Mar 20
Dead Sexy
icon1 Paul | icon4 03 20th, 2016| icon38 Comments »

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I don’t know if it’s a result all the attention he got during his recent bout of acid reflux, or some strange side effect of the extra tasty wet/dry food combo that our pups are getting now, but Mr. Biggles has become quite the exhibitionist.  Of course he’s never been shy about displaying his wares in the privacy of our home; if Susan or I sit down next to him with a snack, it’s pretty much a given that he’ll roll onto his back and spread his legs. If we don’t immediately interrupt our meal to acknowledge the visual feast that is his Biggleship’s nethers then he’ll more than likely give us a quick kick with his rear legs as if to say “Hey, check it out! It’s all furry, and it can be yours if I can have a mouthful of whatever’s on your plate.”

Recently however he’s started flaunting his bits outside and in view of complete strangers, and I fear it’s only a matter of time before he gets one of us arrested.  Just the other day he literally brought traffic to a halt with his display. He was on a short local walk with Susan and Beanie when he came upon a bit of farm silage ground into the road. Nature took its course and he fell into a roll. I say “fell” advisedly because he doesn’t lower his shoulder and rotate smoothly into the roll like other doggies; he just stops abruptly and drops straight onto his back with a thud as though he’s been KO’d by an invisible falling brick.

Anyway, there he was in the middle of the road “getting his roll on”, when suddenly a car approached. Susan did her best to tug him back onto his feet, but Biggles wasn’t having it. Instead his innocent roll turned into an X-rated erotic display. Still on his back, he rotated his lower body towards the car and, legs akimbo, began showing his bits for all he was worth. Susan likened it to that scene in the Austin Powers movie when Fat Bastard is in bed with Heather Graham. “Ahhmm dead sexy! Look at ma sexy body!” Apparently if Biggles had thumbs, he’d have been twiddling his nipples at the driver. All six of ’em. Only when he was sure the driver had got a proper eyeful was Biggles prepared to get up and trot back to the pavement.

Anyway, in an effort to lift this post out of the gutter, here are some shots of last week’s walk on Ben Ime, one of the so-called “Arrochar Alps”.

Ben Ime Rocks [IMG_4521]

Despite numerous visits to the Arrochar region we’d never been to the top of Ben Ime, and sadly we still haven’t, but we got high enough to enjoy some decent views of the neighboring mountains.

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Mountains in a row [IMG_4581_IMG_4587]

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Biggles didn’t have the opportunity to show his rude bits to other walkers, but he certainly made sure they could hear him

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Breakfast and snacks for everyone on our return to the Beaglemobile

Feb 29
The Bouncers of Loch Ard
icon1 Paul | icon4 02 29th, 2016| icon33 Comments »

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The Lomond/Trossachs region is famed for its mountain ranges and picturesque lochs, yet despite many visits we’d only seen those lochs from a few thousand feet up while hillwalking. With the Beaglemobile no longer leaking gas like Biggles’ bum and the weather forecasts promising clear skies, we felt the time was right to view one of them from close up. But which one? An extended Googling session pointed to Loch Ard as a good candidate; it was certainly pretty enough, appeared to have a good parking spot for an overnight stay in our campervan, and a number of way-marked walks. It was only after our arrival that we discovered something our research had failed to uncover: Loch Ard is patrolled day and night by two burly swans who don’t take kindly to Beagles.

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The thing is, Beanie and Biggles usually get on famously with birds. Certainly they get on very well indeed with the chicken I carry in my pocket on beach runs, but unfortunately swans differ from chicken in several important ways:

  • they’re bigger
  • they aren’t wrapped in aluminum foil to keep in the juices and flavor
  • they hiss when they get close
  • did I mention that they’re bigger?

It goes without saying that neither Beanie nor Biggles were the least bit afraid of the swans; they are after all experienced apex predators with a long list of kills to their names (only the other day Biggles inflicted a fatal wound to one of Susan’s gym socks). However, they are also the joint owners of two pet humans, and as such they have to be mindful of how we might react to potential scares. Consequently when they sensed growing discomfort from us as the swans grew close and hissed, Beanie and Biggles gently but firmly led us away from the approaching menace. Biggles even realised that in my alarmed state I might not cope well with loud noises, and decided against woofing at the swans. Only the most capable and self-assured Beagle could have suppressed his hunting instincts  and embraced his sensitive and empathetic side like that, and I counted myself very lucky to have his Biggleship (some distance) behind me on our first tentative walk by the loch.

In due course we returned to the Beaglemobile to settle in for the evening. We human types might still be finding our way round the van, but already our pups know it inside out. Biggles has sussed where all the food is stored and loves pottering about on the worktop, no matter how many times we tell him to get down. Beanie has lost her fear of the reversing beep, and has established that the swiveling passenger seat provides the best vantage point in the vehicle, especially if there’s a human already on the seat with an accommodating lap (what’s more, while she’s having a nosy out of the window she tends not mind being cuddled).  The biggest thing we have yet to sort out however is the sleeping arrangements.

