PS from Gail - this blog will be quiet for a week or two over the festive season. Bertie and I will be down in Nottingham, concentrating on taking good care of HGD and HGY. Looking forward to being in touch again in 2013.
I know you're busy etc., and this letter is rather late and my request is, I admit, unconventional and in all honesty I can if necessary wait till New Year (like most of the folk who receive so-called 'Christmas' gifts from Gail have to anyway).
Oh but please, please, PLEASE can you send me a handler who will enable me to fulfil my true potential as an agility dog?
In case you doubt what I am up against at the moment, please watch carefully this video of Gail and me, filmed by my dear friend Alison during one of the 'fun' party games at the Deeside Dog Agility Club Christmas Party last night. For clarity, I have added some subtitles, although even without these, I think that Gail's shortcomings as a handler will be all too obvious...
Amongst the current club membership there are, in my opinion, several promising candidates for the position of replacement handler. Perhaps you could make some discreet enquiries at the next training session? (Probably best to park the sleigh and reindeer behind the barn and out of sight of the other dogs).
I'm sure you will agree that my request is an entirely reasonable one, and so I am happy to leave the matter in your capable and hopefully not too frost-bitten hands.
We know exactly what should happen when, and find it most disturbing when our humans forget the rules.
Take my morning walk, for example.
I know the drill, every step of the way.
Gail gets out of bed, has a shower, comes down to the kitchen, stops by my bed to say hello and give me a wee tummy tickle, then consumes her bowl of muesli and precisely and one and a half mugs of tea. After which she puts on her coat (and hat, and scarf and gloves, at this time of year), clips on my lead, and we're out the front door. Turn left and five minutes later we reach the park entrance and only then I am allowed off my lead and we complete our anti-clockwise circuit round the park, pausing now and then to greet all the other early morning regulars.
But sometimes Gail gets things terribly wrong.
Yesterday morning for example. We were only about half way to the park and Gail dropped hold of my lead. Incredible. It was as if she didn't realise where we were.
Well I can tell you, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked up at her, to let her know that she had made a serious error, and that she was still supposed to be attached to me at this point, whatever was she thinking of?
I am pleased to report that, on recognising her mistake, Gail immediately picked up my lead and from then on things proceeded according to plan.
You know how I told you a few days ago that I was sure I had won the agility competition, and found it hard to understand why the judges decided otherwise?
Well Gail is saying that my problem is "over-confidence".
What's more, she claims that this trait has been evident from the start. For example when I was a wee pup I would go up to big and aggressive looking dogs and bounce all over them, confident that they would want to be my friends, even when their body language indicated just the opposite.
So I was thrilled to learn that Human Grandad has also long been seen as over-confident. Recently, when Gail was trying to dissuade him from attempting to walk further than his aged muscles would permit, he replied, in a rare moment of verbal fluency, by telling her how, when he was training to be an RAF pilot in Oklahoma, his flying instructor would tick him off for failing to recognise the limits of his ability and for attempting manoeuvres that were unwise and even dangerous.
I am so proud and happy to have HGD as a role model!
You know I thought I was there at the Loanhead Equestrian Centre yesterday morning in order to enter my first ever contest, the Devanha Dogs Just for Fun Agility Show. But when, at the start of the day, I saw the humans 'walking the course', for a moment I wondered if I'd got it all wrong and Gail was taking part in a sequins-free version of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Well apparently that is all part of the proceedings. I also learned there's an awful lot of hanging around at agility events. And that unheated barns in December in Aberdeenshire are very cold.
Luckily, Gail had the foresight to bring Hamish's old coat along for me (and yes, I really did use the words 'luckily' and 'coat' in the same sentence).
I think Gail was was a bit envious of the more experienced handlers who wrapped themselves in sleeping bags whilst waiting their turn. If you are thinking that she looks chilled to the marrow in this next photo, you would be right.
Oh, you are in fact wondering how I performed in the agility ring?
Well frankly, I can't understand what happened.
I mean, I was so confident I was winning, but it seems that judges have strange and narrow-minded ideas about what constitutes a faultless round.
Lots of the dogs boringly restricted themselves to running and jumping over the obstacles, so I would have thought, having demonstrated that I too was perfectly capable of clearing a couple of medium sized hurdles, that my initiative in then going off-piste to inspect the far end of the barn before resuming the 'official' route should have earned me extra points, but the judges thought differently. Likewise, running straight along the 'dog walk' is just so dull when one can demonstrate one's agility - after all that's what it's all about isn't it - by jumping from left to right and back again, several times, across the lower end of the ramp. Oh yes and lastly, having heard Gail complaining about me not sitting patiently at the start on my first two goes, on my third and final event I decided to show her how well I could sit. And sit. And sit....
After all that carry on, it was eventually time to leave, and in the car going home Gail was saying some very odd things about how maybe it was good that my performance was so "erratic" as it doesn't always do to peak too soon and thus leave no scope for improvement next time around.
"Erratic"? Surely Gail at least should recognise my unique wire-haired fox terrier brand of perfection...
It aims to "give all young people the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future".
Jolly good thing, I hear you say.
Now Gail is supposed to be supervising Gregor, a young lad who lives on our street, and who has, for his Duke of Edinburgh community service project, undertaken to devote an hour every Sunday morning to picking up litter in an area of Aberdeen near to the North Sea shore.
Well up to now he has been just emailing Gail photos as proof of his endeavours, but last Sunday I persuaded her that we really should go along and see for ourselves what he's been up to.
It has to be said that standing around watching someone pick up litter is pretty dull work, so Gail and I joined Gregor's parents plus Bonnie and Jack for a brisk walk around the lighthouse whilst Gregor got on with his task.
When we returned we found Gregor had been busy.
Gail delegated the job of sniffing out the contents of the rubbish bag to the acknowledged expert.
I confess I was a bit disappointed not to detect any decomposing seagull, or left over fish suppers.
There were quite a few beer cans (remember we are in Scotland) and these could be recycled.
It was a chilly day and I expect you have been admiring Gregor's splendid hat.
I must admit, I had been rather hoping that Gregor would bring along his lovely Norwegian friend Aurora to help, as I knew from earlier photos that she had joined him one previous time when she was over on a visit.
But sadly Aurora was back home on the other side of the North Sea, and today it was just Gregor. I do hope you will all join me in congratulating him on his dedication to cleaning up our environment.
Oh and I am now waiting with eager anticipation for my invite to join Gregor on one of those exciting overnight adventures involving long hikes and camping out in the mountains, as I believe these are also an essential part of the DofE award programme.
Hi, I'm Bertie, a wire-haired fox terrier pup. I live with Gail in Aberdeen, Scotland. An old Westie called Hamish used to live here but he died on 18th February 2010 (exactly the same day I was born). People tell me that he used to have a blog and that I have big pawprints to fill. That's a bit too much responsibility for a very young puppy - and anyway, I intend to make my own mark!
(Gail says that Hamish could certainly have taught me a thing or two about marking stuff....)