We live in strange times

Dad went to my nans funeral on Friday. Lenny and I knew there was something not right as dad seemed a little apprehensive on our morning walk. We had a nice walk and dad told us what good lads we are, but there seemed to be something in his voice that told me things were a little different. We didn’t mess about too much on our walk or when we got back home. We got a big hug and a kiss on the head each before he left.

He said everything went ok on Friday afternoon, kind of as you would expect a funeral to go, really. Due to the current restrictions on people attending services, there were only 26 people so it felt a little more personal than when grandad passed away and there were about 50-60 people there. He did a talk and said to people about the link with the past being cut, abruptly and leaving you with regrets that you didn’t say what you wanted to say. When he got home, dad told us that he loved us very much and we got another round of tickles. I might have scored a couple of gravy bones too, whilst Lenny was walking around the garden but he doesn’t have to know, does he?

Then on Saturday we woke up, had our first half of breakfast, went on our walk, returned to our second half of breakfast and proceeded to settle in for a nice snooze. Suddenly, knock knock on the window and Raffa Beagles mum is standing there waving furiously at us. What a lovely surprise for Lenny and I. We greeted auntie J in normal beagle fashion and then proceeded to play hide and seek in the garden. She lost as we are quite good at finding people.

You go that way Lenny

After an hour or so we calmed sufficiently to roll over and snooze whilst the humans had a chat and caught up on life. We haven’t seen auntie J since early December 2019 and then were very saddened when poor sweet Raffa went to the Rainbow Bridge on 4th February this year. We had been saving up our leg leans and licks for her since then. It was a lovely sunny day so we went into the garden and showed everyone how fast we can run circuits around the flowerbeds and across the patio. I think they were impressed. We were just settling in for a long laze and looking forward to tickles when auntie J said she had to leave so we gave her a cheery beagle send off. Then it was off to sleep.

Strange days clearly follow one another. From sadness and reflection to a feeling of joy seeing friends in the space of 24 hours. Take life as it comes everyone as you won’t know what is around the corner. As Raffa said, never give up when faced with challenges and live life to the full.

We only get one shot at this.

The joy of life

I was going to call this article “The Joy of Dex” but that may attract a different type of reader.

I’ve been watching my brother recently and noticed that he has settled so much faster than I did when I arrived. I am forever on the go, I need to see whats happening, when its happening and why. If someone goes out of the room, I will be right there dutifully trotting along behind. It has come to my ever increasing notice that Lenny just stays on his bed, lazily opens one eye to survey the scene and then falls back to sleep again.

Chalk and cheese we are referred to. The rare times upon which he will move swiftly usually involve food or going into the garden to run around like hounds possessed.

On our walks around the local lanes Lenny has started to find his own trails more often although we still sniff the same scents now and again. When we look at him, he is trotting along with his tongue hanging out, happiness writ large over his cheery little face.

Today I was in the office with mum whilst she worked away and dad made dinner. Lenny strolled to the door and asked politely if he could go outside, so dad obliged. Within five minutes there was a quiet bump on the door and Lenny was playing happily with a small unripe apple that had fallen from one of the trees in my small orchard. He picked up the apple, tossed it onto the patio and play bowed with it. He was so engrossed with such a small thing that brought him so much joy that he hardly noticed dad watching him.

Apparently he is a little heart melter just like me. We may be the same breed but we are so different in our nature. He is the epitome of a rescued dog living his best life with love and security showered upon him.

Freedom. Of sorts.

I have been very busy with one thing and another. As a result I have failed to let you know about some shenanigans that took place last Saturday and which were wholly unexpected. Sometimes they are the best ones so I shall seek to remedy my omission now.

We had heard mum and dad last week hoping that the weather at the weekend would stay reasonable, however we couldn’t quite find out what they needed good weather for. We were out on our paws early on Saturday last week which was a bit strange but a walk is a walk after all, whatever time it was taken. Upon our return we had a quick breakfast and found ourselves bundled unceremoniously into the car and off we set. To where, we knew not. Around the motorway and down the road, around the roundabout and across the cross roads. Up hill and down hill we went, on our merry way. It was only when we pulled across the driveway of grandads house that I realised where we were. Maybe the fact that I slept most of the way there didn’t help with my navigation skills. Lenny seemed eager to see this new place, despite him being here in December last year.

