May 7

Click here to read Part 1 of this post

So  just to recap: after an evening spent consuming the very best sheep poo in Scotland, Biggles had suffered what could be described in Star Trek terms as a “warp core breach” in our bed.

It was now early in the morning and I was still tired out, but obviously the idea of climbing back into bed had totally lost its appeal; going for a shower and change of clothes on the other hand seemed like a really good idea, and that’s what I did. On my return I took both Beanie and Captain Loose-Sphincter for another walk in the lane by the campsite, leaving Susan to deal with the soiled bedsheets. Almost immediately Beanie felt the urge to squat, and brought forth a slimy dark green log of epic proportions. I bagged it, binned it, and began walking further up the lane. We’d gone barely a hundred yards before Beanie squatted again, resulting in another bag of recycled sheep poo to dispose of. I dragged Beanie & Biggles back to the bin, then turned to go forward. This time we made it nearly 150 yards before The Beanster hunkered down for a third innings, but even that wasn’t the end of it; during the course of the day Beanie made no less than six ample deposits in the poo bank, setting a new personal record. By contrast Biggles only needed three squatting sessions, but then he’d already unburdened himself in our bed.

Back at the campsite I got an update on the bed situation. I’d seen only the lower cover – and that had been bad enough – but apparently the underside of the duvet cover was in an even worse state.  We had no replacements and only one more night to get through, so Susan devised a cunning plan: turn both covers round and use dog blankets – of which we had several – to protect the bed itself and cover the skid marks on the upturned duvet. Certainly not an ideal solution, but a workable one.  With this settled, we drove out to the first of three walks planned for the day – a circuit around the beach near Kilmory at the southern end of Arran.

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The Walkhighlands site rates this as one of the best beaches on Arran, but unfortunately the tide was in and we didn’t get to see it at its best.

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The second walk was much more satisfying for both humans and Beagles alike: Clauchlands Point and Dun Fionn. The outward leg of the route followed a cliff by the coast, rapidly gaining height for some great sniffs and views.

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Wild rabbit poo was in abundance and I was very relieved to find that our pups were more interested in rolling in it than gorging on it.

At one point in the walk we encountered a group of students who made a big fuss of the pups. Beanie did her signature biscuit-summoning dance and though it didn’t work directly, it did put her within striking distance of unguarded pockets and backpacks as people bent down to pet her. For once I was on my game and managed to pull her away at the critical moment; no packed lunches were speed-swallowed on this walk.

The return route took us through a thankfully unoccupied farm field, emerging at a cottage guarded by a very fit looking Spaniel. He eyed us suspiciously as we climbed over the stile, but he didn’t budge an inch from his station and Biggles kept his woofs firmly under wraps; maybe he was still feeling shame from his leaky bottom accident.

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The final section of the route took us through a short stretch of woodland, across a magical little stream and down a pretty bluebell-lined country lane before emerging on the road just a few hundred yards from the van.

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Any time you want to rate a walk from a Beagle perspective you have only to observe the quality and quantity of napping that follows it. On that basis, I judged this walk to have been a great success! Obviously there were attempts at food theft when first got back to the van, followed by a short spell of irate woofing when a group of kayakers emerged from the sea just a few yards away, but after that, the napping was first class.

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Beanie in a deep snooze. You’ll just have to imagine the contented snoring noises..

I had a substantial walk planned for the third outing of the day, but when we arrived at the starting point in Lochranza I suddenly felt the need to revise that plan.

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I was unaware of this at the time, but Lochranza is famed for its large and bold deer population. As we arrived, deer were wandering around the town’s small golf course while golfers were still playing, and there was a concentrated group of them right by the start of our walk. I really didn’t fancy having my eardrums blown out by baying and my arms pulled out of their sockets, so I settled on a there-and-back stroll out past the castle.

