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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0BM32lDSSk), 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 (http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/). 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.....?)