Having been released from our travel crates we went to explore the local playing fields and then the inside of grandads house. We remembered from our previous visit the best places to play which included but weren’t restricted to standing at the top of the stairs and baying at each other followed by running up and down the stairs. According to mum and dad this isn’t acceptable behaviour. Who knew? Anyway, we got a bit bored after a few hours of playing indoor snout jousting so it was decided we would get back in the car and go to the beach. Fortunately it wasn’t too far away so we only had to put up with dads driving for a short time. When we arrived at the beach it was windy. Very windy. I knew how windy it was as my ears were flapping behind my head like a world war one fighter ace. Tally ho, off we go.

Great ear flips Lenny. Pardon?

We strolled with the wind at our backs and watched as the sea crashed upon the shingle of the beach. Lenny and I were each harnessed to a heavy parent so we wouldn’t float away, which was quite possible. We went up to the edge of the waves and I stupidly forgot that seawater tastes awful. Lenny just laughed at me. We wandered along smelling all the new scents for a mile or so and then were told we would return to the car which sounded very boring as there were still many scents. However this is where the fun really started as we were now walking into the wind which was whipping up the sea spray and blowing it all over our faces and fur, even into our eyes. Mum was the only person to forget her sunglasses so she suffered quite a bit with “sea spray eyes”. Fortunately we could walk behind some shrubs which had established as a windbreak along a section of the beach and thus gave us some respite. When we got back to the car we were all covered in a salty film of seawater spray. Lenny and I were able to shake most of it from our fur and then lick ourselves clean. The humans accompanying us on our adventure were not quite as fortunate. A short drive later and we were back at grandads house. We ate our dinner and then for some unknown reason felt very tired, almost as if we had just had an adventure along the beach, all the while pulling and scenting.

Wonder what time we get dinner around here?

We knew our adventure was over when we were returned to the car for the homeward journey.

Snooze.

We slept most of Sunday, our brains and paws overworked with sights and scents. We were dreaming of another escapade and hoping it would come soon.

It was a day of freedom of sorts. We had been able to do shenanigans for the first time in a while and it felt good.

The frailty of life

I am going to let my dad write on my blog today as, in the early hours of this morning, my nanny passed away in hospital. She made her longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge, as it were. I loved my nanny, she was the best.

Watching the person who gave you life, who then preserved and progressed your life, gradually deteriorate is a strange and slightly surreal experience. Seeing my father shortly after he had died was somewhat of shock to the system and I suppose the only redeeming factor to his death was that he did not apparently suffer toward the end and indeed the end came quickly.

Conversely I, along with my siblings, have watched as our mother at first slowly and then more recently deteriorate markedly to what is sadly the inevitable conclusion. Looking at the person who gave you life, now being relieved of pain by medical means at the very end of her days is a thought provoking thing. It is said that as people near the end of their life, they seem to become a shell of their former selves and this seems to ring true in respect of my mother. Seeing her in the last seven days she seemed at once to have no cares in the world, yet at other times had her life etched upon her face. We were assured that she passed away in peace and was not in pain. This provides a modicum of solace to us all.

My mother and father had five children in eleven years. They watched as one of their children died at far too young an age. The family was raised in the age when predominantly dad went to work and mum kept the house, along with the children, in line until they flew the nest. In addition she managed numerous jobs for around fifty of her eighty three years on this earth.

Born prior to World War two commencing she was evacuated and then returned to her home in south London at the time of the Blitz. She was one of four children (the others were boys) so she would have been used to the general disorganisation of life that conflict brings to any scenario as well as having many children in the same house at the same time.

Malta

She met my father who then served his National Service in Malta between 1958-1960 and they returned to the UK to set up home and start their lives together. Along with my father they worked hard to ensure that the children had a roof over their heads and that they would grow up with a good moral compass and a clear understanding of right and wrong. Maybe I messed about along the way with some of their efforts at showing us the good from bad, but overall their teachings have succeeded I hope. In her later life, as her health failed to a constantly greater extent she relied more and more upon my father until his untimely demise in December 2017. Dad had been, to all intents, an unpaid and on site member of the wider care team that looked after her needs all day and night. At the point of his death both of my sisters stepped up admirably and assisted mum where they were able to do so. Without their help, she truly would have been lost. Problems with mobility as well as various further health scares and the odd fall meant there would be a move from their house of some 50 years to a flat where it was easier for her to get about. Subsequent visits to hospital for various ailments ended with her being looked after in a nursing home for the final 8 months of her life. It seems to have been a fairly painful end to a life lived fully by someone who felt that her task was to try and ensure her children were level headed, reasonable and didn’t get into trouble. My mother, along with my father, achieved these goals.

