Nov 1
Beagle Pocket Syndrome
icon1 Paul | icon4 11 1st, 2014| icon36 Comments »

Halloween has come round again, and our two little horrors have been very busy.

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On the beach, they proved their hunting ability by catching a goat. Yes, a goat! The goat was long dead of course, in fact it was basically just an empty skeleton with a partial covering of skin and fur. And when I say they caught it, I really mean they stumbled across it despite me seeing it first and doing my best to give it a wide berth. I got Beanie away from it pretty quickly, but Biggles dug in his heels and threw himself on his back for a bit of intense Beagle break-dancing. Happily time at sea had severely weakened the corpse’s pong-potential, and any delicate fragrance of death that Biggles did manage to absorb was quickly washed off by a few sprints through the surf. Certainly by the time we got back to the car he only smelled of wet salty dog and seaweed, and only minimal cleanup of the car was needed when we got back home.

Not having to purge the car of essence de corpse was a welcome time-saver, but instead of cleaning and spraying, I’m going to be sewing. The reason for this? In a word, Beanie!

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Specifically, Beanie has given me a bad case of Beagle Pocket Syndrome. You know you’ve got BPS when you confidently put your car keys in your pocket, only to have them fall down your leg and hit the ground a couple of steps later. In fact I’ve got BPS so bad that only two pairs of trousers actually have a complete set of un-holed pockets. I know the Beanster’s to blame because lately she’s been coming in to see me when I have a shower. At first I assumed this was a display of affection, her way of saying thank you for all those play sessions and runs on the beach. In reality she just wanted me safely locked away in the shower cubicle so that she could nibble through the pockets of my clothes undisturbed.

In a way it’s my own fault because I always like to have an emergency dog biccie in my pocket. Historically this habit has been a source of embarrassment at the gym – whenever I do any kind of inversion exercise a biccie and a poo bag tend to fall out of my pants. Now I don’t have that problem because nothing stays in my pockets long enough to make it out of the house.

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By a spooky coincidence Susan has BPS too, but in her case the naughty nibbling has occurred mainly in her jackets. The solution is simple enough: repair the pockets, then either stop putting edibles in them or make sure that clothing with pockets is never left unattended and in reach of a wiggly Beagle. The thing is, the list of things that must be kept strictly out of Beagle reach just keeps growing and growing. Cups, socks, trousers, jackets, mail, shopping bags, toilet rolls, masking tape, sandpaper, CDs… Maybe I could swap Beanie & Biggles for a pair of Joe Dante’s Gremlins. They’d be so much less hassle. Avoid bright light and water and never feed after midnight? Easy!

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Oct 17
Seven Years Young!
icon1 Paul | icon4 10 17th, 2014| icon36 Comments »

Beanie had her seventh birthday at the weekend, which is kind of amazing on three counts:

  1. She’s a suicide machine on legs. Beanie’s eaten scores of things she shouldn’t, including soft plastic that turned sharp and rigid in her gut, whole packs of sausages (still wrapped), toxic palm oil washed up on the beach, and somehow, a cats claw. These items were all extracted from her via surgery and induced vomiting, and incredibly, she’s still here. But swallowing inappropriate things is only one way to get oneself killed, and Beanie’s tried other approaches, like chomping through a laptop power cable, attempting to dive off a high harbour wall to grab a seagull, and unhooking her lead for a three hour solo romp around a mist-covered mountain. How the hell has she made it to seven?
  2. I simply cannot believe how fast the time has passed. She was barely two years old when we moved to our current home in Ayrshire, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here for five years. Where has all that time gone?
  3. Lots of people meeting her for the first time still think she’s a pup because she’s so wiggly, waggy and full of life!

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If anything, Beanie’s become even more puppy-like over the last few months. Susan and I have changed our fitness training this last year, and now most of my running is done with the dynamic duo. That’s meant they’ve been getting 3-4 longish runs on the beach per week, each with a short off-lead section to allow them to get even more dynamic. By the way, when I say “short” off-lead section, I mean that’s always the intention, but sometimes the furballs have other ideas. Regardless, they’ve been getting fitter and that’s raised their energy levels. In addition, the decision to shift our main business from software (stress!) to photography and websites has made me more relaxed, and there’ve been more impromptu play sessions to break up the day.  The upshot of all this is that Beanie & Biggles are playing together more, and “mad hour” has been reinstated. In her very first year with us, mad hour involved Beanie sprinting endlessly round the sofa. Six years later, mad hour now means grabbing various objects and excitedly parading them all round the house until someone engages her in a game of tug.

Anyway, getting back to her ladyship’s birthday, it began with an early-morning hop into our bed for a cuddle, during the course of which Biggles decided to mark the sheets with a little fragrant juice from his anal glands (thanks Biggles, but all things considered I’d rather just stick with your farts). Then we took a trip out to a brand new local Pets At Home store to purchase some exotic edibles.

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Understandably we spent quite a while in the mix and match biscuit aisle

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Beanie discovered that although the store is new, biscuit leakage down the back of the shelves has still occurred. She was happy to provide cleanup services for free however.

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And the staff should note that the lids on the biscuit containers aren’t very secure…

After due consideration, we emerged from the store with a medium sized box of dried tripe.  I opened it in the car park and immediately my nose was hit by the stench of a crusty old dog poo that’s been out in the sun too long. Revolting stuff. Beanie and Biggles loved it!

