Monday 22 December 2008

Happy Christmas Readers!

The wanderer returns

Apparently San Francisco is a Westie-free zone. Quite why, then, Gail would want to spend nearly two weeks there is a mystery. But that's where she's been it seems.

She returned last night, equipped with a whole series of frankly lame excuses for not bearing gifts. For example:

"My bag's still stuck in Terminal 5"
"I went to the 'Best in Show' pet shop in Castro, but they'd sold out of George Bush doggie chews"
"All the dog coats were designed for chihuahaus"
"You can't bring meat in through customs"

But I know the truth. She spent all her money on food. For herself. As usual.

At least some people do buy me presents. That nice lady Diane at the German class sent a handy little towel, small enough to put in a pocket. So no excuses now Gail for not drying me off properly after we've been out walking in the rain. 

Which reminds me. Gail! Isn't it time for a walk in the park? Woof woof.......

Monday 15 December 2008

A new regime

I was right. I knew it. Gail's gone away, and I've been left in the care of Naomi, the lodger.

Slowly, I'm licking her into shape. (Metaphorically, that is, not literally. Don't want readers to think I'm the sort of dog that slobbers all over people, I'm not). Naomi does seem to have some different ideas to Gail when it come to walks, bedtime, rights to sit on furniture etc. But it's OK, we rub along just fine. 

I think Gail's taken her new toy with her, that shiny little computer she calls 'McBook' or somesuch. I'm beginning to think she's more interested in that thing than me at the moment. Oh well, I guess she'll get over it. I'm confident I have more enduring appeal. 

And I'm sure Gail's missing me, I can feel it. 

Sunday 7 December 2008


Uh oh. Something's up. I can always tell.

Gail went in to the box room last night and dug out a suitcase. I know what that means. And I'm wise to her tricks. She tried to divert my attention by giving me supper early whilst she started sorting out clothes and stuff. As if I'm so stupid I won't realise that I'm about to be abandoned.

Perhaps if I rush around the house looking all anxious and pleading then she'll feel so bad she'll take me with her. Yes I'll try that first and save the incessant barking routine for later.

It's never much fun when Gail goes away. And of course, how do I know that she's coming back? And who will help me write this blog?

Monday 1 December 2008

Guidelines for visitors

We have had a lot of visitors to 3 Devanha Gardens South this year. It occurs to me that, consistent with my undisputed position as master of the household, it is time to publish some guidelines as to how visitors are expected to behave.

  • House guests are on no account to look disapproving when I am being given special food treats. In fact they are positively encouraged to make Gail feel bad about her absurd 'no feeding from the table' rule.

  • Younger guests are reminded of the tail pulling ban, and are dissuaded in general from running around, making lots of noise and being disruptive.

  • Visitors must recognise that dogs - especially elderly dogs - have different priorities when out walking. The importance of allowing time for identifying all detectable smells must be acknowledged. The 'route-march' approach to hiking is inappropriate. In winter visitors are recommended to bring warm clothes, to avoid frostbite whilst waiting for sniffing activities to be completed.

  • Violations of personal space will not be tolerated. The sofa by the front window belongs to me. Gail is the only other person allowed to sit there. Visitors who disobey this rule will be growled at, unremittingly and without exception, until they move.

  • Visitors are not encouraged to linger in the kitchen chatting, if all the food has been eaten. The tile floor is cold and I would prefer that everyone moves into the front room (provided of course that the aforementioned personal space rules are adhered to).

  • When expressing admiration for my good looks, personality, temperament and general cuteness, restraint is not required, and feelings may be expressed by tummy tickling, stroking and adoring looks. This picture of recent visitors Jo and Jan illustrates an acceptable attitude.

Tuesday 25 November 2008


Well everyone else seemed to be having a good time round at Margaret's house on Tuesday night.

Yes I saw them all, tucking into chocolate cake and cream. And giving Gail some delicious smelling presents - biscuits, more cake, wine etc.

But what about me? Was I offered anything? No I was not. Not even the little treat I'm normally given when I arrive. I guess Margaret was just too busy rushing around putting candles on the cake, whipping the cream, making the coffee. Later when all the ladies were having fun playing some stupid German game, I decided to conduct my own personal treasure hunt, only to draw a disappointing blank. Can you believe, not even a single scrap of meat in the kitchen bin? I checked very thoroughly.

I finally figured out it was Gail's birthday. I kept hearing comments about reaching a half century.

One of the ladies (Sandra - nice to see her again) gave Gail a card that read "Ein Leben ohne Kuchen ist moglich. Aber sinnlos".

Well quite. That applies to dogs too you know. I'm still sulking.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Happy Birthday Gail's Dad

I almost forgot. Focussing on my own concerns as usual. Happy birthday Gail's Dad.

Now it all depends on how you calculate dog ages compared to human ones, which of us is older (him 87 today, me 13 years and 9 days). Let's call it a draw for now.

I do like Gail's Dad, even though I know he wasn't too sure about me to begin with. We share a view of the important things in life - regular walks taken at a leisurely pace, frequent and meat-rich meals, the idea that a constant supply of bones is essential to a dog's well-being. We also both value companionable quiet evenings at home, an orderly existence, a nice garden to explore.

We have ailments in common too - itchy skin problems, dodgy heart, a need for lots of rest. And we both feel a bit sad that our mountaineering days are over.

Well I hope you have a lovely day in Nottingham Gail's Dad, and that I get to come down and see you soon. Please save some bones for Christmas!

P.S. Here's a nice picture of me and Gail's Dad, taken 7 years ago on his 80th birthday. We both now look a bit older....

Feeling fine

I overheard Gail tell a friend that the vet had cut a lump the size of a plum out of my throat last week. A plum! No wonder I felt a bit sore afterwards.

Pleased to report that I'm feeling fine again now. However, I'm thinking it might be a good strategy to pretend my throat still hurts. For the last 5 days I've been fed delicious juicy meaty canned food, but this morning I note the boring old dried stuff made a comeback. Perhaps I'll try coughing and spluttering a bit and see if that works......

Gail claims that post lump removal, I've stopped snoring. As if I ever snored in the first place!

Wednesday 12 November 2008

A small operation

Well I had a horrid day today.

