It’s been a busy week, so I’ll do a quick recap.
We were spoilt for choice on Sunday – Beagle Racing, Flyball AND Lure Coursing. We eventually decided to pop in and watch the lure coursing with a view to taking part at next month’s meeting. It looked fabulous – acres of securely fenced fields overlooking stunning countryside. And the best part for our naughty Beagles….you get to chase a bit of real deer skin all over the field and no one tells you off!!!
We only got to watch a couple of races and then we made the 15 minute trip down the road to Beagle Racing at Kincardine Bridge. Beanie’s favorite lure driver, Scooby, had arranged to meet us nice and early before official racing started so Beanie and Biggles could get some private runs. They loved it!!!
They actually had quite a few runs throughout the course of the day and we took our agility equipment and flyball box along too so there was loads of activity for them.
The rest of the week has been sheer and utter chaos!
Beanie hadn’t been enjoying racing and whilst we were certain it was due to interference from inexperienced dogs (she still loves solo races and races with well behaved dogs), one of the Whippet owners was sure that Beanie was jaded from too much activity. He thought Beanie and Biggles would rediscover the sheer joy of racing if we didn’t let them off lead for 3 days before race day. Our first thought that this person didn’t know Beagles well – our two keep going for ever and never show signs of getting tired or bored. We’d actually been thinking that we needed to step up their off-lead exercise! But we also figured that there was a remote possibility that he was right and it would do no harm to try (Mistake Number One). We weren’t prepared to keep them on lead for a full three days – our house would be wrecked by day two! We decided to give them a very short off-lead spell on Friday and kept them on-lead on Saturday.
Things didn’t seem too bad on Friday and Saturday. We took them for lovely long on-lead walks in parks that they weren’t familiar with. They didn’t get to stretch their legs and run, but they were mentally stimulated. So far so good.
The first little warning bells started to ring on Sunday at the racing when Beanie wasn’t keen to go back on lead at the end of her races. Now at this point it’s worth pointing out that after months of hard work we were able to walk Beanie and Biggles off-lead and keep them in sight for 99% of the time. They’d occasionally run off for a sprint about the trees but would come running right back to us within two or three minutes.
By Monday morning they were both so stir crazy that we decided we couldn’t cope with them both off-lead together – separate walks were called for (Mistake Number Two). Paul let Beanie off-lead in the meadow while I walked around the park with Biggles on-lead. After about half an hour I got a frantic phone call from a very stressed sounding Paul. “I’ve had enough – time to swap dogs!”. The second he’d unclipped the lead she’d disappeared over the horizon at top speed. She came back a couple of times, swiped some treats then scarpered again. The meadow is very safe so we weren’t overly concerned about anything happening to her (and they do have GPS tracking collars), but it’s the last thing in the world we want to happen as she’s now learnt a new unwanted behaviour.
We swapped dogs and Biggles was as good as gold off lead. The rest of the walk was uneventful, but by the time evening came Biggles started to get very restless. As time went by he became more and more obsessed with humping Beanie. And she wasn’t exactly complaining. This carried on the whole of the next day – much to the neighbors amusement. (They are both neutered.)
On Tuesday Paul announced that he wasn’t letting Beanie off-lead on her own without me there. I wasn’t prepared to do it myself either so we decided to try letting them both off together. We unclipped the leads and they both disappeared over the horizon…this time with Biggles providing sonar tracking with his constant “aaarrrff, aaarrrfff”. Then we discovered a new problem. Biggles couldn’t keep up with Beanie and when he lost her he panicked. He didn’t hear our calls – he just ran frantically in any direction desperately looking for Beanie.
By Wednesday I’d come up with a master plan to regain control. We headed for Wizard of Paws and bought lots of toys and goodies that would ensure that we were more exciting to our dogs than the call of the wild. I also picked up a couple of 15m training lines. “They’ll tangle around the dogs legs” said Paul. “You’re always so negative!” I replied. We arrived at the park with:
2 X Stir Crazy Beagles
2 X Toy Sheep (we figured they’d love to rip them apart)
2 X 50 m Training Lines
1 X tea towel tied to a string
1 X very long knotted rope
1 X huge bag of assorted premium treats (cheese, roast lamb, sausage etc)
1 X air kong sausage shaped thing on a rope
2 X 3ft long pizzle sticks (dried bulls penis).
We certainly learned something new that day – If there’s one thing harder than trying to keep control of two stir-crazy beagles it’s trying to keep control of two stir-crazy beagles whilst carrying a whole bunch of junk around with you!!
We decided to start out by just letting them off-lead to blow off a bit of steam. They sprinted round the meadow, round the trees, across the golf-course….and eventually came back to us. I grabbed their collars and held on tight while Paul sprinted across the meadow trailing a tea-towel on the end of a string and ‘whooping’ like an idiot. The dogs went ballistic and eventually I let them go. It worked a treat. They sprinted around the field after him baying at the top of their lungs. “Fanstastic!” we thought – “we’ve found a game that holds more appeal than the call of the wild”. They’d caught the tea-towel within 30 seconds and I called the dogs back to me so that Paul could get another head start. Beanie came instantly, but Biggles held on for an extra chew at the tea-towel. When he finally let go of the tea towel and looked around for Beanie the daft pup couldn’t see her. He started looking around frantically. “She’s over here with me Biggles…come!”. He ignored me and started sprinting off at top speed, desperately in search of his sister. In the chaos that followed I let go of Beanie and she sprinted off in the opposite direction.
Half an hour later….
We finally had both dogs by our sides. They were puffing and panting a little so I figured it was time to bring out the pizzle sticks. I sat down on the grass with a giant bulls penis in each hand. Beanie and Biggles lay contentedly beside me and chewed. After a good 10 minutes of tranquility I saw another dog approaching so hurried to get the pizzel sticks away from the dogs before they caused a fight. Beanie and Biggles disappeared over the horizon, “aaarfff, aaarrfff, arrrrfff……..
10 minutes later….
Beanie and Biggles came sprinting towards us with big, happy grins and waggy tails. Time to try out the training lines. “I don’t like this” said Paul. “They’ll get tangled around their legs”. “Don’t be silly” I replied. I clipped a line to each collar and instantly the lines were tangled around their legs, necks, tails, bodies….and our legs, arms, necks, bodies. Paul and I frantically got to work trying to untangle them before one of them sprinted off after another dog and injured him/herself. Meanwhile, Beanie and Biggles had spotted the giant bulls penis’ sticking out of the top of my ruck stack and as we fought to untangle them they leapt frantically in an attempt to secure their prize. At which point we saw a couple of fun loving dogs sprinting towards us to see what all the commotion was about. The toy sheep and tea-towel tumbled out of my rucksack.
10 minutes later…
Beanie and Biggles are untangled, the other dogs are gone and we’ve got all our junk back in our ruck sack. Everything is calm and under control. We decided to head down to the river to hunt for fish (we throw dried fish in the river for them). They know the fishing game and knew that was where we were heading so we figured they’d be fine off lead. And they were. They trotted happily along beside us. Then at the last minute Beanie sprinted off. Biggles didn’t spot which way she went and frantically ran off in the other direction, “arrff, aarrff, arrrrfffing” at the top of his lungs……
Beagles…who’d have ’em!!!??? Today we’re taking them on entirely separate walks.
More pictures from the racing here.