So we had a little meet and greet in the Muir of Dinnet car park on Sunday morning, ahead of the monthly wire-haired fox terrier walk. It was a small but select group this time. Quality rather than quantity, if you like.
Stan, Merin, Pickles and I were joined by Stan's houseguest Toby, who is not a WFT, but we didn't hold that against him.
Introductions complete, we set off down the path through the birch trees to Loch Kinord. For the first time this year, I felt snow under my paws.
The sun shone brightly. The snow had melted and the wind had freshened by the time we completed our circumnavigation of the Loch.
We were all "good dogs" throughout, although perhaps Merin could use some extra training in the matter of posing for the end of walk team photo.
Left to right: Bertie, Pickles, Merin and Stan
Gosh it was fun. I bet Dobermann Toby is wishing he was a Foxy!
I regret to say that, as a male dog, I find there are certain issues which a female human, however caring and thoughtful, simply cannot relate to.
I'm hoping some of my friends out there in the internet will understand...
We have been enduring a bout of notably stormy weather here in the UK of late. Even in the relatively sheltered woods where Gail took me walking on Sunday afternoon, I could feel the cool wind ripping through my furs.
I think Gail must have been feeling a bit chilly, 'cos she started getting rather short with me, complaining I was taking too much time over my important 'marking' activities.
Friends, you know how important it is to mark the one's territory with both accuracy and precision?
In normal conditions, this is relatively straightforward, and I suppose Gail simply didn't realise how in high winds, the trajectory of one's peemail, between dog and tree, is liable to distortion, and the degree of distortion can be particularly tricky to predict when the wind strength and direction is variable. Thus, lining oneself up in the right position to achieve a true aim takes longer than normal.
And can you imagine, Gail just thought I was "dawdling".
PS Gail and I had a little debate about whether or not this post qualifies for the LLB Gang's Nature Friday blog hop. I pointed out that the subject matter includes what humans sometimes refer to as "a call of nature" and also makes an important point about the impact of the forces of nature on a dog's ability to delineate his territory. Gail remains unconvinced. But it is MY blog!
On the eve of my tenth birthday, I have been arguing with my owner about which of us is now oldest.
Those of you who read my post from 25 November 2018 will be able to calculate Gail's current age. Others will have deduced it from the picture above and the fact that she possesses a slide rule...
The question is - how old is Gail in dog years? (By the way, I can never understand why it is usual for dog years to be converted to human years - surely doing it the other way round shows a proper sense of priority...)
So according to conventional wisdom, 1 dog year = 7 human years, which by my calculations and in appropriately dog-centric terms, puts Gail at a relatively youthful eight and three quarters.
However, for smaller dogs, a ratio of 1:6 is often used, and by this measure Gail would be more than ten years old, so a wee bit older than me.
To confuse matters further, one sees charts like the one below, which are all very well, but slightly tricky if, like me, you weigh between 9 and 10 kg, thus right on the boundary between small and medium size.
Finally, you may have seen it reported last year that a team from the University of California, San Diego, conducted a highly scientific study based on DNA methylation etc. and came up with the following formula*:
Human age = [ln(dog age in years)x16] + 31
But as this research was conducted using exclusively Labradors, I think we can ignore the results for now, more especially as they suggest once again that I am the oldster round here...
Fellow pups, do tell me, are you still the baby of the household or do you claim senior citizen status?
*The mathematically inclined among you will already have worked out that according to this formula, at a nanosecond after birth the dog will be age minus six!
In the two decades that Gail has lived in Aberdeen, this is the first winter when the only snowflakes seen in the city have been those arriving on the roofs of cars driving in from hilly areas in the hinterland.
How's winter been in your neck of the woods?
Climate change anyone?
Thanks once again to our ever wonderful Nature Friday blog hop hosts Arty, Jakey and Rosy, a.k.a. The LLB Gang.
A few days ago, Gail and I tried out a new dog-friendly café, 'Figment', conveniently situated beside my favourite shop, 'Pet Comforts'.
At the table next to us was a quiet and sensible looking miniature schnauzer and Gail fell into conversation with his owner while we two pups warily sized each other up.
The schnauzer was wearing a cosy blue fleece jacket and I found myself feeling a bit under-dressed, and wishing I had on my Aran jumper.
