Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Starry Midnight, Supernova, or Black Watch?

Readers of Monday's post will know that tomorrow Gail and I are heading off for a long weekend at Inshriach House near Aviemore, where I shall be required to wear my 'male dog belly band' most of the time. (At home I just wear it during the night). I am really worried that border collie Hemp, who will also be there, will make fun of me.

Perhaps you could help me by telling me which of my three bands you think the most masculine and the least likely to diminish my standing in the eyes of Hemp.

Is it: 

(1) Starry Midnight?

(2) Supernova?

(3) Black Watch tartan?

All advice gratefully received!

Monday, 18 October 2021

What could possibly go wrong?

Did you want to say something Gail? 

Yes, in fact I did. Bertie, I just want you to know that we are having a change in routine later this week, and are finally going again to Inshriach House near Aviemore for a long weekend with John and Françoise and several other friends. Isn't that exciting!

Exciting? Well I'm not so sure. These days I'm happy just to be at home with you, enjoying the quiet life, on the whole. Can't we politely decline the invitation?

Oh please understand Bertie, I look forward so much to our Inshriach breaks, and this is the first time for over two years that we've been able to go. You know I put your needs first for ninety-nine percent of the time, so I'd be really thankful if you'd bear with me on this one.

Well OK, if you absolutely insist...

I do, I do. But one 'issue' Bertie is your, er, ever so slightly leaky bladder. I'm afraid that when we are inside the very grand house, you will have to wear your 'male dog belly band' most of the time. Oh and by the way, your old adversary Hemp the border collie will be there too...

Gail, this is a disaster in the making! Hemp will surely laugh at my belly band and call it a nappy. Oh it is all going to be so humiliating.

Bertie, please be assured that Hemp will on no account be allowed to make fun of you. He is a very intelligent dog and I'm sure he has developed some emotional literacy by now. He will respect you for your years and your superior blogging abilities.

(Bertie looks doubtful)

Er, if you say so Gail... 

Oh and by the way, if any readers of Friday's post are still puzzling over the breed of the dog we met, she was, as Fay correctly guessed, a Glen of Imaal Terrier. Here she is again. Her name is Maddy.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Autumn alliteration...(and a quiz!)


Colourful countryside constitutionals

Satisfying seaside strolls

Precious pals, pretty pups
(Can you guess this cute wee lady's breed? Gail had to ask the owner.)

Dawn diversions in the dark

Princely posing places!  

Happy Nature Friday! And thanks once again to our lovely LLB Gang friends for hosting the blog hop. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Bertie to the rescue!

I expect you've heard that here in the UK we have a dire shortage of lorry drivers.

So I'm thinking of applying for my HGV licence. I mean, how hard can it be?


Apparently Gail is worried that, with government efforts to fast-track driver training, I might not be least well qualified trucker on the roads soon...

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Just because it's raining...


...that's no excuse to stay inside.

Far better to go for a walk though the Ballogie Estate, which is where Gail and I were on Friday morning.

After a mile or so walking through the forest we reached open fields and, yes, the umbrella was still up...

On arrival at the village of Marywell I checked out the library but didn't see anything suitable for Gail so we pressed on.

Gail claimed the skies were clearing. Is this what a clearing sky looks like to you?

Back into woodland, five miles into the six mile walk, and despite the continued precipitation, I was still going strong...

....only stopping to pose nicely when Gail waved a treat in front of my face.

And now I would just like to point out how my WFT furs blend perfectly with the autumn colours and still look adorable, despite the two hour trudge through the rain and mud. 

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Truffle hunting or nappy sniffing?

Since we returned from our trip to Torridon last week, I've been struggling to gain Gail's attention as she's had her nose deeply inserted into two library books, both apparently highly absorbing (she says), in very different ways.

As usual, I insisted on speed reading the two volumes, scouring the pages for canine-relevant material that might be of interest to followers of this blog.

