Even by lowly human standards my nose is a poor performer; it can detect quite strong smells – you know, the kind of thing that wafts your way when you’re sat next to a sleepy Beagle – but more subtle things escape it. In spite of this dysfunction, I know for a fact that ground-frost dramatically heightens the nasal allure of discarded food. I gained this knowledge the hard way – by dragging Beanie & Biggles away from things over and over again – and trust me, the dragging has been particularly hard over the last couple of weeks.
Beanie is always the peskiest offender in this respect. In mild weather she can walk on lead reasonably well until she encounters something edible, at which point she becomes a crazed scavenger, lunging at anything she sees on the pavement. During the recent cold snap however she’s been in scavenger mode on every walk, right from the first slippery step to the last. The worst example of this came when I foolishly chose to take our party along the main road out of our village.
The route takes us by many Beagle points of interest such as bins, front gardens, lamp poles and so on, and the resulting stoppages have led us to rename this stretch of road “Muck-about Street”. However on one particularly cold morning the pesk level was dialled right up to eleven, thanks to a discarded takeaway meal. I never managed to identify exactly what the meal had contained, but the packaging suggested that it was Chinese in origin; regardless, Beanie wanted it really, really badly. My first thought was to dodge round it by walking on the road, but a constant stream of cars made this impossible. If I’d been smart, I’d have simply held my ground until a break in the cars opened up, but as it was I decided to pin Beanie & Biggles to my side and frog-march them past as quickly as I could. Unsurprisingly I wasn’t fast enough and Beanie managed to get a solid grip on the bag of frozen goodies. Past experience has taught me the futility of trying to manually extract a takeway bag from her jaws; the bag tears open, spilling its contents all over the path, and suddenly there’s not one but two Beagles with their mouths stuffed full of forbidden items. Instead I went for speed approach: break into a sprint, dragging Beanie & Biggles behind me in the hope that either the bag or its contents would eventually fall out of reach.
Beanie knew what I was doing; she hung back as best she could, digging her paws into the pavement and clinging on desperately to the bag. Unfortunately for her, Biggles got into the spirit of things (he always loves a sprint) and shot past me on his lead to provide an extra burst of acceleration. This dragged The Beanster into motion and I was certain she’d have to ditch the bag any second; it was just too big for her to carry out in front and still keep up. However, she quickly found a solution to the problem: keeping her jaws tightly anchored on the top of the bag, she rested her front paws on its lower half. It was almost like her front end was surfing on top of the takeaway, with her little rear legs working extra hard to keep up as she was dragged along. She kept going like this for several yards before friction finally destroyed the bag. I saw the panic in her eyes as the contents spilled out and fell behind us, leaving her clutching nothing but shredded polythene. Victory was mine, but Beanie shot me her best Clint-Eastwood-style mean look and suddenly I didn’t feel like celebrating. She went into Greta-Garbo mode for the rest of the morning, only emerging from her custom-made bed to slurp from my unguarded coffee cup.
Beanie in Garbo mode. Those WOOFs on her bed are back to front; they should actually read “FOOW” – an acronym for “F-Off Outside World”