Having established from his human that my new pal was two years old, very well behaved, and lived round the corner from the café, Gail asked her his name.
Gosh, if I was already coveting the blue fleece, just imagine how envious I felt when I learned of this most distinguished moniker.
"Gail, you claim to be some sort of a physicist, why did you not call me Einstein?" I asked when we got home.
She replied, in retrospect quite sympathetically (for Gail). "I'm so sorry. Who knew you were such sensitive little fellow? If it matters so much to you, shall we just pretend that Bertie is short for Albert, and that I had Albert Einstein in mind when I named you and not Bertie Wooster, not him at all!
Do you think this was a satisfactory resolution?
Back to the scene in the café. While Gail was finishing her tea, Einstein and I had time for a wee chinwag. To be honest with you, I found him a bit hard going. Our conversation went like this:
BB: Well Einstein, do you want to play with me? Einstein: God does not play dice with the universe.
BB: Er, OK then, perhaps you would prefer to be with your human? She looks pretty smart. Einstein: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
BB: Say, Einstein, it’s a bit chilly today isn’t it? And I almost fell over on the ice. Einstein: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
BB: Well, I guess it must be time to go home, it’s dark already. Look, a full moon tonight! Einstein: I like to think the moon is there even if I am not looking at it.
Gail later asked me if I’d had a nice time chatting with my new Schnauzer pal.
“Relatively”, I replied.
Too windy this weekend to contemplate a walk in the hills or on the beach, so on Saturday Gail suggested I accompany her for a stroll across the city centre, the destination being a favourite shop in Rosemount.
Of course I insisted on wearing my manly Aran jumper, perfect for the stylish dog about town on a sunny but breezy day, don't you think?
It's been a while since I showed you some of Aberdeen's impressive granite buildings, and I'm pleased to report that refurbishment work on our fine Art Gallery is now finally complete, and ditto the Music Hall.
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Can you see me?
Music Hall entrance
The Town House and Marischal (pronounced Marshall) College were looking grand as ever in the midday winter sunshine.
We finally arrived at 'Wool for Ewe', and as I waited outside, my hand-knitted jumper was attracting lots of favourable attention from the customers entering this deservedly busy wee yarn shop.
Across the road from the shop, a flag we are seeing flown more and more often in post-Brexit Scotland was in danger of being shredded by the still strengthening wind
The sunshine did not last the day. By late afternoon the leading edge of Storm Ciara had arrived, and with it the rain, and Gail and I were happy to be cuddled up on the sofa watching England defeat Scotland at Murrayfield in conditions that one might have imagined would favour the home team!
So Gail was doing a good job managing expectations as she drove me across to the Torridon cottage on Friday morning.
"Now Bertie, I'm afraid we might not achieve any but the shortest of walks this weekend. I checked the weather forecast and it's promising non-stop heavy rain and strong winds for the next few days."
The ground and everything else was sodden when we arrived, and Gail's attempts to keep me out of the mud were, of course, unsuccessful.
But by Saturday lunchtime the rain had subsided and I even thought I could detect 'glimpses of brightness' (a phrase much favoured by optimistic outdoor enthusiasts in Scotland) between the clouds.
I waited patiently outside the Torridon Stores while Gail enjoyed a coffee and a chinwag about former colleagues with the owner Jo.
(Gail's always telling me how a quarter of a century ago she and Jo both used to work for the same company, located on Trafalgar Square, between Northumberland Avenue and Charing Cross, but frankly I find that hard to believe.)
The weather gods smiled on my patience and, with Gail duly re-caffeinated, we enjoyed a bonus blue sky moment, all the sweeter for being unanticipated, as we traversed the gentle 1.5 mile circuit around the head of the loch.
Hi, I'm Bertie, a wire-haired fox terrier pup. I live with Gail in Aberdeen, Scotland. An old Westie called Hamish used to live here but he died on 18th February 2010 (exactly the same day I was born). People tell me that he used to have a blog and that I have big pawprints to fill. That's a bit too much responsibility for a very young puppy - and anyway, I intend to make my own mark!
(Gail says that Hamish could certainly have taught me a thing or two about marking stuff....)