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    Great animal stories from BBC Scotland: ‘In dogs we trust’!

    Almanach du facteur 2014 Janvier-Juin
    At the end of each year I always look forward with much anticipation
    to the post-woman visit
    when she comes and knocks at the door with a whole pile of colourful almanachs,
    an old tradition in France.

    Then, I choose among the almanachs
    (full of very useful information and local maps )
    one with gorgeous pictures of animals,
    of  a German shepherd if there is one,
    in memory of our dear Ralph,
    or with bears and wild animals.

    This year we’ll turn the pages of time
    in company of a family of raccoons, a fox, a couple of otters
    a red squirrel, deers and a big brown bear.

    There  could be no better introduction for this new series of articles
    which will be devoted to animals, wild as well as domesticated ones!

    Scotland is a country where the wilderness is still well preserved
    and animals, wild or not, loved and respected.

    This is one of the reasons why we love Scotland so much!

    Almanach du facteur 2014

    Dear readers,

    First, I would like to thank Iain and Margaret for sending us every day a very interesting selection of articles published by BBC Scotland.

    BBC Scotland building, Pacific Quay, Glasgow (Wikipedia)

    BBC Scotland building, Pacific Quay, Glasgow (Wikipedia)

    There is a great variety of subjects in these articles but today I would like to share with you my favourite animal stories and of course, I will begin with dogs!

    Tricolour border collie  © 2007 Scotiana

    Tricolour border collie © 2007 Scotiana

    A dog’s sense of smell is thought to be a thousand times more sensitive than our own;

    they have over 200 million scent receptors compared to our own 5 million.

    Together, the dog and its handler form a highly efficient team

    . Dogs can work in all weathers, day or night, without loss of speed and they can cover huge areas quickly.

     (The Search and Rescue Dog Association)


    In dogs we trust

    17 December 2012

    By Ian Hamilton

    Most dog owners, who love their pets, have some kind of story about how the animal knows when they are about to come home, or are thinking of them. But just how remarkable are they? In my documentary “In Dogs We Trust?”, I discovered that dogs are capable of so much more than we humans could ever imagine.

    This article leads to two other articles in which we learn that Ian Hamilton, the author of these articles,  is a BBC Scotland and radio reporter and that he is blind. I’m all the more touched by his story than we are members of the French association UNADEV Colin Maillard the aim of which is to train guide dogs and give them to blind people. The cause rings a bell to me. I will never forget M. Béraud,  the courageous and persevering music teacher who used to come at home once a week to try and  teach us, recalcitrant pupils,  the rudiments of violin. The dear man, who was also the organist of the local church and a virtuoso pianist,  was blind but he persisted in walking from his home to ours.  One day, our very punctual friend didn’t arrive on due time. Our father immediately got worried and went out in search of him. He finally found that the poor man had fallen in a big hole on the pavement due to works in the street. A dog would have prevented such  an accident but at that time there were not many blind people who could afford a guide dog!


    Iain Hamilton with Moss and Renton Source BBC Scotland

    Iain Hamilton with Moss and Renton | Source BBC Scotland

    Taking the lead with a new guide dog

    For the last few months blind BBC Scotland TV and radio reporter Ian Hamilton has been working with his new guide dog Renton.

    His last faithful companion, Moss, was forced to retire due to ill health. Ian, who is from South Lanarkshire, has now made a documentary, Born to Lead, which charts him trying to find a worthy replacement for Moss.



    Ian Hamilton and Renton Source BBC Scotland

    Ian Hamilton and Renton | Source BBC Scotland

    ‘I can’t imagine working without my dog’

    (10 February 2011)

    BBC Scotland TV and radio reporter Ian Hamilton is totally blind and got his first guide dog 28 years ago. In October last year he was introduced to his new dog, a gentle German Shepherd called Renton.

    Renton, who is two, is Ian’s sixth guide dog. Here, Ian, who is from South Lanarkshire, talks about the challenges he and Renton have faced together so far.

