seen to best advantage, and invariably draws admiring glances, in the course of my early morning trot around the park with my owner Gail.

Now Gail has often - especially after being confronted with a hefty bill from the vet - suggested that I might consider finding work and contributing to our household expenditure. Although to date I have been content with my lot as a 'kept' dog, I must say I am attracted by a job opportunity which would combine two of my greatest strengths, namely the ability to sniff with focus and intensity while also looking unbelievably endearing and unthreatening.

Lest you doubt the latter, I should also add that, on seeing my loveably fuzzy face, strangers often exclaim "ooh, he looks just like a teddy bear". And while I will admit that anyone who set me directly beside a teddy bear would surely notice significant differences, I think that in the world of sniffer dog customer relations, it is first impressions that count.

To the best of my knowledge, the only time my presence causes distress to young children is when they learn I am not available to be taken home and adopted by them.

I recognise that, in the way of human resources professionals everywhere, you will want evidence of relevant experience and expertise. Let me assure you that just over a week ago, when Gail returned from her Christmas vacation in Mexico, I inspected her luggage most thoroughly, and am relieved to report that the only drugs I detected were two Naproxen tablets, available over the counter in Mexico City  but only on prescription in this country.

I hope the fact that I currently hold a European Union passport will not count against me in this application. I think it is relevant that my owner once worked for two years in Oklahoma. (I trust that her failure to pay an Oklahoma State income tax demand for $2.63 which arrived some months after she returned to England will not disbar me being considered for a sniffer dog position.)

Assuming that my application is successful, might I state a preference for working somewhere in the Seattle area, where I believe the climate would be congenial to one accustomed to British weather, and where Gail says she would happily accompany me.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as your current government shutdown allows...

Toodle pip!
Bertie WFT.

Friday 4 January 2019

Nature Friday: Beeches or Beaches?

Which do you prefer?

See below for more Nature Friday posts, hosted by the ever wonderful LLB gang.  

Thursday 3 January 2019

Bertie the literary critic

So Gail found this old book on a stall on Avenue Reforma in Mexico City, and the friendly bookseller gave it her for free. It was one of very few that was in English and not by Dan Brown.

(Gail, we needn't tell them that you saw the title 'Wolf Tone' and thought it was about the 18th century 'father of Irish Republicanism', need we?)

Well I have had a quick read and find it quite stunning that the author Lawrence Goldman has apparently been forgotten. What a loss to the world! Such a perceptive novelist. I mean show me another serious writer who recognises the special qualities of the WFT....? 

Please someone tell me where I can find more books by this fine gentleman. 

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Scotland, Mexico, and Best Wishes for 2019

To celebrate Gail's return from her Mexico holiday, I took her yesterday for a walk through farmland near the Deeside Gliding Club.

It was a excellent opportunity to remind her why she should be pleased to be home in Scotland. 

In case they're not obvious, let me list some of the reasons:
  • Walks are more fun with your favourite WFT for company.
  • The air in the North of Scotland is clean and free of pollution. 
  • The ground is soft beneath the paws/feet.
  • There is no danger of dehydration.
  • Pale and freckly skinned humans can venture outdoors without slathering themselves in Factor 50 sunblock.
  • We have 'right to roam' laws throughout our beautiful and uncrowded land.
  • There will be a nearby cafĂ© selling tea made in a proper teapot, and you don't have to ask for milk.
  • Your WFT will bounce up on your lap for a nice cuddle when you put your feet up at the end of the walk.
Oh yes, and finally, you can go for dip in the river Dee without fear of encountering any of these guys...

Wishing all my lovely readers a Happy, Peaceful (and crocodile-free) New Year!