Wednesday 30 September 2020

Update on Bertie's health

It's Gail here. I write this with a heavy heart. 

A couple of weeks ago my friend Kirsty, a retired vet, looked after Bertie for the day and observed his ongoing peeing problems. Despite the normal blood and urine tests a month ago, she was worried about his 'straining' and encouraged me to push for further investigation.

The upshot was that Bertie had an ultrasound scan on Monday this week, and a 3 x 3 cm tumour (a transitional cell carcinoma) was detected at the neck of his bladder. The vet has prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug which might shrink the tumour a little or at least slow its growth and provide limited relief, but the devastating facts are that surgery is not considered appropriate, these tumours can grow and spread quite aggressively, and the prognosis is that he may live a few months, at best. Of course, I shall ensure Bertie does not suffer unduly, but oh he is so dear to me, especially at the moment with all the Covid-related restrictions impacting our lives.

I know that readers of this will understand my shock, and that many of you will have gone through similar or worse with your beloved pets. I wonder if the news would be easier to take if Bertie did not otherwise seem in pretty good shape. 

How I wish I had a cheerier message today. Just now, facing the onset of winter darkness and with all our government limits on socialising between households (my visit to Kirsty yesterday for some much needed tea and sympathy was, strictly speaking, illegal here in Scotland) I'm trying hard to stay positive. After all, for the moment Bertie is still eating well, enjoying his walks and on the surface, little has changed. 

Bertie out yesterday, belly part shaved for ultrasound scan

Monday 28 September 2020

Well done M!

Conversation first thing in the morning, a few days ago

Gail, where are we going to go for our walk with M and J this week?

Well Bertie, I promised to show them the nice route by Cowie Water, near Stonehaven. You like that one, don't you?

I do Gail, but do you think M will manage it? There's a rather steep section, rough, with lots of tree roots and loose stones, and I seem to remember that our friend once said she preferred flat walks.

She did Bertie, but that was pre-Pandemic. I do believe M will soon be sprinting up Munros after all the intrepid hiking she and J have been doing these past few months.

The walk

Post-walk conversation, back home.

Gosh Gail, that was fun, those huge old beech trees beside the burn are particularly impressive. And you were right, I was under-estimating your former German teacher. 

Now Bertie, I see you have only posted the photos that I took. M emailed us a couple of lovely ones too.  They turned out rather better than mine in fact. Why don't you put those on the blog?

Well Gail, they are indeed excellent pictures, but I fear they might get us arrested. Remember that people from separate households are supposed to keep two meters (or for those who read my last post, three and a third Berties), apart.

Bertie, don't worry, we can soon sort that out...

Thursday 24 September 2020

How long are you?

We saw this sign outside the Long Dog Café yesterday.

I am 60 cm long, so here in Scotland humans would need to stand at least three and a third Berties apart when queuing. 

Sadly, this dog-friendly café, which is a convenient walk of about a mile from our Aberdeen home, was closed. Gail says she wants to make sure that, pandemic or no pandemic, I don't totally forget my "restaurant manners" so we marched on a little further and tried out a relatively new establishment, the Orka Artisan Café, where dogs are also welcome.

At 11ºC and a light NW wind, it was warm enough (just) for well wrapped humans to sit comfortably outside. The nice waitress asked if I was allowed a treat, and then complimented me on the gentle way I took the gravy bone from her hand. I thought this might have meant a second treat would be forthcoming but that was not to be.

So I waited quietly while Gail enjoyed her coffee and blackberry scone, thus demonstrating again my absolutely perfect manners

Weather and coronavirus restrictions permitting, I hope we can return to 'The Orka' before too long.  

Monday 21 September 2020

Venison sausages...


A perfect morning, clear and bright,
We walked from Diabaig to Craig,
And found a peaceful picnic site,
Escaping politics and plague.

A herd of deer peeped o’er the cliff
Just for a moment, then were gone.
Was it my bark, or did they sniff,
Gail’s sausage made from venison…?

Friday 18 September 2020

Friday exam question.

It's better to live somewhere with a changeable and unpredictable climate, as everything looks that bit more special when the sun finally appears. Discuss. 

This is what Gail was telling me as we sat through 36 hours of continuous heavy rain last weekend. But don't worry, exams are all cancelled in 2020, so I didn't have to write an essay on the topic. Instead I'll take you for a walk along the Woodland Trail in the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. And guess what? The sun did peep shyly from behind the clouds from time to time during the hike...

We start off with me posing nicely in front of the information kiosk. Do you like the heather eco-roof? I do!

Then I lead the way up the well-constructed but steepish path. (Gail's ankle is almost completely better now, but I told her not to take risks). 

When she catches up and I pose nicely again with Loch Maree in the background. 

Slioch, the big hill behind the loch, is still covered in cloud. I've never been up there but Gail tells me that she and my predecessor Hamish once made it to the summit, a twelve mile round trip with a lot of rough climbing. 

It's a grand view looking west down Loch Maree too. 

