The day it didn’t rain (much)

Looking at the news it seems like pretty much the lower third of Britain is under water right now. Here in Ayrshire we haven’t had any flooding, but we have had a long run of horrible, wet and stormy weather. Oddly enough when the weather’s really grotty I much prefer running with the pups on the beach to walking with them; I suppose getting drenched by rain is not an issue when you’ve already accepted that you’re going to be soaking in your own sweat. Nevertheless, we’ve had some runs recently that pushed my resilience to the limit; on Thursday I had to pitch forward at 45 degrees just to get purchase against the wind, and Beanie & Biggles kept looking round to see what was tugging on their lines! Today however there was a break in the weather. I can’t say that it didn’t rain, but at least it didn’t rain much, and we used this brief respite to inspect the beach at a more leisurely pace.

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Well, it started out leisurely.. but then Beanie caught sight of a group of birds further up the beach, and suddenly everything shifted into top gear.

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Biggles glances back over his shoulder as if to say “see you later Dad, we’re off!”

Needless to say the raid on the birds did not result in any captures, and in due course the dynamic duo turned and sprinted back to us for the one kind poultry they could catch: cooked chicken.

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We’re back! Get the chicken out!

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Once they’d refueled sufficiently they were off again!

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We had several more hunt / RTC (Return To Chicken) cycles during the walk; each time the hunting portion grew longer and bolder, and each time the retrieval of the chicken grew more difficult for her Beanieship. The problem she encountered, in a word, was Biggles. He likes chicken as much as the next Beagle, but he likes to tease his sister even more. Whenever she turned to sprint back for a refueling, Biggles playfully tried to block & barge her.

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Given that Biggles has already had his bum bitten by his sister on several occasions, you might think that getting between her and a lump of chicken would be.. unwise. Happily for him, Beanie saw the lighter side and rose to his challenge. Using her superior agility she was able to confuse, misdirect & wrong-foot him, always arriving first at the food station otherwise known as Susan.

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It was a shame to finally put them back on lead and head home, but I guess you’ve always got to leave some adventures for another day.

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Christmas 2013: Snake attacks and Duckicide

Last year we spent Christmas Day shivering around the so-called “Arrochar Alps”. This time we went for a less adventurous Christmas; Susan prepared the nosh while I took our two munchkins out for a cold and windy but otherwise very pleasant run on the beach:

Usually high winds make Beanie & Biggles hyper and they sprint about like crazy during their mid-run offlead play, but this time they were pretty quiet. I suspect they were still somewhat pooped from the previous night’s walk in Troon. It had been really windy then, almost gale force windy, and the two of them had been darting about all over the place on their extending leads, covering probably 6 times the distance of the actual walk. At one point Biggles fell behind to examine something disgusting, then – as often happens – he got the idea of sprinting back up to Beanie and shoulder-barging her.  Unfortunately a sudden gust gave him unexpected acceleration and he nearly ended up embedding his head in Beanie’s bum. He’d have been on the receiving end of some cross words if she hadn’t been so obsessed with speed sniffing that she didn’t even notice the rear-ender.

Anyway, back to Christmas Day. After a thorough feeding and a short nap, it was time for the presents. Choosing presents for people can be tricky enough, but it can be really tough to get it right when you’re buying for doggies. Obviously food always goes down well, but when it comes to things like toys, you can never be sure how they’re going to be received. Some things can go down a storm, while others barely get a sniff. Since squeaky yet robust soft toys had worked out pretty well earlier this year for their birthdays, we followed the same formula for Christmas; Biggles got a heavily stitched squeaky duck, while Beanie got a 3 ft rope-filled snake with a squeaky head and rattling tail. The snake – Susan’s choice – was an instant hit with the Beanster!

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She just couldn’t get enough of Hissing Sid, and despite some serious rough-housing on the day and in subsequent play sessions, he’s still going strong and is her favorite toy by far.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of Biggles’ duck. As soon as the wrapping was off, Biggles grabbed him and took him out of the room and into the “corridor of doom” with a very purposeful trot; the kind of trot that’s usually reserved for socks that are about to be, er, heavily modified. Susan went after him and ushered him back in within a minute, but the duck had already lost his supposedly tuggable rope tail.

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Biggles is normally pretty gentle with soft toys, but apparently this duck had awakened his hunting instincts. He drew back onto his rear legs and pounced. The tail-less duck was shaken mercilessly, its stitches were pulled apart, and it’s soft felt-like back was ripped open.

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After barely 3 minutes of frenzied play, Mr Duck had to be confiscated for safety reasons.