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On the return leg we found that the deer had moved in on the more developed part of town. Almost every garden had high fences and I realized now this wasn’t because the people of Lochranza are mostly Beagle owners; nope, those fences are all about keeping the deer out. And the deer were everywhere, munching on bushes and nosing around cars. I braced myself for an outburst from Biggles, but both he and Beanie were stunned into silence. When we made it back to the golf course I paused there for a few minutes, hoping this calm exposure to deer might tone down the dynamic duo’s reaction to them in the wild. Only time will tell if it has the intended effect…

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Our last night on Arran – in the poo smeared bed – went remarkably well. Bright blankets covered the obvious signs of soiling and the smell, though not exactly pleasant, wasn’t intolerable. Let’s put it this way: I’ve smelled Pot Noodles that were worse. Come to think of it, given a choice between sleeping in a bed smeared with Beagle-processed sheep poo versus a bed smeared in Pot Noodle dregs, I’d probably take the hybrid poo option.

We spent the next morning parked close to the ferry terminal, and to kill time I took the pups part way along the so-called Fisherman’s walk in Brodick. This was the scene for the final drama in our holiday.

The outward leg went well; the route skirted a golf course and was well signed, no doubt because the golfers didn’t want all and sundry straying onto their territory. Unfortunately, none of those signs mentioned that the route becomes flooded when the tide is incoming, as it was on our way back. Our little party of three went from a stroll to a forced march when I realized that we were racing the tide, and as we grew close to the finish it looked like we might just make it. I strode over a slightly raised grassy bit between two big puddles, and Beanie (sensibly, for once) followed in my footsteps. Biggles however decided that he wouldn’t mind a little paddle. He started through the puddle. One step, two steps and all was well. He took another step and abruptly discovered that the puddle was not of uniform depth; his chin smacked the water loudly as his body sank like a stone. Any self-respecting dog would have leaped out of there immediately, shaken themselves off and tried to pretend that nothing embarrassing had happened, but not Biggles; he just sat there in the puddle looking up at me with a helpless yet hopeful expression on his face. I reached down and hauled him out by the extra-wide handle on his swanky new Ruffwear harness. Something tells me that the designers at Ruffwear have silly Beagles too. If they ever come up with a poo-proof bed cover, I’ll be first on the pre-order list.

Apr 30

We’re just back from a mini-holiday on the Isle of Arran. It was a holiday packed with drama and unexpected events, and the excitement started even before we got on the ferry.

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We were booked on the last sailing of the day, which is always a bit of a concern as there’s no second chance if you miss the check-in or the ferry itself is cancelled. We arrived at the terminal in plenty of time, but the place was deserted; the ticket booth was unoccupied, and there were no other passengers parked in the queuing lanes. This immediately set me wondering if the ferry had been cancelled. In due course we were joined by four other vehicles, but this was still an unusually low number for such a popular ferry.  We let Beanie & Biggles out of their travel crates as we waited, and they helped pass the time by ramming their bums, paws and noses into our faces as they tried to get comfortable on our laps. Last check-in time came and went without anybody coming to inspect our tickets. Ever the impatient little madam, Beanie beeped the horn with her bottom but still no-one came. As the sailing time rapidly approached the ferry remained conspicuous by its absence. Eventually I checked the ferry website on my phone and discovered that all was well; the ferry had been delayed some fifty minutes minutes on the Arran side due to an unusually low tide, but it was still on.

When the ferry eventually appeared both Beanie and Biggles sat up excitedly to watch the proceedings, but things were still moving desperately slowly; there seemed to be some confusion as to where the ferry should dock to unload its current cargo of vehicles, and it began a very lengthy and precise turning maneuver. Biggles vented his frustration by verbally abusing the ferry staff – they were all sporting high vis jackets and hard-hats, both of which are clear violations of the Beagle dress code. Five minutes later the ferry was still turning, and Biggles was all woofed out; when the front end of the ship lifted up on its hydraulics he was out cold on the floor of the van between our seats. All that waiting, and he still missed the Thunderbirds moment!

