Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bertie keeps things in perspective

"Oh look, isn't he cute. You don't see many wire-haired fox terriers doing agility".

So said a lady to her friend when she spotted me at the Granite City Dog Agility Show last weekend. It was towards the end of the second day of competition. Gail smiled and replied:

"Hmmm, there might be a good reason for that." Then, under her breath, and less smilingly, she muttered something about "a catalogue of disasters".

You know, I was hurt that Gail chose to regard my six straight eliminations, mostly a result of my wholly understandable reluctance to enter a dark tunnel with a soft flappy piece of material blocking the exit, as disastrous.

Much better to look on the bright side of life, is it not? I decided it was time to enumerate the many positives from the weekend so far:

1. It had been warm and sunny on both days and even better, Gail remembered her hat and her sun block so her pale and freckly skin did not turn lobster coloured, unlike that of one or two of the other humans present.
2. We were fortunate that fellow Deeside Dog Agility Club members Arlene, Kevin and Jo were on hand and happy to push the Mini out of the mud after the shady parking spot Gail so carefully selected turned out to be in the middle of a bog.
3. We were also lucky that Kevin has a sense of humour and did not mind everyone laughing when his face was spattered with mud when Gail finally managed to shift the car.
4. We were delighted to meet fellow blogger 'Vonnie' from Fife and see her talented Shelties fly round the ring.
5. We were very proud of DDAC member Jake, judging his first show, at age eighteen the youngest, and by a mile the smartest of the judges on duty over the weekend.
6. Once past the dreaded 'soft tunnel' I put in an impressively energetic and mostly accurate run on my sixth and final class, at a stage in the game when many other dogs were fading.

Well I could have gone on, but Gail still didn't seem convinced that the weekend had been a great success.

I then remembered that behind the agility field at Hazlehead Park lies a very special garden, and I decided to take Gail the short walk round there for a break.

Look here I am in the Piper Alpha Memorial Rose Garden.
The statue in the middle was built to commemorate the 167 men who died when a North Sea oil platform was engulfed by fire and collapsed, back in 1988.

What a tragic waste of lives. Now that was truly a disaster.
After a few minutes contemplating the roses, whose delicate fragrance was strong enough as to be detectable even by feeble human scent organs, Gail agreed to amend her evaluation of my agility performance from "disastrous" to "a minor hiatus in a soon-to-be glittering agility career".

And she gave me a big hug.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

And those were the times we loved best

Warmest greetings, dear readers!

Today I want to tell you about the little holiday we had in Derbyshire, after we'd left Human Granny's house last week.

Gail and I spent two nights with a group of English friends at the super dog-friendly Millstone Inn just outside the village of Hathersage and on the Saturday went on a ten mile walk, planned by our lovely 'leader' Janet.

I had assumed that this was going to be a hike with Gail and her pals just like any other. OK, so we were in the Peak District National Park, not Scotland, but many elements were familiar - hills, moors, stone houses, rain, mud, heather, sheep. (Too many sheep in fact, I had to be on the lead almost the whole walk).

But it didn't me take long to understand that, for Gail at least, there was something special about this particular outing.

Although I had not visited this part of the country before, Gail recognised the route right away and it seems the memories came flooding back.

"Oh Bertie, I must have been in my teens when my Dad took the family on this very same walk. I can just picture him now, map and compass in hand, full of vigour, enthusiasm, and optimism that the weather would clear….Now here we are up on Eyam Moor where on that previous occasion - Easter Sunday I think, in 1974 or 5 - Dad, Mother, Max and I were caught in a hailstorm and, shivering, we sheltered against a dry stone wall to eat our squashed sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs."

"... Now we're passing one of the old country houses I used to fantasise about living in one day…"

"…Oh and gosh, this is the George Hotel in Hathersage, where on that same day in the seventies my Dad was refused entry because he was wearing muddy boots. It sticks in my mind for being one of the very few times I remember him coming even close to losing his temper, we were all so cold and wet by then…"

"…How different things are these days…"

"Oh but Bertie, despite the bad weather and unwelcoming pubs, those Bank Holiday family excursions roaming Derbyshire hills were happy times indeed. To me, as a child, nothing could match the excitement of escaping drab flat Nottinghamshire and experiencing the glories of Britain's upland landscapes for the first time." 

