Thursday 8 March 2012


Last Friday's working day was marginally enlivened by an email from a researcher at Radio Scotland, who had stumbled across the "Dog Friendly Scotland" page on here. They were planning a live phone-in feature on how Europe was generally more accepting than the UK of dugs in bars and cafe's etc, to be aired on the following Monday, and wondered if I would take part. It seemed reasonable enough, although I was a wee bit taken aback when they called me again later to indicate that the role really required a half decent argument to take place between me and a journalist they had lined up as well...but hey, that's showbiz. Not journalism, obviously.

Anyway, that was an entry in the diary for last Monday morning. They were going to phone me about 9:45.

The weekend itself had been semi-organised in advance. Paul, our Aberdeen correspondent, had managed to wangle himself a pass out, so after some deliberation - largely focussed on finding a campsite somewhere in Scotland that was actually open - it was arranged that me and Gordy would travel up to meet him at Spittal of Glenshee around midday. The Corbett Ben Gulabin seemed a suitable diversion for a couple of hours, following which we were intending to repair to the fleshpots of Alyth, having pitched the tents at the Five Roads.  We were a bit late in arriving, owing to a combination of roadworks and lethargy, but seeing as how the weather was in less than optimum condition a late start wasn't going to matter a great deal. The cloud base in Glenshee was at car level, and as nobody had actually troubled to bring a map (which may be a pointer towards a certain lack of wholehearted committment to walking anywhere) Gulabin was rather peremptorily dismissed as an option. We were teetering on the brink of going to the pub there and then when the pricking of my conscience, and the whining of my dug, served to remind me that it wasn't going to be entirely fair on Molly if she didn't get some sort of walk after having been cooped up in the car for the best part of three hours.

"The track to Glas Tulaichean" we cried. It's like a road! Indeed it's even more like a railway, because that's what part of it used to be. Maps or no, we wouldn't get lost there. So, five minutes up the road to the Dalmunzie Hotel, £2.50 for the parking (it saves a longish walk back at the end of the day) and we set off up Glen Lochsie. A good hour or so's dander would suit Molly fine, and that was the intention. And then the cloud lifted a bit. And then a bit more...and by that time we were at the ruined lodge at the head of the Glen. The only really steep bit of the walk is the wee section just after that, so there was no point in not stretching the legs a bit. It was around then that we established Gordy had never been up the hill before, which rather provided the impetus to keep going...and going. And although it was definitely half an hour further away than I remembered, it wasn't too too long till we got to the summit trig point.

Hah! A bonus Munro!

I won't pretend that we couldn't have lived without the fierce blizzard that promptly enveloped us, and made for twenty minutes of misery on the way down, but hey. Molly's first Munro reascent, now that I think of it.

On an accommodation note, that campsite is a cracker, at least in the winter, when it's not busy. Flat, clean, quiet, and top class shower facilities. Highly recommended. It's also right next door to a pub, which while a bit rundown - I think the owner/barman could be trying a trifle harder; like, at all - it's dog friendly and we ended up having the place to ourselves. Sorted.

Down the road promptly on Sunday, which passed uneventfully. I'd decided not to spend the day thinking up witty soundbites for my media appearance the next morning, as I always feel it's vital not to come across as over rehearsed for these things. The public can tell, you know.

Monday dawned. I was just about to go out the door and head to work when the Wee Black Dug wanted out the back. She seemed unusually insistent, so that's always worth a couple of minutes delay. As she was coming back in, it looked to me as if she was limping a bit with her back leg, so I bent over to see if there was anything obvious amiss, at which point she arched her back, stiffened and started shaking. Now, I've had two border collies in the past that were epileptic, so I was 90% sure that she was having a fit. It was a fairly gentle one - and god love her, her tail was still wagging slowly on autopilot - but as she moved deeper into it, and as I supported her while she folded onto the ground, I couldn't help thinking that if it wasn't epilepsy, then it was some kind of massive stroke and she was just going to die there and then on the kitchen floor. Molly was getting distressed at all the commotion as well, which wasn't easing the general tension levels in the room.

Three or four minutes though, and Jorja started to come round. Confused and dishevelled, and doing a fair Bambi impression when she tried to stand up...but she was back with us.

Thus it was that ten minutes later I'm driving to the vet's surgery, explaining to the girl from the BBC that I could still speak to them on the radio if they really really needed me to, but they'd have to call the mobile number, and I'd be broadcasting live from outside the vet in Holytown. In an effort to bodyswerve the whole thing I felt obliged to point out that recent events had got me right emotional and fired up, and if anybody had a bad word to say about dugs I'd probably react with singularly impure language. That just seemed to make them happier though.

In the event however, by the time they did call, my vet had made lots of reassuring noises, medicine had been administered, blood tests organised, and a diagnosis of nothing more sinister than potential - and drug controllable - epilepsy pronounced. And the journalist wasn't all that interested in being anti-dog. The thing was awfy restrained, tbh. That notwithstanding, the researcher did call me again late on Monday to say that they'd like me on again in the future, because I was "quite opinionated". I felt constrained to admit that I wasn't terribly interested in anything other than dugs, so I might not be much use to them generally.

So - Jorja seems OK. She's to stay on the epilepsy meds for three weeks, and then stop. If she has another fit, then that's largely conclusive that she'll be on the pills for good. If she stays seizure free, then fantastic.

Oh, and yesterday's post?

OM was right - I'd resisted any Trainspotting reference in the Corrour stuff. It's a coincidence though, for those folk familiar with some of the less hygienic images in the film that the vet gave us a wee package to administer to the dug if she does have another fit that is proudly labelled "Diazepam RecTube". Which probably tells you all you need to know.

I hope next week's quieter.


  1. I wanted to make some witty remark about the dangers of being oot up a hill with no map and in a blizzrd too but the bit about Jorja has the humour knocked out of me now.

    I really hope she's alright.

    I'm gonna start reading the your reviews of dug friendly places as I think there may be an addition to our wee family very soon...

  2. Cheers Sandy. She seems fine at the minute, certainly, and as the vet says even if she ends up having to stay on the medication, it's not as if she's going to be worrying about whether she'll have another fit. It's more the humans that find it distressing!

    The patter of tiny paws is on the cards then, eh? Fantastic! You'll never regret it. And remember, the incontinent, epileptic yins make excellent hill dugs.


  3. Never a dull moment in your life, eh Scott?
    Glad to hear that Jorja's on the mend.

  4. Hi Scott. Thanks for the Five Roads camping tip. It's always good to know these things. I spent a couple of hours on the internet looking for sites open in late November in the Braemar area a while back and couldn't find anywhere so went to Glen Nevis instead (which was a mistake). Like the big picture at the top – it's very impressive.

    1. And it was only £8 for the car, tent, dug and self which was jolly reasonable for such a nice wee site. It's also ideal if you enjoy being woken to the sound of birdsong.