Wednesday 30 June 2021

Bertie takes a turn for the worse

Gail here:

It was a pleasant day on Sunday when Bertie and I met our friends M and J for a walk around the woods near Potarch Bridge. 

Over the past year I have noticed how Bertie's and M and J's walking speeds have converged, with my dear little pup slowing down and my senior friends showing increasing benefits of regular exercise plus determination.  

Bertie was particularly slow on Sunday, and appeared at times not quite 'all there' although he perked up nicely for a photo in the café where the humans enjoyed post-walk refreshments.

Come Monday, Bertie seems very much out of sorts. Unsteady on his feet, unwilling to climb the stairs, we manage a short walk by the harbour mouth and I let him take time to sniff around to his little heart's content.

He waits patiently while I watch a spectacular dolphin display (sadly too far offshore for me to catch on the phone).

Home in the evening, I carry Bertie upstairs to join me viewing the Tour de France highlights on TV. Bertie is as wobbly on his four paws as the cyclists were on their two wheels. 

Later he vomits profusely on my bed and has an 'accident' dampening the hall carpet. 

Tuesday, with Bertie no better, I call the vet. We have an appointment for this (i.e Wednesday) afternoon.

Any feelings of happiness at the imminent completion of building work on my Torridon cottage are tempered by sorrow, as I recognise that Bertie may not be around for long to keep me company there.

Life's ups and downs.

Monday 28 June 2021

How long did your house take to build?

It seems scarcely possible after so many walks within Aberdeen city limits over the past year, but earlier this month a neighbourhood stroll took us down a street we'd not explored before. 

We stopped to look more closely at the plaque on this house.

Gail says that perhaps Mr W. J. Anderson could have taught the builder working on the Torridon cottage a thing or two about timely project completion.

In our Torridon builder's defence, we recognise that the Jubilee house construction did not involve creating a new opening in an existing supporting wall made of super-sized boulders...

The good news is that the building work is now essentially complete and later in the week Gail and I are heading over to Torridon with dustpan and brush (and nearly-new vacuum cleaner kindly donated by our friend YAM-aunty). 

It's going to be a busy time at the cottage, so I am getting in training.

Friday 25 June 2021

Nature Friday revenge...

I bet you would be annoyed, as I was, if your owner spent the sunny part of the day cycling with her Thursday morning 'girls' and only took you out to look for some Nature Friday inspiration later on, when it had started raining.

To compound my irritation, when I spotted a fine display of cuckoo flower (aka Lady's Smock) Gail seemed hesitant to follow me along the overgrown path to where she could photograph the delicate lilac blooms close up.

Her excuse was that she had noticed an abundance of stinging nettles beside the path and she was still wearing her cycling shorts.

Of course us WFTs have furs designed specially for romping through undergrowth unscathed, and remembering how I'd earlier that day been abandoned in favour of the bicycle, I put my paw down and insisted Gail follow me with her camera (phone), nettles or no nettles.

Did you know that the cuckoo flower is so called because its first blooms reliably coincide with the arrival of the bird itself each spring?

Cuckoo flowers are common round these parts, but that doesn't, I think, mean they're not a pleasing sight.

Gail's red and blotchy nettle stung calves are a less attractive proposition, and so I'll spare you any photos of those...  

Happy Nature Friday Friends! Do go and visit the other posts in the LLB Gang's blog hop.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

One worried owner

So Gail asked me something quite unexpected when we were out walking by the river yesterday.

"Bertie, tell me truthfully, you do like me don't you?"

This question came as a surprise as heretofore I had never thought of my owner as the sort of needy person who constantly seeks reassurance in this manner.

So I stopped and gave her a friendly smile before asserting my customary independence.

It was only after we arrived home and I noticed this headline in Gail's 'New Scientist' magazine that I worked out the source of her concern.

So it seems some researchers in South America have found that dog owners tend to over-estimate the strength of the bond they have with their pets.

I must say, I think I would have enjoyed taking part in this particular scientific study, as it apparently involved fitting free-roaming pet dogs with GPS collars and tracking their journeys on Navarino Island in Southern Chile for three weeks. At the end of the roaming period each dog's relationship with its owner was assessed using an 'attachment test' adapted from parent-child bonding research in humans. The dogs who roamed furthest tended to rate low on the attachment test, despite their owners having previously considered the bond with the dog to be strong.

Now I think we can all see some potential flaws in the methodology of this study, and perhaps doubt its applicability to fox terriers living in urban Scotland. And the lack of any mention of the use of treats to reinforce the bonding process is, I think, a serious omission.

Nonetheless, I would be quite happy to do my bit for science and volunteer to join the next phase of the research on Navarino Island - the more so as I read that one of the dogs in the original study travelled 28 kilometers from base and several of them brought home carcasses of native birds and muskrats. 

It all sounds tremendously good fun, don't you think?

Monday 21 June 2021

Ever more handsome

A recent photo of me reminded Gail of one that features in my first ever post, when I was just over 8 weeks old.

Once a handsome pup, always a handsome pup! 

Friday 18 June 2021

Disappointingly dry?

Do you ever question your human's judgement?

Yesterday afternoon Gail took me for a short walk on Findon Moor, a rare (in Aberdeenshire) and environmentally valuable example of coastal heathland.  It's a place I love, but we rarely go there. Apparently because it's Too Boggy, and Gail thinks that is a Bad Thing.

Well she's totally wrong!

First and foremost, I love boggy places. So soft and squelchy under the paws. 

And secondly, did you know that peat bogs store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests combined? 

