Monday 29 March 2021

Core stability

It's been nearly a year now that, along with Gail, I've been attending online Pilates classes, and I want you to know that I am feeling the benefit.

All those workouts for the deep abdominals have done wonders for my core stability, and this comes in useful in the most unexpected circumstances.

For example, when your human stops for a break on a breezy hillside, and gives you a chewy treat to enjoy while she admires the view, it is important to be able to stand firm and not lose your footing as you are buffeted by the wind, as I demonstrate in the little video clip below.

I will admit I have not yet quite got the hang of the Pilates pelvic floor strengthening routine, as might be deduced from the number of times I pause to decorate the heather on the way down...

Friday 26 March 2021

Wolf-watching or Bertie-spotting?

Something different for this week's Nature Friday post. 

Did you know that wolves are extinct in Scotland? The precise date is disputed, but the last wolf sighting was probably in the 18th Century. 

Gail tells me she has long yearned to see a wolf in the wild, and has even considered paying to go abroad on a 'wolf-watching' vacation (although I would doubt she actually has the patience to stand around for days on end with a bunch of wolf obsessives all competing over their high tech spotting scopes...)

Well, as we all know, overseas trips are off the table just at now.  But what could be a better substitute for wolf-watching than an afternoon of Bertie-spotting on the Hill of Fare*? Excellent practice for Gail, and after all who doesn't see me and say to themselves "ah yes, if I didn't know that wolves no longer inhabit Scotland, I might think I'd just encountered one...."

Perhaps you would like to join in and test your observational skills with some virtual Bertie-spotting.

We'll start with an easy one.

And frankly, if you can't see me in the photo above, you'd better get your eyes tested (and have someone else drive you to the opticians...)

Let's make it a wee bit harder.

Still too easy? Try this...

And then this...

Finally, a really challenging sequence. (You are allowed to biggify the images.)

How did you get on? Can you see my tail in that last photo? Or maybe not?

*Regular readers will recall that, by deploying Gail's 'elastic ruler' (the one that stretches five miles to seven) we can reach the Hill of Fare within Scotland's current Covid guidelines.

Finally, thank you once again to our lovely friends Jakey, Arty, Rosy and Sunny for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop. Do hop on and visit the other blogs linked below: 

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Windy cliff walk and compliments

So I want to tell you how, at the end of our Sunday walk along the cliffs with Kirsty, a lovely couple stopped Gail in the carpark at Newtonhill and asked if they could take my photo* to send to their son in London. Apparently the family used to have a fox terrier and miss him loads. And, not that I'm boasting or anything, but when Gail told them I'm eleven years old they said they had thought I was much younger as I looked so slim and fit. And they also complimented me how little my dark markings had faded with age, and commented on my alert but friendly demeanour.

It's nice to be appreciated, isn't it?

*Gail wonders whether, in the history of the universe, any proud dog owner has ever refused when someone comes up, praises your dog's looks and asks to take his photo!

Monday 22 March 2021

Medical confidentiality and yellow diarrhoea ...

My trip to the vet last week has set me to pondering on issues of medical confidentiality.

Gail tells me that for humans, the medical profession takes care not to discuss the patients' symptoms in public, and protocols are in place to protect all records of illness, treatment etc. from those not directly involved. 

Apparently this is not the case for us pups, at least not in the time of Covid. 

Picture the scene. It is the small car park outside the veterinary surgery. As we are in an urban area, many of the customers, including Gail and me, live close by and arrive on foot/paw. The waiting room is closed, so everyone stands outside. My eye is caught by a white Staffordshire bull terrier, a cute wee lass with a pink collar. I wonder what is wrong with her.

Unfortunately I don't have to wait too long to discover. The vet comes out to the car park and before taking the Staffie inside for an examination, he wants to discuss the pretty young pup's case with her owner. 

The owner proceeds to give a lengthy and graphic account of his pet's recent bowel movements. One can't help but hearing the words, 'very runny', 'squirting', yellow in colour', 'foul smelling', 'sudden'...

Oh I do feel sorry for my little friend. What a humiliation. Surely there should be a law against these sorts of public disclosure? 

Friday 19 March 2021

Peak crocus


So I was merrily racing around in the park yesterday afternoon, full of the joys of spring, when Gail suggested I pause for a moment and tell you about the results of my recent blood test, just in case you were wondering.

