Jul 20

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When we first moved to Ayrshire our back garden was invaded by a large yellow digging thing. Biggles was able to see off this trespasser using a combination of well-aimed pee and irate woofing. Now however we have a new interloping digger; much smaller than the yellow thing and it would seem possessing determination and obstinacy worthy of a Beagle. Houston, we have a mole.

I have no idea why the little critter chose to set up home in our garden. For one thing it backs on to a stream that typically floods two or three times a year, and for another, the garden is regularly patrolled by two vicious hunting Beagles who have between them caught and killed hundreds, maybe thousands of wild socks, margarine cartons, bank statements and green monkeys. Either this mole is stupid or it’s an extreme bad-ass of the burrowing world.

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As you can see, Green Monkey needs some stitches in his bum following Beanie’s most recent hunting session. That could be you, Mr Mole!

My first attempts to shift the mole involved digging up some of its runs and flooding them using our ridiculously long and unwieldy garden hose. Beanie & Biggles were both keen to help me with the digging part – in fact Beanie in particular did a much better job of uncovering the tunnels than I did – but both of them legged it when the hose came out.

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Still, after letting water flood through the entire area for a couple of hours I felt sure I’d done enough to rout the little bugger without actually harming him. The next morning my mole-free fantasy was shattered by the discovery of several new molehills.

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The new “hills” were much larger than the old ones. It was as if Mr Mole was making a statement. After a bit of Googling I decided to repeat the hose tsunami and augment it by burying Beanie & Biggles’ poos in the runs for good measure (supposedly moles don’t like dog poo).  The result? Even more, larger molehills.

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After Googling further, I am now of the opinion that the only way to get rid of our garden squatter is to use a trap, but Susan’s not at all keen and to be honest, neither am I. For the hell of it I’ve ordered some relatively cheap pet-safe repellent that may just do the job (in the Amazon reviews it’s 50-50), and I’ve told Beanie & Biggles to be on maximum alertness. Biggles has taken this to heart and has even requested a couple of garden visits in the dead of night. I doubt that he caught anything on those super-early morning patrols, but if he did, he’s keeping it to himself.

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When conditions are right for deployment of the repellent I’ll give it a go. Until then, Beanie & Biggles remain at DefCon 1. Except for when they’re doing other even more important tasks.

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Jul 6
Appreciated at last!
icon1 Paul | icon4 07 6th, 2014| icon35 Comments »

It’s taken a few years, but it seems the North Ayrshire Council has finally acknowledged Beanie & Biggles’ tireless work in the field of poop pickup and disposal. At the start of one of our regular walks we saw this stenciled onto the tarmac:

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The council refers to poop as “waste”, totally ignoring its potential as a pre-kibble appetiser.  That’s why we prefer to use terms such as “bottom sausage”, “smelly chocolate”,  and in very cold weather, “poopsicle”.

Note that the above “thank you” message covers only one aspect of our pups’ clean up activities. They routinely uplift dropped chips, pizzas and pieces of bread that would otherwise end up feeding pests such as pigeons and seagulls; they lick away drips from ice-creams, and they’ve even been known to use their absorbent fur to clean guano off the streets. Items that cannot be immediately removed – such as outrageously large horse droppings, bags of rubbish and so-on – are generally peed on to mark them for later collection. Occasionally their enthusiasm for their work results in legitimate roadside items being incorrectly identified as garbage; for example this very evening a gentleman’s motorbike was inappropriately “marked for collection” by Biggles. In his defense though I should note this incident occurred shortly after he’d had to woof at an excessively coiffured Poodle, which often makes him a bit free and easy with his yellow marker spray.

You might think that after all this hard work on walks they’d have neither the energy nor the will to continue their cleanup activities at home, but that’s not so. It’s common to see them whisking away discarded food packaging from the kitchen worktops and taking it down to the garden for proper disposal.

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This strawberry container didn’t get to clutter the kitchen for long!

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The binmen never look as happy as this when they’re at work!

So the council’s “thank you” message, while certainly welcome, only went part of the way to showing proper recognition of Beanie & Biggles’ tireless efforts. To make up for the deficit, I felt that a round of chews was called for..

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Of course they got straight back to work right after those chews. Well, OK, maybe not straight after. I mean there’s nothing in their contracts that says they can’t have the odd nap, right?

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Ayrshire’s best poop picker-upper is himself thoroughly pooped.

Jun 21

We’ve been hard at work creating a website and facebook page for our new photography business “Creative Photography Ayrshire” (please give the facebook page a “like” if you’re feeling generous). You might think that all this additional online graft would not go down too well with our two furry children, but you’d be wrong. You see I like snacking when I’m working on the computer, and when I’m concentrating really hard I don’t always target my mouth very accurately. Anything that falls on the floor immediately becomes the property of Beanie, and she’s very diligent about collecting her windfalls. Even if she’s tucked up in her bed, apparently fast asleep, you can count on her to come sprinting round to my desk much faster than I can shift my chair and bend down to retrieve the latest fallen morsel. Biggles doesn’t even try to compete with Beanie in this, but then he doesn’t have to; he just wags his tail and catches my eye, knowing that I’ll cave in and throw him a snack of his own just to keep things fair. Being a hopeless catch he sometimes drops it too, causing the Beanie-vacuum cleaner to scramble into action once again. I end up leaving my seat to place the next piece of food directly in Biggles’ mouth, just to make sure he doesn’t miss out. Not very good for sustained concentration, but great for Beagle tummies.

Another side-effect of the work is that I often feel a bit guilty about ignoring them (or at least trying to ignore them) for so many hours at a time, so as compensation they’ve been getting more exciting walks (they didn’t stay grounded from offleaders for long!) and they’ve also got new toys:

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Monkey and snake hug each other, perhaps apprehensive about the new and probably rather short lives that lay ahead of them.

This is actually the second time I’ve bought snake and monkey toys; Beanie got a tuggy snake for Christmas (“Snakey” recently expired due to an unfortunate decapitation) and Biggles got a squeaky monkey for his fifth birthday (still intact, but down to one working squeaker from the original eight). There’s a bit of role reversal going on with these new toys though, because this time around it’s the snake that’s squeaky, whereas the monkey is all about texture – he has an empty, replaceable plastic water bottle for a skeleton, and has a soft furry outer skin. Due to Biggles’ preference for noisy toys I figured he should get the snake and that Beanie – who loves killing bottles and plastic containers – would like the monkey, but on their first play session each seemed to want the other’s toy. I had a suspicion that this was down to the old “the grass is always greener” principle, so the  next day, I gave each of them a chance to play with whichever toy they wanted.

Despite some initial interest in the monkey it was the squeaky snake that finally won the Biggly boy’s affections.

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Biggles signals his final preference by taking the snake up on to the sofa

Conversely the Beanster was initially attracted to the snake but then quickly grew bored and turned her attention to the monkey.

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He’s fallen over dad! Do you think he needs CPR?

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I’ll put him in the recovery position and see if that helps!

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No response. Trying cardiac massage.

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Still no luck. He’s a gonner. I guess I’ll just eat him then :)

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Love at first bite!

So it’s looking like I got my initial toy allocations right. It also seems that old adage about the grass always being greener on the other side applies to Beagles as well as humans. And to monkeys as well as grass.

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