Magic Bottoms and Outrageous Seagulls


I don’t know if this is a common Beagle-owner trait or something that’s peculiar to me, but some weird part of my brain always times Beanie and Biggles when they go for a dump. Though I couldn’t put an actual number to it, I have a sense of what constitutes a normal squat time; if this is exceeded I become concerned, sometimes with good reason. At the very least, a long squat can indicate the presence of what a software engineer might describe as improperly terminated output. If that “output” is left to dangle there for too long, the afflicted Beagle will almost certainly try to remedy the situation by scooting on the ground, leaving a skid-mark on their fur that is as unpleasant to view as it is nose-unfriendly. At the other end of the scale, an overly long poo attempt could indicate a more serious issue such as a blockage. Consequently when the Beanster assumed the position for way too long on a recent beach run, she got my attention.

As I headed to her she came out of her squat and ran to me, but her gait didn’t quite look normal and she kept pausing every few yards. Given that she’d only just returned to full off-lead activity after a shoulder tweak I wasn’t sure whether to be more concerned about that or the overlong poo. As it turned out, I soon discovered that the two symptoms had the same cause. When I’d unclipped her lead just a few minutes ago, she’d had one tail, but now she had two. One was long, furry and mostly brown with a white tip, while the other was only six inches in length, and mostly white with random streaks of brown along it. Immediately identifying the second one as the imposter, I prepared for the extraction; a poo bag went over my hand, and I gingerly grasped the redundant tail and gently began to pull on it. An inch of extra tail came out of Beanie’s bum hole making it seven inches long in total, then another inch, and all the while I felt certain that I was about to reach the end of it, but it just kept on coming. As it passed 10 inches in length I imagined myself as an old-school magician pulling an endless stream of handkerchiefs out of a pocket. At eleven inches I was expecting to see the ears of a rabbit beginning to emerge out of Beanie’s orifice, but finally at twelve inches the thing – which appeared to be the remnants of a plastic bag – came free from Beanie’s magic bottom. She was very relieved to get that out of her, and so was I, though I was left puzzling over how it got in there in the first place. The rest of our beach run went without incident, but the day still had one little surprise to spring on us.

After the run I bundled the pups into their crates in the car, picked up Susan from the gym and parked up at our local supermarket. We have a policy of never leaving our Beagles unattended in a vehicle, so while Susan went shopping I kept watch over the furry types. Biggles settled down for a nap almost immediately, but Beanie sat up in her crate to snoop on the other shoppers. Suddenly I heard something tap the roof of the car, and Beanie sprang to attention, while Biggles started to snore. I checked the mirrors but saw no-one in the immediate vicinity. Just as I was about to dismiss the sound, it happened again, and again. Something was on the roof of our car, and it was moving! Beanie sounded the alarm and her excited movements caused the car to rock slightly on its suspension. This disturbed the visitor on our roof, causing more tapping, which in turn prompted yet more baying, but Biggles remained curled up and snoring through it all. My ears were starting to ring from the noise and clearly it had got too much for our visitor also, because whatever it was shifted to the roof an adjacent car finally allowing us to view it: a particularly fat seagull. Seeing the cause of the disturbance didn’t stop Beanie’s baying frenzy, but its tone did at least switch from alarm to outrage. The noise soon attracted the attention of passers-by and I couldn’t help but chuckle, at which point Captain Vigilant in the crate next to Beanie woke up, let out a startled woof and sprang to his feet. Some days my little boy has the reactions of a drugged Sloth, but this day he wasn’t anything like that fast :) The baying continued for short while even after the seagull had departed, and as often happens I was left wishing I had a sweatshirt with “I’m not with these Beagles” printed on it in bold letters.

Finally, here are a few shots from a less eventful day out at our local park.



This next shot is a near-duplicate of one I took over seven years ago. Apart from some white fur around the eyes, the pups haven’t changed much!


Beanie and Biggles as they are today


And as they were seven years ago

Out For a Duck!

Maybe it’s due to the time of year or the predominantly windy and wet weather we’ve had recently, but the beach has been mostly free of those tasty little birds that Beanie so likes to chase after. This has made my furry personal trainer less inclined to surprise me by doubling the length of my runs, or by giving me unplanned sprint sessions (preferably after leg day at the gym), but earlier this week she did come very close to getting me swimming in the sea.

