Dec 6
Wax on, wax off
icon1 Paul | icon4 12 6th, 2015| icon32 Comments »

I’m happy to report that with the exception of the bombsite that is my desk, our house is clean & tidy and ready for Christmas. It hasn’t been at all easy to get it that way however.

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One of the things we’ve had to struggle against is the weather. Ever since the UK’s Met Office decided to start naming storms, we’ve had a rapid succession of ’em. Storm “Abigail” threatened to tear off part of the fence at the bottom of our garden and created a lovely muddy paddling pool for Beanie & Biggles, who naturally did their level best to bring most of it into the house.

Another named storm decided to strike on a day when we had a beach run. Trying to run against a 60mph headwind is pretty taxing in itself, but it’s even harder when the two Beagles you’re holding are struggling to get over to a large dead cow the tide has just washed in. When we finally got back from that one I honestly don’t know who was wetter and muckier – me or the Beagles – but I had zero energy left for house chores. Or at least, that was my excuse.

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Of course the other agents of chaos working against our Christmas preparations were Beanie & Biggles themselves, especially when it came to sprucing up our furniture.

After enduring so many damp, dirty Beagle tummies and bottoms we felt it was time to treat our leather seats to a bit of yuletide TLC. Following extensive online research I purchased a tub of “Renapur Leather Balsam”, and was impressed at how this waxy substance immediately softened, restored and protected the leather, just as promised in the advertising blurb. I was less impressed when another of its attributes came to light – something that had been mentioned neither in the advert nor in the scores of positive reviews on Amazon. Specifically, it’s really, really tasty. So tasty in fact that the instant a human rubs into a leather surface, a Beagle tongue sets about removing it.

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In our house Beagle bedtime is announced by the phrase “Who’s ready for final wees?”
No matter how tightly wrapped in blankies they are, or how deep asleep they seem to be, Beanie & Biggles will always come running for this phrase because they know that after they’ve taken care of business in the garden, they’ll get tucked up in their crates with a dental chew. After all, what could possibly be better than getting a dental chew in your private den?

Well, obviously Susan’s homemade chicken soup is better, because that makes the two Bs wail and woof outside the kitchen in anticipation. And getting a dollop of natural yoghurt on their kibble is better, because that makes it really difficult for them to sit still in a “wait” when their bowls are put down. Also, a cube of dried fish skin has to be pretty darn good because it makes Beanie & Biggles tolerate me brushing their teeth. Come to think of it, quite a lot of things are better than getting a dental chew in one’s crate, and Renapur Leather Balsam is clearly one of them, because the other night when I said the bedtime phrase, only Biggles showed up and I found Beanie getting yet another wax-licking fix from the sofa.

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Let’s just hope that Beagle saliva is good for leather, because there’s bugger-all chance of keeping any of that wax stuff on it!

Nov 22
The Lap Habit
icon1 Paul | icon4 11 22nd, 2015| icon34 Comments »

This year Guy Fawkes Night landed on a Thursday, and due to its proximity to the weekend the fireworks kept flying over four nights or so, terrifying livestock, horses and one otherwise confident little Beagle called Beanie.

I can’t complain really, because we get off pretty lightly out here in Ayrshire; when we lived in Glasgow the whizz-bangs could keep going intermittently almost through to Christmas.  Still, those nasty pops and bangs made our little girl very nervy and clingy. On the evening of November the 5th itself I ended up trying to work at my computer with Beanie glued to my lap, her chin slumped over my mouse-hand and her rear end trembling away. Biggles sought refuge next to my legs under the desk, but to be honest I think he was troubled more by Beanie’s reaction than the fireworks themselves. I did my best not to fall into the trap of actively offering reassurance to either of them, but it wasn’t easy.

When the fireworks fizzled out Beanie remained on a hair-trigger for a further ten days or so. Any loud sound – thunder, heavy rain, even the bin lorry doing its rounds – would send her scurrying onto my lap. The terrible thing is, I really enjoyed it. Right after jumping up (and occasionally jabbing a rear paw into my unmentionables)  she’d put her arms either side of my neck and shower my face in little wet nose kisses. Then she’d choose her resting position according to the severity of the perceived threat: a formal “sit” facing away from me for a yellow alert, and slumped across my lap with her head pinning my right arm for a double-red alert.

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During a series of day-time yellow alerts Beanie came to realize that my lap is a really great place for snooping on the neighbors (one of her favorite pastimes) and now the habit seems to have stuck. At least once a day, whether there’s an unexplained loud noise or not, I can pretty much count on getting some Beanie lap time. I’ve probably had more displays of affection from her in the last few weeks than in the ten months prior.

That’s not the only change in recent weeks though, because our days have become noisier and more entertaining thanks to the purchase of a cheap rug for the front lounge. The rug was originally intended as an alternative to an exercise mat, allowing both Susan and myself to do foam rolling and other tedious physical rehab while watching the TV. The thing is, we humies scarcely ever get to use the rug, because it’s been re-assigned as a Beagle resource.

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Apparently it’s the perfect surface for blankie tug-o-war, for indulgent rolling and tummy-tickles, and for impromptu naps.

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So, you want to use the rug to do some stretches and trigger-point therapy?
No, sorry, it’s booked until teatime.

Oct 29

Humans say “trick OR treat” – implying the two choices are mutually exclusive – but if you’re a little Beagle boy you really can have both.

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Biggles demonstrated this to us a couple of nights ago when returning from his evening walk. Just as he trotted up our drive with Susan and The Beanster, he spotted a little poo-present left by one of the local cats.

It was a wholly unexpected find. Biggles regularly hurls verbal abuse at every moggy he sees, except that is for the one at the nearby farm, because that one is really big and scary and could probably beat him up. And yet, despite all that inflammatory woofing, one public-spirited feline still decided to leave a little poo as a belated birthday gift for his lordship. Or maybe it was for his sister Beanie, given that her birthday was more recent, but the fact is that Biggles found the poo first and therefore, under all accepted versions of the Beagle Book of Law, it was his, and he pounced on it.

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Where a less experienced Beagle might simply have swallowed it whole, Biggles snacked on only a part of it, thus getting the “treat” part of the Halloween combo while still keeping enough left over for the “trick”. Once safely inside the house, he waited until his lead was unclipped then marched to the rug in our hall. The rug is a chaotic  mix of dark and light coloured rectangles, but Biggles knew he had to target one of the lighter bits if the trick was to be truly successful. Before anybody could stop him, he spat out the remainder of the cat poo, lowered his shoulder and started to fall into a roll. I say “fall”, because his rolling technique isn’t what you’d call a precision manoeuvre. Nevertheless he managed to hit the poo square-on with his shoulder, not only rubbing it into his fur, but also into a cream-coloured portion of our rug. Perfect! Treat AND trick, all from the same bit of poo. And Beanie never got a single bit of it.

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