Dec 20
Short but not curly
icon1 Paul | icon4 12 20th, 2016| icon32 Comments »

Ever since Susan started winning against her hip osteoarthritis, other OA sufferers have been enouraging her to write a book. The work on that book started some time ago, but intensified massively over the last couple of months as we prepared to submit to Amazon’s self-publishing programme. Part of this preparation included a photoshoot to illustrate the various physiotherapy exercises, and it was while processing the resulting shots that I realized just how often we must leave the house with our clothes covered in pubic hairs. Not our own I hasten to add; we’re both slobs with zero appreciation for fashion, but we do still have some standards! No, I’m talking about Beagle pubes. They’re white, they’re straight rather than curly, and you could technically refer to them as fur rather than hair, but they’re still pubes. I had to digitally remove a ton of them from the calves of Susan’s leggings in each of the book’s seventy-four photos, and I still haven’t a clue how they all got there…

Beanie Humping [IMG_3081]

To break up the tension from all that hard work – in a way that didn’t involve shedding even more short-but-not-curlies – I took the pups on a trip to our favorite destination when the weather is grim: Knock Hill, near Largs.

The very first time we journeyed up the hill we followed the circular route on the WalkHighlands website. This is an absurdly long 13km, much of which is spent on pavements in Largs. We skipped most of the town-based section this time and got straight into the countryside, but still had to run the gauntlet of aggressive free-range chickens on our way through Brisbane Mains farm. Beanie and Biggles really like eating chicken – it might even be their favorite food – but they were very subdued as they came face-to-face with the raw ingredient for all those comestible good times.

After being their staple treat on beach runs for the last six years, the beaglets probably think that all chicken comes pre-cooked, wrapped in foil and buried deep in one of my pockets. Those weird noisy things with sharp beaks? Whatever they were, they weren’t chickens.

The Walkhighlands guide gives the Knock Hill walk a “bog factor” of four out of five. This time around, after days of heavy rain, six out of five would have been closer to the truth. Biggles coped surprisingly well with all the marsh and mud, somehow always finding ground that would support his weight; Beanie – who I normally credit with more smarts – just ploughed straight through it all, going thigh-deep more than once.

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Whatever the weather, the views from Knock Hill are always worth seeing. This time around it was the sunny spotlight on the island of Great Cumbrae that really delivered.

Rays over Great Cumbrae [5D3_3869]

After capturing that light show I was keen to stick around on the summit for a while, but with high winds, rain on its way and a desperate shortage of bone-shaped biscuits, Beanie and Biggles didn’t share my enthusiasm. We had a vote on staying but as often happens I lost by eight paws to none.

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The last biccie meets Biggles’ chewing gear, along with my thumb

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The news that there are no more snacks is not well received by The Beanster

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OK, OK, I get it! We’re going!

By the time we got back to the van we’d been thoroughly drenched by rain; on a more positive note I couldn’t see a single naughty Beagle hair on my trousers thanks to all the mud.

Dec 5

Even by lowly human standards my nose is a poor performer; it can detect quite strong smells – you know, the kind of thing that wafts your way when you’re sat next to a sleepy Beagle – but more subtle things escape it. In spite of this dysfunction, I know for a fact that ground-frost dramatically heightens the nasal allure of discarded food. I gained this knowledge the hard way – by dragging Beanie & Biggles away from things over and over again – and trust me, the dragging has been particularly hard over the last couple of weeks.

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Beanie is always the peskiest offender in this respect. In mild weather she can walk on lead reasonably well until she encounters something edible, at which point she becomes a crazed scavenger, lunging at anything she sees on the pavement. During the recent cold snap however she’s been in scavenger mode on every walk, right from the first slippery step to the last. The worst example of this came when I foolishly chose to take our party along the main road out of our village.

The route takes us by many Beagle points of interest such as bins, front gardens, lamp poles and so on, and the resulting stoppages have led us to rename this stretch of road “Muck-about Street”. However on one particularly cold morning the pesk level was dialled right up to eleven, thanks to a discarded takeaway meal. I never managed to identify exactly what the meal had contained, but the packaging suggested that it was Chinese in origin; regardless, Beanie wanted it really, really badly. My first thought was to dodge round it by walking on the road, but a constant stream of cars made this impossible. If I’d been smart, I’d have simply held my ground until a break in the cars opened up, but as it was I decided to pin Beanie & Biggles to my side and frog-march them past as quickly as I could. Unsurprisingly I wasn’t fast enough and Beanie managed to get a solid grip on the bag of frozen goodies. Past experience has taught me the futility of trying to manually extract a takeway bag from her jaws; the bag tears open, spilling its contents all over the path, and suddenly there’s not one but two Beagles with their mouths stuffed full of forbidden items. Instead I went for speed approach: break into a sprint, dragging Beanie & Biggles behind me in the hope that either the bag or its contents would eventually fall out of reach.

