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.
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.