It’s Biggles’ 9th birthday on the 28th and to mark it his lordship has had quite a fun week.
On Wednesday he became – for just over an hour – one of the highest dogs in the British Isles when he climbed to the summit of Ben More (Crianlarich version, not the Ben More on Mull).
I’d had my eye on Ben More for a while but it had been looking as though it would be a strictly solo adventure; the standard route often puts walkers face to face with unfenced cattle. Fortunately a bit of research turned up a longer, less popular but cattle-free route and my solo expedition became a team event.
The early part of the walk involves a woodland trail and this went down very, very well with the pups. Bird song mixed with the sound of synchronized power-sniffing as we made our way through the trees and drank fresh, clear water from the streams we crossed.
When we emerged from the forest we had to cut through a long, long boggy field covered in overgrown grass and heather on our way to Ben More’s northeast ridge. Beanie in particular loves the scratchy feel of heather and will always make a point of walking through the densest patch she can find. Biggles probably doesn’t mind it brushing against his undercarriage too much, and the opportunity to pick up deer ticks is always appreciated. Even I didn’t mind the trudge too much on the outward journey; we had blue skies and sun yet there was a gentle cooling breeze to keep the insects away – just about the perfect day. It stayed perfect even as we made it to the ridge and began to gain height rapidly.
The sun went into hiding behind heavy cloud as we reached the very grand summit cairn of Ben More, but I was confident that it would reappear in due course; we had well over an hour to go before sunset and the only pressing duties to be carried out involved a change to a clean, dry top for me and the opening of a packet of mini-jumbones for my companions.
So, about those jumbones Dad.. there’s no rush, but now would be a good time.
The almost-birthday boy got his chew first of course!
Sadly the cloud never really cleared, the sun never reappeared, and we got only the briefest glimpses of the views Ben More has to offer before I was calling time on our adventure.
Jumbones round #2 – synchronized this time!
The next day was all about recovery: a pre-walk massage from their Mum, a gentle walk up the farm road to sample fresh blackberries, and extra large servings in their bowls afterwards.
When people use the phrase “It’s a dog’s life” this probably isn’t what they mean..
But then Beagles aren’t quite like other dogs..
And our two are probably even more pampered than most Beagles.
All that would have been enough to make this a good week, but there was still more to come! A while back I signed up Beanie and Biggles to the VIP program at Pets at Home, and seeing that Biggles’ birthday was close they sent me a voucher for a free “Whimzees” toothbrush-shaped chew. A visit to our local pet shop was on the cards!
Since the toothbrush chew is free, his Biggleship gets to choose something else as a paid-for pressie. That is how it works, right?
The long, arduous selection process begins…
.. and is temporarily halted when something is detected under the bottom shelf.
Beanie briefly morphs into a Basset hound with its head on the wrong way round.
Biggles may not be the smartest boy in the world..
..but it didn’t take him long to figure out how those flip-top containers work.
Another attempt at retrieving some unidentified treasure ends in failure. He’s nearly nine years old and he still hasn’t learned the “Spider-Beagle” technique. A demonstration from the master is required!
Yep, that’s how you do it! Beanie’s going to hit the decade later this year, but she’s still unbeatable when it comes to Spider-Beagling.
Still empty-handed (apart from a pair of matching toothbrush chews) we eventually passed by a display of long chewable sticks, and Biggles finally knew what he wanted for his birthday!
His reaction to it was amazing. I’m not sure what it’s made of (I saw references to cereal products on the label) but he wanted it really, really badly. More than chicken, more than cow ears, more than any toy, he wanted one of these. So of course we got two of ’em. He was a very happy boy as we left the store, and for the first time I can honestly say that Biggles really did choose his own birthday pressie!