Aug 20
Back in Black(berries)
icon1 Paul | icon4 08 20th, 2014| icon37 Comments »

The blackberries have put in an early appearance this year, and they’re a welcome addition to our walks by the local farms. Beanie & Biggles were the first to spot them this time around; in previous years it was up to me to detect and introduce this tasty mid-walk snack, but I think those ever-active Beagle noses have finally become attuned to the scent of the berries. Certainly the first I knew of the berries was when Beanie got interested in a hedge and went into her surprisingly refined and delicate picking routine.

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The berries may be here, but only a few of them have ripened and assumed the dark color that gives them their name. Beanie’s smart enough to hunt down only the ripe ones, but Biggles is less discerning.

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I don’t know if he actually likes the taste of the unripe ones, or whether his stomach simply has more say in the matter than his tastebuds, but he’ll happily stand there munching away until I convince him to get on with the walk. And when we finally get back home there’s even more munching to be done, because it’s time for breakfast!

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I’m sure other dogs get excited about their breakfasts, but I can’t believe that any of them get quite as excited as The Bigglet. He woofs, he howls, and his rear-end wags so much that he can’t keep his bum still in a sit no matter how hard he tries. I guess he really believes the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. When he gets it he always, and I do mean always, insists on spilling some of it on the floor. Susan and I have often pondered what’s going through his head when he does that. I’m convinced it’s a celebration, like someone throwing a bundle of cash in the air. Regardless, it’s not a particularly wise thing to do because Beanie eats more efficiently, finishes first and goes after his stray kibble. Even worse, the odd piece of kibble sometimes goes under the hall table and I have to recover it before Beanie digs up the flooring in her bid to get at it. But Biggles never seems to mind, he’s just so happy that it’s breakfast time.

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That’s the great thing about my optimistic little boy; he ignores all the little knock-backs in life and rejoices in every single good thing that comes his way, even if it’s a routine event. That’s a good way to be! And on the 28th of the month, when it’s his sixth birthday, he’s going to have seventeen new reasons to rejoice, sixteen of which squeak. I wonder how much his bum will wag then?

Aug 6
Rascalitis
icon1 Paul | icon4 08 6th, 2014| icon36 Comments »

Heroic Ears [2A6A1683]

Biggles is going to be six years old later this month, and it seems he’s come down with an affliction that often hits nearly-birthday-boys: rascalitis. Unfortunately there’s no cure for this disease; all a vet could do is confirm the diagnosis, but let’s face it, the symptoms are unmistakeable:

  • Mischievously nicking a bit of kibble out of his bowl at mealtimes even when he’s been told to “leave it”
  • Cheekily barging into his sister Beanie so roughly that she’s literally knocked off her feet, even though he knows she’s probably going to bite his bum in retaliation
  • Decorating our bedroom with the contents of my sock drawer
  • Drinking my post-training milkshake and doing a sloppy job of hiding the evidence (I found the empty glass on his bed)
  • Hogging Beanie’s special “cave bed”, forcing me to keep covering her with a blanky every two minutes.
  • Playing a game of “chicken” with me and winning

That last one happened this morning during our beach run, right at the end of the offlead section. For once they’d both behaved impeccably, running off for a quick romp when I told them, but then returning unbidden just as quickly for a taste of chicken. In fact if anything, I’d have been happy for them to do a bit more sprinting about, but Beanie seemed a bit low on gas, which I attributed to the high intensity knicker workout she’d had earlier in the day.

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As they returned to me after what should have been the final sortie, I followed my usual practice of getting Beanie back on lead first. You see Beanie is the “Batman” in our little dynamic duo; get her under control and “Robin” will follow suit. Those are the rules. Or at least those were the rules until Biggles suddenly found the courage to run off on his own before I could nab him. He ran straight to a trail of hoof prints in the sand, followed it for about 150 yards, then stopped and turned to look right at me. Without thinking I ran after him, and Biggles held his position until Beanie and I got within a couple of metres, at which point he sprinted off on the horse trail again.

I regained my senses and played it a bit smarter. Along with Beanie, I started running in the opposite direction to The Bigglet. I kept glancing over my shoulder as I ran, and I saw him stop and lay down, facing me. This is Biggles’ version of the game of “chicken”, and in the past I’ve always won it just by keeping going in the opposite direction. This time however the distance at which Biggles normally concedes defeat came and went. I saw  him shrink from a recognizable lump of Beagle boy to a distant and tiny dot on the beach. I stopped before he fell from sight completely, turned and watched for any movement. Although there was no way to tell, I felt sure that my cheeky little boy was looking right back at me, probably wagging his tail.

It was decision time; I could run further away, but in doing so risk losing track of him altogether, or concede defeat and run towards him, hopefully catching him somehow before we ran out of beach. Well that first option held no appeal, because unlike Beanie, The Bigglet is spectacularly hopeless at tracking. Seriously he must be the most nasally inept Beagle in the United Kingdom. He’s the only dog I know that follows tracks in the wrong direction, and if he had to rely on his nose to get back to us, he’d get lost and get himself into big trouble. So, in reality there was no decision to make. Beanie and I started back towards him.

Once again he held his ground as we got closer, and I could see him bracing himself for another sprint away. I came to a halt just before he legged it, and played my final card. I put Beanie in a sit and began feeding her my emergency reserve of chicken. Glancing over at my boy I could see the internal conflict etched on his face – carry on playing the game with dad, or just get the chicken? The chicken won, and he shamelessly jogged over to me with a big grin on his face. Needless to say I attached his lead before any chicken made it into his mouth.

So although Biggles won the game of “chicken”, as a well as a few lumps of actual chicken, I feel that I won the engagement overall. Next time however could be different. Biggles is a stubborn and cheeky little bugger at the best of times, but when he’s infected with Rascalitis, he’s a nightmare.

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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