West End Blog

From Cheltenham to Tiree and Temple … it’s a dog’s life but you learn to run with it

By Ronnie McGowan

It was sitting there, unassuming, a few feet away by the side of the canal at Temple, but I couldn’t quite place it.

This was strange because a few days earlier I’d observed the same bird through binoculars, low-flying, skimming white horses and skilfully avoiding kamikaze gannets on their endless feeding frenzy.

Go Buddy Go and Tiree

Island life: Buddy takes a break from the city on Tiree

Buddy was scarpering along the shoreline trying to outsprint oystercatchers or was chasing a flock of sanderlings with his usual panache for causing mayhem on an empty beach.

The Celtic spring of Saint Brigid had arrived and Buddy was spending a few days retracing paw-tracks from a distant youth.

Although born in Cheltenham his bark definitely carries a Hebridean lilt which combines nicely with his refined West-End diction.

He discovered a love for running on those vast remote stretches of white sand, where during summer months the distant corncrake call is omnipresent.

Go Buddy Go and Tiree

Familiar: The cormorant was ‘sitting there, unassuming, a few feet away by the side of the canal at Temple’

For me nothing quite beats treading the surf barefoot with a Jack Russell for company.

It’s liberating and satisfying, a partnership frequently facing a ‘force 9’ south westerly which is good for character building and muscle development. He draws the line at going out in a ‘force 10’.

Back home the Clyde and Forth canal between Maryhill and Drumchapel provides the opportunity to sample a tranquil urban setting.

The regular ping of a cyclist’s bell is a reminder to remain vigilant.

Buddy has to be on the lead along the canal otherwise a four mile run would turn into a morning’s search-and-rescue through the streets and gardens of Knightswood and Blairdardie.

Go Buddy Go and Tiree

Canal: looking towards Kelvindale and Temple beyond

He’s easily distracted. It’s noticeable now that when tethered to the lead, this distance is making him more tired than previously but then going at a slower pace suits me.

He is very agile and nimble, but I do keep a watchful eye on his performance and well-being.

Meanwhile on the canal decking the cormorant was taking flight, heading westwards, perhaps feeling a sudden longing to be home amongst the gannets.

* Watch out for more posts as Jack Russell Buddy and his master Ronnie set about a challenge of running every day for a year in and around the West End.