I suspected something was up when I wasn't given any breakfast. Ditto when, only a few minutes after we'd returned from the usual morning walk, Gail reached again for my lead. Experience has taught me that you don't just get one walk followed by another, for no reason. Life is not so kind.

It took me a few moments to twig that we were headed to the new vet (I haven't been often enough yet to memorise the route). Once there, Gail abandoned me.

What happened next is all a bit of a blur. Someone stuck a needle in my right front leg. Ouch! Then I fell asleep and woke up later with a sore throat and feeling really groggy. What on earth happened? And why? Please someone explain.

I panicked a bit, until Gail came to collect me. Now I'm back home, in need of cuddles, a point best made, I find, by lying at Gail's feet and whining piteously until she stops tapping away at her computer keyboard and pays me some attention.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Decision time

Well congratulations President-elect Obama. I feel sure it was your canine support that swung it.

Now it's time for your first big decision. I am very confident that young Malia and Sasha won't let you renege on that promise you made, way back. So, the Obama family's in the market for a dog. The question is, what breed to chose?

Sir, this may seem presumptious, but might you consider one of my own kind? Yes that's right. A Westie.

Let's consider some of our advantages.

I think we can take it as read that the girls will be happy with a cute white fluffy little dog. But think what a Westie could do for your own image. Now I don't know quite how to put this tactfully, but there are some people out there still who see a black man walking down the street and clutch their purses a bit tighter. Let me promise you, no-one reacts like that if you have a Westie in tow. Just the opposite in fact. Little old ladies will cross the road to come over to pat your dog, all smiles, and tell you all about their own previous pets' life histories.

Then, so many Americans claim Scottish heritage, or feel a strong affinity for my homeland. Think how impressed they'd all be with what people often (mistakenly) call a 'Scottie dog'. If you treat your Westie well for the rest of the year, he might even let you dress him up in tartan on St Andrew's Day.

So much for the image. One thing I'm sure of is that it's a stressful job being President. Yes I too have watched the 'West Wing'. Well we Westies are naturally cheerful. Life to us is not complicated. We are not political animals. Food, walks, places to explore, a bit of attention, and we're content. Home after a hard day at the Oval Office, you're guaranteed a happy face coming to greet you and cheer you up if you chose a Westie.

Not convinced? You're worried that your predecessor had Scottish Terriers too? Oh don't be silly. Dubya's gone. That nightmare is over.


I'm depressed. Look at these pictures. Where would you rather go for walk? Not difficult is it?

Like many other dogs in this area, I love running around on the beach at Balmedie. Even more fun is exploring the amazing dunes. So huge I've even seen kids sledging down them when winter snows arrive. So unspoilt, so much space and freedom.

Now all this is soon to be ruined. A nasty American called Donald Trump is going to build hundreds and hundreds of houses, a ginormous hotel and a 'world class' golf course right by where I'm standing. That's one of his hotels, top right. (Gail helped me find the picture on the internet. We both felt a bit sleazy typing the words 'Donald Trump' into Google).

To me, a 'world class golf course' would be one that encourages dogs to run around and bark at the men in funny slacks. Somehow I don't think that's what Mr Trump has in mind. More like lots of notices saying 'Any dogs straying within a five mile radius will be shot' I suspect.

Yes it's really rubbish news. Maybe a property market crash can save us, now that Alex Salmond and Co. have caved in to the demands of the loathsome tycoon. If not, then I hope all the golf balls blow out to the North Sea and the players get lost in the haar.

By the way, Mr Trump, can I recommend a hairdresser? That thing on your head. Is it road kill? It looks even worse than when Gail did a DIY job on yours truly. Hazel, now of Grooming Pawfection, could sort you out I'm sure, next time you come to Aberdeen

P.S. American friends. It's your election day. Remember my post of 5th October. Bark for Barack.

Monday 3 November 2008

An invasion!

Arriving at Canapress on Saturday morning, I thought Christmas had come early. Waiting for me on the door step, a bowl of dog food. And not just your boring old dried stuff. No, nice fresh juicy meaty chunks, the sort of stuff I almost never get from Gail.

But then I start to sniff around. Something's up. I recognise the smell. It's Fudge, a pretty Jack Russell lassie who's always bouncing around in the company of tall Dutchman Arran. Gail opens the front door and inside the house, everything's changed. Where did all this extra furniture come from? Arran and Fudge have been in here, and other folk too. Why is Gail not bothered? Can't she tell that our nice quiet home has been invaded?

Well, it's all too much to take in. At least there's a comfy new rug on the sofa, so I jump up there and have a little nap whilst Gail busies herself in the garden.

After dark, they arrive. I thought as much. It's Arran, Fudge, a puppy called Nell and finally a lady by the name of Jo. They're acting like they live here. It slowly dawns on me that perhaps they do. Now I remember, Arran stayed at Canapress once before. Seems like he's returned with an entourage.

I've always rather liked Fudge, but she's not being friendly at all this evening. Well to be honest, I don't have much of a knack with the opposite sex. Gail says she knows how I feel.

Next morning Arran goes out and arrives home with a baby. Whatever next? How many more?

When one gets older, adapting to change is exhausting. For once I'm looking forward to the peace and predictability of life back at Devanha Gardens.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Feeling the cold

Brrrrr. Chilly today. The lawn looks white. I thought at first it was just frost, but on closer inspection it turns out to be a sprinkling of snow.

Days like this, the first thing I do when I wake up is go downstairs and curl up under my favourite radiator in the hall. An old chap needs a bit of extra heat. Gone are the days when I spent my time wishing that Gail would take me for a haircut a bit more often and longing to lie down and cool off in a nice clear mountain stream.

But don't imagine the cold weather means I'll want to stay in all day. Not likely! I might not need spend quite so much time on my usual tree sniffing routines, but I do still like to go out for my morning trot round the block.

This is such a friendly neighbourhood on the whole, but there are some folks I don't know well. They're the one's who normally scuttle straight from front door into car without so much as a word or a friendly pat. Well I can promise you, when Jack Frost's been out at night painting the windscreens of their Audis (why so many Audi's round here?), they'll be out there on the street hard at work with the ice-scraper and I'll make sure they register my presence for once.

Home again, and it's good news. Gail takes her coat off and turns on the computer. That means I get to spend the day in a nice warm study, snuggled up by the radiator again, assured of some company.


Friday 24 October 2008

What's in a name?

Hamish. My previous owner gave me this name for everyday use, although on my birth certificate I'm registered as "Independent Laddie", which suits me fine well, but would be a mouthful for Gail to shout in the park. Not that I pay any attention when she calls out "Hamish!", but that's another story.

It's true that I'm not the only Westie in Aberdeen called Hamish (English understatement here, by the way). People can be quite sarcastic about this. One lady heard Gail calling me the other day and observed, rather nastily I felt, that "not a lot of imagination went into naming you, did it?" A couple of days earlier another stranger patted me on the head and said "Hamish? how did you know you were going to be called Hamish?"

For those readers who aren't from these parts, some etymology. The name Hamish comes from the Scottish Gallic name Seumas, and the English equivalent is, of course, James.

Finally, I'd like to thank Wikipedia for pointing out that the name Hamish is "not to be confused with Amish, an Anabaptist Christian denomination".....

Monday 20 October 2008

Trains and dogs

Did you know that dogs go for free on the railway?

Thought not. Well I'm going to do a bit of a PR job for British Rail, or what ever you're supposed to call them these days.

Really I can't understand why people (humans that is) moan so much. I mean, is getting somewhere on time so very important anyway? Let me tell you some of the reasons I like travelling down to Nottingham on the train.

Mostly, of course, it's the food. Yes seriously! Have you any idea how many railway staff will happily dole out free biscuits and treats to cute looking dogs (that's me, folks)? And then there's always some bored passenger with a packed lunch who's a soft touch. I just need to sit there and fix them with my piercing, hopeful stare, and sooner or later, I can guarantee you, tasty morsels of ham sandwich, Cornish pasty or fruit cake will be coming my appreciative way.

My favourite position on the train is lying in the aisle, a good vantage point from where I can keep an eye on what's going on up and down the carriage. I can't help but notice that all the old folk who look a bit frail and wobbly seem to have no trouble stepping over me, quite often stopping to give me a friendly pat, and it's the younger, richer, fitter looking passengers who tut tut about me being in the way and make a big show about getting Gail to shove me under the seat when they try to pass.

Train travel can even be exciting. I like to flirt with danger sometimes and coming back from Nottingham a week ago, I did have a close encounter with the drinks trolley. Luckily the trolley lady, sorry "senior refreshment executive" who reversed into me whilst touting for business had a sense of humour and didn't attempt to sue after she trod on my paw and I retaliated by trying to bite her ankle. (An instinctive reaction which I do now regret).

I'm not so sure about being used as in-flight entertainment for other people's kids, but will even tolerate that so long as there's no tail-pulling involved. Foreigners sometimes want to take my photo, and I do rather like the thought that in some far flung place, even as I type, someone is looking at a picture of me and cooing 'isn't he sweet' in Japanese or Greek or whatever.

Just one final comment, at risk of seeming racist. The quality and attitude of the train staff does seem to deteriorate as soon as we go south of the border. You Sassenachs would do well to learn from your Scottish colleagues. Those uniforms you wear have pockets perfectly designed for carrying fragments of shortbread or chocolate biscuits you know.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Birthday hints

My birthday's coming up soon. Finally, on the 9th of November, I'll be a teenager! I'm telling you all this because my owner Gail's one of those irritatingly logical people who doesn't see any point in giving pets special presents. So my only hope is that some kind reader of this blog will take pity on me.

Don't you think that this tee shirt's the perfect answer to all those rude people who suggest that I'm overweight? And winter in Aberdeen can be pretty chilly still (we're looking forward to global warming up here). So this extra layer would be just the thing. So tasteful too.

Come on now. Please!

Monday 13 October 2008


Gosh I am so glad I'm not a poodle. And that Gail's not a twelve year old girl with thing for pink....

I've been down to England this weekend to visit Gail's family. Most of the time was spent with her parents in Nottingham (such lovely people, such great steak and kidney pie), but on Sunday we went up to Sheffield to visit her brother Max and his family. That includes Izzy, the standard poodle, pictured above. I think I made my feelings towards Izzy quite clear in this photo, which Gail took last year.

I didn't let Gail take a photo of her (or me) this time. Would you believe, Annabel - the aforementioned twelve year old, Max's daughter, had dyed Izzy's head and tail pink? And, worse, painted her toes with purple glitter nail varnish! One really, really doesn't want to encourage that sort of thing.

Between you and me, I think Izzy's a total airhead.

Let me tell you I wouldn't let anyone get away with treating me like a toy doll. I do remember that once, way back, Gail's godson Ben suggested painting a St George's Cross on my back, before an England World Cup game. I am so relieved that she refused. For a proud Scotsman, head to paw pink would actually have been preferable!

Sunday 5 October 2008

Bark for Barack?

Yesterday, all the way from Fort Collins, Colorado, some ballot papers arrived in the post for Naomi. I keep hearing discussions about the US presidential election. Time for me to have my say.

Who would I vote for? Well, let's think. My first instinct is to favour McCain. With a name that connotes both Scotland and (at least to us Brits) food, surely he has to be the good guy? Add to that, he apparently owns two dogs, and several other animals, so should have our best interests at heart. Also, now that I'm coming up for my thirteenth birthday, I can't help but respect the wisdom that only comes with age.

Whereas I'm really not so sure about Obama's attitude. I gather he's promised his daughters a dog, but it sounds like that promise was only made under duress, which is hardly encouraging. And I can't help but feel that dog hairs will not be welcome on those immaculately pressed suits.

Yes I think it must be McCain.

Gail is looking horrified. She's whispering in my ear that McCain has Creationists on the team. Hmm. OK. Not so sure about that. These are the people that think humans are uniquely special, right? And that all species were separately created. Now I've always felt proud of being mostly wolf (can't you tell?) and for sure, if there's such a big gap between humans and chimpanzees, well, let's just say it's not always that obvious to me.

Then of course there's the Sarah Palin issue. Call me a wimpy big girl's blouse of a European, but I just don't feel comfortable around guns and people who like posing with animals they've shot dead.

Well, of course, I can't vote, being a dog and not American. But if I could, I think I might just go along with Obama dog (who has a great video on YouTube, and Bark for Barack.

And anyway, who ever liked oven chips?

Thursday 2 October 2008

Dreaming of Copenhagen

Dogs and bikes. Remember I mentioned the subject in my last post. Gail seems to have the idea that I'm too big to be taken around in a bicycle basket. "Now if you were a chihuahua" she says. Perish the thought!

But, on the QT, I've been doing some research. Thanks Naomi for the tip off about the Copenhagen Cyclists' website ( That's where I found the picture below. Now my eyesight may not be quite what it once was, but tell me please, is that or is it not a Westie? In a bicycle basket. Does the cyclist look like she's struggling? No. An attractive young lady, not Mr Universe, seems quite happily to be riding around town WITH HER WESTIE - lucky fellow.

Do I make my point quite clear? Oh Gail don't give me that rubbish about Copenhagen not having any hills.

Perhaps a continental reader could send me some more photos to help persuade my owner - who accuses ME of being stubborn (pot, kettle, black.....?)

Sunday 28 September 2008

Neighbourhood Watch

It's a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon here in Aberdeen and Gail has selfishly gone out for a ride on her bicycle and left me behind in the house on sentry duty.

Why can't she behave like a proper resident of this respectable street and spend her free time lovingly washing and buffing her car? I mean, have you seen the inside of the Mini lately? And she even blames me! Right now, there's action man Chris, across the road, putting sponge to metal, Fiona's dad (car washer extraordinaire) is at it next door, and out of the corner of my eye I can see one chap down the bottom of the street who is even hoovering his engine.

Oh, here she is, back from her ride, must rush round to front the door and let her know how cross I am. I do wish Gail would heed Margaret (a wise lady) who keep suggesting Gail adapts her bike, like they do in Holland, so I could at least go out with her for rides.

Friday 26 September 2008

Who's house?

In my last post I explained how things are at 3 Devanha Gardens South. It's nice to learn that my status here is also recognised by others on the street.

How so? Well yesterday when returning from my morning walk I ran into next door neighbour Stuart and his little red-haired daughter Ella. Ella's not much bigger than me, which I like, and she's only just started talking. She seems to have good grasp of the important stuff. She pointed down the road and said to her Dad "there's Hamish". Then she turned round, pointed to my front door and, with conviction, added "and there's Hamish's house".

Gail looked a bit peeved.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Managing your owner

It's nine years ago, to the day, that I first came to live with my current owner Gail. Way back then, I think Gail imagined that she would remain boss at 3 Devanha Gardens South. How wrong she was...

I think of the struggle for control of this house as a long drawn out war. There have been skirmishes, major battles, quiet phases, ground lost at times, but overall a clear victor emerges. Let's review the main events.

Key to success in battle is control of territory. Herein lies my greatest triumph. Gail ceded the garden at the outset, but gaining access to the house was a long drawn out affair. At first, I was confined to the sun room at the back, with a dog flap to the garden but barred from the kitchen by a strategically placed child gate. One day I managed to get my head stuck in between the bars of this irritating piece of furniture. An unfortunate accident or smart tactics? You decide. In any event, the outcome was that the barrier disappeared and the kitchen area was now mine too.

Penetrating the front sitting room took longer. Gail had this new blue sofa in front of the radiator, and seemed anxious to keep me off it. I humoured her on that one, not letting on that my real target was the old sofa by the window. The back of this forms an excellent sentry post from where I can survey the street scene, make sure the neighbours are behaving, look out for the postman, bark at would be intruders, and so on. A goal well worth fighting for. And lo and behold, my "good" (read cunning) behaviour paid dividends. Once Gail figured that her precious new sofa was safe, that was me, free to roam the whole downstairs.

Gail used to make me sleep downstairs, swore she'd never have me in the bedroom. I decided to use psychology on this one too. I hatched the plan of running out into the garden and barking in the middle of the night, making use of my owner's paranoia about me making a noise and upsetting the neighbours. It worked! And now I sleep at night on my own cosy blanket at the base of Gail's bed. She still barricades me downstairs when she's out during the day, but that I'm prepared to accept. What's the saying? Don't sweat the small stuff.

Perhaps the biggest battle lost was over food. I really prefer tins, and refused for quite some time to eat that boring dry stuff that Gail insists is "good for me". We Westies are famed for our stubborn streak, but in the end the hunger pangs won out, and a can of Pedigree Chum (or better yet Butchers with tripe) is now a rare treat.

The rest were minor skirmishes. I've had to concede defeat on the use of the ironing board and vacuum cleaner, and we've come to an amicable compromise on operation of the hairdryer - OK on Gail, but absolutely on no account is it to be pointed in my direction. I'll put up with being bathed so long as I can dry myself by rolling around on the carpet.

As for walks, well, it's getting late, I'll save that story for another day.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Good behaviour

See this gold star? Gail says I can put this at the top of my blog because I was so well behaved today at the vet. Why she imagines that I might care about some silly symbol is quite beyond me, but, you know, humans, you sometimes just have to humour them....

Far more relevant, from my point of view is that Lily, the nice Irish lady vet, gave me some delicious treats after she'd stood me on her table and poked around my foot, my ears and my tummy. She rubbed my ears a lot, which I like, and was all round very agreeable.

And I am feeling a whole lot better now. Gail's more cheerful too, and it seems we have a new addition to the household. Naomi, the American girl, arrived last night with some very large bags and has made herself at home in the spare bedroom. I haven't had a proper chance to check out all her stuff. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, Gail forgets to give visitors the food security briefing. Hope springs eternal!

Friday 12 September 2008

A working dog?

Every time we go to the vet (which is often), Gail comes away muttering something about sending me out to work for a living. Or else she starts going on about how grateful she is for the NHS, and how humans at least are treated for free in this country. It seems that all these medicines I'm taking at the moment are rather expensive.

You know, I'd really like to help with the money, but what are the options? Let's think.

My ancestors earned their keep by digging out and chasing after small animals, rabbits and such-like. Well I do still like digging, but rabbits can run so much faster than me and I just can't be bothered with them any more. As a youngster I'd try to chase anything - grouse, mountain hares, deer even, but with age came wisdom, and I learnt that energy was more efficiently spent in hunting for chocolate biscuits in certain people's houses, rather than in futile pursuit of wild animals on the hills.

What do other working dogs do? German Shepherds seem to have an exciting time helping out the police, and I quite fancy having a go at that, but, strangely, the idea of a Westie assisting in the fight against crime doesn't seem to be taken seriously in some quarters.

Being a sled dog rather appeals too, as I do love rolling around in the snow, and several friends of Gail who've tried to walk me on the lead have noted that I'm surprisingly strong for my size. But then with global warming, this may not be a career with a promising future.

There are other jobs - guidedogs, gundogs, sheepdogs for example. Gail points out that dogs employed in these areas all score highly in the obedience stakes, and that this is not my strong suit. (By the way, I've noticed that humans often tend to confuse the traits of obedience and intelligence in dogs. I would ask, how clever is it to slavishly follow idiotic and pointless commands !?)

Like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and company, I could of course trade on my good looks. People in public places often try to take my photo, purely on the basis that I'm cute. I've even participated in a couple of wedding videos down in Duthie Park. Once, when I was on holiday, we stopped at a cafe by the Glenfinnan Monument, where a man was charging bus loads of Japanese tourists to be photographed with his scraggly collection of owls and hawks, then the same tourists came and posed besides me and no money changed hands at all!

One thing I know I'd be really, really good at is being a sniffer dog at the airport. Want to know who's smuggling in illicit quantities of finest Swiss chocolate - I'm your man! Oh. Gail says that customs aren't interested in the ability to detect microgram quantities of Lindt through several layers of packaging. Shame.

Looks like it's Gail that's going to have to go out and find a proper job.

Monday 8 September 2008

Lots of Westies

Pleased to say that I'm feeling better than last week. Leg a bit sore still, but improving slowly. And I think Gail has got the point that I've recovered my appetite.

Spending so much time indoors has made me realise just how many other Westies there are in this house. People seem to like giving them to Gail as presents, as if I'm not good enough by myself! Perhaps some readers will recognise the items pictured above. Can you spot the real me in and amongst all the fakes? Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, imitation being the best form of flattery etc.

But just remember please. The water-skiing thing. Not realistic. As I've said before.

Friday 5 September 2008

Still paw-ly

You see, at least I'm not too under the weather to make an atrocious pun! I'm trying hard because I know Gail has been doing her best to keep me cheerful these last few days.

She took me into the University today and I had a little stroll/hop around the Cruickshank Botanical Gardens. Lots and lots of exotic trees to sniff there, and, I might say, Gail, those borders are better kept than at 3 Devanha Gardens South, aren't they? But before long the walking got too much; I came over all shaky and was really hurt when one of Gail's fellow researchers accused me of "milking it a bit" when she saw me being carried back to the car. Huh! My foot is still very sore you know.

Keeping it positive, we had some lovely visitors this week, Yit and Stephanie. Gail says they're from St Andrews but they didn't look or sound like Fifers to me. Yit performed sterling duty in the tummy ticking department, and that definitely cheered me up.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Health bulletin

I don't want to bore everyone by going on and on about my medical problems, but I'm in rather a bad way at the moment and can't think of anything else to talk about.

Before I just had an itchy foot and so a sore paw. Now my left leg hurts so much I can't put any weight on it or walk more than a couple of yards, and Gail has to carry me up and down steps. I'm feverish. I don't feel hungry, or even thirsty; I really don't feel like doing anything at all.

So I spent yesterday at the vets, being variously prodded and poked and stabbed with needles. Now I'm home again, still poorly, and Gail is going round with very long face too.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Doing my bit for Amnesty

One of my many roles in life is as unofficial mascot for the Amnesty International group in Aberdeen. Whenever they want to collect money from the public, I get wheeled out in a blatant bid to pull in the animal loving punters.

It's funny how humans tend to believe their own publicity about being the most intelligent species. Despite so much evidence to the contrary. For example, you have Gail standing there on the street (today we were in Stonehaven), resplendent in yellow Amnesty sash, holding a collecting can clearly labelled Amnesty International. On the can it also says something about fighting injustice and torture and helping prisoners of conscience. But a worrying number of folk just see me, stood there by Gail's side, say "Aw, isn't he cute", donate some money then tell Gail "I always give to animal charities".

Gail asked me to say that if you want to find out more about the local Amnesty group, see

Thursday 28 August 2008

Pulped fiction

Oh dear. I think I'm in disgrace. I really don't know what came over me.

It happened yesterday. Renate and Michael from Wester Alligin came to stay for the night in Aberdeen. My German friends, such kind people, how nice to see them. They brought their bags inside and then they went out with Gail, to a restaurant I guess. How sporting, I always think, of guests, to leave open the bedroom door so I can check out their belongings.

Well I had a good rummage around in Renate's bag. I thought I could smell something interesting in there, so it seemed worthwhile to conduct a thorough search, and lay out all the contents on the bedroom floor. It was all a bit disappointing, no biscuits, no cheese, no nothing. So I suppose I was feeling a smidge frustrated, which is why I had a little nibble at a paperback book I found. Just the cover you understand, not something I normally do but......

Everyone was so cross when they returned home and found the book. You'd think, if they'd been out stuffing themselves all evening they wouldn't begrudge me a bit of tasteless cellulose. But that's not how it went.

Renate and Michael left very early in the morning, without saying a word. I do hope it wasn't because of me. I am so sorry.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Some neighbours

I'm feeling great today, all bright-eyed and waggly-tailed. In fact I was up and quite ready to go for my morning walk at six a.m. prompt. It's safe to say Gail wasn't. Sometimes she lies still in bed and pretends she's still asleep, when I know fine well she's faking it and just being idle!

Eventually, around seven thirty, I get my standard weekday morning trot around the block. Now that the school holidays are over, the regular Devanha Gardens cast of characters have all reappeared.

The gorgeous Marcelle, I've mentioned before - I just catch sight of her shapely silver rear end as she and her owner Catherine head home from the park. Molly the springer spaniel from next door overtakes us shortly. She's calmed down a good deal these days, I'm pleased to report. On the home straight we encounter relative newcomer Ted. I quite like Ted, despite him being a border collie and so liable to do that irritating crouching thing when he sees me coming. When that's all over with, he's pretty normal and friendly.

If I were the jealous type, I'd envy Ted his handsome form and the fact that his owner's always so elegantly turned out, compared to Gail. Really, she - Gail that is - could try a little harder. Sometimes I think she spends more time and effort on my appearance than on her own!

By the way, talking of appearances, I've heard that humans sometimes refer to a plain woman as "a dog". Really, how unfair is that?

Friday 22 August 2008


Well it was Westie Central in Duthie Park this afternoon. First we met a Jamie, sniffing the bushes near the entrance. Nine years old, scruffy, yellow rather than white. Then I got entangled in an extendable lead attached to one Angus, a highly strung chap it seemed to me, but friendly enough. Later on I tried chasing after a pretty wee lassie called Shona, but old age and sore paws caught up with me, sadly.

It's odd. When I go to Torridon, all I see is Border Collies and Jack Russells. The North West Highlands seem devoid of their eponymous terriers. Whereas is Aberdeen, we're ten a penny. Maybe a rebranding is due. 'Easties' perhaps? No it doesn't sound right at all - I'll have to work on this one.

It is, by the way, all but compulsory for Aberdeen Westies to have good, traditional Scottish names, and I think I have the finest!

Wednesday 20 August 2008

More adventures in Wester Alligin

Why can't we spend more time over on the West Coast? Gail has this lovely cottage on Loch Torridon, in a settlement called Wester Alligin. It's such an interesting area to explore, whereas, to be frank, I feel that after nine years I've exhausted most options in Aberdeen's Duthie Park, nice though the roses are.

Well I had to make do with a too brief visit last weekend. The drive over on Friday night was a bit of a drag, as some new friend of Gail's, a girl called Naomi, came with us and she usurped my front seat in the car. Typical American, if you ask me, invading places they shouldn't. It's not that the back's uncomfortable exactly, more there's a point of principle's at stake. Top dog status is surely my right. Gail seems to think her friends might be insulted if they were put in the rear seat, but I'm sure they'd be just fine, these new Minis are quite spacious, and how does she imagine I feel anyway?

I digress. We all three, Gail, Naomi and I, enjoyed a fine walk along the coast on Saturday, although the ground wasn't as boggy as I like it and so I didn't quite manage to achieve my favourite half Scottie half Westie look, with black underside and white upper.

Sunday was even better. I don't usually approve of Gail going off on walks and leaving me behind, but this time, rather than being home alone I got to spend the day with Wester Alligin neighbours Renate and Michael. I've mentioned my language skills in a previous post. I'm not sure my German hosts realised that I understood every word they said, but then this is not the place to give away their secrets anyway.

Baclenbea, that's Renate and Michael's house, has a most splendid garden and between exploring that, and checking out the house for unprotected biscuits, the time flew by. Have you been watching the Olympics on telly? Me neither, but I hope you'll be impressed by my balancing feat on the 'single wall' (see photos). Eat your heart out Olga Korbut.

Gail looked a bit knackered when she came back from the walk. I suspect this young Naomi had upped the pace a bit. Well Gail now you know how I feel, always being the oldster and lagging behind. Perhaps you too should cultivate an interest in sniffing lampposts.

Friday 15 August 2008

Why blog?

I think this cartoon I found on the internet explains why Gail is encouraging me to continue blogging.....

Thursday 14 August 2008

Beach smells

Gail is spending a lot of time at home sat at her computer these days. She seems to be very busy. I have no idea what she's doing. I hope she does.

At least there's more opportunity for me to let her know that I'm bored of the house and really would appreciate a little outing somewhere.

Well, we had a very nice outing yesterday, an evening walk along the Aberdeen City Beach. And no, Aberdeen Council don't panic, we DID obey the signs which say I'm not allowed on the sand between groynes 6 and 13, we walked along the promenade for that bit, as you're supposed to.

There's lots of interesting things to smell at the beach. Not just the usual marks left by my fellow canines - though there are plenty of those - but also you can find rotting remains of seaweed, fish, seagulls and even, if you're luck's really in, a nice big and very dead seal.

There is a point of difference between Gail and I concerning these decomposing items. I do hope you'll side with me on this one. Surely, it adds greatly to a dog's allure if he can rub himself up against some dead flesh and go home smelling of 'eau de putrefaction'? But Gail doesn't see it this way, and if by some chance her guard slips and I do manage to stain my white coat with some interesting beach find, then no soon as we're home, it's collar off, shampoo out, into the shower, and I end up all wet and boringly odour-free.

Anyway, yesterday I didn't get any chances to adorn myself in this way, so had to be content with investigating the abundant litter left behind from meals of fish and chips, burgers etc. Rich pickings, you might think, but sadly the gulls had got there first. Have you seen an Aberdeen seagull? (Silly question I know if you live here). Some of them are bigger than me, living proof I think that a fast food diet is not good for the waistline. So next time leave a few morsels of that double cheeseburger and fries for yours truly, eh, guys?

Sunday 10 August 2008

A trip to the hairdresser

I went for a haircut this week. See the photo below; don't I look nice and trim? I do much prefer having short hair - it's one trait I share with my owner Gail. Some people (who may be reading this), have in the past imputed that I'm a bit on the chubby side. And have even sniggered when Gail defends me saying "he's not fat he's just fluffy". It's a sensitive point. Well now that the fluff has all been cut off, you can judge for yourselves.

Trimming us Westies is quite a skilled matter. Not as complicated as poodles of course, but Gail's one disastrous attempt to do the job herself made it plain to everyone who saw me afterwards that some basic competence is required. And I've never seen Gail so flummoxed as when she first took me to the grooming parlour. Simple questions like "does he have a long skirt, a short skirt or the practical cut?" and "will I give his face a round or square shape?" left her uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

For the record, I have a VERY short skirt, and my face suits a round-shaped cut best.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Westie language skills

I think it's time I had a little boast about my language skills. You may not be aware that I'm really rather a multi-lingual Westie. Let me explain how.

Being born on a farm near Fraserburgh, my mother tongue is of course Doric. It's all I heard for the first three years of my life, before I came down to the big city to be adopted by Gail. Now Gail as you have probably by now worked out, may live in Aberdeen but she is in fact English. Yes, we're a mixed race household! At first, her accent sounded rather snobby and affected to my Scottish ears, but I'm used to it now. Doric isn't much used amongst Gail's social circle; the only time I hear it these days is when old folk stop in the street and ask "fit age is he?" and tell me I'm "affa bonny".