First the Ben MacIntyre book, 'The Spy and the Traitor'. I really thought I'd drawn a blank in this true story about the Russian double agent Oleg Gordievsky. Until, that is, I reached page 301. It's 1985 and the KGB have rumbled that Gordievsky has been spying for the Brits. And in this tense scene we encounter a Soviet sniffer dog, at work on the Russia-Finland border but being distracted by the wife of the MI6 Moscow chief changing her baby's nappy on the boot of the British Embassy car. The whiffy nappy fortuitously disguised the fact that Gordievsky was hiding inside the boot, sweating with fear, escaping almost certain execution for his traitorous activities.

One can understand how the poor pup got confused. The book does not tell if he was later punished by the KGB for dereliction of duty. I surely hope not.

Perhaps the dogs in the other book had a more enjoyable working environment. In the opening pages of 'Entangled Life' by Merlin Sheldrake (a book about mycorrhizal fungi - yes really) we meet Kika and Diavolo, two Italian dogs who also earn their keep by means of their superior scenting ability. Roaming the woods with their handlers Paride and Daniele, these Lagotto Romagnolos  sniff out Piedmont white truffles. Apparently dogs are favoured over pigs for this highly skilled work as it is not so easy to train a pig not to devour the much prized delicacy immediately upon its detection. Who knew? 

Soviet spy sniffer, or tasty truffle tracer - which would you rather be? 

Monday, 4 October 2021

Bladder-friendly road trip log

So. I finally have my Torridon to Aberdeen chauffeur service sorted to my satisfaction. And to my bladder's satisfaction. 

First leg, Torridon cottage to Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre near Kinlochewe (thirty-five minute drive).

Stop for one mile walk round the Buzzard Path. Pretty views but don't see any buzzards.

Second leg, Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre to Nairn Beach (about an hour and a half drive).

Stop for quick romp on Nairn Beach. Photographer "could do better", but is distracted by proximity of kiosk selling artisan pannacotta fudge ice cream...

Third leg, Nairn to Bin Forest near Huntly (another hour in car).

Stop for 1.5 mile forest walk. I most considerately ensure chauffeur has nice view of Aberdeenshire countryside to enjoy while I attend at length to the important business.

Fourth and final leg, home to Aberdeen (just under an hour).

Home sweet home. Dog happy. Bladder comfortable throughout. 

Friday, 1 October 2021

In between the showers


You're lucky to get any Nature Friday photos this week.

Yes, I know, we were over at the cottage in Torridon, and it's usually fertile territory for NF-friendly shots of Scotland's natural beauty. 

However, something went badly awry with my owner's priorities this week...
'Before'

Apparently, in the brief window of fine weather between torrential downpours, Gail thought it more important to apply a weatherproof woodstaining treatment to the sides of the new porch than to meet the needs of my blog.
'After'

Well I'm relieved to say that, when Gail did eventually put down the paintbrush, the sun came out and so she took a photo of the view you get if you stand with your back to the porch. 

Even better, we then went for a short late afternoon walk past the tranquil pond among the Scots pines in the Torridon estate. (You can take your pick as to whether you prefer the picture with or without dog). 

We ended up in a breezier spot at the head of Loch Torridon, 

An hour or so later, the rain returned with a vengeance...

Gail says thank goodness she had purchased quick drying woodstain. I say let's hope the treament adheres as well to the wood as it apparently does to Gail's fingers...

Happy Nature Friday! I hope our LLB Gang friends and the rest of you have enjoyed a more settled week than we in Scotland have just endured.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

'Comfort break' issues...

We are in Torridon this week. The weather has been, at best, 'changeable', and I shall leave you to guess whether or not we made it home from this short walk without getting  wet.


Gail drove us across from Aberdeen on Monday.  I'm afraid the trip takes longer than it used to. Gone are the times when I could travel all day without needing to get out for a pee. Now I require a 'comfort break' every hour or so when on the road. Something in the motion of the car makes me feel like I must empty my bladder, even if it is nearly empty already. Gail has tried giving me a thicker cushion to dampen the vibration from the road, which is nice but doesn't seem to make much difference.

I feel a bit guilty about slowing up our car journeys, but Gail points out that as she gets older she knows an increasing number of humans, both male and female, who suffer from similar 'increases in frequency' when out and about. At least, she says, it is socially acceptable for a dog to relieve himself pretty much anywhere so long as it is not indoors...