Best mum in the world

The inevitability of the end doesn’t dampen the feeling of emptiness in your stomach, the knowledge that you will no longer be able to call and tell of good and bad news, to be able to sit down, have a cup of tea and chat about whatever comes to mind. The contact with the past is broken, abruptly and permanently. However she said she doesn’t want sadness, foreboding and a sense of navel gazing. To her life is to be lived. We get one chance to get it as right as you can so we have to take it.

Thank you mum, for giving me and my siblings that chance.

I love you nanny. Fly free.

Do vampires have birthdays?

Happy birthday to my younger brother, Lenny. He’s two today as far as we know. He is a rescue just like me, although he is from Cyprus and I think I am from Wales.

Lenny has been here for sixteen months now and he has settled in very well. He has his paws firmly under the table. We play nicely and noisily in the garden which is always great fun. Whether it’s fun for the parents, who knows. When we go for patrols in the lanes and fields he is learning to sniff his own scents instead of trying to muscle in on my scents, like he used to do. Its good that he and I can walk side by side without too much interference. He has chilled out far more in the last year and now knows that this is his forever home. We can shenanigan in the garden pretty fairly now as he seems to be a bit quicker than his old brother, however I know all the shortcuts. He’s been to London twice, met Raffa, travelled to the Beagle World Record Reunion, been on many car rides and even went on the tube for a few times in the last year. He’s become more adventurous as well as more confident in his life here.

I’m glad I allowed him to come and live with me. We make a good team and I have taught him many of the things he needs to know about living here. However he did learn to stand on dads kidneys at six in the morning all by himself, so I can’t claim the credit for that little escapade.

Have a good birthday little brother. I am pleased you are my brother and proud ears that we get along so well.

Thunderbolts and lightning

I think it’s safe to say that I do not like this hot weather. It is safer to say that the subsequent thunder and lightning leading to the break in the weather is frightening me rather too much. I can always tell that there is an impending clap of thunder or flash of lightning. I seek the safety of somewhere behind the sofa or try to dig a hole through the rug in the hallway. I sit shivering and shaking whilst everyone else in the house goes about their daily business. This includes Lenny who seems utterly impervious to the impending doom of the next boom of thunder or crash of lightning.

Ugh, too hot

We’ve had some tropical weather recently and we aren’t used to it. The daytime temperatures have soared and the rain has stayed away from our little corner of the country. Our walks have taken place earlier than usual in the morning so that the sun is not fully blazing down upon us. We have ventured along lanes and byways, through fields and woods to enjoy our walk and try to stay as cool as possible. We’ve even been lucky enough to go for a paddle at the end of our daily walk so we can cool our paws off in the chilly chalk stream which still flows close to our house. Normally the stream has dried up by this point in the year however, we had larger than usual rainfall throughout Winter and Spring so the aquifer has been replenished fully. The days have been spent trying to stay out of the sun which saps our energy so quickly. Even our standard garden sport of snout jousting has had to take a back seat to lazing on a cool tiled floor with fans blowing cold air all over our fur. We cannot sweat in the same manner as humans so we cannot get rid of the excess body heat. Our tongue and paws being cooled down in the river helps significantly.

What’s a trip hazard?

The tropical weather has continued at night where it hasn’t dropped below 20 deg C for the past five or six nights. Lenny has been sleeping on top of his bed as it is cooler and often times I am sleeping on the wooden floor instead of being in my warm fluffy bed next to a radiator. We have been told we are “trip hazards” whatever one of those is, as one or the other parent decides they want to go for a night time wander. I am pleased to report that the hot and sultry conditions broke somewhat last evening and we had a more comfortable day today when it only reached the dizzy heights of 30 deg C in the direct sunlight, according to our thermometer in the garden. However the weather breaking brings more fear and trepidation for me. The sonic activity seems to adversely affect me and my initial thought is to try and find somewhere safe to hide. I wish I was able to feel the same level of confidence that I see in the parents and Lenny when they stroll about keeping themselves busy. Lenny and I maybe the same breed but we are poles apart when it comes to thunder and lightning. Anyway this current period of high heat seems to have passed now so I should be able to revert to type.

Ow, gerrof

Bitey face can continue in earnest.

