Writesofway acquires new item of top quality walking kit


It’s going to take a year or so before Dougal is old enough to tackle big days on the hill or rugged coastline, but he’s packing in a lot of sleep in preparation. We would have taken a dog from animal rescue or the SSPCA, but he was a present from my sister and her husband who had bred their dog, Sol. I’ve taken Sol for many a big yomp on the South Downs and he came for a holiday with us on Islay and Jura in 2009. He’s always been hugely entertaining company, so young Dougal has got a lot to live up to.

I promise not to tread on the paws of Maisie and Ken at Where the Fat Dog Walks and I’ll try to avoid too much anthropomorphising in any accounts of future walks where The Doogster is along. Promise.

He’s a lovely wee feller though, even when he’s gnawing my fingers down to the bone. Teething – they’ve got to do it. Below is a picture of Sol (born on summer solstice, not named for a former Arsenal centre half) pondering on the impressive geological phenomena resulting from glacio-isostatic uplift on the NW coast of Islay.

By the way, if anyone knows of any efficacious means of protecting dogs from the west coast’s tick epidemic, I’d be grateful for your advice.


24 responses

  1. He looks a lovely little fella, it will great to take him backpacking when he is a little older. A great smelly sleeping bag warmer for those cold damp nights!
    We have just got back from the rescue centre, too much to take in on a first visit. A very sad place to visit, poor beasts. It is mostly staffies there these days as they are the twats dogs of choice for some reason. Not sure how they are suitable thought for long days in the mountains. I was rather taken by a young American Bulldog bitch, a formidable looking beast but as soft as they come. I think that I would meet alot of prejudice walking a dog like that round the mean inner city streets!

  2. Prejudice, yes, but respect also! Except it would be respect from the people you least wanted it from. A friend had a rescued staffie called Bess who was absolutely lovely – it’s the owners, not the dogs – but they’re not well designed for big hikes.

    Well done for going and i hope you’re able to take a rescued dog at some point, James. The lucky dog in question will be sure of a good life ahead of her/him.

    • Cheers Alan! Yes, all being well, we’ll be getting up to a considerable amount of Stravaiging, I hope. All the best for 2011, Alan and good luck with The Challenge.

  3. A delightful new adventure friend! But I really think it’s a shame that Dougal has to miss out on these early, formative hill experiences, so I recommend you getting yourself kitted out with one of those lovely baby pouches that you can sling over your shoulders like a reverse backpack and keep young Doogster snug as a bug within. Your more conventional backpack could of course be filled with dog treats and bones and squishy yellow balls to be cast across glen and dale for the puppy’s enjoyment of watching you fetch them back up. Then you can pack Dougal safely away again and stride for home, having shared the beauty of early bonding in the wilds. Ask Dougal, see what he thinks.

  4. Hi Pete, what a lovely looking puppy! What a joy he will be on your long walks and a great companion. As for deterring ticks, I have always used Frontline spray for the undercarriage on young dogs, then progress to Frontline drops for use on the back of the neck when they become adults. http://frontline.uk.merial.com/

  5. Ha I thought for a minute there you’d gone all capitalist lackey on us!

    But no fear, and what a beautiful companion! When I lived in Wrexham as a kid we had a border collie, I couldn’t do it now as we’re in a flat in London…but the missus is hankering after, so if we ever get outta here, it’ll happen. have to say, i;m a bit jealous.

    all the best and happy new year

    • Thanks David and all the best for the New Year yourself. We actually live in a flat ourselves, though Glasgow proportions are generally a bit more generous than London and we’ve got a communal garden downstairs, plus loads of good places for walkies nearby. We’re aiming to move out of town soon as well. Eight years in Finsbury Park, four in Glasgow; ready for a bit less traffic and peeps.

  6. What a cracking looking dog.! Good to know that he`ll get some decent walks rather than being cooped up all day long.
    I used Frontline on my collie until one time he had a severe eaction to it.Thought he was going to die ..it`s very powerful stuff and you wonder what effects it has in addition to it`s intended one.After that I just pulled the ticks off when they were big enough to see or feel. A friend lost her dog to a snake bite which is probably more of a concern in Jura.Having said that it was a rattlesnake that bit hers..!

    • Jeepers, no-one told me there were rattlesnakes on Jura! Seriously though, that’s a good point as jura is crawling …erm, slithering, with adders. Time to patent my own tick, snake, cleg-proof doggy armour.

      I’m not keen on dousing the dog with chemicals, but I think I’ll give the Frontline a go. My sister’s lab picked up about ten that blew right up and we must have left a head in as he ended up getting infected and needing antibiotics. Maybe I’ll just walk him up and down the Kelvin where there’s no deer to speak of!

  7. No one like using chemicals on dog, but the end result of using nothing can be far worse, especially if the dog picks up Lyme disease which is very debilitating and can prove fatal. The risk of contracting Lymes’ dramatically increases if the tick is left in situ for more than 24 hours. So a thorough de-ticking session is required post walk, especially in spring and autumn when ticks are most active.

    By the way, Dougal will be most welcome when you visit us here in Transylvania. I can run through the pet passport procedure with you nearer the time 🙂

    • Thanks Paul, that’s a very good point that you make about Lyme disease. I’d always thought that ticks were most active during summer as i always seem to pick up more of the nasty wee critters during those months; however, I stand informed from your very knowledgeable perspective. Winter west coast walks it is then…

      Thanks also for the very generous extension of your hospitality. I’d very much like to come over to Transylvania and am still pondering the viability of a guide, but it will be 2012 at the earliest. All the very best for the New Year, Paul.

  8. Of course ticks are active throughout the warm weather but there is an optimum ground temperature when they are most mobile. Here in Transylvania ticks lay dormant in leaf litter in the harsh cold of winter, but become very active with the first warm rays of spring sunshine. The summers tend to be be very hot here which makes them more sluggish, and then back to the more temperate weather of autumn. This was pretty much my experience in Germany too, but not having lived in the UK since 1999, I’m not sure what the British parasites are up to 🙂

    Unfortunately, we have more than just lyme disease from tick bites to worry about here. Tick borne encephalitis is also quite prevalent which is very scary!

    It doesn’t matter whether you arrive in 2012 or 2020, the invitation remains open. We will be here 🙂

    • Thanks Richard. Hopefully young Dougal will have a long career of bounding along Hebridean strands ahead of him. Happy New Year and the best of luck with Casa Barrett and ‘Cycling in the Hebrides’.

  9. Now that is a lovely wee creature! Maisie was just over 3 when I took her into the hills but the vet said that was a good thing as her bones were well and truly developed by then. Labs were really designed as water creatures but The Fatdog took to the hill like a duck to water and I’m sure Dougal will be the same. FD’s record day was a few years ago – about 33km of the Lochnagar 5 (Munros) . It’s up to you now Dougal – Maisie’s coming on 8 and the long hill days are, I think, a thing of the past for her.

    • Hello Ken, yes the Doogster is a lovely wee critter indeed. Can’t wait to get him out to the hills, but will do so – as you say they need to be fully grown before being subjected to Extremely Big Walkies.

      I’m hoping that he might become the Mark Spitzer of the Labrador world. The webbed paws are looking good. His Dad – Sol – once went for a very long swim in Lochindaal, Islay. He’d swum out around half a kilometre before he decided to return to shore; by which point Fiona was in her undies and about to swim after the bugger.

      Fun, fun, fun. Have a great 2011!

    • Thanks Martin. Dougal gets to go out for the first time on Thursday, can’t wait. Hopefully it’ll be the start of a long career as an outdoor enthusiast. Might train him to write my blog posts too.

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