We headed back to the Trossachs region for a sleep-over by Loch Ard just a few days before storm “Ophelia” was due to visit Scotland; I figured it would be my last chance to catch autumn color before 70 mph winds stripped the trees bare. On our arrival at the forest car park my first job – as always – was to get the furballs out of their travel crates and take them for a pee walk while Susan prepared the van for our overnighter. I have to say it was kind of spooky wandering around the empty parking and picnic areas in the dark. The air was completely still and I became very aware of all the forest sounds around us: deer vocalizing off in the distance and an occasional little critter scurrying around unseen just out of the beam of my head torch. Beanie and Biggles showed no interest in the wildlife but they were very interested in checking the ground underneath the tables and benches for dropped food.
Soon after our return to the van it was time to prepare for bed. I did everything in my power to make Beanie’s position on the driver’s seat as comfortable as possible. I’d like to claim I did this out of care for my little girl, but the truth is my motives were almost entirely self-centered: firstly I really wanted a long undisturbed nap before our walk the next morning, and secondly she was still honking to high heaven from our beach run earlier that day. The roll du jour in this case had involved a particularly rotten seal carcass. It had been so bad – so absolutely vile – that even Biggles had turned his nose up at it, but Beanie had gone paws up as soon as she found it; washing in the sea, scrubbing with dog wipes and even time in her crate had done little to weaken the stench. Hoping that both she and Biggles would stay put, Susan and I quietly retired to our own bed.
At what felt like 4am in the morning I was awoken by the van shaking slightly and a rustling sound coming from the passenger seat. I knew instantly that it was Biggles in the throes of a bed-making session. While Beanie generally expresses discontent with her bed by circling and whining at an ever-increasing pitch, my boy just gets physical; he tugs it and throws it around like a strongman hauling barrels in a competition. This is fine in the house where there’s plenty of space (though the bed usually ends up even lumpier than when he started), but in the confines of the van’s passenger seat, a mishap was inevitable.
I didn’t have to turn on the light to know that Biggles had fallen off the seat and was now standing stunned and silent on the floor of the van, probably with his bed covering his head. I struggled to suppress a snigger and wondered just how long he’d wait there – completely motionless – until someone came to sort him out. That is always Biggles’ go-to reaction when he finds himself in a predicament: stay calm, quiet and still, and a human will eventually fix things. I often worry that he’d do exactly the same thing if he ever got off lead and injured himself while out of my sight. He’s got the lungs and voice to produce a call for help that would be heard for miles around, but when he’s in a fix he just hits the mute button and stands perfectly still.
Perhaps the reason he persists with this approach is because it’s always worked for him, and it worked again here because Susan got up to go to his aid. In doing so she left a space in our bed, and something small and very pungent soon arrived to fill it. I felt Beanie’s cold wet nose brush mine as she came to say hello. “Eewwww the smelly thing’s in the bed!” I proclaimed to Susan, and this produced a rapid wag at Beanie’s rear end. Had I not been so tired I could probably have settled her back on the driver’s seat, but on this occasion lethargy won. Susan came back to bed and Biggles came with her, and though conditions were cramped and whiffy, we all slept through until morning. The weather wasn’t exactly sunny for our walk the next day, but at least it wasn’t blowing a hurricane!
The standard circuit along the loch is an easy going 14km but as a photographer I was keen to explore all the little trails off the main path. As Beagles, Beanie and Biggles were fully behind this plan.
Of course all that walking requires fuel, and when the human is tardy in opening the treats a protest has to be made. No way was Biggles going to be quiet for this one!
Happily no-one decided to supplement their treats with a wild mushroom or two. Or twenty.
This part of the loch smelled a bit funky so of course The Beanster went straight in for paddle. Given that stale lake is much less whiffy than rotten seal carcass, I considered it a win.
Loch Ard from a higher viewpoint on the walk back.
By the time we got back to the van it was raining heavily and every space in the previously deserted car park was full. We all had breakfast, and just before we packed up to go his Biggleship had one more bed-making mishap. Deciding that the dog bed on the drivers seat required adjustment, he began tugging at it vigorously, slamming his bum into the steering wheel so hard it sounded the horn. This caught him completely by surprise; he woofed and jumped back again onto the wheel, once again honking the horn, and this in turn prompted another round of shocked baying. I could see other occupants of the car park wondering what all the commotion was about, so I restrained his little white bum before it could beep the horn a third time. I have to wonder how many times the bum-horn-woof feedback loop would have continued without my intervention.
The Bigglet. He may not be as smart as Beanie, but at least he doesn’t smell of decayed seal.