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Yep, The Bigglet can be a fearsome killing machine when he wants to be. Duvets respect him, smelly socks fear him, and many freshly cooked peanut butter cookies have met an untimely end in his deadly maw. Rest in peace Mr Duck, your sacrifice gave my boy an enjoyable if brief play session, and left a mercifully small dent in my wallet.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who isn’t a squeaky duck!

Beanie’s Sixth!

Beagles have very good internal clocks – they always seem to know when it’s time for a walk, for breakfast, for tea and so on – but I don’t think their internal calendars are up to much. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure Beanie knew that something special was happening this weekend due to a series of strange deliveries and even stranger activities. Whether she knew all this was about creating a posh present for her sixth birthday is doubtful, but it certainly piqued her interest..

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A box full of this stuff arrives (it’s not even edible BTW)

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Susan slaves over a hot sewing machine..

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And with four legged critters forbidden entry to the kitchen, all Beanie can do is peer through the door at the proceedings.

Ever since we got her, Beanie has preferred sleeping under a cover. Most afternoons she can be found on the sofa, tightly wrapped in one of her blankets. Sometimes she can wrap herself up – it’s a pretty cool thing to see. She carefully pokes her nose under one edge of the blanket, deftly tosses it over her then winds round and round until it’s nice and tight. Other times, actually most of the time if truth be told, she has to request human assistance: a paw on your arm accompanied by an intense stare right into your eyes or a pitiful whimper. As an aside, a number of recent TV shows about dogs have featured the use of a blanket to assess intelligence; you cover the dog with a blanket, and the speed with which the dog extricates itself indicates its IQ. I wonder what the scientists would make of a dog that not only enjoys having the blanket over her, but even requests a recovering if her bottom is sticking out of one end?

Anyway, we figured Beanie would appreciate a “day bed” that comes with it’s own cover. This of course is exactly what “Cozy Cave” beds are supposed to be, but looking at the beds available in the UK, we couldn’t see anything that would be just right for Beanie. They were all either too small, or the wrong shape, or not practical from a washing point of view. So Susan decided to make one specifically to meet the Beanster’s exacting requirements, as a present for her sixth birthday. The end result is kind of like a big fur-lined sleeping bag/bed, with a removable memory foam mattress.

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On first viewing, Beanie found it very comfy to lie on but didn’t realize she could actually get inside it.

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Then the penny dropped! The beauty of this design is that you can retreat completely inside if you’re having a Greta Garbo moment..

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Or keep watch from the entry if you think there might be some food in the offing..

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Or be half-in, half-out if you’re feeling more sociable!

Of course that wasn’t the only good thing about Beanie’s birthday. There was also the obligatory run on the beach, even though my legs were still killing me from a heavy squatting and kettlebell session the previous day:

Incidentally, it’s hard to see from all the camera jiggling but that final onlead running section in the video is actually a stealth attack on some birds further up the beach. Beanie’s idea of “stealth” differs significantly from the military concept of stealth, in that it involves baying loudly and splashing as you approach your prey. In the six years she’s been using this technique to stalk birds, the number of successful captures remains at zero. Still, maybe next time will be different.

After the run we had a joint present opening for Beanie and Biggles, who of course was having his unbirthday at the time. This was a bit of cheat because we just filled some old treat dispensing toys with posh nosh like dried venison pieces and wrapped them up in spare Amazon boxes, but the pups were delighted nonetheless.

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The present opening commences..

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Biggles gets off to a flying start, ripping his box open in a few seconds…

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But then disaster strikes and he ends up going for a blind, bumpy tour of the room with the box stuck on his head.

In fact all we really needed were the Amazon boxes. Both Beanie & Biggles were so utterly engrossed in their destruction that it took them ages to notice the food in their toys, but eventually their noses put them back on track. Beanie set about her toy with great enthusiasm, but unfortunately the treats inside were too large to fall out on their own, so her usual tactic of rolling and throwing the container around didn’t get her very far. Biggles on the other hand immediately power-chewed the whole toy to break everything into nice small pieces. He’d virtually emptied his toy by the time Beanie liberated her first treat!

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Eventually I caved in and joined Beanie in her efforts to get food out of that devlish blue cyclinder. We worked as the perfect team; I crushed the treats under my knee and carefully extracted the pieces, and she ate them. It kind of reminded me of how it used to be with my boss when I was employed as a software engineer.

Anyway, once all the treats had been dealt with – MORE treats! or to be precise, some personalised “pupcakes” from The Beagles Bakery:

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So I reckon that was a pretty good way for Beanie to celebrate her sixth birthday. I’m just hoping that in the days to come, that new day-bed of hers saves me from having to break my concentration every twenty minutes to go fix her blanket. We shall see..

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