Now I don't like to be one of those dogs who goes on about his health problems all the time. Suffice to say my urea levels are a bit elevated, but the creatinine level is just fine. What does this mean? Well it seems that my kidney function is slightly compromised, so things aren't perfect. But the vet thinks the Previcox tablets are doing much more good than harm, as six months after my bladder cancer (TCC) diagnosis I'm still eating well, feeling comfortable and enjoying my walks. So no changes in my treatment are recommended. 


Back to bouncing through the crocuses.

Happy Nature Friday! 

Do hop across to the LLB Gang to see their post today and links to all the other Nature Friday posts.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Animal encounters about town

First some artistic graffiti.

Yes I really was made to pose beneath a C-A-T....
The horror.

Much more to my liking was next day's encounter with these three handsome huskies.

For a moment I thought it was our blogging pals Lightning, Timber and Misty.

PS from Gail: I took Bertie to the vet for a blood test yesterday. No new symptoms, but he's now been taking the Previcox tablets for his bladder tumour for six months so the vet wanted to check there are no adverse effects on his kidney and liver function. Bertie seems to be doing so well on this medication, so all paws and fingers crossed that the test results, due later today, are OK. 

Monday 15 March 2021

A neighbour's cars

Can I be frank with you?

Gail's lack of interest in cars, and in the status that they can confer, has long been a disappointment to me. I feel an internationally renowned blogger such as myself surely deserves something better than our 7 year old Ford with an engine so small and low in emissions that it doesn't incur any road tax.

How I wish my human would take a lead from our neighbour, a lawyer whom we'll just call 'R'.

'R' and her teenage son 'J' live a few houses down from us. 'R' has long shown a fondness for flashy autos. This red Porsche has been a fixture on the street for a while now. However I am not allowed to post the photo of me 'decorating' its wheels... 

Last year, 'R' added a Tesla to her stable, prompting Gail to wonder if 'R' had undergone a green epiphany. Although her retention of the Porsche rather suggests not.

It seems that 'R's son is now learning to drive and it totally makes sense that a different car would be required. Perhaps our neighbour might offer to buy Gail's Ford? 

But no, sadly this didn't happen. 

A new vehicle appears on the street. It is an Aston Martin. Has James Bond perhaps come to visit?

Then we notice this car bears 'L' plates and has apparently been purchased for 'R's son 'J'. 

I have to say this is a surprising choice for a young and testosterone-fuelled learner driver. Gail says she can think of adjectives other than 'surprising'.

A  few days later we notice that 'J' is also apparently being given the opportunity to develop his driving skills on the Tesla.

I fear I am stuck with the ageing Ford for a while yet. The other day I caught Gail googling lightweight carbon frame road bikes...

Friday 12 March 2021

How rude!

So I was posing quietly among the daffodil shoots yesterday afternoon, thinking lyrical Nature Friday thoughts about new life emerging at this time of year, and about how in these high latitudes we must be patient and wait a little longer than most for our spring blooms to appear.

When along came this rude fellow and quite disturbed my poetic reverie. 

I'll be frank with you, my animal instincts took over, and I felt compelled to make quite clear my (distinctly unpoetical) views on his intrusion.

Happy Nature Friday friends! And once again fondest thanks to our lovely friends Jakey, Arty, Rosy and Sunny, for hosting the blog hop.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

A visit to Barmekin Hill Fort

Over the years, I fear I've been remiss in not introducing you to some of the many interesting archaeological sites in NE Scotland. 

In particular our area abounds in remains of Bronze and Iron Age hill forts.
So it's time to rectify my negligence and today I'm showing you Barmekin Hill Fort, where Gail took me for a walk last Saturday.

OK, so when I say 'interesting' sites, I have to admit it's a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and if your eye level is only about 40 cm above your paw level, these ancient monuments could so easily be mistaken for some random pile of stones.

To give you a better idea of the layout of this particular hilltop site, I've stolen an aerial photograph from the Aberdeenshire Historical Environment records.

A more modern concrete structure, a trig point (triangulation station) is located near the centre of the concentric ramparts.

Shortly after I had done my 'pose nicely Bertie' act beside the trig point, another small party arrived on the hill and I was upstaged by Enzo the Whippet (with the help of his human companions).

