Maybe it’s due to the time of year or the predominantly windy and wet weather we’ve had recently, but the beach has been mostly free of those tasty little birds that Beanie so likes to chase after. This has made my furry personal trainer less inclined to surprise me by doubling the length of my runs, or by giving me unplanned sprint sessions (preferably after leg day at the gym), but earlier this week she did come very close to getting me swimming in the sea.
The main inspiration for this change in training focus was a little family of ducks. They were bobbing about on the water about twenty metres off the shore, and for some reason Beanie felt the urge to go after one. I have no idea why she decided that a distant floating duck was a better target than any of the obese, foolishly brave seagulls on the beach, but regardless it was duck that was on the menu, not seagull.
She tore into the water heading straight at the group of quackers, and without knowing what was going on (and probably not caring anyway) Biggles followed her. Within a couple of seconds the water was deep enough that Beanie had to switch to swim mode, but that didn’t deter her one bit. As it happened I had applied their ritual spot-on flea treatment the previous day, so I guess now was a really good time for full immersion in that protection-shortening seawater.
I stayed on the shore, happy to stop running and just watch the proceedings; I was very confident that soon either the ducks would take off, or Beanie would see the impossibility of the task she’d set herself. Yep, any second now there’d be two bedraggled Beagles heading back to shore. Any second now. Of course, that’s not what happened.
The ducks saw the Beanster slowly closing on them, but they didn’t panic, they just calmly turned and headed further out to sea. Beanie was now twenty metres off the shore – where the ducks had been at the start of the chase – and it was clear she had no intention of giving up. Biggles was just a few metres behind her, but he was having second thoughts about this whole swimming thing. With his big paws and powerful legs he’s actually a strong swimmer, but he’s not all that keen on having water up near his face. I called to him (to them both actually, but I knew Beanie would ignore me) and got the reaction I wanted; he turned around and began heading back to the shore. “Well at least I’ll soon have one of them back” I thought. But even that turned out to be a false assumption.
Beanie resolutely continued her pursuit of the ducks, and she was doing well enough to keep the gap between her and her prey from widening. It was impressive, but I really just wanted her to turn back like Biggles. His Lordship was now just ten meters from the shore and close to getting his paws back on something solid, but he was starting to doubt his decision to leave Beanie. He turned sideways in the water for a second or two as though torn between my outstretched hand full of chicken, and THE most fun sister in the world, ever. Then, to my surprise and dismay, he set off after Beanie again. She was now 30 metres out, and still chugging away like a little train after those pesky ducks.
Thirty-five metres. Forty metres. This was getting serious. The tide was incoming – I’m always careful to make sure that’s the case when I let them offlead by the sea – but still, Beanie was getting a long way out and the next stop was twenty miles away on the Isle of Arran. Time for intervention! I pulled the headphones out of my ears and started taking off the armband that holds my mobile phone. Fortunately before my swimming preparations got any more advanced, the ducks finally got spooked and took to the air. Even then Beanie kept after them for a moment before she gave up the chase and headed inland. I was seriously relieved to see her coming back, but not half as relieved as Biggles. As soon as his feet made contact with the still submerged sand he bounded out of the water, waited impatiently for his sister to arrive, then gave her a very vocal dressing-down.
For my part, I just attached their leads, gave them chicken, and got thoroughly sprayed by sand and sea as they shook themselves off. Pesky Ducks! Almost as bad as sheep. And little birds. And squirrels. But not rabbits, because the traditional prey of the Beagle is something both our hounds are afraid of:)