Monday 31 August 2020

Normal (but in no way average)

Greetings friends! 

My human has always advised me to avoid allowing medical issues to dominate my blog. (Apparently she learned from her own experience with Human Granny and Grandad that lengthy and repetitive descriptions of every single symptom experienced, no matter how personal and embarrassing, are not a good way to engage another's attention...).  

But I do want you to know that the results of last week's blood tests all came back as absolutely 'normal'. The vet also assured Gail that my daily water intake of 500-600 ml is well within the expected range. The current theory is that a slightly enlarged prostate might be contributing to my occasional 'accidents' in the house.

So the way forward is that Gail will continue to monitor my fluid intake, noting any changes, and will be more attentive when I indicate I would like to go outside.

On to cheerier matters. I was thrilled to meet up for a walk with my WFT group for the first time in six months. There was a bumper turnout (ten of us wiry guys plus one smooth-haired fox terrier) and we enjoyed a glorious romp on Balmedie Beach, with a modicum of merry terrier mayhem, as you can see from the photos below.

I think you'll agree that my blood might be normal, but in every other way I am well above average.

Friday 28 August 2020

Climate matters at Loch Kinord and beyond

You know somewhere's well worth a visit when, even on a dull day, it looks lovely. 

(Fortunately, the Scottish weather provides ample opportunity to test this theory...)

What with one thing and another, it's been six months since we last visited Loch Kinord. In February, there was snow, and now in August, the heather under the pine and birch trees is in full bloom, but the water lilies have sadly been and gone. The water still tastes good. 

The loch sits within the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve, and some new information boards have appeared. Of course Gail and I already knew that the humpy and sinuous ridge bounding the northern edge of the loch is an 'esker', formed by rivers under glaciers in the last Ice Age.

Even in August, it takes no great stretch of the imagination to picture Aberdeenshire covered in glaciers. Harder perhaps, to take in the fact that earlier this summer in the Siberian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk, a temperature of over 100ºF was recorded, the result of warming due to human activity on top of the natural variations in climate that take place through the ages. 

Friends, we need to take climate change seriously. 

Happy Nature Friday! Do go and visit the other posts in Rosy, Arty, Jakey and Sunny's always enlightening blog hop. 

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Should I have made her pay?

We need to talk about something a wee bit embarrassing this morning.

Over the last month or so, I have been needing to pee more often than I used to. I'm mortified to report that there have even been occasions when I could not wait to be let out into the garden. Oh and I was so proud of my reputation for bring super 'reliable' in these matters. I seem to be thirstier too. 

Unsure whether this was just part of me getting older or something more worrying, Gail took me to the vet. 

The vet checked me over, saw nothing obviously wrong but asked Gail to bring her a sample of my urine.

My owner, can you believe it, viewed the matter of collecting this sample with some distaste, worried that the collection process would involve me peeing over her hand as well as the bowl she planned to place under me. She seemed unmoved when I pointed out that some humans (I'm told) actually pay good money for so-called 'golden showers', and here was an opportunity for her to enjoy the experience for free...

Later Gail had the nerve to complain about my "unpredictable aim". 

The vet has now reported back that my urine is 'borderline' dilute, so investigations will continue and I'll be going back to give a blood sample on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, I am, pee matters aside, feeling just hunky dory. Gail and I are delighted that Aberdeen's tiresome local lockdown has been lifted. We had a lovely walk at Forvie Sands this afternoon (see below), and are looking forward to meeting up on Sunday with the wire-haired fox terrier group for the first time in over six months. After that we'll be heading off to Torridon again. Yippee! 

Monday 24 August 2020

Sometimes one despairs...

On Saturday morning when Gail popped into Boots the Chemist in Union Square (a shopping centre where dogs are banned, mask-wearing compulsory, and security men supposedly guard the entrances) she saw this:

For once we are both speechless.

But I hope you'll agree that these sunflowers, an unusual sight in Aberdeen, make for an altogether happier picture.

Friday 21 August 2020

Forest bathing with Bertie

Today, I invite you to come Forest Bathing with me! 

Have you heard about Forest Bathing? Fear not, aquaphobes, it doesn't involve getting wet. The idea, originating in Japan, is to reconnect with nature and enhance one's wellbeing by savouring the sights, sounds and smells of the forest. Not by rushing around, counting your steps or striving to achieve a goal, but by taking time to bathe in the peace and beauty of the natural environment. 

Obviously, us dogs are particularly good at the sniffing bit. 

Although Gail reminds me that this is not a competitive activity! 

I'll admit I struggle with the 'not rushing around' aspect of Forest Bathing. And I don't recall 'mindfulness' ever being on the curriculum at the puppy classes I attended long ago.

But as I get older, I am beginning to appreciate that taking things slowly and enjoying the feel of the soft mosses under one's paws, the scent of sweet pine resin, the lush green colours of the vegetation, and the soundscape of our feathered friends going about their daily business, can be a route to happiness too.

So Happy Nature Friday friends! Do go and see what others have posted today in this wonderful blog hop hosted by the LLB Gang.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Pity the fictional detective's dog...

I really can't understand why Gail is disappointed that the Edinburgh International Book Festival has moved online this year. 

In what way is it preferable to schlep off to Scotland's rainy capital to gather in crowded tents in Charlotte Square, when you could be sitting in the comfort of your own home, sharing the experience with your dog. The dog who is comfortably curled up on your lap, rather than having been abandoned to 'prison' for a few days?

And you know what? The event we 'attended' together on Monday night was actually quite interesting and illuminating. Favourite Scottish crime author Ian Rankin was talking to journalist Ruth Wishart about his latest book, 'A Song for Dark Times'. 