But only as long as they stay wet, so oxygen-loving microbes don't come along and convert all the carbon to carbon dioxide. More CO2 in the atmosphere means warmer temperatures thus more peat bogs dry out, creating a dangerous feedback loop. 

Climate-wise, it's just as important to keep peat bogs wet as it is to preserve the Amazon Rain Forest and the Great Barrier Reef.

Scotland has a lot of peat bogs and I hope I have convinced you that they are in fact a Good Thing. 

Yesterday the normally boggy bits of Findon Moor were disappointingly dry. I hope this is not a foretaste of things to come.

Happy Nature Friday friends! Thanks again to our LLB Gang friends for hosting the blog hop.

Oh and did you know that you can do your bit to keep the world's climate under control by not using peat in your garden?

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Bertie and Gail compare holiday experiences..

So Bertie, I see you are enjoying the exercise area area at Fairways Pet Haven. Did you have a lovely holiday here? Renea the owner tells me you've been a Good Boy. Is that really true?

(Bertie summons his best 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' expression.)

Naturally Gail. I am always good. I trust you were well behaved during your Orkney cycling trip too?

Well Bertie, you will have to ask my companions Yvonne and Kirsty about that when you next see them. Did you make any new friends in my absence?

Of course! And before you ask, yes I did 'play nicely' with the other dogs. But please tell me more about Orkney. I gather the weather might have been rather windy for cycling.

I can tell you quite honestly that on some days we were blown away. Literally as well as metaphorically. Oh but Bertie, do let me show you a photo of the handsome dogs we saw on our day trip to the island of Hoy.

Hmmm. I see that whippet has a tartan fleece underneath his purple raincoat. And you know what? It's been warm and sunny all the time here in Aberdeen.

So I'm told Bertie. So I'm told. But we enjoyed seeing Orkney's world class archaeological sites - including Skara Brae, Europe's most complete Neolithic settlement, standing stone circles of the same age, plus Iron Age and Viking era ruins and much more besides. And then there were all those beautiful seascapes and pristine white sand beaches, and the abundant wild flowers and bird life.

Gosh, some of those Neolithic places must be even older than you, Yvonne and Kirsty then... Though to be honest, I am more interested in talking about the Orkney food. Tasty I trust?

On the whole yes Bertie. However I definitely do not recommend the Chinese takeaway in Stromness...  And how was your appetite?

Tip top as ever Gail. I would note that when giving me my medication, the Fairways staff wrapped the tablets in a far more generous quantity of grated cheese than you tend to use. I hope you'll follow their example henceforth, 'cos I do believe, very scientifically, that more cheese enhances the efficacy of the pills...

Possibly Bertie, possibly. But don't push your luck. Oh but I'm so happy to see you again. Do come here and give me a cuddle.

Friday 11 June 2021

A world tour...

So Gail, who is away cycling with friends in the Orkney Islands this week, is fondly imagining that I am safely contained and enjoying the comforts of the Fairways Pet Haven.


Little does she know that I have snuck off on a world tour for this week's Nature Friday.

First to China and the Himalayas to admire the rhododendrons...

Then, ascending a steep path, I venture into Bhutan...

...before travelling back in time to a Victorian fernery.

Returning to the present, I find time to explore a Chilean rainforest.

I pause to appreciate the vibrancy of the Chilean firebush,

before pressing on to locate the 'Condor' shelter high in the Andes.

Lastly, closer to home, I enjoy a moment of reflection beside a tranquil pond. 

OK, full disclosure time. These photos were in fact taken a week ago in Benmore Botanic Garden, during our visit to YAM-aunty in Dunoon.

But we can still dream of globetrotting again one day...

Wishing all my friends a Happy Nature Friday, and thanking the LLB Gang once again for hosting the blog hop.

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Not so sure about the Tesla...

I went for a walk yesterday with my Westie friend Rosie. 

I fear this young lady pup might be getting a bit above herself. All she could talk about was her brand new Tesla.

I admit I was impressed by the special air conditioning system to keep dogs at a comfy temperature when left in the car. Even in Scotland, I can see that would occasionally be useful.

But when Rosie's owner showed Gail the 'caraoke' function and threatened to sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody, I decided that perhaps our little Ford Fiesta was a perfectly satisfactory vehicle after all...

PS I am being sent to 'camp' this week while Gail and her friends Yvonne and Kirsty are braving the notoriously windswept Orkney Islands on their bicycles, so this blog will now be quiet for a few days. 

Sunday 6 June 2021

A very special trip

So Gail gave me a little pep talk when we stopped for elevenses in Dunkeld, en route to Dunoon last week. 

"Now Bertie, I understand how all is not well with your bladder, and it's not your fault that you have been having occasional 'accidents' inside our house recently, but please could you try extra specially hard to wait until you are outdoors while we are staying with YAM-Aunty this week? And if you could also try to avoid any night-time disturbances, that would be a bonus! I know our dear friend has most kindly said that it's not a problem at all and she wants to see you anyway, but I hope you'll do your best and not let me down.."

Well you know what? As soon as we'd arrived at YAM-Aunty's house I was overcome by the atmosphere of warmth and love, and a wave of well-being washed over me (and Gail I think). 

Between gentle strolls along the shore I curled up on the sofa in a state of blissful contentment while Gail and YAM-Aunty chattered away, ate good food, and watched the tennis on TV.

It couldn't have been a nicer two days, and I am happy to report that I did not in any way let Gail down.

On behalf of Gail and myself, I want to give a huge Thank You to YAM-Aunty for her generous hospitality. Spending time with friends in person is the Best!