Biggles’ Great Bed Expedition of 2013

Say the word “expedition” and you probably think of legendary explorers such as Magellan, Marco Polo, Edmund Hilary, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong. Now you have to add Biggles to that illustrious list, because he’s just come back from an adventure of Beagle proportions in our local Pets At Home store. He didn’t bring back potatoes, or tobacco, or set foot on a new world, but he did return with a pair of exceptionally comfy beds for himself and his sister.

Although he really likes his crate in our bedroom, he hasn’t been at all happy with the bed inside it. Originally he had a big super-comfy paw-shaped bed just like Beanie, but recently we had to throw that out after it got a bit wet. Well, a lot wet actually. I don’t want to start a rumor that Biggles – who’s going to be 5 years old later this month – still wets his bed but.. well it’s like this. If you send him out into the garden to “do his business” you’d better hope he doesn’t get distracted by anything before said business is completed, because there can be.. repercussions. After one too many goes in the washing machine his old bed was finished, so I bought him a new one from Amazon. I got the best reviewed and most economical replacement I could find, but you know what they say: buy cheap, buy twice. It doesn’t fit his crate too well and the stuffing has already lost a lot of its spring, and his lordship was stiff and uncomfortable when he got up this morning. Time to get something better!

We decided to take him on a solo outing to Pets At Home to try out a few of their beds. It was far from his first time in the store, but it was his first time in there without his pesky sister. The bedding section was towards the rear, and I have to say it took a while to get there. For some reason, we experienced quite a few delays in the cat aisle..

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Cats have loads of cool stuff that dogs don’t.

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I mean look at this! You can get your head right in it!

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And here’s another one in a different color!

Progress was slow in the food section too. Ever helpful, Biggles wanted to make sure that none of the big bags of kibble had split and spilled their contents at the back of the shelves. I mean, if the staff had missed such a spillage they could soon have a mouse problem on their hands, and no-one wants that, right?

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No, nothing here…

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Or here. Bugger.

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Aha! Now you’re talking. No need to worry the staff about this, I’ll take care of it.

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I don’t know what’s in there, but I’d like to be right in there with it..

At long last we did make it to the bedding section. A lot of the beds were like the one I’d bought; filled with low quality stuffing that wouldn’t provide any decent support. I found one by Wainwright that was better, and although not cheap it did come with a detachable bone-shaped pillow. Biggles seemed to think that it was OK, but nothing to write home about.

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Then Susan spotted a good deal on Pets At Home’s own brand memory foam mattress. It seemed much more substantial than any of the other bedding. The price included a cover of our choice, and we could also get a waterproof liner to keep the mattress safe from any, er, wetness. The only downside was that it was apparently filled with “crumbs”, and Biggles had already demonstrated how he deals with crumbs in the food aisle.

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Despite that slight concern we decided to give it a go. It was easily the best bedding in the store, and quite reasonably priced. Of course we couldn’t get a brand new uber-comfy bed for Biggles and not get one for Beanie too, so we loaded up with two of everything and headed straight for the tills before we could be tempted by anything else.

Back at home, we made up the beds and plonked them on the sofas for testing. Biggles immediately took to his and within barely two minutes of getting on it, he was on his way to the Land of Nod.

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From awake..

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To snoozing.. in barely 120 seconds! Can’t be bad!

Beanie took a little longer to nod off, but soon she too succumbed.

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For the rest of the afternoon it was as if both of them had been drugged. No bouts of restlessness, no noisy bed telling-off incidents. Obviously only time will tell if these new beds are all they’re cracked up to be (and don’t get nibbled for the crumbs they contain) but I have to say they’re off to a good start.

Invasion of the Beanie Snatchers

Biggles is scared. Really scared. And with good reason, because aliens have kidnapped his sister Beanie and left a strange duplicate in her place!  It seems that only Biggles is aware of this, no doubt because his finely honed hunting senses allow him to detect things that humans cannot. To make it easier, look very carefully at the following two images.

