It had to happen eventually, and last week it did; our nineteen year old Beaglemobile suffered a breakdown. We were on our way to Loch Turret for a long and probably very sniffy walk along the water and up a modest hill when – without any warning – the alternator quietly shuffled off its mortal, corroded copper coil. We were kind of lucky that it happened where it did – on a main road just the other side of the Erskine bridge; if it had occurred further into the drive we could have been stuck in the middle of nowhere without a phone signal. Obviously our planned walk was now off the cards, but that’s not the lost adventure from title of this post. Nope, real “adventure that wasn’t” happened (or rather didn’t happen) on the way back home.
Our breakdown service sent a big recovery vehicle capable of loading the van onto its back and taking it, and us, right back to our house. Immediately I had visions of our return journey being much more exciting for the furry contingent than the loch-side walk could ever have been. Both our Beagles love sitting on human booster seats in the cabin of a high vehicle; they can sniff deeply from the air vents, spy on people in little cars, randomly mess with the controls on the stereo unit and – with an appropriate amount of squirming and a bit of luck – maybe even sound the horn with their bottoms. Alas none of this came to pass; the driver of the recovery vehicle wanted them locked away in their crates in the Beaglemobile, and that was that.
Within an hour we were safely back home. All kinds of beeping noises had sounded off during the loading and unloading of the van, yet amazingly the bed in Beanie’s crate had remained pee-free; proof that at least she hadn’t been scared. She had however been very, very bored. And so had The Bigglet. Once back in the house there were lots of heavy sighs and snouts between front paws, so I did the only thing I could to recover the situation: I took them for a beach run.
I normally time my beach runs carefully so that the tide is incoming but hasn’t yet swallowed the beach. On this occasion however, low tide had been and gone some three hours previously, leaving us with only a narrow strip of sand on which to run. The biggest problem with running in these conditions is that the many interesting things washed in by the tide are right under your nose – or specifically, right under Beanie & Biggles’ noses. I found the clearest spot of beach I could, unclipped their leads and really upped my running pace in the hope that they’d stay with me. For a while it worked, but then they fell away behind me and I saw eight paws go up into the air: a synchronized roll was in progress. They were clearly having fun, so I didn’t have the heart to stop them.
In due course they sprinted back to me and I examined them for some indication of what they’d been rolling in. Poo? Assorted dead animal parts? I didn’t see anything like that, but I did notice a blood-red stain on one of Biggles’ thighs. Fearing he’d cut himself on a sharp can or something similar I reached down and began gently parting his fur to determine the extend of the injury.. but found nothing. Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed that Beanie had a similar mark on one of her legs. This was was no injury – this was what they’d rolled in! A pleasant feeling of relief passed through me but quickly faded when I rubbed at those red stains and snifffed my fingers. As a Beagle owner I’ve experienced some pretty vile smells, and while this wasn’t the worst (“shitvom” comfortably occupies pole position!), it was pretty bad. I clipped on their leads and the three of us headed into the waves for a scrubbing session; sadly this was only partially successful. Why is it that I always get a powerful desire to scratch my nose and wipe sweat from my brow when my hands smell like a sewer?
In the absence of any walk shots I’ll finish with a couple of portraits I took ahead of Beanie’s birthday – she’ll be 10 in a week or so!