In our never-ending quest to find sort-of-safe places to let our Beagles off-lead we paid a visit to Pier Park in Dumbarton on Saturday. We’ve been there many times before for training with the Lomond Flyball Club, but it occurred to us that it could be pretty good for regular walks too. On paper it ticks nearly all the boxes:
- it’s big enough for a good run-around, yet small enough that we can quickly intervene in cases of extreme naughtiness
- although it’s not fenced all round, there are natural barriers like Dumbarton Castle, the sea, and the solid brick wall of the adjoining bowling club
- there’s only one way into it (and therefore, one would think, only one way out) and even if the dogs do escape they’re a good distance from the nearest main road
- it never seems to get very busy
- it’s got a truly beautiful view out to the sea
Even with all that going for it, we decided to start with our two on their long, thin training lines. As it turned out, that was a good move. Literally within the first minute Beanie discovered a gap between the fence around the sea-front and the bowling club wall. The gap is completely covered in foliage, but nevertheless Beanie went straight to it and squeezed through. Escape is Beanie’s Kung Fu, and it is strong.
If she hadn’t been on her training line she’d either have ended up putting her swimming skills to the ultimate test in the open sea or wandering along the bank to a nearby abandoned industrial complex that’s full of things that a Beagle shouldn’t eat but probably would. I went to help Susan haul Beanie Houdini back into the park, but stupidly forgot that Biggles (who up to this point had been a model of good behavior) was also on his training line and was able to follow his sister. Which he did. We retrieved Beanie and then I gave a good yank on Biggles’ line. After a moment he emerged with his harness pulled up to the back of his neck, and one of his front paws strapped to his head in a Benny Hill-style salute.
Needless to say we thought better of going for the full off-lead experience, and after a bit of walking and some retrieval games we called it quits and headed a little further down the road to Balloch Country Park. Drenched in sunlight, and with the colors of Autumn all around, I can honestly say it’s the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen.
And apparently it smells pretty good, too…
But the world must have balance, and so after the rich beauty of Balloch Country Park we returned home to our postage stamp of a garden that was in dire need of a thorough tidy up and grass cutting.
In our garden every grass cutting session is preceded by a thorough lawn inspection and poo collection. The inspection part is needed to lift up any stones, toys or other debris that wouldn’t react well to the fast spinning metal blade of our lawn mower. The poo collection part is also needed because our Beaglets have become adept at concealing their waste in the thicker patches of grass. This presents two obvious hazzards; the unexpected and unpleasant squelching underfoot as the lawn is being mowed, and the air pollution that occurs when the blade slices through a lump of hidden poo that has been allowed to “mature”. As I discovered to my cost, there’s also a third hazzard..
Our lawn mower is one of those electric, rotary types that throws the cut grass into a rear-mounted basket. If the grass is a little too moist or if the basket gets a little too full before it is emptied, the path from the blade housing to the basket becomes choked and has to be freed up by hand. The lawnmower has a number of safeguards that prevent the accidental loss of fingers during this process, but the one thing it can’t protect against is the brown stuff. Now I won’t go into the sordid details but just to set the scene.. have you ever found yourself in a public loo trying to wipe your arse and discovered that there’s just one solitary, weak and wafer-thin sheet of loo paper left on the roll?