Jun 1
Beeping Scary
icon1 Paul | icon4 06 1st, 2015| icon38 Comments »

It’s funny how Beanie & Biggles get frightened by completely different things, despite having lived with us since early puppy-hood and gone through much the same socialization process. From a fear point of view Biggles is definitely our most robust Beagle. He’ll happily sound off at much larger dogs and cattle/horses even though one might some day break free of its restraints and pay him a visit; he isn’t the least bit wary of cars and large vehicles (I kind of wish he was); and he isn’t even all that troubled by thunder or fireworks.

He is however very much afraid of fire, fast flowing water, and gappy floor surfaces. Quite often when the local farmers have a bonfire going we have put our heads down and sprint to get past it without any panics. On our recent visit to Castle Stalker it took us a good five minutes and numerous biscuits to get across 50 yards of unevenly planked bridge.

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I should also mention that he once got scared by Beanie’s squeaky squirrel toy when it wrapped itself round a leg during a play session.

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But big vicious green and yellow alligators? No problem for The Bigglet.

By contrast, Beanie has a much longer list of things that put her on red alert. Loud fireworks and thunderstorms are in joint first place, but below that we have: people dressed as Santa Claus, wheelie bins on the move, flapping bin bags, indistinct figures moving in foggy / misty conditions, and our uber-powerful vacuum cleaner which we refer to as The Sniffy Monster.

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The world can be a scary place if your name is Beanie

Just recently two new things made it onto her list. The first, rather oddly, is the sci-fi movie Interstellar. Now I should point out that the Beanster has long been my most hardy movie watching companion. She’s grumbled, snored and farted her way through the director’s cut of The Exorcist. Paranormal Activity didn’t bother her in the slightest, and Insidious couldn’t distract her from the pile of monkey nuts I was snacking when we saw it on DVD for the first time.

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No amount of Paranormal Activity troubles The Pupplet, and The Exorcist just reminds her of that time she ate far too many frozen peas

However Interstellar – with its paltry “12” rating – had her making a hasty departure from the movie sofa to go and sit shaking on Susan’s lap in another room. The emergency evacuation came shortly after a spacecraft launch sequence, so I figure it was down to a particular sound frequency in that scene. Maybe she thought it was thunder, yet film sequences containing actual thunder don’t worry her at all. Go Figure.

So Interstellar is actually a horror film, but it’s still less scary than Beanie’s other new phobia: devices beeping intermittently because their batteries are dying. It’s happened twice in recent weeks.

The first occurrence was with a smoke alarm in our house; I was immersed in work and that periodic water-torture “beep” was going off for maybe an hour before it finally drove me to do something about it. When I did I discovered little Beanie sitting still and tense, backed into a corner by the front door.  I felt bad that the alarm had been troubling her for all that time, but a couple of weeks later the battery in our carbon monoxide detector died and we weren’t even aware of the beeping for half a day or more. Beanie presumably could hear it every single time it went off. Instead of cowering by the door she became very clingy, wanting to stay by Susan and sit on her lap. It was only when one of us happened to visit the utility room (home of the detector) just as a beep went off that we realized what was worrying Her Little Furry Highness.

Needless to say I now have a stockpile of long lasting 9v batteries ready for future emergencies, but some bright spark needs to create ear-defenders that worried little Beagles can wear whenever there’s a scary noise.

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I’d be quite happy for Beanie to borrow my ambient-cancelling headphones..

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But they just don’t fit that well over silky Beagle lug flaps. Poor design if you ask me!

May 16
Algae Agony
icon1 Paul | icon4 05 16th, 2015| icon32 Comments »

A terrible tragedy has befallen Beanie and Biggles. Actually, since they haven’t run out of dog food, rawhide chews or dried fish pieces I suppose you could argue that it isn’t that terrible a tragedy, but it certainly is cramping their style. You see their favorite beach is out of bounds due to high levels of toxic algae in shellfish on the Ayrshire coast. The local councils haven’t made a big deal out of it; there are little paper notices up at the beaches warning against eating shellfish, but you have to look for them, and I’ve seen many dog walkers out on the sand as normal – either through ignorance or choice – apparently without any dire consequences. None of them have Beagles however.

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Even if I kept our two out of the water and on lead while running at (for me) a decent pace, both of them would still manage to grab shells and assorted washed up sea food. Any time Biggles drops behind for a second, you can pretty much guarantee that he’s just picked something up, or is having a pee, or both. More often than not when I look round I see little crab legs dangling from his mouth, or a razor shell getting crunched in half in his jaws. As for Beanie, well she’s become so fast at snatching and swallowing things that if I don’t spot a hazard while it’s still two yards away, it’s going down the hatch.

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I did my best to explain to them what algae is, but I don’t think they really understood, as evidenced by their joint suggestion on how to defend themselves against it.

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While blankies work well for fireworks and thunderstorms, they’re totally ineffective against marine toxins

So I’ve used one of those cloud-based page-watch services to alert me when the local restriction on shellfish is lifted, and we’ve just finished our first completely beach-free week since the dreaded palm-oil problem last year. In the meantime we’re making up for the loss with extra trips to the poo-filled dog enclosure at Troon (best avoided when I’m due to brush their teeth later in the day), runs on the grass at the beach-park, and play sessions on our rear lawn.

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So it could be much worse. But lets just hope that sea food is back on the menu soon, or we could be facing protests from the furry party.

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Apr 26

So far we’ve had icy cold, bogs, naughty room training and a tick, but no fire; that came our visit to Castle Stalker in Appin, the final adventure of our Highland trip. This short and flat walk starts out in a layby, and takes you across a long, low and very narrow wooden bridge. During particularly high tides even the bridge can be submerged beneath the surface of Loch Laich, but on this occasion it was thoroughly dry. It was however still a challenge to get to the other side, because the planks going across it are widely spaced, and Biggles does not like that one little bit.

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He seemed OK for the first few yards, but then he dug his front paws in and froze. Rather than simply picking him up and carrying him, Susan just gently coaxed him along. It took a while. A long, long while.

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But eventually he made it, and immediately returned to his normal cocky self as we walked along the shore by the castle. Other dog walkers and photographers all received a stern woofing! I love the way my boy can instantly put bad experiences behind him; it’s a good way to be.

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The area around the castle is renowned for spectacular sunsets, but this evening was colorless and grey. I took a few long exposure shots, the sunset came and went behind the clouds, and I was all ready to pack up when some of the clouds started to pink up. I kept taking shots and a few minutes later it looked like the sky behind the castle was on fire.

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From grey…

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To spectacularly colorful, and all this well after the official sunset time. Click the above pano to see a larger image.

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The colorful show continued long after sunset, with the sky turning a deep red as we retraced our steps to the wooden bridge. Biggles trotted onto it quite happily, and this time made it to the half-way point before a steady supply of biscuits was needed to coax him to the other side. The last night of our holiday we all slept soundly in our caravan, and in the morning we packed up and drove home. But not before Beanie had one last stint in the naughty room.

Part 1: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/23/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part1/
Part 2: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/24/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part2/
Part 3: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/25/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part3/
Part 4: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part4/

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