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The real Beanie

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Alien duplicate Beanie

Do you spot the difference? It’s not obvious at first, but it turns out that alien duplicates can be recognized by the whopping great blue things around their necks. Given that the aliens already have Beanie it’s surely only a matter of time before they come for Biggles too. The only defense is to stay alert and above all stay awake!

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Must stay awake!

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Must.. not.. fall.. asleep

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Bugger!

The truth of course is that Beanie hasn’t been kidnapped by aliens, but she has been forced to wear an Elizabethan collar to stop her licking the paw she injured just before her birthday. The original injury – a tweaked nail –  healed quickly but somehow she developed a licking habit and in the space of a day managed to strip most of the fur off the affected digit. I don’t know what caused the licking frenzy; maybe it was frustration at missing her regular exercise, or maybe it was me bathing her paw in brine to ward off infection. Regardless, I was eager to avoid yet another vet bill so I took The Beanster for a quick trip to our local Pets At Home, where I purchased the blue cone of shame. While at the shop, and although hampered by a very sorry looking digit, Beanie still managed to charm the shop staff out of three treats and convince me to part with yet more hard earned cash for a pair of antlers. Yes, you read that right: antlers.

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These things are the first chew toy I’ve found that reliably holds both Beanie & Biggles’ attention yet lasts for more than one session. It seems to be the cores of the antlers that our pups like the most. I dunno if they’ll hold their allure once the easily accessible bits have gone, but they’ve already helped break Beanie’s licking addiction while giving her a break from the collar.

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The collar: not Beanie’s favorite purchase from the local pet shop

Both Beanie and Biggles have had to wear e-collars in the past (for their neutering ops and so on) but those were colorless and wholly transparent contraptions. The collar I bought should have been a step up from those vet-provided ones: it’s more compact and both the neck side and the open side are padded. However, Susan felt that the color and patterning on the new collar might reduce the unfortunate wearer’s peripheral vision, and I must admit Beanie seemed rather subdued when it was on. Still the collar certainly did its job: the licking has mostly stopped, Beanie is now free of the collar and back to her normal bossy self, and Biggles can finally sleep without fear of alien attack.

A Very Special Delivery!

There’s nothing like a delivery to brighten up a wet and overcast Saturday morning!

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Beanie & Biggles haven’t learned to read yet so they were oblivious to the fact that this package was addressed to them. They were likewise oblivious to other labeling on the package, such as the words “Please keep me this way up” and “Fragile”.

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That’s not “logistics”, that’s Beanie & Biggles.

I guess that’s why you rarely see Beagles working as couriers. Regardless, within a few seconds the outer packaging was compromised and Biggles got his first good sniff at the contents. He immediately decided that this delivery was for him alone and started dragging it down into the corridor by our bedroom. We call this the “corridor of doom” because anything that goes down there is highly prized and unlikely to last for long. We took this as a sign that the box was full of very nice edibles. Well, either that or smelly socks. Needless to say we rescued the box from his Biggleship and began unpacking it with rather more care and self-restraint than either of our Beagles could have managed.

Inside the box was a bumper bundle of tasties from The Beagle’s Bakery – a new shop specializing in handmade gourmet biscuits, cakes and cupcakes for dogs. Before we called in Beanie & Biggles to carry out a taste test, we took a good close look at each of the items.

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Boxes within boxes, and two bags of very tasty looking biccies

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Inside the boxes we found a big cake personalized for our two woofers, and four mouth watering doggy cupcakes and muffins

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Everything fully unpacked. Suddenly feeling hungry? We certainly were!

Everything was beautifully and professionally packaged, and each product came with a card giving its name, ingredients and shelf-life. Any time I’ve taken a look through the ingredient list of typical pet-shop treats I’ve seen lots of dodgy “filler” substances like ash, anonymous coloring agents and so on. There was nothing like that here; The Beagle’s Bakery prides itself on using only top quality, dog-safe natural ingredients and it shows. As we unpacked each of the items both of us became distinctly peckish. They all just looked and smelled so good.. I’ve never felt that way about dog treats before!