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Of course when it’s your birthday, there has to be a birthday toy. Meet the bandit-mask-wearing “suspicious chicken”:

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I selected the chicken after carefully reading through scores of reviews on both the UK and US versions of Amazon. The consensus was that it was deceptively tough and a particularly good choice for dogs that like to shake their toys. Beanie has always enjoyed a good shake, so I gave it a go. On first inspection I have to say I was quite disappointed; from the description I was expecting it to be only lightly filled with stuffing and very floppy, but in the flesh it was chunky with only the wings and legs able to flap about. However, I’m happy to report that once Beanie got hold of it, she loved giving it an Olympic-level shaking and it held together really well.

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In fact she shook that chicken so much she almost gave herself a black eye!

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I don’t think the stitching would survive a tug session for very long though, and the wings seem to invite intense chewing. So it’s not perfect, but it made my little girl happy, and gave me a break from repeatedly re-stitching the limbs onto her bottle-filled green monkey.

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As for the Unbirthday boy, well his toys are still going strong so I got him a chicken-flavored nylabone chew instead. It always takes him a while to get started on a new chew; I have to entice him to take that first chomp then hold it for him for a few minutes, but then he’ll grind away at it quite happily for a while. However, this time around the chewing got interrupted by a sudden desire to have a sexy roll on the carpet with it. I’ve no idea what strange Biggly thought process led to that, and frankly, I think I’m better off not knowing.  Still, I think everybody had a good time on Beanie’s special day!

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Oct 7
Ingleton
icon1 Paul | icon4 10 7th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

Due to a very sad family event we ended up spending a few days in the north of England near the Lake District.  I was on solo Beagle-sitting duty for one of those days, and I took them a little way across the country to the famous Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. I had nothing but good memories of Ingleton from numerous visits as a kid, so it seemed like a great place to take our furry children and pass the day.

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The trail is about four miles long and winds through woodland and traditional Yorkshire countryside, passing by a number of impressive waterfalls. For the most part it’s pretty much the perfect place to walk a Beagle, or even two Beagles; it’s sniffy, scrambly and long enough to make a fulfilling walk, yet at the same time it’s very safe, easy to navigate and of course easy on the eye.

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Near the start there’s a fallen tree absolutely covered in two pence pieces. For some reason visitors started pushing coins into the bark and soon it became “the thing to do”. Beanie seemed quite excited by the money tree; maybe she realised how many chews all those tuppences could buy. I don’t think Biggles was very impressed though. If that tree had been covered in socks it might have been worth something, but coins? I mean when was the last time anyone knicked a coin, took it down the corridor by the bedroom and successfully traded it for a dog biscuit? Yep, coins have no place in a sock-based economy.

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Stones..

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Steps..

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..And more steps. Ingleton’s hard work if you’ve got short legs!

At one point we came to a walkway above a gorge. The floor of the walkway was a metal grid, and as I approached it I fully expected Biggles to refuse to set a paw on it. As a rule my boy doesn’t like grids, and he especially doesn’t like walking above sheer drops into noisy, raging water, but this time he calmly trotted across it and poked his head through the railings for a good nosy. Beanie on the other hand got barely a yard in before she froze and needed lots of gentle coaxing to go further. This took me completely by surprise. I sometimes call Beanie “Spider Beagle” because she can lower her body and spread her legs out wide enough to clamber across just about anything – cattle grids, widely spaced wooden boards, even those special “dog-proof” grids they sometimes put at the entrance to child play areas. She really does look just like Spiderman when she does this, albeit Spiderman with big floppy ears and a hound costume. Nevertheless something about this particular walkway was a real challenge for her, but eventually she overcame her fear and was duly rewarded. Biggles got rewarded too of course, ‘cos that’s just the way it works.

About half way into the walk we passed by a public toilet block adorned with messages enticing walkers to “spend a penny”. Well, you know how it is; I got maybe twenty yards past them before all those messages awakened a need within me, but like most Beagle owners I don’t like tieing my pups to something and letting them out of my sight even for a couple of minutes. On top of this, I was aware that very few other walkers were on the trail that day, so the toilets were almost certainly empty. Taking these two points into consideration, I decided that we should all go into the loo together. Now The Bigglet is a public loo veteran (he went into the Ladies with Susan when he was a pup) but this was a completely new experience for the Beanster, and she was instantly fascinated by the urinal, and most especially by the little yellow deodorizer blocks within it. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to “take care of business” when there’s a curious girl Beagle trying to get her snout into places it shouldn’t go. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

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Beanie takes a moment to ponder on her recent lavatorial experience. What would those yellow scent blocks have tasted like? And would they have been toxic enough to merit a trip the vet (which is always a good thing)..?

There’s another fallen tree near the end of the walk that’s covered in broken pieces of slate, and people have taken to scratching their names into them. Naturally I couldn’t pass this without making our own little contribution:

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Later that evening we stopped by Kendal Castle, peed on its broken walls, woofed at passers by, and had a play fight perilously close to the tripod during a twenty second exposure.

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The following morning the play-fighting continued in the caravan. This may have been Biggles’ way of celebrating his freedom from having to be the campsite warden. Ordinarily it always falls to him to enforce the many and complex rules concerning hats, hi-viz vests, umbrellas, people in shorts and waggy Spaniels, but on this occasion his work was done for him by another Beagle. No, not Beanie! This was an unknown lemon/white Beagle in a different caravan. Whoever that Beagle was, he/she knew exactly how to keep order, indignantly perching on the top of the seats by a window and woofing (appropriately) at all law breakers, just like our hard working boy himself.

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Ha! I can’t believe it! I don’t have to be the warden, Beanie!

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What a relief!

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So I was thinking.. can I munch on your ear instead?

 

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