Beanie knew what I was doing; she hung back as best she could, digging her paws into the pavement and clinging on desperately to the bag. Unfortunately for her, Biggles got into the spirit of things (he always loves a sprint) and shot past me on his lead to provide an extra burst of acceleration. This dragged The Beanster into motion and I was certain she’d have to ditch the bag any second; it was just too big for her to carry out in front and still keep up. However, she quickly found a solution to the problem: keeping her jaws tightly anchored on the top of the bag, she rested her front paws on its lower half. It was almost like her front end was surfing on top of the takeaway, with her little rear legs working extra hard to keep up as she was dragged along. She kept going like this for several yards before friction finally destroyed the bag. I saw the panic in her eyes as the contents spilled out and fell behind us, leaving her clutching nothing but shredded polythene. Victory was mine, but Beanie shot me her best Clint-Eastwood-style mean look and suddenly I didn’t feel like celebrating. She went into Greta-Garbo mode for the rest of the morning, only emerging from her custom-made bed to slurp from my unguarded coffee cup.

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Beanie in Garbo mode. Those WOOFs on her bed are back to front; they should actually read “FOOW” – an acronym for “F-Off Outside World”

Oct 14

Beanie has just had her ninth birthday. According to an age/weight table that Pets At Home sent us, that makes her somewhere between 52 and 56 years old in dog years, and puts her into the “senior” age bracket. I must admit that as her birthday was approaching it occurred to me that there are more years behind her now than ahead. Happily Beanie herself doesn’t know or care about any of that, as a birthday romp on the beach ably demonstrated.

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As usual Beanie is the first to be let off lead.

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Also as usual, Biggles is so eager to join her that he pulls and wriggles, making it harder to unclip him!

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Finally the Bigglet is unleashed, and races after his sister..

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On the way back for a chicken top-up, Beanie spots Biggles coming in for a high speed shoulder barge..

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She slams on the brakes..

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And his Biggleship’s plan is foiled yet again

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Senior or not, no-one gets to blindside the Beanster!

We got the dynamic duo back on lead just before anyone got ideas about chasing little birds all the way to Troon, and I took them on a long jog further up the beach and back. Even on lead, Beanie still managed to nab a small dead crab (she looks so cute with little legs flapping on either side of her jaws) and Biggles got a big tasty mouthful of horse poo. A couple of hours later the crab and poo were joined by a big helping of sardine cake.

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When I was a kid there was a kind of ritual that accompanied the consumption of certain foods. With fish fingers for example, the upper and lower breadcrumb layers had to be stripped off and eaten before tackling the remaining body of fish. The procedure was reversed with any kind of sandwich biscuit; after carefully plying the two halves apart it was the sugary filling that had to go first. It turns out that Beanie & Biggles have food rituals too. In the case of sardine cake, the natural yoghurt topping must be licked off slowly and with precision, then finally the body of the cake has to be speed swallowed (chewing is frowned upon, and if you take more than 10 seconds to put it away you’re a wuss).

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Beanie & Biggles already have an impressively large toy collection, but birthday tradition demands yet more. One day in Pets at Home we saw this little orange tuggable fox with a squeaky bit, a crinkly bit, and a rattling bit and.. well it just kind of dropped into the shopping basket. While we were distracted by the fox, someone with a big white bottom boinged a pig ear from the shelf speed ate it, so we had to give another one to Beanie. I left it to Susan to explain to the checkout staff that two ears had to be added to our bill even though there was by now no trace of them.

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Of course the one rule in our house that can never be broken is that if one puppy gets, the other puppy gets too.

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And if you’re the birthday girl, you get to play with both toys because of Beanie’s long-standing “what’s yours is mine” addendum.

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Don’t let all this birthday indulgence lead you to believe that Beanie & Biggles lead spoiled lives of luxury however! You have no idea just how many hardships they have to face on a daily basis:

  • On mornings they are grudgingly allowed into the big bed, but they have to share it with two humies.
  • Sometimes when a covering blankie is required, the paw signal goes unnoticed for several seconds and a grumbling noise that sounds like a smothered fart must be issued to remedy the situation.
  • No assistance is offered when a Beagle has to turn himself/herself during an intense napping session.
  • Mealtimes are often really, really late. Like minutes late. Seriously.

In fact when you consider what a tough life Beanie’s had, it’s hard to believe she’s made it to the grand age of nine years old!

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Happy Birthday Beanie! Double-digits next year!

 

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