It was close to sunset when we finally boarded the ferry, and very very cold. We spent only the briefest time checking the external seating areas (no dropped chips or other edible debris were found) before retreating to the pet-friendly lounge. Ordinarily this is a no-go area for us; the chances of seeing another dog are high, and the resulting woofing from our two would likely get us thrown off the ship. Fortunately there were so few passengers that we got the lounge to ourselves. Unfortunately the crossing was quite rough, and more than once I wondered if I’d be cleaning Beagle vomit – or my own – off the decks before we made it to Arran.

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In the end no lunches were lost and we reached our first destination – the car park below Corbett-class hill “Caisteal Abhail” – just as darkness was falling. This was a completely new hill to us and given that it’s rated grade 4 on the Walkhighlands site, I decided it would be best to try it solo this time around. At 2am I dragged myself out of the van, leaving Susan and the pups snuggling in bed.

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Sunrise on Caisteal Abhail [5D4_1755]

Cir Mhor from Caisteal Abhail [5D4_1773]

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The ascent went very smoothly and I found Caisteal Abhail to be both Beagle-able and visually spectacular, however on the way down my adrenaline ran out and lack of sleep started to take its toll. As I trudged down the steeper sections – fighting to keep my eyes open – the emergency shelter pack that was hanging from my camera bag really started to bug me. It was bouncing around, banging into my legs and unbalancing me every few steps just like.. well, like an excited Beagle. In fact it was so Beagle-like in its behavior that I named it “Biggles” and began telling it off, first in my head and then verbally in order to stave off the fatigue. Although he never stopped being naughty, little windproof nylon Biggles got me safely back to the van where I received an enthusiastic welcome from Beanie, and the real Biggles.. well he just hogged the back seat and demanded a blanky.

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Yeah Dad, I know you’ve been up a mountain and have had barely one hour of sleep, but I’m trying to get some quality nap time here, so keep the noise down OK?

We now headed to a campsite – our base for the next two nights. In between catnaps I walked the pups, helped erect our tent, and drank my way through half a box of instant cappuccino sachets. By the time we drove out to Machrie Moor to see the ancient standing stones, I was back to being mostly functional.

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It looks like a giant foot Beanie! Imagine getting hold of one the socks that fits that thing!

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Like most Scottish islands Arran has a big sheep population, and a good number of them stood between the car park and the stones. Two things however were in our favor: firstly, the sheep seemed remarkably calm around dogs, and secondly, they’d covered the ground with some of the finest tasting poop in the UK. I usually do my best to prevent our pups munching on poop (especially when I’m due to clean their teeth later the same day) but on this occasion it seemed the lesser of two evils; at least they couldn’t bay while they were gulping down the brown stuff. Still, they both consumed an awful lot, and an alarm bell was ringing somewhere at the back of my sleep-deprived brain.

That night I stumbled through my final chores: feed the pups, take them for a final loo visit, brush their teeth, brush my teeth and finally collapse onto the bed. I had hopes of getting a full night’s sleep, but it didn’t happen; in the very early hours of the next morning, Biggles came into our bed and seemed very restless – the kind of restless that is usually only resolved by a trip to the outside loo. I absolutely did not want to leave the bed; I tried to talk Susan into handling it, but she was still recovering a from a gym session and wasn’t budging. In the end, I went for the half-arsed solution. I crawled out of bed and onto the drivers seat, opening the door just enough to let His Biggleship out on his lead. This had a low probability of success because both our Beagles are very particular about finding the “right spot”; still, if he was desperate enough, Biggles might just be happy to pee on the front tyre. I couldn’t see what was happening out there, but I waited for what I thought was a reasonable length of time and called him back in, instructing him to settle down. And so he did, albeit in our bed, along with Beanie. I went back to bed myself and just as I was starting to nod off, Biggles’ rear-end released the most noxious fart I have ever experienced. It was like those new Doritos “Heatburst” nachos that hit you with one flavor first, then follow up with a second, hotter and more intense taste as you crunch down on ’em. Only when the worst of the stench had dissipated could I finally get back to sleep. However, it wasn’t long before Biggles was requesting another trip to the outside loo.