Back near the car park nature has apparently provided a perfectly formed water bowl. 

But for some reason Gail doesn't want me to drink from it.

I hope you enjoyed our wee hike today. In this part of the world, one has to seize the moment. It might be raining again tomorrow...

Happy Nature Friday! And thanks once again to Rosy and the Gang for hosting this lovely blog hop.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Hamish's crocuses

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a blurry patch of pink through the rain spattered window on Monday's post. 

In that picture it might have been difficult to identify the patch as a cluster of autumn crocuses, but now the rain has stopped, I am happy to pose in front of said cluster, both me and the flowers in sharper focus.

Buried beneath the stone which sits amid the crocuses are the ashes of my predecessor Hamish the Westie. Gail tells me he loved to sit right here, often to the detriment of the crocus blooms...

It was twenty-one years ago this week that Hamish came to live with Gail, thus finally fulfilling her long time wish to be a dog owner. Gail tells me how when she phoned Human Granny announcing she'd just adopted a three-year old Westie, HGY responded first with horror and alarm, then later phoned back and apologised saying "Gail, now I understand, you REALLY DID want a dog when you were a child."

Monday 14 September 2020

The wrong side of Scotland?

Please Gail, remind me why we came to Torridon this weekend? 

(Between you and me, I think she just wanted an excuse to laze about on the sofa watching the Tour de France all day...)

Tell me friends, does your human ever make bad decisions?

Friday 11 September 2020

Nature Friday: grass and ass...

I've been scanning through the photos of my walks in the countryside over the past week or so, and could not help but notice a common theme. 

Almost all feature our lovely Scottish landscape framing a small but perfectly former terrier derrière. 

We can attribute the photographer's failure to keep up with me to the fact that she has been recovering from a sprained ankle, and her forward motion is still a tad tentative on rough ground or downhill. 

And whilst readers of taste and discrimination will recognise my compact, muscular rear end as a true wonder of nature, Gail is insistent that it is not in and of itself suitable material to front up (or should that be back up?) a Nature Friday post. 

She suggests that my friends might rather be interested in this pretty little flower, which she spotted in a damp area beside the path on Scolty Hill on Wednesday and, after consulting her wildflower book, identified as Grass of Parnassus. (Oddly named, as it is no way actually a grass).

You'll be pleased to hear that I did eventually stop and wait for Gail to catch up after she had finished with her botanising.

Happy Nature Friday! And remember, the other posts in the LLB Gang's blog hop are always well worth a read.

Monday 7 September 2020

A word about dog parking provision

Gail, there is an important issue I wish to talk about today. Parking provision for dogs.

Oh yes Bertie? (Gail replies, with eyebrows raised quizzically.) And what prompted this particular concern?

Well do you remember how you tied me up at the 'dog park' outside the shop in Contin, on our way back from Torridon on Friday?

I do indeed Bertie. Good of the store to have special place for you, I thought. They even provided a bowl of water.

But Gail, did you not notice the overall poor quality of the facility?

Frankly Bertie, I did not. Tell me, what exactly was the problem?

Where to begin! First off, the dog parking spot was fully exposed to the elements whereas had they placed it on the other side of the door, I would have enjoyed protection from the rain. Secondly, the bowl was almost empty, containing less than a half inch of slimy, scummy water. Thirdly, given that the shop is on the increasingly popular North Coast 500 route, I think there should have been a security guard present in case some passing holidaymaker decided to kidnap me. Since Covid-19, us dogs are an increasingly valuable asset, as you know. Fourthly, you'll see that my lead is twisted around my front leg, and that should never have been allowed to happen....

Bertie, your complaints are getting increasingly ridiculous. Since when, pray, did you mind getting rained on, or balk at lapping up scummy water? As for your lead, well I think you only have yourself to blame for that. I will agree you are a most precious asset, but I was only in the shop for the time it took to buy a drink, and you were out of my sight for just a few seconds. And anyway, as far as I'm aware, kidnapping of dogs on the NC 500 is not prevalent. Really, I hope you are not turning into a grumpy old dog.

"Grumpy" "old" dog? Never! 

I would like to remind you that I am a good natured and remarkably youthful looking ten year old. Who deserves valet parking.

Friday 4 September 2020

Never a dull moment?

For today's Nature Friday I want to bring you some typical late summer weather from Torridon. Lively and changeable, it keeps you on your toes. 

Not exactly a case of 'never a dull moment', but often more interesting than watching the telly! (Not that we have a TV here, just to make it quite clear to the TV Licensing authorities. We don't want any more of those nasty letters threatening to put Gail in prison for non-payment...)

I digress.

All the photos below were taken from approximately the same spot, just outside the front gate of our cottage. 

Oh and one more thing.  We have a sort of bonus extra today, a montage of the pretty flowers still in bloom in the cottage garden. And taking centre stage, a rose for Rosy of course! 

Thanks once again to Arty, Jakey, Rosy and Sunny for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop. Do now visit the other posts and enjoy!