Attached

Today I saw something that made my heart warm and brought a smile to my face.

Dad had to run an errand and Lenny was whimpering a little whilst he was out. When dad returned, Lenny bounced along the path in the garden and greeted dad with a wag of his tail and the usual standing on dads leg so he can get closer for tickles and ear rubs. I always got the feeling that Lenny liked living here but now I can confirm it.

Dad has been taking Lenny on some longer walks for a few days a week recently to try and get Lenny more accustomed to some different places and scents. We have been restricted during the quarantine period as to where we could go fairly safely and not bump into too many people in a close proximity, for instance on a narrow path through the woods. On the walk Lenny gets plenty of praise if he does something right, such as being polite to another dog, not arooing at humans, walking closely if they’re on a steep downward slope and returning from the end of the lead when called. I think it has worked. When Lenny saw dad come home, his whole demeanour changed.

Come on dad, the fun is this way.

I had praise and tickles when I first arrived but I don’t think I necessarily appreciated or understood what they were for. I always though they were a precursor to more shenanigans and pulling like a bucking bronco at the end of my lead. I know I am happy and have a forever home here. I think until recently Lenny was still slightly hesitant. The last few weeks he has come on markedly and feels more attached to us all.

He’s found his forever home too. I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Glad you are my brother.

On Dexters patch

Today I am allowing Lenny to write a blog. I will be checking to make sure it is all fine and dandy later. Anyway I will hand over to Lenny.

Hello everyone, it is I Lenny. Today I decided that I would explore one of Dexters favourite walks. Mum, dad and I conspired to keep it quiet from Dexter so he wouldn’t get too jealous. He went out with mum as he’s still on fairly short walks and I went off with dad.

So, let me take you on a little walk. Across the little bridge over the tube line and up the steep slope to the big field to Dungrove Farm.

There are definitely squirrels here

We went through the gate into the Alpaca field very carefully and quietly but they were clearly not at home today as the field was empty. Across the next field and around the edge of the barley crop. Down the slope toward the byway and turn left into the tunnel of trees. This was fun as there were so many scents of squirrel and rabbit here. I was very happy. We turned right and went into the big field which is Dex’s favourite field anywhere.

As we crested the hill I thought it would be fun to go for a jog through the woods, so dad had to jog through the woods with me. Eventually we arrived at the path where we should turn right and head back downhill. Not today, let’s turn left and see if there are any squirrels running down the path ahead of us, I woofed. Dad had no choice in the matter and we immediately spied a squirrel running down the path ahead of us. This was my lucky day, a squirrel to chase. Once I had finished chasing said squirrel and the pace slackened somewhat, we came out into a small lane with some nice houses. Turn right said dad and we can go back via a little quiet lane which will take us towards home. We ended up dodging various cars and vans on our way down the hill. I thought dad said it was a quiet lane.

Is that where we’ve been, or where we’re going?

Anyway, we took the opportunity to get off the lane and onto the footpath across the fields towards home. One last road cross and we were at The Moor. I ventured into the raging torrent of a river to quench my thirst after all my exertions. Ok, maybe the river was about 4 inches deep at the edge but I am still learning about water so it felt like I was being brave. All in all, it was six miles of fun.

When I got home I couldn’t help but tell Dex where I had been and what I had got up to. He was a bit jealous of me but said he had a nice walk too with mum. Then we were back to chasing each other around the garden, snout jousting and generally being silly.

Do not disturb.

It’s a hard life.

Off with his head.

As my readers will undoubtedly remember I had the privilege, nay the honour, of showing Raffa and her mum around London before Christmas last year. Ok, Lenny and my parents came along to carry bags and pay for coffee and buns, but I did most of the work on the day. We had a lovely day and saw so many places that Lenny and I slept like the proverbial logs on the tube journey home.

When I woke up the next day I realised that Raffa hadn’t ticked off all the sights she wanted to see. We had missed seeing a Yeoman of the Guard, also known as a Beefeater.

Nearly all ticked off.

This bugged me for quite some time in the weeks and months that followed. Mum and dad could see there was something preoccupying me and we decided we would do something about it. We wanted it to be a surprise for Raffa and her mum. Sadly Raffa then made her longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge. This only strengthened my resolve to finish Raffa’s tick list. We decided to try and contact the Tower of London people to see if they could help us. I dictated an email for dad to send to the Tower of London and we waited to see if there would be a reply. To our surprise we got a really fast response which said they would be only too pleased to help us and we should correspond further to make arrangements. Once dad had made concrete plans, I had to rein in my enthusiasm until the day I could escort dad on the tube back into London. We had to be quite quick as the pandemic was beginning to affect travel and people so we knew we wouldn’t have much time.

