The Re-Sniffing

Running is all very well, but sometimes you need to take your time if you want to fully appreciate the sights and smells a place has to offer. For this reason we revisited part of the River Ayr trail for a thorough re-sniffing at walking pace.

Almost as soon as we arrived Beanie & Biggles indulged their latest habit of walking along the tops of walls.


Beanie got a bit of shock when she realised that she was actually quite high up and there was a sheer drop into the river on the other side. Her finely tuned reactions caused her immediately to brace herself against a possible fall:


Bloody hell that’s a long way down!

As always, Biggles was completely oblivious to such dangers. Only recently we were walking around the big pond at Irvine Beach Park when he fell in. How he managed it is a mystery but one second there was a dry Bigglet walking confidently along the side, and a second later there was a wet Bigglet bobbing up and down in the water, waiting for me to haul him back onto dry land. There’s no way his Biggleship is equipped to survive in the wilds without his support team! This time however no rescue was required. We made it off the wall, past the first signs of new growth (without peeing or trampling on any flowers), and on to the first section of the walk without any incidents.






The way I see it, a good walk should include the three ‘S’s:

1. Scrambling



2. Sniffing


Some sniffs must be pursued eagerly..


..while others deserve to be sampled calmly and at length

3. Scampering


I’m happy to report that this walk delivered in all respects, and though it was still a bit wet and muddy in places, the two furry tummies stayed relatively dry.




We’ve reached the turning point, and the white bits are still mostly white…

Ticked Off!

Back in June we all went up Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran. On the ferry back, a couple we got talking to warned us to check Beanie & Biggles for ticks; apparently Arran has a big population of these unpleasant little critters. We carried out a half-arsed examination of our two pups but unsurprisingly found nothing, so the whole subject was completely forgotten.

A couple of days later, it became apparent that our tick search should have been much more thorough. Now fully engorged on our dogs’ blood, they were really easy to spot. Beanie had one on her eyebrow and one on her neck, while Biggles had a couple in the area around his naughty bits! We didn’t have a proper tick tool, so I grabbed a pair of tweezers and proceeded with the extraction. It was actually quite easy to remove Beanie’s ticks, because she held very still while I got a good grip, twisted and pulled. As far as I could see I got both ticks out fully (without leaving behind their mouth parts) though they kind of exploded from the pressure of the tweezers once I’d got them clear of Beanie. It was way, way harder to remove Biggles’ ticks. He’s never liked anybody, human or dog, messing about around his joy department and he wriggled about like a thing possessed. Trying to bullseye ticks with the tweezers while he was struggling like that was difficult in the extreme. It would have been easier to play “Operation” on the top of a washing machine doing its spin cycle. Anyway I eventually pulled the ticks, or at least their bodies, off my boy and happily neither our two dogs nor us suffered any ill effects.

The experience convinced me that we needed a proper tick extraction tool, so I hunted about on Amazon for a bit and eventually ended up with an “O’Tom Tick Twister‘.


It was the only device that didn’t seem to be a variation on tweezers and had good reviews. I popped it in our doggy care kit and promptly forgot about it – until yesterday that is! A couple of days ago we had a long walk around Culzean Castle, and then yesterday Susan spotted a tick on Biggles as he rolled over for a tummy tickle. Curiously it had chosen to attach itself to his nether regions again. Biggles’ nethers have always attracted other male dogs, but now they’re clearly a magnet for ticks as well. It’s a hard life being a Bigglet.

I went to get the tick twister, while Susan prepared to put our new Biggles handling routine to the test. Happily both the twister and the handling worked beautifully. Biggles struggled for a couple of secs then calmed right down, allowing me to go to work unhassled.

The twister kit contains two different sized plastic er.. well, let’s call them “forks” for want of a better term.


The idea is to slide the appropriate sized fork in around the tick’s attachment point. Once the tick’s mouth is securely gripped by the “V” of the fork, twist slightly and pull the nasty little critter off your dog. When I tried this on Biggles it worked perfectly! The tick came away intact and alive, so I wrapped it in toilet paper, squished it and gave it a burial at sea (flushed the bugger down the loo).

