Last weekend we missed our regular parkrun due to snow and ice, so we were particularly eager for this weekend’s run. Knowing that there’d be a few other people running with dogs, Susan decided to bake up some bone-shaped sardine cakes. They turned out great:


The singing dog treat jar guards the bone-cakes as they cool

Those tasty bones came with a price though; as they cooked the smell of sardines flooded the house and drove our two Beagles mad. They in turn drove us mad. Beanie in particular spent most of the evening wailing outside the kitchen door, and when she wasn’t wailing, she was following us around like one of the spooky kids from the Midwich Cuckoos. Midway through the evening she had a protest pee in the corridor, and even though she did quit wailing when we finally crated her for the night, she spent a good twenty minutes telling her bed off.


Beanie’s long vigil at the kitchen door

Happily these trials and tribulations were forgotten when we got to Strathclyde park for the run. For the first time in ages there wasn’t the slightest trace of snow or ice anywhere on the route, but there was plenty of water. Apparently there’s a tradition in parkrun never to say that it rains; instead it’s customary to say that it’s merely “damp”. Well,it was so “damp” that afterwards our running shoes ended up in the utility room with the dehumidifier turned up to full, and I was very tempted to stick Beanie & Biggles in there for an hour too to dry them out. The sardine bone-cakes were a huge hit though, and as we talked with the other cani-crossers a decision was made to get together again for some informal training runs.

Our first such run happened today around the standard parkrun course in Pollok park. We were joined by Bundy and her dad Brian, Lindsay Cloughley with her handsome husky Suko, Colin Reid with his completely mad-for-it Border Terrier Mitch, and Scotland’s chief parkrun organiser Richard Leyton. He didn’t have a dog with him but he was keen to get a feel for what it’s like to run alongside cani-crossers (keen enough to be there with us at 8.30 in the morning on a Sunday!), and after the run we lent him the Biggly Boy for a quick lap of the car park so he could feel Beagle pulling power first hand.

The run itself was a conducted at a gentle pace, which is just as well because both Colin and Richard are quite a bit faster than the rest of us! The dogs got on great throughout; obviously Beanie, Biggles and Bundy are great together, but Beanie also hit it off with little Mitch and Biggles just loved running with Suko. At one point he and Suko were running right alongside each other and I could sense him swell with pride; they say Beagles are big dogs in small packages and I’m sure he felt twice his normal size as he trotted along with this huge, tame wolf of a dog! I did have a bit of hard time keeping Biggles going in a straight line for some of the run though, which is unusual. In a regular parkrun, the convention is to run in single file on the left, and with the scent of all the faster runners ahead of us, Biggles flies along like an arrow. Here however we were running level, and he kept wanting to stray to one side or the other. Apparently Mitch is a little like this too; if someone’s ahead of him, he runs brilliantly, but when he’s at the front, he tends to lose focus.

The run was great fun for two-leggers and four-leggers alike, and as we headed back to our cars Susan broke out another pack of bone-shaped cakes (chicken flavor this time). This gave the Beagle contingent a chance to demonstrate their superior gobbling ability. While Mitch and Suko politely nibbled at their cakes, Bundy polished hers off in a couple of bites, Biggles devoured his and nearly took my fingers with it, and Beanie bypassed the chewing process completely, swallowing hers whole before proceeding to nick half of Suko’s cake into the bargain. That’s Beagles for you – insatiable appetites paired with a complete lack of manners!

When we got home the peace and quiet we got (until tea time) was a strong indication that today’s run was a big hit!



If you’re in Scotland and you’re interested in running with your dog(s), get in touch and we’ll give you more info about runs that we take part in.

New Year’s Bay

In the past we’ve often celebrated the New Year by going for a good long walk, but this time we hauled ourselves and our sleepy Beaglets out of bed extra early to go do a parkrun at Strathclyde Country Park. This is a different venue from our previous parkruns, and it looks set to be our favorite. For one thing it already has a small but dedicated core of cani-x runners, but over and above this it has an almost ideal course for running with dogs; most of the route is flat and straight with a wide band of grass running alongside it – perfect for overtaking – and the half-way point is clearly recognizable so it’s much easier to pace yourself.

Lining up at the start with my Biggly Boy, I had high hopes for a personal best, but as the starter noted, PB or not all runners were guaranteed their best time of the year so far! It was very exciting, and with Biggles, exciting equals noisy. I did my level best to keep his baying under control using treats as a distraction, and as the last piece of bone shaped biscuit disappeared into the black hole that is my boy’s stomach, we got the “go” signal.

He took off like a rocket, while I took off like a rocket with an ignition problem and a fuel leak, but between us we managed to overtake a fair number of other runners and find our place within the pack. We kept the pace up despite a few patches of ice, and when one of the marshalls offered us a lucky dip from a huge tin of Quality Street, we both resisted temptation.