Gail's friend Marse speaks the American form of the English language. Marse can be quite strict. What I would call being engaged on important tree-sniffing business, she tends to define as "lollygagging around".

When Gail goes on holiday, I'm looked after by Jacques, a lovely, kind Frenchman who lives next door but one. Jacques doesn't take me for "walkies", rather we go for a "mena, mena!" that's short for promenade, which is my favourite French word. Well equal favourite with camembert.

Ever since I've known her, Gail has been attempting, with limited success, to learn German. Of the two of us, I suspect I may be the better linguist. Most Tuesday nights we both go round to her teacher Margaret's house and for a hour and half, and she and a couple of other nice ladies grapple with their datives, word order and adjectival endings before reverting to English when they've got something really interesting to say. If I sit there quietly all through the lesson, at the end I get patted on the head and someone says that "er hat sich heute Abend sehr gut benommen".*

I do mostly try to behave myself round at Margaret's, to make sure I keep getting invited. I don't get many other chances to roam so freely in a house where food security is so lax. Oh, many's the delicious treat I've helped myself to at Springfield Road. Chocolate, biscuits, cake, bones in the rubbish bin, you name it, I've found it!

* I do hope I got this all correct. I'm sure Margaret will post a comment if not.

PS. We dogs hit the BBC news this morning. See . And next time you yawn, observe your dog/owner carefully.......

Sunday 3 August 2008

A successful fungal foray

Every year around this time, Gail's hunter gatherer instincts take hold, and we go off into the forest in search of mushrooms. I used to find this boring, as it involves lots of standing around watching Gail root about, searching for stuff that I personally don't consider edible. Now with my poorly paw, I'm happy to just snuffle around amongst the trees, enjoying the change of scene. And at least Gail's looking for something you can eat, unlike certain of her colleagues at the university, who have devoted years and years to studying 'mycorrhizal fungi', and can give you the Latin name of each and every one, but can't tell you which make a good omelette! Wasted years indeed.

And today Gail hit the jackpot! Look at the photo above. Based on a tip off from one of her friends, we went out to 'a wood near Monymusk'. Gail has banned me, on pain of no cheese for a week, from releasing further details. But I will say that, should any of her friends out there fancy some chantarelles for supper, then I suggest you get in touch with Gail pronto. If she eats all these she'll turn yellow.

Friday 1 August 2008

Feeling better - a visit to the guinea pigs

Well, it's better news today. Those little tablets that Ian the vet prescribed have made me feel a whole lot less itchy, my paw's not nearly so sore as before, and so I'm back to running up and down stairs, jumping through the dog flap and I have only a slight limp.

Having been more or less stuck indoors for two days, I'm suffering from cabin fever, so what a relief this morning when Gail takes me for a short walk round to feed our neighbour's guinea pigs. I must say, these neighbours do seem to have a lot of holidays, but I'm not complaining, it's always fun to go and visit my four rodent pals. I'd really like to be more friendly with them, we could have great fun chasing each other round the back garden, but Gail's a spoil sport and won't ever let them out of their run to play with me. And when I try to initiate a conversation, all four wee tim'rous beasties go and hide under the hutch.

Now these guinea pigs have a nice big run, and a clean cosy hutch filled with hay. So they're well cared for on the whole. But let me confess I do have some ethical concerns about their feeding arrangements. No seriously! Animal rights and environmental issues are involved. These owners buy fine organic veggies for themselves, but my furry friends get fobbed off with the cheapest pesticide ridden stuff from Asda or Lidl or wherever. Can this be right? Surely not.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

A pity party

I'm feeling very sorry for myself just now. So stop reading right here if you want cheering up.

My skin's been really itchy for a couple of weeks. Especially my paws. They itch so much it makes me want to lick them over and over again, especially at night. And now my left front paw's all red and sore and I can't bear to put any weight on it. The right one doesn't feel to good either. I can only hobble a few feet, I need Gail to carry me up and down stairs, and I'm so miserable, I've lost all my energy and enthusiasm for life. All I want to do is lie on the sofa, all floppy.

So this afternoon we went to see Ian the vet at Ardene House. Ian has a long face that fits my current mood. He brings to mind the quote about not confusing a Scotsman with a ray of sunshine* . He always looks like he's about to bear bad news, and I can't help but think that he really should have been an undertaker.

Anyway, usual story at the vets. Getting my revenge in first, I try to bite Ian before he hurts me. Quickly a muzzle is produced and I'm restricted to aggressive jaw grinding. After a bit of poking around, and, unbelievably, Ian telling me to "think calm thoughts Hamish" (calm, CALM, you've gotta be joking mate, you're a VET!!!!), I'm released from the muzzle, then Gail is released from a large amount of cash in exchange for some small packets of pills and we go home.

* "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine." P.G. Wodehouse

Monday 28 July 2008

The trials of old age

See this picture here on the left. That's me, on top of Beinn Alligin, above Loch Torridon. Not very recently, I'm afraid. In fact the photo was taken by Gail in October 2005. We'd climbed up over 3000 ft from sea level. Not bad for one with such short legs, as I'm sure you're thinking.

Well that was three years ago. I don't think I'll be going up there again. We just spent last weekend at Gail's cottage on the shore of Loch Torridon. The weather was hot and still and walking a just mile from Wester Alligin to Inveralligin and back, which was once to me a mere hop a skip and a jump, is now a marathon. I get short of breath, my paws hurt, I overheat, I need a drink every few minutes, my skin itches. Old age is just not that much fun.

Gail went for a swim in the Loch on Sunday afternoon. There's a lovely little stony beach just a few yards from her house. She went straight in and swam all the way out to the yacht moored a couple of hundred yards from the shore. Incredible. I don't get this swimming business at all. What a horrid feeling, to have a wet back.

Do you know, some idiot company published a calendar last Christmas called 'Water-skiing Westies. Yes that's right, a bunch of dumb pictures of my fellow terriers, in what I suppose are meant to be amusing poses, balanced on water skis in enormous ocean waves. Well let me make it quite clear that we Westies have clear and strict rules regarding water and these are:

  • Mostly, we're happy to avoid water altogether.