In summer it’ll be possible to pop-up the roof and have the pups sleep up there in their crates. In winter temperatures however there’s really no choice but to keep the roof down for better insulation and let Beanie and Biggles sleep with us in the bed. This makes for very cramped sleeping conditions, but during our night by Loch Ard it was surprisingly welcome; the temperature went sub-zero once darkness fell, but we didn’t feel it thanks to our two fur-covered hot water bottles. Of course things got difficult when they started doing their in-bed T’ai Chi routine (“pushing paws” rather than “pushing hands”) but still, at least we never got cold.

The next morning we all stopped off at a little jetty near the start of the loch in time for sunrise. We certainly did get nipped at by the cold here – not to mention almost nibbled by the swans – but nevertheless it was well worth seeing, especially when a thin layer of mist developed over the water.

Too cold for boating [IMG_4363]

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Once my fingers had gone numb and I could no longer operate the camera (it didn’t take long), we set out on an extended walk round along one side of the loch. Unfortunately the weather didn’t live up to the promise of the forecasts, but the walk nevertheless produced two satisfied little sniffers, and Beanie indicated her approval with one of her signature dance routines.

TripleBeanie

On our return to the van I discovered two important things:

  1. Beanie can “spider-Beagle” her way right underneath the van even when on her fixed length walking lead; I got quite a shock when I came up from fixing Biggles’ harness and found that I was temporarily missing a Beagle.
  2. Two muddy Beagles can make a heck of a mess in a campervan in a matter of seconds.

Where normal dog owners might fix that last issue by thoroughly toweling off their dogs before allowing entry, we’re working – or more accurately Susan is working – on a different solution that involves leopard-skin patterned Beagle onesies. To be fair, this could be a pretty good option especially for Biggles, as his tummy has the most remarkable ability to soak up vast quantities of mud. It’ll certainly look cute, so stay tuned for the photos :)

Jan 31

Over the last year our little Beanster has become overly sensitive to uncommon noises. Beeping smoke alarms, the sound of rockets on space films (Interstellar), and even wheelie bins being blown about in the storms we’ve endured recently, have all been enough to put her on red alert. She sits bolt upright, her eyes scanning the ceiling as though looking for the source of the worrying noise, and if it continues, she seeks out the nearest human lap for reassurance. After discussing this with other dog owning neighbors we considered getting her a “Thundershirt“, but it turned out we already have a much cheaper alternative to hand: her Christmas jumper. It doesn’t fit quite as tight as a real Thundershirt and its design isn’t particularly appropriate now that the festive season is well behind us, but it does the job, and unfortunately we’ve had to use it extensively since getting our new campervan.

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Protected by her impenetrable Christmas jumper, Beanie keeps watch from the central console of our camper van

When I say “new”, the camper is a new conversion but the base vehicle is – wait for it – nearly 18 years old. Despite its age, it’s in stunning condition both cosmetically and mechanically, having spent its life on Japan’s much more vehicle-friendly roads. It should be a perfect fit for our impromptu nighttime hill walks and enable us to do more island-hopping than ever before, but as we soon discovered, it has one little drawback: it beeps continuously when reverse gear is selected.

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You’re not putting it in reverse gear again are you Dad?

“Don’t worry” said the guy from Direct Campers in Kilmarnock as he showed us around the vehicle, “it only beeps on the inside. No-one outside the van will hear it”. Well I’m afraid that’s exactly the wrong way round, because one of the furry passengers inside the vehicle has a bad case of beep-phobia. Fortunately the Christmas jumper coupled with judicious use of tasty biccies has enabled us to work around this shocking design flaw. And it is shocking, because everything else about the van seems to have been designed with Beagles in mind.

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The worktop is nice and low down – lower than the one in our caravan – making it easy to jump onto and nick things from!

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And while you’re up on the worktop, you can stick your nose right through the side windows to thoroughly sample the outside air.

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With large windows all round it’s easy for the alert Beagle to keep watch for any illegal activities such as cycling, children with excessively bright jackets, non-Beagle dog walking etc. and respond with appropriate woofing.

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That said, the rear windows are externally reflective so if your Mum happens to be cuddling you like a big silly furry baby, no-one outside need ever know..

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The horn is also readily accessible, so it’s easy to raise the alarm when your teatime meal is late.

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And finally, the vehicle has a deceptively large amount of floor space. This provides somewhere for the humans to sit, because they sure as hell aren’t going to be sitting on the comfy chairs ;)

So we should be all set for some great Beagle adventures in 2016, just so long as we only ever drive forwards, or have a snug-fitting Christmas jumper to hand!

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