It turns out that Inspector Rebus, Rankin's fictional detective, has newly acquired a dog called Brillo. And Ms Wishart commented she'd been distracted, when reading the book, by worrying about Brillo being left alone for long periods while Rebus was pursuing his investigations. Ian Rankin admitted that ensuring the dog was well cared for became yet another complicating factor to consider when constructing the story, and said he'd relied on his wife to proof read his text to check that Rebus's new status as dog owner was incorporated in a realistic way.

I bet you'd never thought before about this most important issue when it comes to writing crime fiction! 

Are you enjoying any online events with your humans?

PS Click here to link to the Rankin/Wishart talk.

Monday 17 August 2020

A grade 'A' morning outing and a Pea-S...

I have to tell you there are some routines in this household's retirement/lockdown life that I like much more than others. 

I think you can guess my views on Gail's participation in the Thursday morning cycling group. Much more acceptable are the regular walks with our friends M&J. We all love exploring new places, and the relaxed pace allows me plenty of sniffing time while the humans enjoy a good old chinwag. 

Last week M&J suggested a hike around the Maryculter Community Woodland, so off we trotted. Here I am, looking up in admiration at J, as his wife M recounts the story of how once upon a time their ten year old daughter had called upon him to help with a school project. 

Gosh I was thinking, how fortunate the daughter to have such a clever and well qualified dad...

The task was to research and write an essay about any African country and J, a university lecturer in Geography who had worked as District Commissioner in Zambia, long ago in the days before that country gained independence, was only too happy to help. Unfortunately the outcome was not in line with expectations, the grade 'C' awarded to the resultant Zambia essay being a blot on the daughter's otherwise unblemished record of 'A's...

Well today I am in charge of the marking and I am happy to rate this hike as A*+++, and better.

Thank you M&J!

Pea-S: On Sunday, on a different walk, this time with our friends Neil and Yvonne, Gail stumbled and fell on her ankle, and so this was the scene in our household yesterday evening...

Friday 14 August 2020

Heather, harebells and handsomeness...

Short and sweet today. Nothing to add.

Happy Nature Friday! Thank you once again to the LLB Gang for hosting this our favourite blog hop.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

An overgrown path brings back bad memories

So yesterday Gail took me for a walk in Clochandighter Wood, a patch of Forestry Commission land on the outskirts of Aberdeen. For much of the current pandemic, the small parking area had been barricaded off, but I'm pleased to report that the aggressively worded 'GO HOME' sign has now been removed and so we proceeded unhindered up the pleasant grassy path on the edge of the pine plantation.

Parts of this track are always boggy, even in the height of summer, and I want you to notice how, in the next two pictures, I do really try hard to keen my paws clean, if at all possible.

Further up the hill, Gail led me down a 'path less trodden'. With the forest closed off for much of the summer, and with Aberdeen's weather conditions in 2020 having been perfect for photosynthesis, the route  through the thistles, spiky gorse bushes, stinging nettles and wild raspberry was even less trodden and more overgrown than usual. All but impassable in fact. 

As we extricated ourselves from the tangle of prickly vegetation I observed Gail was treading unusually carefully across the uneven ground. Later she explained she'd had a flashback to 2001, the year of the foot and mouth disease epidemic in the UK.

That year too, the countryside around Aberdeen was mostly out of bounds for several months. Shortly after things had opened up again, Gail took my predecessor Hamish the Westie on an evening walk up Brimmond Hill. Another overgrown path (gorse bushes mostly), also uneven underfoot. On the way back to the car, but still with half a mile to go, Hamish had had enough and refused to budge. He could be very stubborn, I'm told. The light was fading fast, so Gail picked Hamish up and tried to force her way back through the gorse bushes, carrying him under her right arm. She stumbled awkwardly, her ankle made a distinct cracking noise, in shock she dropped Hamish and started hopping around in agony, convinced a bone had been broken. With no-one else in sight, and no mobile phone in those days, she somehow made it back to the car, by which time her ankle was the size of a generous water melon. She drove the five miles home in second gear, dropped Hamish off, called a cab to the hospital and spent a couple of hours waiting in A&E, where eventually an x-ray showed that the ankle was 'only' badly sprained, not broken.

I am relieved to say that yesterday there were no such mishaps. 

Monday 10 August 2020

Decision making 101

 Do you ever have one of those days...

...when you really can't decide whether you want to be in or out?

OK, time to commit!

Turns out it was a good decision 'cos I scored treats by posing handsomely in the front of the orange potentilla.  

And then enjoyed a lengthy session of barking at my next door neighbours Stroma the cocker spaniel on one side and Ruby the Briard on the other.  

Have you made any good decisions lately? 

Friday 7 August 2020

Oh no, not again...

Just hours after my post on Wednesday came the most unwelcome news that my home city Aberdeen has gone into a local coronavirus lockdown. All bars and restaurants are closed again (so no cheeseburger for me any time soon), no visits to other households, and travel is limited to a five mile radius of one's place of residence. 

Gosh there were a lot of glum faces today among the normally cheerful early morning Duthie Park dog walkers. 

What to do? Perhaps if I posed nicely in front of the park's flower borders, which are looking their most colourful just now, that would help brighten things up? After all, it is Nature Friday, and my friends will want to see something other than the grey granite of our plague-struck city. 

On Thursdays Gail normally abandons me to go cycling after our early walk. This week, I noticed a rather curious WhatsApp message on her phone which seemed to indicate that her cycling friends were struggling with the concept of the five mile limit. 
But it seems they met up anyway, and I leave you to guess how far out of town these ladies actually rode before settling down to a socially distanced and sunny picnic.
Happy Nature Friday friends! I hope you are enjoying more freedom in your part of the world than we are here right now...