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.