Review of 2017, the year of the mouse

Friends, collies, fellow travellers,

I ended last years annual review by wondering if life could get any better for a young, sometimes troubled, rescue dog. Well, have I got news for you? However, I had a dilemma – where on earth to start. David said I had to mention how high I’d climbed and – quick as a flash – big border collie brain in gear.

Now, with the help of another great thinker, a certain Mr Maslow, I can let you know what I’ve achieved in 2017 and also, why I was able to. According to Abraham – a 1940s scholar and not a biblical one, despite the name – we’ve all got needs that have to be met and they come in a lovely big colourful triangle.

Maslow needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

It’s a bit like a game of snakes and ladders. You start at the bottom and once these needs are met you get on the ladder… this takes you up to the next level. Then, Holy Moses, you can be nearly at the top and still come a cropper, doing a big slithery thing down a venomous snake. As far as I can ascertain, with a bit of insight from my friend Google, I seem to be the only dog writing on this subject at the moment.

Level one – basic needs

Mr M says that I need my tummy full ALL THE TIME and I can personally validate the reliability of his research. Andy (the best vet in the universe), put me on the scales only today and confirmed that this joyous need had been met; a little too well met as it turns out. Apparently, I also need a supply of fresh water constantly at my disposal. Two ceramic bowls that decorate the bedroom and living room floors, full to the brim and accounting for the thread bare carpet around them –  fulfil this need, with the dog beer in the fridge being – it seems – just an added extra.

On a more delicate note and still in the red zone, I also need frequent visits to the garden – if you get my drift – and I’m happy to report that there haven’t been any accidents in the house again this year. That’s more than you can say for the old girl. What with the mind falling apart and the body disintegrating, we are experiencing a few whoopsies here and there. Though it’s not all bad news, I hear the profits on pet deodorising spray at Tesco have shot up.

Level two – safety needs

Keeping Ben safe, now there’s a story and it is BIG on my people’s agenda; something to do with the ankle nipping tendency, me thinks. Hats off to them, they do their best and, even three years down the line, are still coming up with creative ideas to help me focus my anxiety on more socially acceptable outlets. In pursuit of this lofty ideal, 2017 saw the pointing of nozzles – attached to tubes of Primular – right at my mouth, whenever anyone passed; nothing wrong with that. 🙂 Perfectly timed and – squeezed with a nice even pressure – they have proved spectacularly successful, also giving witness to the astonishing length of my tounge.  Timing sadly, isn’t always top notch, so we have also introduced a rather moreish little herbal remedy called ‘Complete Calm’, my medication of choice. It has a mildly tranquilising effect and makes for a rather mellow Ben, most of the time. However, it isn’t up to the mark when ankles pass at speed, or when they are close to a couple of wheels travelling at speed. Desperate remedies accompany these extremes, including restraint on a leash, to save me from myself and make sure I am able to fulfil my safety needs.

While on the subject of level two needs, I must say that – even if I am just a pooch with a laptop – I rather take issue with old Abe, as we like to call him, about an important omission. He is – quite rightly – big on safety and security. However, he totally misses the importance of comfort needs and so doesn’t give the physical and metaphorical significance of the soft furnishings a look in. I knew when, within 5 minutes of arriving, I was tucked up beside B on our sofa with my own – rather attractive – throw, that I was going to have all my needs met at this strange place I had fetched up in. To prove my point, and to amuse my good friend Mary McCarthy, I have inserted a little moving gallery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Level three – Social needs, all about Ben belonging

2017 has really cemented my journey from orphan pup to happily ever after, via the dedicated work of Animal Concern West Cumbria (Click Mickey), and my wonderful temporary accommodation with foster people, Gavin and Wendy. Admittedly, living with 2 legged things is a v. v .v odd and sometimes alarming experience. I mean they spend all day putting things on and taking them off again: whey they get up, go out, come back in, when the fire is hot, when the fire is cold, when we go to bed… Why would you do that? I’m not even going to mention when we go out for our walks, dizzy doesn’t come anywhere near it. Then there is this small room, that I never go into, but which my people spend hours in in, all on their own. Sometimes, when I snuggle up close to the door while waiting, I get the benefit of a Turkish bath from the steam that creeps out from under the door. Having settled into this weird and wonderful place, with the ever mysterious human race – and not forgetting the old girl – I have somehow become confident of a place where I belong and now call home.