  • If it's a really warm day, it's OK to go and lie in a nice stream, or a still lake, where we can see what we're stepping into and can feel the bottom. On no account should that water come up higher that half way up the side.

  • Waves are a no-no.

  • Ditto fast running streams.

  • We have no desire to swim, retrieve sticks thrown in the water, or other such stunts which are fit only for lower breeds of dog.

  • In heavy rain, we'd really rather wear a coat (Some of us may even humour our owners and tolerate a tartan one).

Friday 25 July 2008

Health and Safety

As a breed, I don't much care for restaurant owners. They promise so much and deliver so little. Most humans will walk by a cafe, catch a whiff of bacon being fried and think "how delicious". Well you may have noticed that we Westies have a rather more acute sense of smell than your average hominid. To put that in context, on a typical tree stump in Ferryhill I personally can detect an average of twenty different marks left there by my canine neighbours. To Gail, it just smells of tree. So imagine what it means to me to walk past those wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen of a nice restaurant.

And walking past is inevitably what it comes to. Past not in. Oh Gail will sometimes go in. Quite often actually. But do I get invited to join her? You know the answer. Apparently the reason I'm left tied up outside is 'health and safety laws'. I think this means that I'm somehow considered dirty. What an insult! You should see some of the people they let in restaurants. Kids especially - snivelling noses, grubby hands, and what a noise..... And when peeking in through the door, I've notice so many people leave half their food on the plate. What an insult to the chef. I'd never do that (well carrots maybe).

I look cute, I have good personal hygiene (mostly), I don't make a lot of noise (ditto), I would be a deeply, deeply appreciative customer. Little girls like to stroke me. As the Americans say 'what's not to like'. On rare occasions, we find a cafe or pub where dogs are welcome, where the person in charge has the spine, or common sense, to ignore these famous so-called 'health and safety' laws. A nice coffee shop on the main street of Grantown-on-Spey comes to mind.

Fellow Westies, we should start a campaign!

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Baytree House B&B, Kirkcudbright

Back in Aberdeen now, and not impressed with the weather. You can usually rely on it being nice and chilly here, but not today. I spent most of the afternoon hidden in bushes, trying not to overheat. Where was the haar when I needed it most?

No complaints about the temperatures on holiday last week though. Cool, windy, damp, just how I like it. And no complaints about the accommodation either. Can I in particular recommend to other Westies the Baytree House B&B in Kirkcudbright? ( You can be sure of a warm welcome there - nice big rooms, a garden with lots of interesting corners to explore, friendly, relaxed owners. The breakfasts smelled great and the morsel of sausage I was offered was really tasty, though as usual too small. I even wangled my way into the kitchen and if Gail hadn't intervened I'm sure my cute begging stunt would have yielded positive results.

Saturday 19 July 2008

Westie Heaven in Auchterarder

I'm just back from a week's holiday in Dumfries and Galloway. More on all that later, but I do right away want to sing the praises of a wonderful delicatessen in Auchterarder. Gail stopped there for a break on the drive south. We've visited this town before, and frankly I hadn't found it much fun. A long straight street, no parks, no streams or woods, no opportunities to roam free.

So I wasn't that thrilled when Gail tied me up outside a shop with Australian flags hanging in the window and a nice smell of chocolate coming from inside. Fat chance of me getting offered any chocolate - Gail has this misguided idea that it's "bad for me". She goes in and orders an ice-cream, exchanges pleasantries with the Aussie shop assistant, and when I decide to remind her that I'm still outside and bored she just calls out 'oh shut up Hamish'. More words are exchanged, I hear my name mentioned and then out troops Gail with a big ice-cream cone in one hand and in the other a miniature version of the same which she offers to me. A little present from the shop apparently. Wow! Absolutely scrumptious. I'll never again be rude about Australians (cattle dogs excepted).

Just one suggestion for next time Gail. I'll take the big cone and you can have the little one.

Saturday 12 July 2008


It's always a good sign when Gail gets up, make a cup of tea and then retreats to bed for a while. My sign that she's not going to work today, and so there's a chance of getting a decent walk somewhere other than boring old Ferryhill. Another good sign, when we go out the front door and I'm directed into the Mini. (I do wish she'd clean the inside though, all that sand that fell out of my coat after last week's trip to Balmedie makes the seat look a right mess, and those smears on the window obstruct my view out!)

After a short drive, I leap enthusiastically out the car and if I didn't have such short legs, the wind might have blown me over. We must be at Torry Battery, by the harbour. Sea to the north, groups of men in funny clothes hitting balls with sticks (seems so pointless) to the south, lots of wind - did I mention that already - and several couples sitting in cars, binoculars trained on the water at the harbour mouth.

Gail and I follow our favourite route round the coast, past the lighthouse and the old 'Torry Coo'. Boy it's cold. As it starts to rain horizontally, we meet a pretty border collie. Her owner, an old man with a well-indurated face, greets mine with a single word. "July". He doesn't smile, but looks resigned.

Friday 11 July 2008

Hello folks. I'm Hamish, a Westie aged twelve and a half. I live in Aberdeen and now that I've been retired from scampering up Munros with my owner Gail, due to a dicky heart (mine not hers) I've decided to take up blogging. It's the first time I've had a go at this, so let's hope the 'old dog new tricks' thing won't apply.

Let me start by telling you a bit about my life here. You know I once heard Gail's American friend Marse (a very nice lady of who more in later posts I'm sure) say that if she were a Buddhist she'd want to be re-incarnated as Gail's dog, i.e. me. Why? Well the way she saw it, my life consisted of being taken for long walks in the beautiful Scottish countryside, being fed twice a day (plus the odd tasty titbit) and otherwise lying around on the sofa having my tummy tickled.

Yes well, lady Marse, I can tell you, it's not always like that! Take yesterday for example. I get dragged out of bed at some ungodly hour and taken for a VERY short stroll around the hard grey granite streets in the pouring rain. I'm not even allowed a few seconds to stretch up and sniff the fragrant rear end of my stunning neighbour, the sleek silver greyhound Marcelle. And then I'm left alone all day in the house as Aaron, the kind young lad who often takes me out in the afternoon, is away at scout camp. At least I can get out through the dog flap and into the back garden, where I have some ongoing excavation projects to keep me occupied....