One sensed that Enzo was a somewhat reluctant participant in this performance. 

He didn't stay up there long. 

Monday 8 March 2021

Distant friends

Gosh it's been ages since I saw my nice pals in England. More than a year in fact. So when I asked if we are going to visit Janet in Nottingham soon, or perhaps meet up with Janet and Helen for a walking holiday in Northumberland again, Gail just sighed, sat me down in front of the computer and said "sorry Bertie, this is the best we can do right now".

Fellow pups, have you ever taken part in one of these 'Zoom' calls?

Such a disappointment. 

For starters, there is no connection, other than linguistic, between 'doing a Zoom' and 'doing Zoomies'. Rather than having a wild time racing around the garden in circles, one is supposed to sit still, stay awake and pay attention to faces flickering on the MacBook screen.

It seems Janet did attempt at one point to engage my interest by growling at me through the screen, but by then I had drifted off...

Now Gail is always telling me that in this time of lockdown restrictions one has to focus on what one can do, and not what one can't.

But it's hard isn't it? I mean Janet is, among her many talents, a world beater when it comes to playing tug-of-war with a terrier-like level of commitment, and this is not an experience that can be replicated in the virtual world. 

Likewise, I'll never forget the wonderful time I spent as a puppy, licking the berry-flavoured moisturiser off Helen's feet...

Oh I do hope we can go down to England and see some of our lovely friends in person before too long.

Friday 5 March 2021

A little patch of brightness...?

The drama of our February weather has given way to dreary grey skies so far this month.

Despite the gloom, on Wednesday afternoon Gail took me for a walk in Kirkhill Forest, near Aberdeen Airport.

I paused to pose amid the ferns and mosses, although even these have lost their usual vibrant green just now.

We pressed on up Tyrebagger Hill to the little stone tower...

... where Gail climbed up to the viewing platform, but I resolutely refused to join her.

I had better things to do.

Gail claimed there was a "splendid view" from up the top, and resurrected one of Human Grandad's favourite phrases. "Bertie, I can even see a few patches of brightness in the distance".

Can you see brightness? No, me neither. Even after our best endeavours twiddling the image manipulation knobs on Gail's smart phone later hardly made for a convincing case.

Happy Nature Friday friends! I hope you've been enjoying a little bit of brightness in your part of the planet this week.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Waste not, want not?

So Gail, I see we now have three tubes of my toothpaste. Why is that?

Er, well to be honest Bertie, when I was in the pet supplies shop earlier today I remembered that we are near the end of the current tube, but I forgot we already had one in reserve.

Hmmm. Three tubes represents an awful lot of tooth brushing. As you know, it is not my favourite process, but I'll concede the liver flavouring does make the toothpaste taste quite nice.

Well I'm pleased it meets with your approval Bertie.

I have an idea Gail. You should use the toothpaste yourself! That would help deal with the surplus. After all, I have noticed you are quite thorough and enthusiastic in your approach to dental hygiene, and I know you like liver almost as much as I do.  

Honestly Gail, I am quite happy to share.

Now why are you making that face Gail?

Dear readers, does your human ever reject your well-intentioned and generous offers for no good reason?

And has your human ever tried your toothpaste?

Monday 1 March 2021

"Phew. It's only diarrhoea..."

It's very odd.

In common with most dogs, I occasionally get a tummy upset. Infrequently in my case, but it does happen. 

I'm guessing that many of my fellow pups will, like me, have noticed how when one demands urgently to be let outside in the middle of the night, one's human sometimes struggles to be sympathetic.

They can be quite cross even. 

Last week, when there was a night time 'occurrence' in our household, I was trailed round the garden by Gail in her pyjamas. She was holding a torch and anxiously leaning over and peering underneath my belly to check my 'waterworks' function.

I could have told her she was barking up the wrong orifice...

But you know what Gail said when she finally stepped back and noticed a somewhat liquified stream of brown emanating from the below the tail area?

It was a most surprising reaction.

"Oh Bertie, thank goodness, I'm so pleased, it's only diarrhoea..."

PS from Gail: given Bertie's bladder cancer diagnosis, I am hyper-vigilant about his pattern of peeing, watching closely and dreading any change. So when his uncharacteristic need to go outside in the night turned out to be a case of 'the runs' (which thankfully turned out to be short lived), I think readers will understand my relief.