The main inspiration for this change in training focus was a little family of ducks. They were bobbing about on the water about twenty metres off the shore, and for some reason Beanie felt the urge to go after one. I have no idea why she decided that a distant floating duck was a better target than any of the obese, foolishly brave seagulls on the beach, but regardless it was duck that was on the menu, not seagull.

She tore into the water heading straight at the group of quackers, and without knowing what was going on (and probably not caring anyway) Biggles followed her. Within a couple of seconds the water was deep enough that Beanie had to switch to swim mode, but that didn’t deter her one bit. As it happened I had applied their ritual spot-on flea treatment the previous day, so I guess now was a really good time for full immersion in that protection-shortening seawater.


I stayed on the shore, happy to stop running and just watch the proceedings; I was very confident that soon either the ducks would take off, or Beanie would see the impossibility of the task she’d set herself. Yep, any second now there’d be two bedraggled Beagles heading back to shore. Any second now. Of course, that’s not what happened.

The ducks saw the Beanster slowly closing on them, but they didn’t panic, they just calmly turned and headed further out to sea. Beanie was now twenty metres off the shore – where the ducks had been at the start of the chase – and it was clear she had no intention of giving up. Biggles was just a few metres behind her,  but he was having second thoughts about this whole swimming thing. With his big paws and powerful legs he’s actually a strong swimmer, but he’s not all that keen on having water up near his face. I called to him (to them both actually, but I knew Beanie would ignore me) and got the reaction I wanted; he turned around and began heading back to the shore. “Well at least I’ll soon have one of them back” I thought. But even that turned out to be a false assumption.


Beanie resolutely continued her pursuit of the ducks, and she was doing well enough to keep the gap between her and her prey from widening. It was impressive, but I really just wanted her to turn back like Biggles. His Lordship was now just ten meters from the shore and close to getting his paws back on something solid, but he was starting to doubt his decision to leave Beanie. He turned sideways in the water for a second or two as though torn between my outstretched hand full of chicken, and THE most fun sister in the world, ever. Then, to my surprise and dismay, he set off after Beanie again. She was now 30 metres out, and still chugging away like a little train after those pesky ducks.


Thirty-five metres. Forty metres. This was getting serious. The tide was incoming – I’m always careful to make sure that’s the case when I let them offlead by the sea – but still, Beanie was getting a long way out and the next stop was twenty miles away on the Isle of Arran. Time for intervention! I pulled the headphones out of my ears and started taking off the armband that holds my mobile phone. Fortunately before my swimming preparations got any more advanced, the ducks finally got spooked and took to the air. Even then Beanie kept after them for a moment before she gave up the chase and headed inland. I was seriously relieved to see her coming back, but not half as relieved as Biggles. As soon as his feet made contact with the still submerged sand he bounded out of the water, waited impatiently for his sister to arrive, then gave her a very vocal dressing-down.

For my part, I just attached their leads, gave them chicken, and got thoroughly sprayed by sand and sea as they shook themselves off. Pesky Ducks! Almost as bad as sheep. And little birds. And squirrels. But not rabbits, because the traditional prey of the Beagle is something both our hounds are afraid of:)




Catalogue of Terror / Attack of the Zombie Fish

We’ve had two moments of unbridled terror this last fortnight.

Chairback Biggles [5D4_0865]

The first was prompted – rather surprisingly – by a Kleeneze catalogue. In case you’ve never heard of “Kleeneze” before, I’ll explain a bit about it. As I understand it, Kleeneze entices gullible souls to pay up front to be door-to-door salesmen for unremarkable cleaning products. They buy catalogues, shove them through your letterbox in a ziplock bag, then come back to collect them a few days later hoping that you’ve either:

a) elected to buy something from which they can earn commission (unlikely in the extreme), OR

b) kept the catalogue safe from your Beagles and resisted dumping it in the bin along with all the other junk that’s landed on the doormat including:

  • 37 charity bin bags you’re supposed to fill with old clothes
  • the latest phone directory (seriously does anybody still use them?)
  • some appalling waste of paper and ink from local politicians
  • bank statements that have been arriving twice-weekly ever since you signed up to their paperless scheme
  • a voucher for £1 off your first deep-fried tandoori-and-Mars-bar-flavored pizza from Bob & Jim’s Delhi-Belly TakeAway.

