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... 

Friday 17 September 2021

Late summer woodland haiku

An ancient oak, gnarled
With time weathered distinction.
A brave survivor.

Happy Nature Friday friends! 

Wednesday 15 September 2021

The Trans-Siberian Railway?

My glory days as an international traveller might be behind me, but the urge to visit foreign parts has not gone away, and so I was delighted to find a map of the world, carefully drawn on the pavement in Duthie Park a few days ago.

It allowed me a few moments of fantasy.

I first found myself in a particularly troubled region, and as much as I would love to explore the rich cultural heritage of Iran and pit myself against the mighty mountains of Afghanistan's Hindu Kush, I decided now would not be the best time to linger in these parts.

So being an experienced train traveller, I made for the Trans Siberian Express, and after a long, long journey through the taiga I alighted at Vladivostock and continued east across the ocean and on to Canada and the USA.

Carefully steering clear of the grizzly bears further north, I eventually arrived Florida. (Beau, I do hope I'm not sitting on your home town!)

Next I spotted a ship bound for Africa, and finished my world tour bravely facing down the local cat population...

A chap can still dream!

Monday 13 September 2021

Bertie's verdict on the Tour of Britain

I'll be frank with you, I wasn't so very excited yesterday morning when Gail announced our plan for the day.  Apparently she wanted us to go and watch the final stage of the Tour of Britain bicycle race.

You probably know by now that I do not share my owner's enthusiasm for cycling in all its forms, and I was about to suggest perhaps we should stay at home on the sofa and watch a repeat of the US Open Women's Singles Final.

Until, that is, I heard the magic words. 

"We're meeting Muriel and she says she's bringing cheese and haggis scones."

OK I'M IN!!!

First we had a nice walk through the woods and fields from Potarch to Ballogie, where we found Muriel and a smattering of other humans eagerly anticipating seeing their cycling heros whizzing past, plus a gang of black Labs generally failing to look interested in any activity that didn't involve eating.  

Gail claimed it was rude of me to start pawing at Muriel in a 'where's my scone' sort of a way no soon as we'd said hello. Almost as if I was one of those Labradors, Gail said. But I'm pleased to report that my strategy delivered results. 

Replete with yummy home bakes, I consented to posing nicely for a 'selfie' with Muriel and Gail while we waited for the racers to arrive.

A few minutes later, the lead group of cyclists passed by in a flash, inspired no doubt by my noisy encouragement.

In no time at all, it was over and we were heading home, with Gail saying wasn't that wonderful, such a great atmosphere, aren't you glad we came?

Between you and me, it would all have been a bit of a waste of time were it not for the cheese and haggis scone...

Friday 10 September 2021

The art of delegation

Sometimes one simply has to take charge of things.

On Wednesday morning, when Gail asked me what I had planned for Nature Friday this week, I told her I didn't feel like going for another countryside ramble in the hot weather (25ºC, that's 76ºF, is hot, right?)

I had other ideas for how to spend the day. 

So I suggested to Gail that she get in touch with one of her hyperactive cycling friends and perhaps they could ride out to Drumoak and take some photos of their favourite picturesque river swimming spot for me, and maybe even go for a 'dook' themselves. 

Which is exactly what Gail and her swimsuit model pal 'P' (and an interloping spaniel) did. 

Meanwhile, I kept myself gainfully occupied... 

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

Tuesday 7 September 2021

A late life romance blossoms?

Gosh, it's never too late for a new experience is it?

Maybe it's a little embarrassing to admit this, but until this weekend I'd never spent the night sharing a sofa with a girl dog.

So what if neither of us are spring chickens?

It was just lovely.

I'm hoping Ella didn't notice that I was wearing my special 'male dog belly band'....

Which incidentally is very masculine and is absolutely not, in no way, a nappy/diaper!

PS Gail is home now from her godson Ben's wedding, and I'm delighted to report that during the apparently sumptuous wedding feast, and despite all the champagne being drunk, she remembered to slip a lamb bone into her handbag and later bring it back to Aberdeen for me! 

Friday 3 September 2021

Professor Bertie explains all ...

So here is the scene at the Gail and Bertie household on a typical Thursday, when, after my early morning walk around the park, I allow Gail out unsupervised for a few hours so she can meet her friends for a bicycle ride in the Aberdeenshire countryside.

Yesterday she came back from the ride with a flower in her bicycle bag, picked from a field the group had cycled past. 

Obviously grown as some sort of cover crop, neither Gail nor her friends had been able to identify this unfamiliar plant.

Bertie to the rescue!

A cursory glance told me immediately that I was looking at Phacelia and I explained to Gail that farmers sow it as a fast establishing species that is very effective at suppressing weeds and preventing nitrogen leaching.

Even better, the flowers attract a ton of bees, and we all know that is Good Thing for nature.

Happy Nature Friday friends!

I might not be around much for the next few days as I am going for a mini-break to stay with neighbour Kirsty and my new poodle pal Ella, while Gail, with some apparent trepidation, flies down south to Sussex to attend her godson's wedding.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Life in the old dog yet

Come on Gail, let's not dilly dally!  I want to get to the top of the hill to see the heather.

Pretty, isn't it?

OK, that's enough photos, now I'm off to see what's further down the path...

Isn't life exciting! 

PS from Gail: After a bad patch earlier in August, for the moment Bertie seems to be doing a bit better. Plus, I am getting smarter about managing his 'peeing issues', which helps a lot!