So now we’ve got a tick remover that really works and a little boy that doesn’t mind us handling him as long as we go about it the right way. We do however still have a spoiled little girl who tends to get stroppy if she doesn’t get her own way. We’ve been taking care to win all our little battles with her, but she still vocalizes her indignation when her demands aren’t met, as evidenced by this photo from our visit to Culzean:


Beanie seeks an answer from the heavens! It’s time for more treats but the humans aren’t taking the hint! Why??!!!

A couple more shots from our dreary but still enjoyable day at Culzean:





Crouching Beagle, Hidden Poo

In our never-ending quest to find sort-of-safe places to let our Beagles off-lead we paid a visit to Pier Park in Dumbarton on Saturday. We’ve been there many times before for training with the Lomond Flyball Club, but it occurred to us that it could be pretty good for regular walks too. On paper it ticks nearly all the boxes:

  • it’s big enough for a good run-around, yet small enough that we can quickly intervene in cases of extreme naughtiness
  • although it’s not fenced all round, there are natural barriers like Dumbarton Castle, the sea, and the solid brick wall of the adjoining bowling club
  • there’s only one way into it (and therefore, one would think, only one way out) and even if the dogs do escape they’re a good distance from the nearest main road
  • it never seems to get very busy
  • it’s got a truly beautiful view out to the sea

Even with all that going for it, we decided to start with our two on their long, thin training lines. As it turned out, that was a good move. Literally within the first minute Beanie discovered a gap between the fence around the sea-front and the bowling club wall. The gap is completely covered in foliage, but nevertheless Beanie went straight to it and squeezed through. Escape is Beanie’s Kung Fu, and it is strong.

If she hadn’t been on her training line she’d either have ended up putting her swimming skills to the ultimate test in the open sea or wandering along the bank to a nearby abandoned industrial complex that’s full of things that a Beagle shouldn’t eat but probably would. I went to help Susan haul Beanie Houdini back into the park, but stupidly forgot that Biggles (who up to this point had been a model of good behavior) was also on his training line and was able to follow his sister. Which he did. We retrieved Beanie and then I gave a good yank on Biggles’ line. After a moment he emerged with his harness pulled up to the back of his neck, and one of his front paws strapped to his head in a Benny Hill-style salute.

Needless to say we thought better of going for the full off-lead experience, and after a bit of walking and some retrieval games we called it quits and headed a little further down the road to Balloch Country Park.  Drenched in sunlight, and with the colors of Autumn all around, I can honestly say it’s the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen.




And apparently it smells pretty good, too…





But the world must have balance, and so after the rich beauty of Balloch Country Park we returned home to our postage stamp of a garden that was in dire need of a thorough tidy up and grass cutting.

In our garden every grass cutting session is preceded by a thorough lawn inspection and poo collection. The inspection part is needed to lift up any stones, toys or other debris that wouldn’t react well to the fast spinning metal blade of our lawn mower. The poo collection part is also needed because our Beaglets have become adept at concealing their waste in the thicker patches of grass. This presents two obvious hazzards; the unexpected and unpleasant squelching underfoot as the lawn is being mowed, and the air pollution that occurs when the blade slices through a lump of hidden poo that has been allowed to “mature”. As I discovered to my cost, there’s also a third hazzard..

Our lawn mower is one of those electric, rotary types that throws the cut grass into a rear-mounted basket. If the grass is a little too moist or if the basket gets a little too full before it is emptied, the path from the blade housing to the basket becomes choked and has to be freed up by hand. The lawnmower has a number of safeguards that prevent the accidental loss of fingers during this process, but the one thing it can’t protect against is the brown stuff. Now I won’t go into the sordid details but just to set the scene.. have you ever found yourself in a public loo trying to wipe your arse and discovered that there’s just one solitary, weak and wafer-thin sheet of loo paper left on the roll?