Watch out – you’ll lose more than your nuts!

We had unexpectedly nice weather this morning, which made for a very nice walk in the park. Admittedly wellies were still required, but there was sun, blue sky and thankfully no midges.

Beanie got straight down to her usual antics with her chums Sophie and Kirby.

Yep, Beanie regularly wrestles with Grizzly bears :)

When Kirby wasn’t looking, Beanie grabbed her squeaky “Daily Growl” newspaper toy and ran off with it:

Needless to say there was much chasing and romping about, but then right out of the blue we saw a young male Beagle approaching. He ran straight over to Beanie and the gang as though he knew them. There was certainly something familiar about his face, but I couldn’t put a name to him – until that is his owner jogged into view and solved the mystery – it was Alfie from Beanie’s obedience class.

The last time we’d seen Alfie was at the Beagle Racing Fun Day. He’d still seemed small and very young back then, but here he was, nine months old and as big as Baxter. His dad was bravely attempting the Holy Grail of activities for the fit dog owner: running with your dog off-lead. I’ve tried this a couple of times with Beanie. While it works, it’s great – your dog can zoom ahead when he/she finds the human pace too pedestrian, or even stop for a sniff with other dogs before playing catch-up for a treat. But it can go wrong all too easily, especially with a Beagle – all it takes is a tempting pile of fox poo to roll in, another dog with an unguarded ball, or worst of all, a picnicker.

Alfie and his dad hung around with us for a while. This gave Beanie an opportunity for further chasing..

..and Alfie got a chance to observe our master wrestler at work. Although in this case, I don’t think the masterclass went quite as Beanie intended!

See Alfie? I’ve got him right where I want him..

After a while they headed off for another circuit of the park, and we were still there when they came round for the second time. Susan asked Alfie’s dad how the run had worked out, but unfortunately his dream of naughtiness-free jogging had turned sour. Maybe it is possible though, even with a Beagle. Earlier in the year we met a guy with a male Beagle who claimed to have no recall problems whatsoever, which he attributed to running with his dog off-lead from an early age. Hmm.. think I’d need to see it to believe it!

Anyway it was time to head home, which we did, albeit after a quick hot chocolate at the park cafe. On our way to the car, we ran into the long time Beagle owner who’s given us such interesting information on Beanie’s ancestry. She doesn’t have a Beagle these days, instead she has a Spaniel called Toby, but he seems keen to carry on some of the habits of his Beagle predecessors. He’s independent, only responds to commands when he wants, and can typically be found circling a tree, barking at the squirrels therein:

While Susan was talking to his owner, I headed down towards Toby to see what all the fuss was about. He was having a great time running round and round the tree, barking with such regularity you could use him as a metronome. I knelt to take a few photos of him, expecting my presence to disturb him, but he was oblivious. He just kept on with his perfectly timed, monotonous barking. It started to remind me of a psychological method of attack sometimes employed by the military to wear down the enemy – playing loud music over and over again.

Maybe I was right to make that association, because suddenly a squirrel darted down the tree trunk and made a near-suicidal dash across the park. Toby was instantly on the chase!

He came quite close to catching the little fella – he certainly had enough straight-line speed..

..but the squirrel was more agile, and made it to another tree before Toby could have him for lunch. Toby had a couple of goes at climbing the tree, then returned to his tried and tested methods: circling and barking. He was still there as we left the park…