Sometimes one little mishap can be the trigger for a series of related yet unforeseeable events. For example, just under two weeks ago I pulled my calf on a beach run, and since then Beanie has injured her shoulder, a record number of socks have been binned, a glass has been broken, and Biggles has earned the title “The Hero of Arklet”. While superficially these events might appear unconnected, the application of hindsight reveals that they all stemmed from my calf muscle injury. Bear with me while I explain.
My calf tweak forced me out of running for a week or so, but I saw no reason to let it deprive the pups of their regular offlead romps on the beach. When the next outing was due I handled it just as I would a run, except that the initial on-lead and return sections were conducted at my best walking/limping pace. Save for a little build-up of frustration at the start, this first “beach-run substitute” went well, and I returned home with two well-exercised doggies and no further injuries to my calf.
The next outing did not fare so well. Beanie and Biggles showed more frustration during the initial walk, and when I unleashed them they went nuts. Happily they didn’t go far away from me, but I’d made the decision to get them back on lead at the very next opportunity when, suddenly, Beanie decided to run up a crazily steep dune. Our coast suffers from tidal erosion; every so often a chunk of sand and dirt falls away leaving a low but near-vertical cliff edge, and it was one of these that Beanie chose for her ascent. Watching her sprint up there was almost like watching a movie special effect; it just didn’t look realistic that a little Beagle could get up there so quickly and easily. Even with his powerful rear leg muscles Biggles wasn’t able to follow her directly; he had to find a less steep approach, and was baying madly as he tried to catch her up. The two of them disappeared from view briefly, but just before I committed to tearing up my calf muscle in pursuit of them, their heads bobbed up over the dune grass and they headed back down to me. Biggles arrived first and I got the feeling that all was not well with the Beanster as she brought up the rear. She was still high on pain-killing adrenaline, but I could see a mild limp caused by her right shoulder. I’d pulled my calf, causing Beanie & Biggles to get stir crazy, and as a result Beanie had done herself a mischief.
Now any further off-lead adventures were cancelled until both Beanie’s injury and mine were healed. Deprived of an important outlet for all their energy, the members of Team Chaos sort diversion in other ways. Biggles’s sock hunting antics went into overdrive, causing a record number to be binned due to excessive modification (nibbling), and then one morning, Beanie added to the damage.
Not long after I’d opened the pups’ crates and allowed them into our bed, Beanie went on a recon mission into the lounge. I became vaguely aware of rummaging noises, followed by the sound of something bouncing around on a table as it was being intensively licked. I’m normally quite careful about putting used cups and glasses away last thing at night, but I remembered leaving a glass on the table by the sofa, and now Beanie was doing her dishwashing routine. Just as I was about to shout “Oi! Leave it!”, there was a loud crash from the lounge, followed by the rapid scampering of four little paws. Two seconds later Beanie was in my face, wagging furiously and giving me nose kisses. This could have been an apology for the breakage, but I think it’s more likely that she’d just got scared by that exploding glass and needed reassurance.
So much for Beanie’s shoulder, the socks and the glass, but one thing remains: Biggles being hailed as The Hero of Arklet.
In this case, Arklet refers Loch Arklet, a somewhat remote land-locked body of water in the Trossachs. I’d been impressed by photos I’d seen of the loch and wanted to get some of my own. The initial expedition from our parking spot on the far western edge of the loch was cut short for the sake of Beanie’s shoulder, but then while Beanie and Susan snuggled in the van, I headed out with Biggles for a second, longer walk.
Initially it felt really weird having just one Beagle with me. This may sound silly but I like to talk to my Beagles on long walks, and with only Biggles to chat to, the conversation was kind of stilted. Although neither of my Beagles has actually got the hang of talking back using human speech, Beanie at least knows how to provide non-verbal feedback with frequent glances, head-tilts and so on; by comparison Biggles is a man of few words, unless there’s a cyclist, sheep or other dog to aim them at. He was however unusually well-behaved whenever I stopped for photos; he just quietly parked his bum while I set up, never wound his lead round my tripod legs (normally a frequent issue with Biggleses) and even seemed to understand me perfectly when I was telling him to pose for a shot, or to back up so that he wasn’t in the frame. Without Beanie to distract him and give him naughty ideas, he was doing a very good impersonation of the perfect Beagle boy.
It wasn’t long before I began handing out treats for such good behavior, and by the time we were heading back along the loch our “conversation” was really flowing. It hadn’t been the best of weather but I’d got all the shots I wanted and was looking forward to getting back to the van for some nosh, and I could tell that Biggles was on the same page. I told him about the cow ear that was waiting for him, and he quickened his pace. Then, with only a few hundred yards between us and the van, we found our way blocked by a black goat. He had a large set of horns, a bit of an attitude, and there was no way around him.
Biggles quickly assessed the situation and prepared a special woofing for our opponent. He stretched his neck forward, held his tail bolt upright, flattened the top of his head, and let rip with a stream of foul-mouthed doggy expletives. The effect was immediate; the goat dropped its head and began nonchalantly chewing grass. While this wasn’t exactly what Biggles had been aiming for, it did give us a window of opportunity to shuffle past the goat without any unpleasantness – something that would have been considerably more difficult with two Beagles. I was so proud of my little boy as we arrived back at the van that I called him “The Hero of Arklet” – a title that stuck for a couple of days (at least until he killed another sock).