I’m starting to wonder if Beanie & Biggles have some strange new illness that has halted production of the Beagle naughty hormone. We’ve just come through almost the whole Christmas season without any notable bad behavior. I mean obviously our two are still unruly enough that any regular dog owner would hand them over to a rehoming center, but for Beagles they’ve been almost angelic.
Early one morning the pups made their way up Castle Hill above Largs, where they saw the sun rise, snatched biccies from the top of a small but surprisingly challenging cairn, and inexplicably failed to woof at a group of distant cows (even though woofing would have attracted the cows and brought the walk to an abrupt end).
Beanie & Biggles were similarly quiet when they journeyed by ferry over to the island of Cumbrae. We endured so much wind and rain on Cumbrae that we spent the return trip in the ferry’s interior passenger compartment. Ordinarily – rough weather or not – we avoid such small, confined places due to the ever-present risk of hearing damage from his Biggleship’s 120 decibel woofer. Fortunately this time he saw no other dogs, no cyclists, and no-one wearing a hat that isn’t on the list of Beagle-approved head-wear, and so remained silent throughout. In fact he and Beanie were so well-behaved that the other passengers barely noticed them sticking their snouts into every shopping bag sitting unguarded on the floor as we prepared to disembark.
Even when we ventured up The Merrick – one of Dumfries and Galloway’s most popular hills and site of Beanie’s best solo off lead adventure ever – both Beanie & her brother passed up multiple opportunities for major naughtiness. That was one seriously rough walk; we went up the morning before storm “Frank” was due to hit the West of Scotland. The weather forecast had indicated the gales wouldn’t start until some hours after our descent, but just like a kid that couldn’t wait to open his presents, Frankie-boy started early. The trudge back down was a nightmare of high winds, low visibility and slippery mud – exactly the conditions in which a coordinated Beagle pulling frenzy would have dumped me unceremoniously and painfully onto my bum. And yet there was scarcely any pulling. No-one even thought to unhook their lead and go for a three-hour romp with the sheep and deer, although to be fair this would have been somewhat difficult to accomplish due to the half roll of Duck Tape I’d wound round and round the release clips.
Yes it looked calm enough at the start of the walk…
But storm Frank came out to play almost immediately after I took this pano
Christmas day itself was also trouble-free. Admittedly at one point Biggles did steal his sister’s Christmas jumper and roll about with it on the rug making X-rated sexual pleasure noises. And there was that time – about an hour after having the doggy version of our Christmas dinner – that his lordship had a brief but noisy bout of “stress flatulence” while jumping on to the sofa next to me. But neither of those incidents are naughty by any recognized Beagle standards.
.. and her Christmas jumpers, served up with our pups’ most popular and long-lived treat dispensing toys
This morning Beanie & Biggles had their first beach run of 2016, and unusually they had to share the beach with a load of other doggies whose owner’s had likewise decided to welcome in the New Year by braving the cold and wind. A busy beach isn’t the best place to let our crazy Beagles off lead, but everybody else seemed to be having such fun that I couldn’t deprive my two of a chance to do the same.
Amazingly, from the second I released them to the moment I clipped them back onto their extending leads, they behaved themselves brilliantly. They chased around at full speed, never getting more than 100 yards from me and my ever-ready supply of chicken, and responded to all of my commands. For those blissful few minutes of off-lead joy they were just like other dogs, albeit dogs that felt an unusually strong need to roll in the disgusting remains of a seagull and consume half their body weight in crabs and shellfish deposited by the receding tide.
Does all this good behavior mark the start of a new era in our lives with Beanie & Biggles? Is there such a thing as a naughty-suppressant virus? Or is it just the calm before the storm? And if there is a storm of naughtiness coming, will it have a more inspired name than “Frank”? Only Beanie knows, and she’s not telling.