Really Gail went on and on. By the time we finally got back to the Millstone Inn for dinner I was quite exhausted.

Although Gail says that taking me out for my pre-bedtime 'comfort' walk was perhaps the best bit of the day.

I guess I'm lucky that HGD was so successful in training Gail to enjoy tramping through the Great British countryside, no matter the weather. What a splendid ten days we had down in England. (And best of all, Human Granny is doing really well.)

There were one or two hold ups on the long drive back to Aberdeen...

... but we are now safely home.

Friday, 25 July 2014

FFHT - A Quantum of Mystery

Today we are taking part in Fractured Fryday Hairy Tails, courtesy of those wonderful Blogville citizens, Murphy and Stanley.

A story about Schrödinger's Cat, as imagined by Bertie…

Once upon a time there was a very famous quantum physicist called Erwin Schrödinger, who formulated the Wave Equation, the details of which need not concern us here. It is well known that Professor Schrödinger corresponded at length with his contemporary, the great Albert Einstein, however, one of these letters was long lost. Thrillingly, a fragment of the missing letter was recently rediscovered. The translated text is exclusively revealed below:

"My dear Albert, as you are aware, I spend much of my time thinking about the problems posed by quantum physics and the possible implications for the health of my cat. Do you, a theoretician like me, ever tire of the endless speculation and hypothesising and feel the urge to conduct a real physical experiment? I do, and it just so happened that the other night I succumbed to this urge and placed my beloved cat Niels into a box alongside a radioactive source and a flask of deadly poison. I then sealed the box. As you are aware, the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics implies that after a while the cat will be simultaneously dead and alive.  So when I opened the box I was startled to find..."

Oh dear, and that is all we have.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bertie branches out into literary criticism

Here at Human Granny's we have been been going through the cupboards and Gail found a poem, one she was fond of as a child but had forgotten all about:

Lone Dog

Irene McLeod

I'm a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog and lone,
I'm a rough dog, a tough dog, hunting on my own!
I'm a bad dog, a mad dog, teasing silly sheep;
I love to sit and bay the moon and keep fat souls from sleep.

I'll never be a lap dog, licking dirty feet,
A sleek dog, a meek dog, cringing for my meat.
Not for me the fireside, the well-filled plate,
But shut the door and sharp stone and cuff and kick and hate.

Not for me the other dogs, running by my side,
Some have run a short while, but none of them would bide.
O mine is still the lone trail, the hard trail, the best,
Wide wind and wild stars and the hunger of the quest. 

I'm sure you are eagerly awaiting my opinions on the literary merits of these three short verses.

Well it is my considered view that this Ms McLeod has set up what I believe is known as a 'false antithesis'. As anyone has met me will already be aware, it is quite possible both to be a lean, tough dog AND a lap dog. Oh and by the way, what is wrong with a well-filled plate?

Other than that, I guess the poem is fine.

Why is Gail saying perhaps stick to the science Bertie?

Friday, 18 July 2014

A question of cleanliness?


Did I receive my annual shampoo yesterday 'cos I was especially dirty and smelly?

Or was it 'cos a certain person needed a break from helping Human Granny sort out stuff?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Acquiring a taste for luxury

On the way down to see Human Granny in Nottingham, we stayed one night at a hotel in the quaint town of Appleby in Westmorland.

I convinced Gail one should be allowed to sleep on the bed in any place that charges a £15 'dog supplement'..,

[I am sure my Westie friends will appreciate that in the above picture, I am not dirty, just a different shade of white to the sheets].

Come Sunday evening in Nottingham, Gail and Human Granny enjoyed watching Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup Final, but I was more equivocal about game's appeal.

PS from Gail: Keen eyed readers will have spotted the subtitles on the TV. The live transcription of the commentary is a great service for deaf viewers like my mother, and the shortcomings of the BBC's technology can make for some entertaining versions of foreign names. I am still smiling at 'Jo Cain Lurve', the German team manager! 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Why the Queen's Cross

Do you recognise this lady on the plinth?

Yes, ten out of ten, clever readers, it is indeed Queen Victoria.

She stands in the middle of a roundabout in the West End of Aberdeen, at a busy road junction known as Queen's Cross.

It is an odd feature of life here in Aberdeen, that all our roundabouts in the city are sponsored by oil and gas companies.

I'm am wondering whether Queen Victoria would have approved of having to share her space with adverts for First Oil plc…..

