Every now and then our Beagles find themselves at a bit of loose end. Biggles usually resolves this by hunting round the house looking for things to grab. Almost anything will do: clothing (socks preferred of course), packaging, Beanie’s Christmas jumper, even a common blanket. For Beanie – even though she’s now a mature 8 year old lady Beagle – the best way to cure the loose-end blues is always a bit of wanton destruction.
What you see above are the closing stages of a frenzied attack on a (thankfully empty) Amazon box. Very often when we buy something from Amazon they follow up with a pesky email asking us to rate their packaging: was it an appropriate size? did it protect its contents adequately? Never once do they think to ask “did it entertain your Beagle for at least two minutes?” And yet on this occasion it did, which is pretty impressive when you consider that it was the free delivery option.
Equally impressive is that today – only seventeen days into the New year – we had our first Beagle-related scare. It happened in Culzean Country Park while we were walking a section of the Ayrshire Coastal path. It was one of those classic Scottish winter days that only briefly achieved anything worth describing as “daylight”, and once the sun had set somewhere behind all the heavy grey clouds, darkness fell very quickly. Even in winter the dark brings out all kinds of unseen critters, and their scents soon put our Beagles into baying frenzies. I reeled in their leads – for safety, ironically – and as I did so Biggles lunged forward, ripping the handle out of my hand. He took off after a scent with his lead bouncing on the ground behind him; armed with a hand torch, I took off right after him.
We were on a winding woodland path and within just a few seconds I’d lost him. To make matters worse, for the first time in his life Biggles wasn’t baying his head off as he chased his prey. I rounded a corner and was hugely relieved to catch sight of him again. He had his nose hard to the ground and wasn’t moving particularly fast, so I quickened my pace thinking that I could grab his lead. He immediately responded by speeding up, and I realized my best chance of catching him was now to ditch my heavy backpack so I could go at a full sprint. I lost vital seconds fumbling with the straps, and when I finally got moving, I’d lost him completely. I tried to listen for his footfalls and the sound of his lead banging on the path, but any noise he was making was drowned out by Beanie; now some distance behind me, she was baying at full volume as she tried desperately to escape Susan’s grasp and join the chase.
I ran on along the trail as fast as I could until I reached a crossroads. I stopped and listened hard, but again I struggled to hear anything above Beanie’s wailing and my own labored breathing. Which way had Biggles gone? Was he even on a path anymore? Suddenly, and before I’d come to a decision about what to do next, there was a loud rustling noise from behind a nearby bush, and Biggles appeared. He was looking quite distressed and sprinted right to me the instant he saw me. He was clearly relieved when I got hold of him (though not nearly as relieved as I was) and I got the feeling that he hadn’t particularly enjoyed his brief experience of unplanned freedom. In retrospect we think it took him a while to realize he was running free and without the support of his pack; once he did, he got scared and wanted to be reunited with us as quickly as possible. All things considered, we were lucky that it was Biggles who escaped. If it had been Beanie, we’d probably still be out there waiting for her to come back!
I’ll finish this post with a few shots from another walk – on a much brighter day – that didn’t have any Beagle-related dramas.