Monday, 27 September 2021

Totally Terrierific - Foxy Fun in the Forest

Pity those walkers expecting a quiet and tranquil Sunday morning stroll in Tyrebagger Wood...

But gosh, I'd been looking forward for ages to attending another meeting of the Aberdeenshire wire-haired fox terrier group. 

I was not disappointed.

We assembled 11:00 am sharp in the car park. 

In total, eight foxies showed up. Newcomer Ollie (sixteen weeks old) looked a little apprehensive at first,

but he soon got into the spirit of things. 

I renewed acquaintance with pretty Meriel (we compared notes on neckerchief fashion).

Peanut, Stan and I were momentarily distracted by an interesting message in the ferns...

But we were 'encouraged' to rejoin the group.

Soon Pickles was in disgrace after a foray into a muddy stream....

Later, Stan tried giving lessons in how to 'pose nicely' on a log,

But before long it all descended into happy mayhem.

Eventually calm was restored, and I took a turn at being the centre of attention.

Then before we knew it we were back at the car park and Ollie was saying a fond farewell.

It was yet another Good Day.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

One year on

 Gail here.

It's now been a year since Bertie was diagnosed with a malignant tumour (transitional cell carcinoma or TCC) near the neck of his bladder, and I was told that such tumours tend to be aggressive and treatment options limited. I won't pretend the past twelve months have been easy. There have been many ups and downs. 

Bertie still has his good moments, as captured on video last Saturday during a sunny and idyllic walk along the banks of the beautiful river Dee.



But then there are the times at home when he stands bewildered, looking uncomfortable. 

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that the last year has in effect been a 'bonus year', and be grateful for that. 

Monday, 20 September 2021

A tale of three bicycles

Regular readers of this blog might have gained the impression that I, Bertie, am not as interested in bicycles as is my owner Gail.

While this might be true up to a point, I want to explain today how I am in fact a close observer of Gail's cycling activities, to the extent that I can predict with some accuracy what will happen next, depending on which of Gail's three bicycles she wheels out of the front door. 

First we have the 'town bike', a 1970's vintage three speed 'Hercules' brand, maroon in colour and with a basket on the front. Gail only uses this for short outings - doing her 'messages' as we say in Scotland - and I can be confident that she will not be gone long. She might ever come back with some special Bertie treats in the basket! 

Can you believe that once, when I was a puppy, Gail tried to get me to sit still in that basket and go for a ride with her. Let me tell you that was never going to happen!!!  Not even after she had added a comfy cushion and a treat. 

Secondly we have the trusty 'tourer'. Made by Thorn Cycles in Somerset, this is Gail's all time favourite bicycle, now twenty years old and she claims it fits her "like a glove". It is designed for touring, being robust, with luggage carrying capacity and very low 'granny' gears. Over the years this bicycle has carried her variously through France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania, and it wears a dented top tube courtesy of Lufthansa as a badge of honour! So it is a cause for concern when one sees Gail packing and loading panniers onto this bicycle as in the past it has meant a trip to 'camp' (i.e. boarding kennels) is imminent for yours truly. 

More recently of course, Gail's travel activities have been limited, and the Thorn bike has mostly been used for rides out of Aberdeen when the weather is not great and/or she will be cycling at a relaxed pace with her less speedy pals. So I can expect her to be out for longer than with the town bike, but maybe not more than half a day. 

It's when I see Gail pumping up the tyres on bicycle number three, a titanium framed, carbon forked number from Spa Cycles in Harrogate, that I know she will probably be away for many hours (and if I'm lucky I will get to spend time with neighbour Kirsty and my new poodle girlfriend Ella). Use of this bicycle, with its skinny wheels and inadequate mudguard, is confined to days when the weather is fine and the roads are dry, and when Gail is meeting up with her fitter and faster friends.  I have learned not to expect a long walk after Gail returns from one of these rides. 

So there you have it. I hope I have proved to you here that I do take a close interest in Gail's bicycles, at least insofar as they impact my own canine wellbeing...