The Kleeneze model dates right back to the 1920’s and frankly it’s astonishing that it’s still going, but unfortunately it is, and we got one of its damned catalogues. I didn’t have the heart to bin it outright, and Beanie would have ripped it to shreds if she’d got her paws on it, so I just dumped it outside the house to be collected at some point in the future, hopefully without any ringing of the doorbell.

As it turned out, collection time came some days later while I was washing the Beaglemobile. A little kid ran up our driveway and intercepted me just as I was opening our front door to go back inside for a coffee.

“I’ve come for the Kleeneze catalogue” he announced.

“OK” I replied, “It’s just down there.. or.. it was.”

I pointed to the spot by the door where I’d left it, but it was already gone. Presumably a recent storm had grabbed it and whisked it away. The kid started to say something to me, but was drowned out by the sound of Biggles huffing and puffing. He’d been fast asleep on the sofa, but the sound of our voices had stirred him to leap to his feet, cast off his favorite orange blankie and sprint right through the open door. I immediately commanded him to stop (well, it’s always worth a try, right?) and reached down to grab his collar as backup.

The command failed, and so did the grab, but it didn’t matter because the kid’s reaction brought Biggles to an abrupt halt. I don’t know whether the kid was just plain afraid of dogs (even ones with big comedy ears and tufty white bottoms) or had misinterpreted my rush to secure The Bigglet as a sign of danger, but regardless, he screamed and raised up his arms as if performing an old-school upright row with an invisible barbell. Then after a slight pause for dramatic effect, and with his arms still raised in that curious and infamously shoulder-unfriendly position, he turned and ran off down the street.

I was left kind of stunned by this, and so was Biggles. Fortunately I came to my senses before he did, so I was able to hook his collar with my fingers and lead him back inside, closing the door firmly behind us. We haven’t had any more Kleeneze catalogues through our letterbox since.

Bored Biggles [5D4_0855]

Our second terror-filled encounter came during the offlead section of an otherwise pleasant beach outing. Needing a day off running, I walked Beanie and Biggles far enough up the beach to avoid unwanted encounters with other dogs and under-age Kleeneze representatives, then unclipped their leads. I had my camera with me – hoping to get some shots of them playing – but as Sods Law dictates, they sprinted away without even looking back; by the time I’d got the lens cap off they were just dots on the horizon. Happily those dots didn’t shrink further and disappear; instead they kept to-ing and fro-ing over the same patch of beach as Beanie chased after birds, and Biggles chased after Beanie.




It took a while, but eventually they tired themselves out so much that they were happy to hang out near me and get regular servings of chicken. I strolled with them further up the beach for a while, until something ahead caught Beanie’s eye and she and Biggles went to investigate. At first it looked to me like a strange lump of seaweed in a puddle, but as I drew closer I recognised it as a dead fish, beached by the receding tide. Beanie was first to arrive at the fish, and Biggles drew up alongside her, sniffing the corpse tentatively to assess whether it had any potential as food. Within a second Biggles concluded that he wanted no part it; he trotted on past, casting Beanie a backward glance that said “trust me Beanie, no good can come from that, whatever it is.”

Beanie should have trusted him. He is after all the world’s least fussy eater; if anything is remotely edible, he’ll have a piece of it. He’ll even chow down on his worming tablet without me having to coat it in yoghurt, hide it in a treat, or just plain thrust it down his throat like I have to do with her royal haughtiness. So, when Biggles told her to leave it alone, that’s exactly what she should have done. But she didn’t. She inched closer and closer to it, until she could nudge it with her nose. The instant her sniffer made contact, the “dead” fish renanimated and flipped itself over in the puddle.

The movement of the zombie fish was shockingly fast and abrupt, coming without any prior warning. The movement of the Beanster was even faster. Without flexing her legs she instantly leaped back nearly a full yard. On landing she composed herself then trotted back to me deperately trying – but failing – to appear unshaken. Biggles turned to come back to me too, and gave his sister a robust but unhelpful “I told you so!” woofing.


A mutual “let’s put this behind us” shake followed, after which I got them both back on lead and back to the car.


Since that unfortunate experience The Pupplet has been spending even more time in our bed than usual. Maybe she believes that zombie fish know and respect that age-old rule: nothing scary can get you if you keep the covers over your head.