The day arrived and we were on our toes early towards the station. Onto the train, and before we knew it, we were through Marylebone and heading to the park. I had done it a few times before. I felt like a professional commuter.

Dad, can we make this train go faster?

We successfully negotiated the tube journey and found ourselves looking out at the Tower of London. Suddenly my ears were being tickled by a tall gentleman in a colourful coat and hat. Yeoman Sergeant Towell was standing smiling and we went off for the photo to be taken. Whilst the picture was being taken we had a chat with him. He was very welcoming and generous with his time, given that there were still some people who also wanted his help in being shown around the Tower. He was a beagle owner previously and also told us that there is a beagle who lives in the Tower, but I didn’t get to meet him. It was great fun and I walked back to the tube station with a spring in my step.

This is for you Raffa.

Within a couple of days, the pandemic intervened and it took some time to get a nice frame for the photo which we would send to Raffa’s mum. We hoped she would be happy that we had completed Raffa’s tick list. I gave the picture a kiss and we sent it off. Now we had to wait to hear if we had done the right thing.

We had done the right thing. Raffa’s mum loved the picture. Phew. She said it was wonderful and lovely and was a fitting reminder of the day. Phew once more. We couldn’t let you down by not finishing the postcard, Raffa.

We must say thank you to the Tower of London as they were unbelievably helpful and happy to help us at short notice.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Lenny

Wake up wake up, it’s gone 6 am and the squirrels are running amok in the grounds. Ok, they’re not actually running amok but mum and dad didn’t know and we could have stopped a squirrel invasion. I got Lenny to leap on dads kidneys so he had no excuse to go back to sleep. Up and at them, come on.

We were soon in our harnesses and exploring the lanes and byways around Pednor, with the sun on our fur and our scent receptors close to the ground. As we went along the lane, the rabbits scattered for their burrows and the squirrels hid in their trees, sadly out of our reach. Upon reaching the dingley dell on the corner of the road, we decided we would take the parents along Herberts Hole as there was a better chance of getting some good baying off our chests with the critters that live in the hedgerows. Birds, squirrels and rodents made their escape as we wandered along, having great fun. Apparently I sound like one of those steam trains you see and hear in old films, when I am on the trail of prey. Anyway, we got most of the way down the track and mum decided she had to return home to do something called ‘work’. Nope, I have no idea what it is either. So, we turned around and headed home.

Back at home and after breakfast we were allowed out into the garden again as the sun was still shining and there were various horticultural chores that needed to be started and finished. It was such a peaceful morning with Lenny and I wandering around, sniffing, lazing on the grass and playing the odd bit of snout jousting. He seemed to be quite calm as we lay near each other, thinking about where we could drag mum and dad tomorrow morning.

What a lovely day for some nefarious activity

Then it started. The glint in his eye, the slight wry smile, the malevolent sideways glance to see if I was concentrating. He woofed to me that he was off to chew a stick so off he toddled. You could almost see the little halo above his head, he looked so innocent. My canine senses told me there was malice afoot however and I made myself ready to repel boarders. I was right, quick as a flash he was on to me, teeth glinting in the sun, eyes reddened from his transformation into a devil of the night and his paws standing on my ears whilst his teeth went to work on my face. He had pinned me down ready to inflict the final chomp on my jugular vein. However he didn’t account for my saviour, in the shape of a dad shaped object advancing up the garden to prise us apart and save my ears and neck from looking like a kitchen colander. “Off! Leave him alone!” called dad. And suddenly Lenny was running googley eyed around the garden arooing at his perceived victory over me. I got ear tickles whilst dad made sure I hadn’t been perforated and then he told me to “stop encouraging Lenny”. Forget the perforated ears, they were shocked and stunned ears. As I looked past dad, I saw Lenny down the garden once again wandering around quietly eating revolting stuff and looking for worm casts to roll in. How could he be so different so quickly?

Ow ow, get off. Hee hee.

I had held him off, just, and I live to tell the tale. Innocent, my paw.

I shall chew a stick and await my next victim.

Still love him though. He is my brother after all.