    I hesitated a long moment before reading the story of Stanley who was ‘transformed into a snow dog by spindrift, wind-blown snow, during whiteout conditions’. I was not sure the story would have a happy ending and since the death of our dear Ralph I can no longer bear ‘la mort d’un chien’…  moreover Stanley is the living image of our dog! But you can read this story for ‘Tout est bien qui finit bien!’. Janice intends to write something about this story because there is a link with Canada. Our Ralph might have resisted such a storm because he loved snow and always wanted to spend the night outside when it had snowed which is rare in Aquitaine!

    snow dog montage BBC artic

    Avalanche forecaster’s images show Cairngorms whiteout

    (6 January 2014)

    An avalanche forecaster has captured the full force of a whiteout in the Cairngorms in a series of photographs of his dog disappearing under snow.

    A hard training and job for this promising young german shepherd who still has the look of a puppy with his disproportionate paws 😉

    PC Ryan Galloway and Nipper Source BBC Scotland

    PC Ryan Galloway and Nipper | Source BBC Scotland

    Tayside police dog, Nipper, becomes Police Scotland’s latest recruit

    4 April 2013

    A Tayside police dog has become the first canine cadet to be licensed in the new Police Scotland.

    “Whilst Nipper is still very young he is very quickly learning his new role. The work of a general purpose police dog is extremely varied.

    “One moment you might be looking for a vulnerable missing person, the next you are tracking suspects from a crime scene or searching for articles of evidential value.”

    And now, a very moving story to pay homage to our faithful an courageous four-paws friends

    The Polish dog who saved the little girl Source BBC Scotland

    The Polish dog who saved the little girl Source BBC Scotland

    Dog ‘saved life’ of missing Polish girl

    2 March 2013

    Firefighters in Poland say a small dog probably saved the life of a three-year-old who went missing from her home overnight in freezing temperatures.

    “For the whole night the animal was with the girl, it never left her. Remember, it was 5 degrees below zero and the child was wet,” he said, adding that the animal was the most important factor in the girl’s survival.


    The courage and often heroic behaviour of dogs is honoured and much-publicized in Scotland together with the team at work with them within very dynamic associations devoted to the protection of animals. Dogs are names and given awards… Sky, Cuillin, Driesh…

    Below is the story of Driesh and his handler Rodney Stoddart

    ‘Unique’ Fife rescue dog Driesh honoured

    6 September 2013

    A search and rescue dog in Fife who helps save lives on Scotland’s mountains has been honoured for his work.

    The collie, named Driesh, has taken part in hundreds of rescue operations. He received an award from veterinary charity PDSA.

    I’ve tried to know more about the two associations which I have quoted in my article. The history of  The Search and Rescue Dog Association (SRDA)  and of The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is fascinating and the reflect of the Scottish love of Nature and animals.


    The use of dogs for search purposes goes back many years. In the 17th century dogs were used to break trails in deep snow in Switzerland and, apparently, records reveal that a dog named Barry saved 40 lives during his lifetime. During the first world war, dogs were used in the London blitz to locate buried casualties. Search dogs have also been used in disaster situations such as the Lockerbie tragedy in December 1988.

    Call-Out Hamish McInnes Penguin 1973

    Call-Out Hamish McInnes Penguin 1973

    The Search and Rescue Dog Association in Scotland was conceived in 1965 by Hamish MacInnes, one of Scotland’s foremost mountaineers and mountain rescue experts. Hamish MacInnes paid a visit to an avalanche dog training course in Switzerland in the early 1960′s and immediately recognised the possibilities in Scotland.



    The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1917 by Maria Dickin to provide care for sick and injured animals of the poor. It is the UK’s leading veterinary charity, carrying out more than one million free veterinary consultations a year, and is the largest private employer of fully qualified veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK

    Hoping you’ve loved these very moving dog stories I give you rendez-vous in my next post, for this article is only the first one of a series of articles devoted to animals. Moreover, next time I will tell you about a great Scottish naturalist who much contributed to the development of the Scottish SPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

    Bonne lecture!

    A bientôt.


     Hi Ralph !

    Ralph dans la neige bois de Cestas

    Ralph enjoying snow in his favourite wooded path


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