Animal Lovers Celebrate Their Furry Friends during National Pet Month

Scots are known for being softies when it comes to their pets. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, over 40 percent of Scottish households- that’s about 96 million- own an animal, whether it’s a dog, cat, horse, bird, rabbit or fish. And with the May Bank Holiday coinciding with National Pet Month, Obanites are encouraged to include their pets in outdoor activities. In its 25th year, National Pet Month is a UK-wide celebration which aims to promote responsible pet ownership, share the benefits pets and people can bring to each other, raise awareness of the services available from pet professionals and celebrate the contribution of working companion animals.

“The whole focus and theme for this year’s campaign is Celebrating Our Pets and we hope as many pet fans as possible will join us in celebrating the wonderful impact pets have on our lives,” says NPM chairman Phil Sketchley.

Pet owner Karen Lindsay, an assessor, was taking advantage of the good weather this week to walk her dogs, Ruadh and Sarach around her neighbourhood in Lerags. “They turn each walk into fun and adventure,” she shares. Also the proud owner of a fluffy tiger cat named Noel, Karen admits, “My pets fill me with joy. They are always happy to see me and never judge me or give me a hard time-unless they want fed!”

Dogs are by far the most popular pet in Scotland, and they and their human friends are expected to take to the trails over the holiday at local Forestry Commission recreation areas. “Dog walkers are one of our most popular and regular forest users, with most of the forests around Oban providing a good selection of trails to suit all levels of dog walker,” says Jo MacLean, dog owner and Communities, Recreation and Tourism Ranger with Forestry Commission Scotland. “Sutherlands Grove, Beinn Lora and Fearnoch offer a mixture of waymarked trails. Beinn Lora’s uphill trails are great for dogs and walkers wanting a challenging hike, while Fearnoch offers longer woodland walks. Sutherlands Grove has a good mixture of trails for people wanting long walks or short shaded walks to let dogs stretch their legs on passing long journeys.”

“We welcome all dogs to the forests and ask they are kept within sight and under control in areas such as the Beaver Trail in Knapdale or when passing work sites,” Jo says. “It makes the visitor experience valuable to all users if dog owners clear up after their dogs. We ask them to bag waste and take it out of the forest to help keep feet clean. If a situation arises without poo bags, then use a stick to flick it into the forest undergrowth to keep the trails clear.”

Tristan Carré, veterinary surgeon at Oban Veterinary Centre, was enjoying time with his family and two dogs at a local playpark this week. “Getting a pet, albeit a responsibility, will bring years of joy, relaxation and happiness to a family,” he shares.

Supporters can follow National Pet Month, which runs April 1-May 5, on Facebook at and on Twitter @NatPetMonthUK plus sister pages Scratching Post for cat lovers and Park Bench for dog lovers

National Pet Month’s Top 10 Tips for responsible pet ownership

  1. Think carefully before getting a pet and learn about its special requirements.

  2. Ensure your pet is sociable and well trained.

  3. Provide a nutritious and well balanced diet.

  4. Provide suitable housing and bedding.

  5. Clean up after your pet and worm it regularly.

  6. Protect against disease-your vet can provide you with advice.

  7. Prevent unwanted litters and neuter your pet when appropriate.

  8. Groom your pet regularly.

  9. Control your pet and ensure it is properly identified.

  10. Take out pet insurance for dogs, cats, rabbits and horses to cover against unexpected vet fees and third party liability.


Music in the Glen

Our local is called The Barn Bar, where locals, tourists and folks from nearby Oban come to have a friendly drink, a hearty meal, music and good craic. The setting is as bucolic as it gets- a converted barn byre in the heart of a country lodge and farm called Cologin, in the glen of Lerags ( which means larch tree.) Lerags boasts more sheep than residents, with rolling fields, ancient oak woodlands, Scots pine forests, bubbling burns, trickling waterfalls and mossy rock outcroppings. Thousands of shades of green merge with watercolour effect. The glen slopes on one side to Loch Gleann a’Bhearraidh, on the other down to Loch Feachan, the fairy loch. Standing on the hills, one overlooks the Sound of Kerrera to the south, Ben Cruachan to the north. Our little cottage is on the neighbouring farm, Kilbride, in the shadow of a 13th century church ruin and the final resting places of the Clan MacDougall. A short walk up the hill, past the graveyard, through the paddock and along the burn takes us from our front door to the pub in five minutes.