And that really is just the start of my social life. I’ve got a little mouse called Mickey, who has taken a shine to my van, and a feline friend from Devon that I correspond with now and again. Then there’s my trio of loyal canine followers from Norwich and a few pals from my old dog obedience class. Topping it all, there’s a whole bunch of us who meet in the forest most days, on our morning constitutionals, which includes my very best pal Oscar, who I introduced you to in my review of 2016. I have an internal struggle when I see him, because his person comes with a nice succulent line in treats. I’m never sure who to say hello to first, Angela for my level one needs, or Oscar for my level three ones. Our games are still just magic, and the electricity generated really should be sold off to the national grid as a substantial contribution to the renewal energy strategy.

To top all this I’ve got a whole band of two legged things who are friends, fans, followers and supporters. 2018, is going to see me and my young cousin Bobby making headlines, when he comes to visit me in the Lake District and I just can’t wait – watch this spot. Then, of course, there’s Bumble, as ever making my tummy go all fluttery and my heart beat faster.

I think I can say, with a degree of confidence, that level three needs are done and dusted so… going up.

Level four  –  esteem needs

Well, with all that going on I’d have to be a bit soft in the head not to feel a bit puffed up, wouldn’t I? Anyway, soft in the head is Labrador, not Border Collie territory. As a result I’m something of a buoyant little fellow, though sometimes – I’m told – my head gets a bit too big for my walking boots, then I need to be taken down a peg or two. The big names who didn’t respond to e mail quest (enabling me to name drop through tagging them, and thereby getting tons of followers) did just that. Therefore, my blog still isn’t a viable proposition for would be advertisers, paying lots of dosh for my fundraising. I know B meant to be consoling when she told me they might have thought I was a bit of cheap meat – spam I think she actually said – but, quite frankly,  I didn’t find it in the least reassuring. It has dented but not altogether destroyed my faith in the two legged variety because, BIG BECAUSE,  I did get a few responses with kind and encouraging words and they were from v. v. v. BIG names: Roy Hattersley, a mystery celebratory, Elton John and, Julia Bradbury who just recently sent me a present to thank me for being friends, how cool is that. Julia and her team at The Outdoor Guide, are doing their best to help me get recognised and I am v. v. v grateful to them. The comments of my celebrity fans are at the end of the welcome post that fronts up my blog. With such warm sentiments ringing in my ears how could I not be elevated to the very top of the triangle, with the best of them, going for gold.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Level five  – self-actualisation needs

I’d say this is a work in progress, 47 Munros down and a mere 235 to go. I did manage to climb the height of Everest this year and, of course, I have my literary ambitions – to get a book of my own published one day.

With such a lovely life and so much going for me, I’m looking forward to doing a bit more of this self-actualising stuff in the coming year and, guess what, I’ll let you all about it. But, not before…

And so to bed








Love Ben xx



DBTG – We’re at it again

Friends, collies, traveller’s dogs,

So sorry to put my tails of the first weekend on hold but we are off again. Then I’ll have even more to tell you. I think I’ll be playing that thing called catch up all summer.

The time we hope to do:

  • Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ, which we missed last time because of high winds.
  • The Glenshee 6 (lots and lots of exclamation marks)
  • Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin
  • An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin

Bye-the-bye Sue, We always have badger with us. He – for it is a he – has a very special place in my van – permanently on the handbrake. He was going to be our mascot but he is just a little too heavy, with every thing else we have to lug up the hills (mainly my treats, hee, hee). So, he is on the handbrake because, if B’s mum was still around she wouldn’t have a moments rest till B phoned in to say she was home and OK. Therefore, having badger on the brake reminds us that we mustn’t take unnecessary risks, if we are getting carried away.

You should see my van Sue, there’s all sorts in there: St Christopher, Buddha, some strange looking thing with stiches all over it, my mascot and the search and rescue collie on the dashboard. My latest thing is collecting fridge magnets. I’ve only got one at the moment but B likes it. Is says Guinness.

Anyway, better get some shut eye before we’re off.


Love Ben xx

AA HeartPawPrint


DBTG – Van update, vet visit, blog make over

Friends, collies and geeks,

Well my van is back from hospital and all my paws are crossed, which makes the simple joys in life, like walking, a bit difficult. Anyway, I’m taking my van on our hols to the caravan, to give it a test run. If all goes well, and the weather turns good for a few days – anytime in the next two weeks – me and B can head up to the Cairngorms.

By the by, I’ve had a couple of outpatient appointments myself in the last week. A graze was turning nasty. In fact, I had something called a granuloma because no one could stop me licking my wound. I was a canine Houdini when it came to getting my sock off. I’ve had steroids and am on antibiotics but Andy still isn’t that happy with it, so I’ve now got cream as well. It doesn’t stop me walking though. Only keeping my paws crossed about my van does that.

a sock

Me and B haven’t been idle while we’ve been trying to get everything right for the Munros. We have given my blog a make over, having learnt all about pages and wikis.