I knew the half-arsed solution wouldn’t cut it this time, so grumbling and cursing, I dressed and took him out for a proper toilet walk. My eyes were barely open as Biggles tugged me into the lane by the campsite, but still I half-noticed that something seemed to be smeared on his bum and the base of his upright tail. My brain wasn’t sufficiently awake to ponder on this, so I just did my best to concentrate on the task in hand.

Biggles found his spot quickly and squatted. As I swayed in the breeze waiting for him to finish, my gaze landed on a council dog-fouling notice stuck on a telegraph pole. This was different from the ones I’d seen on the Ayrshire mainland – its main slogan was “leave only paw prints”. I quite liked the sound of that, and took pride in the fact that I’m never without a healthy supply of poo bags. Speaking of which, Biggles had just finished his business. I looked down at it, and instantly saw that it wasn’t normal; this was poo Jim, but not as we know it. For one thing the quantity was way higher than normal (multi-bag scenario), and though conventionally shaped, this poo was dark green in color and very slick. Regardless, I bagged it and binned it, then headed back to the van.

As I climbed back into the van my higher brain functions came back online and began to deal with the backlog of visual information I’d collected on the poo walk. The image of the smearing on Biggles bum and tail sprang back into focus, and with a sense of dread I made the connection between it and the otherworldly poo he’d just done.

“Er Sue, I think Biggles has done a poo somewhere in the van” I said, quickly checking the likely places: the foot-well by the side door, the space between the two front seats. But all was as it should be.

“Don’t worry about it, we can clean it up later” mumbled Susan.

Usually I prefer to deal with such things straight away, but on this occasion I was still so tired that procrastination seemed like a good idea. I shed my clothes and pulled back the covers as I prepared to climb back into bed. And there, on the bed sheet, I saw it.

I guess I could describe it as a “skid mark”, but that wouldn’t entirely do it justice.  “Skid mark left by a rally car drifting at high speed round a particularly muddy corner” would be closer to the truth, but that’s a heck of a long description.

Instead I’ll just go for “monster-truck skid mark”; that involves a bit of exaggeration, but then let’s remember that this particular monster-truck skid mark wasn’t rubber, or mud, it was sheep poo that had been reprocessed and deposited by a little Beagle boy in our bed, while we were in it.

Leave only paw prints? Big fail on that one, Mr Biggles.

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Apr 24
Courtesy Beagle
icon1 Paul | icon4 04 24th, 2017| icon32 Comments »

In many ways, Beanie is our most biddable Beagle. When I tell her to get out of our bed on a morning, she does so without hesitation; if I tell her not to stick her snout in my coffee cup, she will comply (at least until I’m distracted or out of the room); and when it’s time for her nightly tooth-brushing she doesn’t play hard to get, unlike Biggles, who often flops onto his back to and tries to kick the toothbrush away with his rear legs.

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Everything works the other way when food is involved however. Biggles is surprisingly respectful at human mealtimes, in fact he sometimes averts his gaze when a human starts eating; it’s as though he daren’t look at the food for fear his instincts will push him to do something naughty.

Beanie on the other hand has absolutely no respect and has to be told in no uncertain terms to keep her distance. Even then, the second you’ve finished your food, she’s on top of you, vacuuming up crumbs. It’s like those insistent sales calls we get from the bank, Sky TV and energy firms when we’re switching supplier; no matter how many times you tell them you don’t want to be hassled, they just keep on calling. They typically refer to these intrusions as “courtesy calls”. In the same vein, I guess you could call Beanie a “courtesy Beagle”; you’re going to get the furry crumb clean-up service whether you want it or not.

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