PS from Gail: Bertie and I  are off down to England for the next ten days, visiting Human Granny and meeting up friends. Blogging activities may be reduced. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

A brief encounter

"I know my place" said the man as he stepped on to the road, allowing Gail and I to continue home on a narrow stretch of pavement. Then he glanced fondly back at me, smiled and added "he's lovely".

What a nice chap.

The scenario is illustrated below with a different and less attentive man, for whom road safety is clearly not a priority…

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Local Hero in waiting?

So I was expecting to spend the weekend in intensive training at the agility field, commencing the mammoth task of bringing Gail up to scratch in time for the big team relay event in late August.

It was not to be.

On Friday afternoon my dear owner pointed the car northwards and said, as if without a care in the world, come on Bertie, hey ho, we're invited to a party at Molly's in Macduff.

Do you suppose Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer prepared for Wimbledon by swanning off to the Moray Firth to visit old university friends for a summer barbecue? Would Lionel Messi improve his dribbling skills by staying out late emptying bottles of rosé and scoffing sausage rolls, burgers and strawberry gateau?

I'm telling you, with Gail's attitude to training, Chris Froome would struggle to pedal up Holme Moss, much less La Planche des Belles Filles or the Tourmalet.

What is a pup to do?

Well OK, we had a nice enough time at the party, even if torrential rain forced the barbecue indoors. And I did get a chance to practice both being admired (by the other partygoers) and being tolerant of uppity dogs - yes I mean you, Maisie the Lurcher with your glossy black coat and your Suarez-like teeth baring tendencies.

You will already have guessed we did not rush back to Aberdeen that night so as to be up bright and early rehearsing baton changes.

But even I was surprised when next morning Gail insisted on taking me to visit a phone box…

Yes, you read that right. We drove east a few miles along the coast from Macduff and ended up in the village of Pennan…

…all so Gail could take a photograph of me in front of a traditional red telephone box.

As if Apple and Samsung had never existed.

I'll grant you that Pennan is a cute wee place, really just a row of cottages sandwiched between sea and cliff,  with the only landward access via a narrow and precipitous road.

And whilst I was wholly unimpressed by the phone box (after all, there are plenty still around in the UK), Gail assures me that fans of the 1983 film 'Local Hero' will understand  why this particular one is so special.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Good Team Player…or the Weakest Link?

I had a peek at Gail's email yesterday - fellow pups, don't pretend you never do the same - and was most excited to see this from one of our of the trainers at Deeside Dog Agility Club.

Hi Gail

Since you are not on Facebook, I thought I'd email you to ask whether you would be interested in being part of the Deeside team aiming to qualify for Crufts?

The format is a team of 4 dogs/handlers (+ up to 2 reserves) running an agility course in relay with the winners of the qualifying heat progressing to Crufts 2015. The qualifying heat is on Saturday 23rd of August at the Scottish Kennel Club Show in Ingliston, Edinburgh. Crufts is early March 2015 at the NEC in Birmingham. If you were wanting to be part of the team, you would be committing to attend the SKC show and, hopefully, Crufts should you qualify.

At present, the Medium team consists of Jeri + Burns, Alison + Maddie and Yvonne + Phoebe. We hope to add Denise + Scally (yet tbc) and yourself to make up the team + 1 reserve.

It should be noted that a relay is not simply about speed, with consistency and an ability to not get eliminated being important components of a good team.

Let me know what you think. I'll be at training tomorrow night so give me a shout if you want to chat it through. The closing date for entry is ~15/7.

Thanks and regards.


Oh my goodness I am so flattered. Imagine me at Crufts! I am going to be a star. What could possibly stop me?

You can trust my human to pour cold water on a pup's dreams of glory.

Gail is pointing out that there are rather few medium sized dogs in our club, in fact probably only five, so making the team is nothing to bark about. Also, rather nastily I thought, she mentions the minor detail that I have yet to be promoted from Grade 1, the lowest level of agility, so may not exactly be considered an asset to a team otherwise comprised of high achievers.

Still, she agreed we could take part.

Neither Gail nor I are sure of the rules for an agility relay. I will admit that at least two of the dogs in the team are, to put it diplomatically, not my best friends, and, on mature consideration, I don't think I would be prepared to engage with them in mouth-to-mouth baton passing.

Can anyone enlighten me as to how it all works?