Here, nestled in that little valley, on Sunday afternoons the normally sleepy country pub comes alive with music. From around the glen, from around Argyll, even from around the world, folks bring out their pipes, guitars, accordions, bagpipes, mandolins, their voices- and every other instrument imaginable- and the result is pure Celtic fusion magic.

There is a solid core of regulars to the Sunday Session. Michael on guitar, mandolin and bouzouki; Craig and George on flutes and whistles; John on guitar; Stevie on border pipes, Galician pipes and other various pipes and whistles; Chris on fiddle and clasarch (Celtic harp); Kirsty on guitar and bodhrán; Daniel on accordion; Rab on guitar, mandolin, harmonica and mandola and me on percussion. Several of us also sing. Sometimes we have guests from far and wide- session players always like to join in when they travel- in fact, we always look for sessions when we are on holiday, seeking them out by word of mouth or on the internet. One of the most interesting guests we’ve had was Paul, a hurdy gurdy player from Lancaster, who brought a uniquely harmonious sound to the session with his vast repertoire of reels, jigs, mazurkas, fandangos and Morris dances from all over Europe.

The Hurdy Gurdy Man
The Hurdy Gurdy Man


The Sunday Session is very informal-the floor is open to anyone and new players are always welcome. We’ve had a singer or two this past year, regular folks who just happen to be at the pub listening to the session and graced us with a spine tingling rendition of some beautiful Robert Burns like Ae Fond kiss….

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

Chris and Michael
Chris and Michael

When the session gets going good, when our voices have been properly lubricated, and the vibe heats up, everyone lifts a voice to rousing old Scottish melodies like the hypnotic love song “The Shearer,” an ode to a military life in “Twa Recruitin’ Sergeants” and the Jacobite ditty “Johnny Cope”…

Cope sent a challenge from Dunbar
“Charlie, meet me an ye dare,
And I’ll teach you the art of war
If you meet me in the morning.”
When Charlie looked this letter upon
He drew his sword his scabbard from,
Said, “Follow me, my merry men,
We’ll meet Johnnie Cope in the morning!”

Hey, Johnnie Cope, are you waulking yet,
Are your drums a-beating yet?
If you were waking, I would wait
To gang to the coals in the morning.

John does the best version of "Johnny Cope"
John does the best version of “Johnny Cope”

We love the songs of our cousins to the west, great Irish songs like Galway Girl and Step it Out Mary My Fine Daughter, which is usually played with a very fast tempo, even though it’s about a heartbroken maiden who choses double suicide with her beloved soldier rather than marry the rich country man…

Near the village of Kilgory there’s a deep stream running by, they found Mary there at midnight, she had drowned with her soldier boy, In the village there is music, you can hear her father say, Step it out Mary, my fine daughter, Sunday is your wedding day.


My hubby, Rab, in his happy place, on mandolin
My hubby, Rab, in his happy place, on mandolin

In winter, it rains cats and dogs outside, but inside the fat wood stove is stoked so high that it’s hot with all the people, who occupy every seat in the cozy wee pub, drams lifted, singing Wild Mountain Thyme.

Kirsty and Rab with a warm fire
Kirsty and Rab with a warm fire

In summer, the party spills out into the beer garden and the ladies dance strapthseys barefoot in the grass among the wildflowers to sets like The Laird O’ Drumblair / The Baker Reel / Will Ye No Come Back Again. These moments makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and I think… yea, the world is pretty perfect at this moment.

Pigtown Fling Borders Set

Argyll Acoustic Trio Pigtown Fling performing at the Taynuilt Hotel, Easter 2014. The first song is called ‘I’ll Gang Nae Mair Tae Yon Toon’, the second ‘Come Kiss With Me” and the last ‘The Rantin Heelieman.’

Celtic Fusion

Argyll based Pigtown Fling performs “Dry and Dusty”- a traditional American tune from the Ozark Mountains- at the Taynuilt Hotel, Argyll Scotland, Easter 2014

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