How (not) to treat a calf injury

Every now and then one of my body parts decides it’s had enough and goes on strike. At the start of the year it was my shoulder, but over the last month it’s been my right calf that’s rebelled. I struggled on with it for a bit, as I tend to do, until eventually it got bad enough to force me to rest it. This of course threatened disruption to the furry bottomed members of our family. Over the last few years they’ve been able to count on at least two, often three or four, beach runs each and every week – regardless of weather – and always with that all important off-lead-run-amok section in the middle. Suddenly the chief provider of these weekly jollies was out of action! I called them into the lounge, and broke the bad news to them as gently as possible.


I don’t get it Dad, I mean, you’ve still got three other legs you can run on, right?

I don’t think Biggles properly understood what I was telling him. I’m sure Beanie got it though, and she seemed genuinely concerned – not for my injury (obviously) but for the reduction in doggy service that it would cause. She took it upon herself to heal me in the fastest way she knew how! Later that day when I was on the floor foam-rolling my calf and doing stretches and glute activation, Nurse Beanie came to visit.

Now it has to be said that Nurse Beanie doesn’t have the greatest track record with her patients; a green monkey suffered repeated trauma whilst in her care, while an owl became an involuntary squeaker donor. Nevertheless, I decided to trust her and see what treatment options she would come up with. She began with acupuncture, repeatedly walking over my calf and hamstring while digging her nails in. This didn’t actually make the calf feel any better, but acupuncture does get used for some sports injuries so it didn’t seem unreasonable. Unfortunately, things went rapidly downhill from there. I’ve seen a few physiotherapists in my time but not one of them has ever tried to massage a sore muscle by humping it vigorously and letting a little bit of wee out. Nor have they ever snook into my pockets and tried to initiate a tug of war with a stolen poo bag.

Needless to say that particular therapy session didn’t fix my calf, but it did convince me of the need to maintain some level of weekly off-lead adventures during my convalescence. The next day we went for a gentle walk on the beach, but I still unclipped them for a short constraint-free romp. I was of course concerned that without the running they’d be less inclined to stay with me, but for once and against all the odds, they didn’t misbehave (much).





I stayed off running for a fortnight, during which we repeated the above walk several times. On each occasion both my little scallywags mostly behaved themselves. This week I had a couple of tentative but successful runs, and so today I took Beanie & Biggles for a somewhat vigorous 8k on the beach. When the time came for the off-lead section, the contrary little buggers promptly took off after some birds and left me eating their dust. In due course they returned to me for a handful of chicken, but only once they’d got themselves thoroughly covered in sand and seagull poo.

Beagles. You can always count on them to do the unexpected, unless that’s what you’re expecting.

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..


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


Susan slaves over a hot sewing machine..


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.


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


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


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


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.


The present opening commences..


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


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!





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:



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..


A Temporary Tail Of Woe

We had the beach to ourselves on our run today, due most likely to the relentless rain and wind we’re getting now we’re into October. Things were very different a few days ago, when September gave us one last blast of summer.


The conditions were perfect: clear skies and warm sun, but with a pleasantly cooling breeze. We headed down to the beach around low tide, and Susan volunteered to tie herself to our two crazy mutts. It’d been a while since Susan had run with them, so this was an extra-special session for the pups, and Beanie marked it by doing her very best bouncing bomb impersonation as she bounded across the water.


Biggles just powered through it like normal, but all the while the naughtiness center in his brain was encouraging him to forget the running thing and just have a good old fashioned playfight with his sister. Eventually the naughty side won out!






That’s the funny thing about Biggles. When he’s in the house he’s very respectful toward his sis; he’s always doffing his furry ginger hat to Lady Beanie. But outside… a whole different ruleset applies. He instantly becomes bold and playful, and his respect for Beanie is replaced by an irresistible desire to shoulder-barge and wrestle with her. I can’t help smiling when this happens on a run. It’s kind of disruptive if it occurs in the middle of a speed workout, but fun nonetheless!


Unfortunately this great day out on the beach ended with a mild case of “Beagle Tail” for the Beanster. Apparently it’s a kind of whiplash injury to the tail caused by a particularly vigorous shake, often occurring after the Beagle has become very wet. So I guess it could have been this shake..



 ..that did the damage and gave Beanie a sad, droopy tail for the rest of the afternoon. Happily Beanie’s wagger was completely recovered by the next day, but thinking about it, it’s remarkable that neither of our pups have experienced this condition before now. Beanie often gets hyper when she’s wet and shakes very vigorously, and – wet or dry – Biggles sometimes shakes so powerfully that he nearly knocks himself off his own feet!