Politicians and their pets: Councillor Gail Macgregor
The Conservative councillor for Annandale North introduces us to her cocker spaniel, Bailey
How long have you had him?
Since he was eight weeks old.
Where did you get him?
A working breeder in South Cumbria.
What do you love about him?
Absolutely everything! His weird gums that don’t quite fit his teeth, his hugs when he wraps himself around my shoulders like a scarf, which was cute when he was eight weeks old but is like a workout now that he’s 18kg. His happy, generous spirit, his super-waggy tail, his photo bombing and attention seeking during Teams meetings, including trying to distract me as I go into full speaking mode at COSLA leaders, his boundless energy and that he makes me get off my chair, shut the laptop and get outside. He is food for the soul.
What special talents does he have?
Making people smile. He’s obviously a specialist ball and frisbee retriever. Balls and frisbees don’t stand a chance, even if deep undercover.
What are his most annoying habits?
Well... balls and frisbees, it’s endless! Aloofness. I figure if that’s the most, then I’ve little to be annoyed about.
What’s the worst thing he’s done?
As a youngish pup, mindlessly leaping over a three-foot wall not realising there was a huge drop on the other side. Thankfully he fell into brush, but I’ve never run quicker in my life! But absolute worst, chewing some very nice shoes. I lost many heels in the three to six-month phase. We quickly learned not to leave anything out that may be enticing.
Do you think of yourself as a pet parent or pet owner?
I’d say a pet owner but know I’m kidding myself. This became apparent when after getting Bailey, my grown-up kids changed the Snapchat family group name from ‘Famalam’ to ‘Unwanted Children’.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought or done for your pet?
I haven’t bought anything too outrageous. I did buy him a waterproof coat, which was just ridiculous as he has a pretty waterproof natural coat. I have a coat free to a good home if anyone needs. I do, however, rarely leave a shop without a ball or a frisbee; I could have put down a deposit on a mortgage with what I’ve spent on balls and frisbees.
What’s your first pet or animal-related memory?
We had a lovely, scruffy dog, Whisky, a wolfhound collie cross when growing up. I remember using him as an aid when I was learning to walk. Outwith family pets, there was Muffin, a lovely Exmoor pony who introduced me kindly to horse riding.
What was the first pet you ever had?
I had a lovely rescue from a cat and dog home in Leith – Oscar, an Alsatian collie cross. I was always adopting animals: a cat, Velcro, who came from a home in Lasswade; ponies; Calvin, a beautiful grey and white cat from the cat and dog home in Glencaple, who matched with Hobbes, a beautiful collie from a local farm. The list is endless. I’ve always been a bit of a mad cat/dog lady.
What would be your dream pet?
Every pet I’ve ever had has been an utter joy; I’m humbled to have been their custodian. My dream was a golden cocker spaniel... dream fulfilled.
If you could be any animal what would you be?
Oh, a cat. My cats have the best attitude to life. Eat, sleep, comfort, bit of work, they can be demanding but get away with it, eat, sleep, comfort, bit of work ... ad infinitum. Perhaps I am a cat.