The Angry Corrie 13: Jun-Jul 1993

Wildlife Corner No. 3: Paws For Thought

An Extract From The Diary Of A Down-Beat Hill Dog

by Meg, a long suffering Border Collie (dictated to even more long suffering Sue Grout)

As I lie here, stretching out in front of a crackling fire, a substantial supper resting in my gut and my paws toasting nicely, I have to admit that this is my idea of complete and unadulterated heaven. My only worry is the occasional spark landing like a misguided missile in my shaggy coat and the ensuing smell of singed fur, but I can live with that. But with the rain lashing down outside I find my sleepy thoughts turning back over what She grandly refers to as The Season and all the misadventures I've had the misfortune to share with her in the Great Outdoors once again. For a brief moment my whiskers are affected by the nervous twitch I've developed when I relive such memories! But I digress from my ruminations on the past year. My personal review of the highlights...

Perhaps the most outstanding achievement was my stylish traverse of Glen Coe's Aonach Eagach which I performed as usual with the poise and grace of a ballerina whilst She lagged and wailed behind. When the going gets dull on these addictive jaunts of hers I consider it my duty to inject a little fight relief into her fanatical existence by performing some quite unexpected yet brilliant feat of bravery. On the Aonach, as us pros call it (or "Aggy Ridge" as us Eds call it), I waited until the most hairy pinnacle, if you get my meaning, before dazzling her. With one stupendous bound over an overhang I cramponed my claws into the bare rock as the valley loomed and swirled miles below me. I hung there for what seemed like hours before catapulting my streamlined body onto the crest of the pinnacle with ease. No sweat, but as is normal on these occasions I heard Her scream and, looking down, I saw her face had gone a fetching shade of green. I knew then that my job had been well done.

As a final touch, I waited until She had hauled her little visog in line with mine over the pinnacle and then licked it with as much slobber as I could muster, knowing that She daren't let go of the rock to fight me off. She spluttered mightily and called me 'DogBreath' but She always reacts like that understress.

Later in the year, back in Glen Coe (She never leams) we had one of our regulare pisodes of her shortcuts leading to near disaster. Sgor na h-Ulaidh was the peak, an isolated little spot, and after a tedious ascent in the mist, our summit lunch in the mist and a skyline traverse in the.. yes you've guessed it, She made the suggestion that always fills me with dread: Come on, Meg, there must be a short cut down there.... Oh yeah? I almost asked, Like the one on Glaramara last year when our descent ended up taking us to the top of another hill or like on Skiddaw the year before when it took so long we missed Closing Time? But held my tongue and gave Her a grin between my little teeth instead.

So there we were, skittering down Sgor na Whatsit, in the mist (It's bound to clear in a minute, Rat Head", She kept saying) when we came to an area of broken crags. Nothing spectacular but wet and slimy enough to induce a trauma. She was right about one thing though - the mist did clear and the sun even shone for a while and so, knowing that the crags would keep her entertained for some time, I settled down to a snooze. Out of my sense of duty I awoke periodically to check on her progress but wasn't at all surprised to see a leg flailing out from overhead or to hear her mounting squeaks of apprehension. But then I dozed again. She did make the descent finally and came on all heroically about how she'd performed it, but she never fools me.

Then there was the day She decided to take me out on a Mountain Rescue exercise back on our home ground. I could think of a thousand better ways in which to spend my day but when She explained that we would be 'bodying' - acting as casualties for the exercise - I could see the fun potential immediately. We were posted to a gully where She had to pretend she'd fallen and broken her leg - an entirely credible scenario for her in my view. We had to wait for help and so I settled down to another snooze as I'm not one for staring vacantly at scenery as She is seen one hillside, you've seen 'em all, I reckon. Anyway, being finely honed in alertness, I suddenly came round to see two evil eyes watching us over the lip of the gully and to my surprise and delight I recognised them to be the mean little orbs of a Doberman Pincer. Now, what a stupid Doberman was doing out there in the middle of nowhere I couldn't think but I knew it was my duty to protect Her and I intended to do so with relish.

In one deft spring I had the unsuspecting beast pinned down by the throat, writhing in terror and pleading for its life. I hooked my little gappies round its collar and shook for all I was worth, thinking of the reward that was bound to be mine for my heroism. The brute was pathetically whining by now, reduced to the ferocity of a damp squid and I went in for the kill. I was aware that She was making some kind of a scene in the background but I didn't catch the word 'SARDA' issuing hysterically from her lips until I'd already decided on benevolence and had let the crazed animal run off into the wind, whimpering piteously. She never did appreciate my bravery that day but instead incessantly moaned about never being able to face the local Mountain Rescue Team again. Humans are curious beings.

Oh yes, I've had my moments over the year, always adept at making the best out of yet another wretched hill walk. Not always understood and rarely appreciated but that's a collie's lot. I do recall one reward She gave me for my undying faithfulness, though, and that was a ride on the Gondola ski-lift thing on Aonach Mor that saved us from slogging up the mountainside in the rain. All the way up She watched my face for cute reactions to being swung about above cloud level in a glass bubble and so I made sure to look blase and bored by the experience. But I'll never forget the joy I couldn't help but show on discovering a cafe when we disembarked or the astonishment at realising She intended to patronise it rather than finishing the climb. I wondered vaguely if She was coming down with something as foul weather always seems to add to her fanaticism rather than discourage it but all philosophizing faded away with the plate of warm, greasy chips She smuggled out for me!

And so, another year draws to a close: another year of viewless summits and Highland midges. Already She is sharpening her crampons and practising ice-axe techniques on the side of the house so as to be ready for a Spring jaunt or two. The thought of her in charge of all that iromnongery fills me with horror but maybe she'll have taken up flower-pressing before the snows come. As for me, well, I'm content just to dream by the fire of maybe another expedition up the Tourist Path on Ben Nevis, gatecrashing endless picnics - or even a visit to the cafe on the top of Snowdon.....

Ed. -Make sure She cuts you in on the royalties IRepublicanties IBonios from the Whisky Galore and Scottish Nuclear adverts.

TAC 13 Index