If Scottish Water had Beagles working for them instead of humans, their recent overhaul of our local pipework would have taken hours instead of weeks. There’d have been no need for machinery, generators or traffic cones. The workers would have simply turned up in their tricolored hi-vis jackets, stuck their bums in the air and got their forelimbs straight to work. There might have been the occasional break to pick up fallen chips and food wrappers from the pavement, or woof at a passing postman, but generally progress would have been very rapid. It certainly was when Beanie followed the trail of some unknown nighttime invader to the rear fence of our garden, rolled up her sleeves and started her latest digging project. I caught her just as she was trying to squeeze her head and shoulders through the gap she’d created, and even though I toweled her off she still brought an impressive amount of mud into the house on her paws.
In the past I’d have responded to this apparent escape attempt by turning the rear fence into a DIY version of the Berlin Wall, but this time I just packed the mud and earth back into the hole and bided my time. Sure enough, two days on Beanie seems to have forgotten about her digging project. Presumably the critter that inspired it has now found a different garden to invade, but there’d have been no digging at all if Beanie & Biggles had caught the little bugger when it first trespassed. With that in mind we’ve been training up their hunting skills, and not knowing the species of critter we’re up against, we’ve tried to cover all the bases.
We started with squirrels.
Squirrels are supposed to be the supreme athletes of the rodent world, but Beanie found this one to be easy prey. It was slow moving, unable to climb, and contained two squeakers; one in the head, and one in the tail, though the tail one didn’t work terribly well, especially after the following incident:
We also tried raccoons. These aren’t common in Scotland but occasionally they have been known to escape from a shop in Irvine called “Homebase”. Homebase doesn’t allow Beagles on their premises. If they did, I’m 100% certain they wouldn’t have a raccoon problem.
Killed it! What’s next?
We finished up with the toughest challenge of the day; the orange mini space-hopper. These are wily customers. They bounce in unexpected directions, easily escape from one’s mouth when wet, and keep on squeaking no matter how many times you bite ’em.
Though Beanie caught the space-hopper many times she never managed to kill it, and both she and Biggles had to retire from their training session knowing that there was still one species out there that could defeat them. Their failure clearly weighed heavily on their minds.
Well, it weighed heavily on Beanie’s mind anyway.