Of course it’s all very well having treats that whet the human appetite, but what really counts is how tasty they are to doggies. People who’ve seen Beanie & Biggles in action might accuse them of not having very discerning palates. Their definition of “edible” is much broader than ours, and includes things that are repulsive to most humans such as two day old dog poo (although even they draw the line at PotNoodle).  However having survived life with them now for several years we’re able to recognize the behavioral cues that indicate a food’s ranking. So let’s see how the Beagle’s Bakery samples shaped up.

Heart-shaped Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Heart Biscuit

Beanie’s “leave” command is normally pretty solid, but it came close to breaking for these biscuits, and she actually drooled (very rare for The Beanster). Definitely tastier than your average biccie!

Flapjack

Flapjack

Biggles’ entire lower half was wagging so much for these flapjacks that he could hardly keep his bum on the seat. Definitely a hit with the Bigglet!

 

Chocolate Pupcake

Chocolate Pupcake

Note the intent look on Beanie’s face. Really tasty food is a serious matter, and this pupcake was seriously tasty

Wuffin
When you stick a muffin in your woofer, it’s called a Wuffin!

Wuffin

My lighting stands were endangered by this wuffin as the wagging reached epic proportions

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The gob-stopper! Biggles tried to swallow it whole for a few seconds before he reluctantly admitted defeat and resorted to chewing.

Doggy Chocolate Celebration Cake

I’ve saved the biggest and best item – the Celebration Cake – for last, though in reality it was the first to get (partially) eaten.

Once we’d got everything laid out on the table, and before the official taste tests began, I wanted to get a shot of our Beagles getting their first look at all the goodies. Susan brought in Biggles first and instantly there was chaos. Even with Susan’s hand firmly gripping his collar, our powerful little boy managed to boing up to the table and grab a nibble of cake!

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Biggles struggles to decide which treat to target. Will it be the flapjacks?

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Nope, it’s the cake! This was taken a millisecond after his mouth scored a hit on one of the bones surrounding the celebration cake. The last time I saw wild eyes like that was in a Bruce Lee film!

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And here’s the damage. It was lucky we got a shot of the cake before The Bigglet took a nibble out of it!

We decided against trying to get photos of Beanie & Biggles with the cake after that; it’s clearly the nuke in the Beagle’s Bakery arsenal! When all the shooting was finished and our two pups had calmed down, Susan served a slice of cake up for them in their bowls. There was almost complete silence as they ate it. In our house, that’s the mark of something really, really tasty, and its typically reserved only for Susan’s home-made chicken soup (we get hours of plaintive wailing at the kitchen door during preparation, then merciful silence during the actual feeding).

And finally..

All the treats were a hit with Beanie & Biggles, but the cake was the clear favorite. Susan’s done home baking for our pups before but we’ve never had this kind of reaction, so The Beagle’s Bakery has definitely hit the mark in the taste department. As a bonus their stuff is visually & nasally appealing to us humans too; I know that shouldn’t matter of course, but it does. Looking through the website the prices seem very reasonable; the doggy gift packs you see in supermarkets and pet shops aren’t much cheaper but they’re typically full of junk while these treats are made only with top notch natural ingredients.

What’s more there seems to be the option to personalize nearly everything, not just the cake; you can even order up a jar full of bone-shaped biscuits with your dog’s name stamped into them. I’m certain I’ll be ordering something when The B’s birthdays come along.. but what? I’m attracted by the cake and love the idea of personalized biscuits, but still I just can’t get over the sight of Biggles with a whole Wuffin jammed in his cakehole!

Visit the Beagle’s Bakery here: http://www.thebeaglesbakery.co.uk