Our friends Kathleen and Neil of Mochuisle Beagles suggested we meet up on Irvine beach on Tuesday evening. We were both snowed under with work, so of course we agreed!
We arrived first, and went for a little wander on the sand to keep Beanie amused. At first she was happy to swap sniffs with other dogs, but then her nose caught a more interesting scent, and she bolted off, apparently towards the car park. I gave chase as best I could (the days when I could out-pace Beanie are long gone!) and as I approached, I realized she wasn’t headed for the car park at all. Nope, she was hunting the Beagle’s natural prey: the picnicker.
As I closed in on her, I could see Beanie had already carried out a successful raid; she had what appeared to be a large pork pie stuck in her mush. I quickened my pace, and in response Beanie speed-swallowed the whole pie (all Beagles can do this – chewing is just too slow when you’re being naughty).
By the time I caught her, she was already heading in for a second raid. I apologized to the picnickers and made a show of being annoyed with Beanie, but really I was annoyed at them. OK, technically it was all my fault, and I should either have perfect control over my dog, or forever keep her on lead. But the reality is that picnickers are a pest, a nuisance to dog-walking society that should be legislated against, along with cyclists, power-walkers and, in the eyes of some, joggers. Personally I can’t honestly condemn joggers as I dabble in jogging myself. But picnickers and cyclists? Hang ’em, that’s what I say.
But I digress.
OK, so I got Beanie back on her lead, and we wandered around a bit more until Kathleen and Neil arrived with three of their Beagles: Spike, Breac and Tiarnach. We walked the four dogs a good few hundred yards along the beach and then, thinking they were a safe distance from any trouble, we let them all off lead. Almost immediately they all raced back down the beach. In seconds they turned from dogs to matchstick silhouettes, and then to dots on the horizon. They seemed to be heading for something along the water’s edge. Kathleen speculated that it might be a sewage outlet. Nice. We called them, and after minute or so the dots seemed to be heading back towards us. Then one dot, somewhat smaller than the others (and clearly naughtier), turned and headed away from the water, back towards the picnic site. One by one, the three other dots swung round and followed. A massed attack on the picnic site was under way! Needless to say we retrieved our fourlegged hooligans, apologized again, and dragged them even further away from their prey. Happily, the rest of the walk was free of any more food stealing incidents.
It was interesting to see how Beanie interacted with the other Beagles. In the park, she normally involves herself in the pack very quickly. Here, she seemed to be holding back.
Perhaps it was because Breac and Tiarnach are brothers and obviously very close..
..on the other hand, maybe it was because she had a big unmasticated pork pie rolling around in her stomach. Regardless, she earned her membership when the frisbee toy landed a little too far into the sea. Calling on her swimming experience, she waded into the water, grabbed the toy and brought it back onto dry land.
She was now a fully fledged member of the gang,
..and as such, she was allowed to engage in trials of strength with the other members.
Breac and Beanie battle it out. Is this a sign of things to come on the Beagle race track?
All too soon it was time to head back and go our separate ways, leaving the beach safe for picnics once again. But for how long?