The totally useless equipment guide No. 5:
Good points and features:
- During tiresomely steep ascents, put the dog on its lead, clip the other end to your belt or waiststrap and allow yourself to be towed uphill with minimal effort. Wintertime allows this scenario to be enhanced by the addition of a pair of skis.
- Should you be so rash as to venture forth in winter without crampons, ownership of a small- or medium-sized pooch can come in handy. Simply choose your required ice-gully, grasp the dog by its front paws, then use the claws to frontpoint to the top.
- Similarly, should you be so rash as to venture forth at any time of year without food, the dog again comes in handy. Make a fire using sticks, stones and fronds of bracken, chop the dog into small, bite-sized pieces and barbecue gently. Pit bulls and corgis feed 1, collies and the larger dachshunds 2-3, labs, alsatians and rottweilers 4 or more.
- Alternatively, if caught in a whiteout, keep the dog alive and use it to protect frostbitten extremities. First slice open the stomach with a sharp knife, then thrust your numb digits deep into the warm, pulsing entrails.
- This can be taken a stage further if a particularly large dog is owned - a St Bernard, say. Avoid the need to dig a Cairngorm-plateau snowhole by opening up the dog completely and crawling inside. Cosier than many bothies.
- Always carry your old 7/6 Dog Licence. If entry to the CIC hut is barred by inhospitable pedants, simply show them the Licence and kid on it's an SMC membership card. They'll be too full of whisky to know the difference - especially if the Licence states the dog to be male.
Bad points and features:
- Numerous hill-fatalities have been caused by hapless walkers being pulled over crags by dogs-on-leads during descent. This is, however, really the fault of the bastard sheep which cause dogs to be put on leads in the first place. (See below.)
- Ownership of the dog facilitates awareness of just how very stupid sheep are. You have with you a mightily intelligent, strong-haunched, bright-eyed, fleet of foot companion, yet feel obliged to keep it tethered to a piece of string whenever in the vicinity of pea-brained, spindly-legged, pathetically bleating Pitlochry Woollen Mill fodder, destined to end their days upside-down in a burn or blithely carted away in the abattoir van.
- Ownership of the dog also allows appreciation of the animosity of landowners. You will occasionally be forced into protecting your bushy-tailed, happy-go-lucky friend from a patronising, arrogant, tweedsuited, Scottish Field-reading arsehole with a gun. The worst kind have a landrover full of their own dogs just around the back, but would never dream of threatening to shoot them.
- Even after 12 hours on the hill, when you're weary of leg and still miles from home, the dog will dishearteningly continue to wag its tail and frolic just as it did 22 miles and 8 hills earlier.
- Strong chance of being mistaken for one of history's notorious dogowners - e.g. John Bull, Barbara Woodhouse, John Noakes.
- If used in conjunction with a beard and a Munro, even stronger chance of being mistaken for Hamish Brown.
TAC 8 Index