As we came down the home straight I looked for the little tent that marks the start and end of the race, and when I finally spotted it, it seemed to be a good couple of hundred yards further away than I remembered. This is apparently a common experience for runners at Strathclyde; the organizers insist they don’t sneakily shift it further back during the race to prolong the torture, but I have my doubts! Regardless, we eventually we caught up with the evasive tent, crossed the line and took up position to watch for Susan and Beanie. We didn’t have long to wait – the two of them finished strongly and I got the distinct impression that we’d all be getting personal best times!


The start of the race. With all that grass alongside the track, it’s easy for cani-x runners to run as wide as they need until the pack thins out


Me and the Bigglet slowly moving up the pack!


Susan and Beanie on the outward leg of the course

Many thanks to Ross Goodman and Andrew Jeske for these fine mementos of the run. You can see more pictures from the Strathclyde parkruns on Flickr here and here.

When we got back home, we had a hefty dinner (steak pie & veg of course!) and crashed out in front of the telly, rising only to check the parkrun site for our times. When they appeared, it was PB’s all round: 24.06 for me and Biggles, and 32.19 for Susan and Beanie!


Biggles gets a well earned nap


Beanie hears the camera and strikes a suitably princess-like pose


But she can’t keep it up for long


Biggles reacts to news of his personal best time

What a great way start to 2011!

Run Santa, Run!

What’s the most surreal thing you can think of doing on a clear but cold Sunday afternoon in November? How about running along Ayr’s sea front with 100+ other people in a Santa suit? Yep, today was the day of the annual Santa Charity Dash in aid of Ayrshire Cancer Support, and the four of us were part of it.

The course was around 5K long and totally hill-free, but perhaps best of all, the race kicked off at the very civilized time of 3pm so there was plenty of time for the traditional Sunday lie-in.  Once we’d finally emerged from the safety of our warm bed our thoughts turned first to breakfast, then to preparation for the run. Beanie and Biggles felt that their prep time would be best served by a rigorous warm up run round the garden:


Meanwhile we got our running gear together. The entry fee for the run gets you a cheap and cheerful one-size-fits-all paper thin Santa costume, but the pants looked a bit on the small side so we decided to try them on before the race to avoid any embarrassing surprises. The costumes were a bit tight in places though we did fit into them OK, but they certainly gave our pups a shock when they came in from the garden. Beanie threw her head back and howled for all she was worth, then having got over the shock, ran over to Susan and promptly tried to rip the bobble off her Santa hat!


That’s not the first bobble that Beanie’s attacked. Earlier in the week I got a doggy Santa hat and scarf set from Poundland for Biggles (Beanie already has her own full Santa jacket) and almost the moment I came in the door she snatched at the poly bag it was in. I wrestled it free and called Biggles for a test fitting, then noticed that his little hat was bobble-free. I turned around and Beanie was lying on the floor with the missing bobble between her paws, tearing it to shreds.


A sombre moment for Biggles, who now faces life without a bobble on his Santa hat

It was justified revenge I guess; last year when Beanie first went out in her posh winter jacket Biggles peed on it. Anyway, I took great care to protect Biggles’ scarf from damage. Speaking of Biggles, he used Beanie’s distraction to launch his own attack on Susan’s Santa beard:


Since he was doing so well with the beard, Beanie decided to join in:



Once the preparations were complete (and Susan’s beard was an inch and a half longer) we headed off to Ayr to join the growing crowd of Santas at the amphitheatre – the starting point of the race.


Biggles wore his Santa scarf proudly, and Beanie looked great in her Santa coat so I squatted down to get a photo:


As I did so I heard a brief “pop” from down below, and when I stood up again things felt kind of breezy around my groin. Yep, my economy sized bum had torn the stitches of my one-size-fits-everyone-else-but-me Santa pants. Fortunately I had shorts on underneath, and anyway I didn’t feel that my dignity had been compromised because I was already standing around like a tool dressed in a Santa suit in the middle of November.

In due course the race got under way, and things went pretty well apart from a short stop for a Biggle poo. I could hardly hold that against him given that our roles had been reversed last weekend (see previous post) but he still bayed like crazy when I delayed us further by fumbling with the poo bag.

The race finished in the town center to the sound of bagpipes, and after collecting our medal and water, we found a good position to wait for Susan and Beanie. We didn’t have to wait too long; Susan had a decent run after being thwarted last week by cramped calf muscles. As they headed up the street towards us, Beanie – who up to that point had been very well behaved – suddenly went into “spider-beagle” mode. She darted about from side to side, stretching out long and low to reach something by the gutter. Pizza! Yep, she’d scored a chunk a of discarded pizza, and now she was on the hunt for more. Me and Biggles joined Susan and Beanie for their last few yards, but Beanie barely noticed. Anything and everything within range ended up in her mouth, and soon she lucked out again with a couple of prawn crackers. Not a bad haul for a little Beagle dressed in a Santa costume! She was a nightmare on the way back to the car, so we went part of the way via the beach – less to pick up there!


I have to admit that this experience has given me new respect for the real Santa Claus. He never complains about how itchy his beard is, never loses the bobble on his hat, and never splits his pants. Let’s hear it for Santa!

Here’s a little video of the highlights from the day: