Leave Only Paw Prints – Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post

So  just to recap: after an evening spent consuming the very best sheep poo in Scotland, Biggles had suffered what could be described in Star Trek terms as a “warp core breach” in our bed.

It was now early in the morning and I was still tired out, but obviously the idea of climbing back into bed had totally lost its appeal; going for a shower and change of clothes on the other hand seemed like a really good idea, and that’s what I did. On my return I took both Beanie and Captain Loose-Sphincter for another walk in the lane by the campsite, leaving Susan to deal with the soiled bedsheets. Almost immediately Beanie felt the urge to squat, and brought forth a slimy dark green log of epic proportions. I bagged it, binned it, and began walking further up the lane. We’d gone barely a hundred yards before Beanie squatted again, resulting in another bag of recycled sheep poo to dispose of. I dragged Beanie & Biggles back to the bin, then turned to go forward. This time we made it nearly 150 yards before The Beanster hunkered down for a third innings, but even that wasn’t the end of it; during the course of the day Beanie made no less than six ample deposits in the poo bank, setting a new personal record. By contrast Biggles only needed three squatting sessions, but then he’d already unburdened himself in our bed.

Back at the campsite I got an update on the bed situation. I’d seen only the lower cover – and that had been bad enough – but apparently the underside of the duvet cover was in an even worse state.  We had no replacements and only one more night to get through, so Susan devised a cunning plan: turn both covers round and use dog blankets – of which we had several – to protect the bed itself and cover the skid marks on the upturned duvet. Certainly not an ideal solution, but a workable one.  With this settled, we drove out to the first of three walks planned for the day – a circuit around the beach near Kilmory at the southern end of Arran.

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The Walkhighlands site rates this as one of the best beaches on Arran, but unfortunately the tide was in and we didn’t get to see it at its best.

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The second walk was much more satisfying for both humans and Beagles alike: Clauchlands Point and Dun Fionn. The outward leg of the route followed a cliff by the coast, rapidly gaining height for some great sniffs and views.

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Wild rabbit poo was in abundance and I was very relieved to find that our pups were more interested in rolling in it than gorging on it.

At one point in the walk we encountered a group of students who made a big fuss of the pups. Beanie did her signature biscuit-summoning dance and though it didn’t work directly, it did put her within striking distance of unguarded pockets and backpacks as people bent down to pet her. For once I was on my game and managed to pull her away at the critical moment; no packed lunches were speed-swallowed on this walk.

The return route took us through a thankfully unoccupied farm field, emerging at a cottage guarded by a very fit looking Spaniel. He eyed us suspiciously as we climbed over the stile, but he didn’t budge an inch from his station and Biggles kept his woofs firmly under wraps; maybe he was still feeling shame from his leaky bottom accident.

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The final section of the route took us through a short stretch of woodland, across a magical little stream and down a pretty bluebell-lined country lane before emerging on the road just a few hundred yards from the van.

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Any time you want to rate a walk from a Beagle perspective you have only to observe the quality and quantity of napping that follows it. On that basis, I judged this walk to have been a great success! Obviously there were attempts at food theft when first got back to the van, followed by a short spell of irate woofing when a group of kayakers emerged from the sea just a few yards away, but after that, the napping was first class.

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Beanie in a deep snooze. You’ll just have to imagine the contented snoring noises..

I had a substantial walk planned for the third outing of the day, but when we arrived at the starting point in Lochranza I suddenly felt the need to revise that plan.

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I was unaware of this at the time, but Lochranza is famed for its large and bold deer population. As we arrived, deer were wandering around the town’s small golf course while golfers were still playing, and there was a concentrated group of them right by the start of our walk. I really didn’t fancy having my eardrums blown out by baying and my arms pulled out of their sockets, so I settled on a there-and-back stroll out past the castle.

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On the return leg we found that the deer had moved in on the more developed part of town. Almost every garden had high fences and I realized now this wasn’t because the people of Lochranza are mostly Beagle owners; nope, those fences are all about keeping the deer out. And the deer were everywhere, munching on bushes and nosing around cars. I braced myself for an outburst from Biggles, but both he and Beanie were stunned into silence. When we made it back to the golf course I paused there for a few minutes, hoping this calm exposure to deer might tone down the dynamic duo’s reaction to them in the wild. Only time will tell if it has the intended effect…

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Our last night on Arran – in the poo smeared bed – went remarkably well. Bright blankets covered the obvious signs of soiling and the smell, though not exactly pleasant, wasn’t intolerable. Let’s put it this way: I’ve smelled Pot Noodles that were worse. Come to think of it, given a choice between sleeping in a bed smeared with Beagle-processed sheep poo versus a bed smeared in Pot Noodle dregs, I’d probably take the hybrid poo option.

We spent the next morning parked close to the ferry terminal, and to kill time I took the pups part way along the so-called Fisherman’s walk in Brodick. This was the scene for the final drama in our holiday.

The outward leg went well; the route skirted a golf course and was well signed, no doubt because the golfers didn’t want all and sundry straying onto their territory. Unfortunately, none of those signs mentioned that the route becomes flooded when the tide is incoming, as it was on our way back. Our little party of three went from a stroll to a forced march when I realized that we were racing the tide, and as we grew close to the finish it looked like we might just make it. I strode over a slightly raised grassy bit between two big puddles, and Beanie (sensibly, for once) followed in my footsteps. Biggles however decided that he wouldn’t mind a little paddle. He started through the puddle. One step, two steps and all was well. He took another step and abruptly discovered that the puddle was not of uniform depth; his chin smacked the water loudly as his body sank like a stone. Any self-respecting dog would have leaped out of there immediately, shaken themselves off and tried to pretend that nothing embarrassing had happened, but not Biggles; he just sat there in the puddle looking up at me with a helpless yet hopeful expression on his face. I reached down and hauled him out by the extra-wide handle on his swanky new Ruffwear harness. Something tells me that the designers at Ruffwear have silly Beagles too. If they ever come up with a poo-proof bed cover, I’ll be first on the pre-order list.

2 Responses to “Leave Only Paw Prints – Part 2”

  1. Susan in Delaware Says:

    Fabulous photos and wonderful storytelling as always, Paul! And kudos to Susan for coming up with a plan to get you through one more night with the hybrid poo smeared bed. What’s camping without a little dirt and soil, eh? Now if you had to last a week with that, it might be another story … (time to find a local self service laundry!) Lady and Ringo are the same way about deer; sometimes they go nuts and other times (usually when they feel they are outnumbered, or do not have the safety of the garden fence between themselves and the deer) they are very quiet and try not to make eye contact. I need to get Ruffwear harnesses with handles, it seems quite useful to carry beagles like suitcases upon occasion!

  2. Paul Says:

    Yep the Ruffwear “webmaster” harnesses are still a really good choice for country walks, and if you adjust them well they seem to be very escape resistant (I will never tempt fate by saying “escape proof”).

    As is often the case though, the older versions of the harness were superior to this new iteration: easier to adjust and much more hard-wearing. Biggles’ swanky new red harness is already looking a bit frayed at the d-ring attachment point!