You can even translate my blogs into other languages. So, for the Cousins family, how about reading this post in Italian, while you are there and let me know if the translation is any good.

All this geeking is v. v. v hard work…

And so to bed

a 220

Love Ben xx

Boot Camp revisited

Friends, collies, dogs in training,

Spring is upon us and here I am, back in our caravan. Already I’m in training for this year’s assault on The Munros. We did a nice little fell called Gowbarrow, to get us back into the swing of it and then we were really in the hills the next day, up at Griesdale Tarn. There was lots of white stuff on the peaks which made it v. v. v cold, so I wasn’t allowed to go swimming, which put me in a strop.

The old girl is now nearly 14 and she was struggling a bit jumping up the big rocks but, she’s a gallant old thing and wasn’t for throwing in the towel just yet. I hope I don’t get creaky like her though. It reminds me of how B is when she tries to get up after one of our long walks.

B & M IMG_0774a

In addition to the walking, there seems to be a new dimension to my training this year. Having conquered the poor recall with the whistle and cheese technique, and the chasing of woolly things with sit and cheese technique, we are now going to try and bottom out the fascination with, and nipping of, moving feet. Paws up, I have got a lot worse. Now, just anyone who passes within about 3 metres of me is putting the integrity of the skin around their ankles in jeopardy.

The regime goes like this:

1. Before I have even spotted the enemy ahead I gets a treat. Very nice it is too.

2. Then, we pulls of to the side, I sit nicely and I get another treat. Not bad so far.

3. As they are passing, I am distracted by a fast and constant supply of treats. Can’t complain about that.

4. The icing on the cake. If I have behave well thus far I get a very satisfying quantity of my favourite farmhouse mature cheddar. Good job B and David.

Seems like the diet is off then 🙂

And so to bed, sleeping very happily.

BS1 476

Love Ben  xx

I lied!

Friends, collies and cunning little hounds,

Actually, I didn’t lie deliberately when I said my next blog would be to post the results of my survey, on 23rd March, I just hadn’t anticipated how excited I’d be. I can’t keep my paws still till I have spilt some of the beans and tapped out a quick response. Thank you very much for taking me seriously enough to complete the survey. The three words that describe my reaction are humble, humble, humble. Apparently, I’m informative, funny, inspirational and warm hearted. Oh goodness, what accolades for an erstwhile sheep chasing cur, with a penchant for tasty ankles.

My survey is still open till 23rd March.

The results will still be published shortly after that. It looks like, by popular demand, my blogs will be monthly to include Munro updates with a short and snappy one in between. A sort of dog blog to go, for my busier readers. I am also working on some charts to show progress. Yet another learning curve on this adventure. I think B can show me how to do this on Excel but, if anyone knows of any freebies on the net don’t be slow in coming forward, please.

I hope you will forgive a few quick posts over the next couple of weeks. This is because I am going to contact lots of doggy loving celebs. to try and get them to support our cause and read my blog. Therefore, I need to have a few short posts for them to scroll through so they can get a quick flavour of my literary style.

Oh dear, it’s all a tad overwhelming for a little fellow; need sleep.


Love as always,

Ben x





Review of my Munro year, 2016

Friends, collies, climbing dogs

Well here it is fans, my wonderful first Munro year in verse!

My Van, getting us there

Road runner motoring on
– Tin box with complex needs –
Motorway or city throng
Rivers Forth and Clyde nae heed.



Awesome screens of deep hung mist
Refreshment for a sullen May.
Takes a turn and shakes a fist
Ben Lomond bathed in blue today.



Map and compass, GPS
Trigs and grids and contours gold.
Stone cairns to join our journeys song
Though B tries hard were lost and cold.

374 370


Tracks with stones to hurt my toes
And velvet paths of moss that sooth.
Big boulders span my highs and lows
While sinking bogs depress this dude.



Mountain views as ocean vast
Crescent rolls in Mexican wave.
Peaks that cut the sky like glass
Great valley floors, cathedral naves.

636a 623

Back at base

My van spells out the end of day
Poor battered and beleaguered tank.
Under purple blanket warm I stay,
For slippered feet, to Mary, thanks.



Friends who read my every blog
And send us readies for the pot
Big ambitions, little dog
Watch this space, it’s getting hot!

img_1024 img_1158