At first when I was out in the garden, I still couldn’t be let off the lead. There were too many smells and trails and the humans were scared in case I chased something and managed to jump over the fence. So, they couldn’t do anything much in the garden as one of them always had me on a lead. This meant they were getting frustrated but I didn’t know they were frightened of me running away, so I just thought it was normal and that sometimes they were quite frustrated. The first few weeks and months I was allowed some freedom on the end of a long training lead so it could be grabbed if I decided to try and make a run for it over a fence. Soon however humum decided that I had calmed down sufficiently and that we would try training for something called “recall”. There were treats involved so I was always going to be interested. We were on the patio and I was still on the lead being walked round in circles left and right. Then I was told to sit. This was easy! Then wait, still easy! Then the lead was dropped and I just sat there. They were shocked and I could see they were still worried. I just had my eye on the treat bag hanging off humums belt. She walked back 2 or 3 paces and then returned to pick up the lead and we walked round again. We did this a few times and I was getting the hang of it, especially when the treat bag appeared. We tried this for a few weeks, gradually moving to the point where I was sat down and the humans could walk around the patio and I didn’t move. Clearly they didn’t pick up on the connection between my good behaviour and the treat bag!
Then, one day, my world changed forever. We were all in the garden and humum said that they needed to take a chance. We went around the garden, which I call my grounds, and I was really enjoying myself and wasn’t pulling on the lead and harness. There were no smells so I was calm. I was told to sit, in the middle of the lawn and humum unclipped the lead from my harness. I was free! But something strange happened as I didn’t run away. I sat and waited for the humans to say something. When I heard the magic words “Ok, off you go” I just got up and strolled off. I was free, I could explore and I could sniff wherever I wanted to. This was very different and I wasn’t about to mess it up. I was very happy and after a short time I ran around the garden aroo-ing at the top of my voice. I was happy, I was being trusted and I could run around. There was a football and tennis balls which needed to be played with. I ran and chased and fell over a couple of times but I was having so much fun, and the humans were laughing with me. They threw a tennis ball for me and I was whizzing up and down the garden chasing it. The football was kicked around and I chased it for a while.
Gradually they were able to do more gardening without worrying about me. When I was first allowed off lead in the grounds, they were concerned that I disappeared from sight sometimes, but I was only exploring round the garage or the shed and they shouldn’t have worried about me. There are so many smells to investigate that I would wander about and generally have fun and feel content. As long as there aren’t any pesky squirrels in the trees, I am very content to wander around the garden, and laze about on the porch of the playhouse or log store. I found out that the patio table was good for sun bathing on, and I could lay up there for quite a while, supervising the humans in the garden. I kept them on their toes though. Every now and again I would make sure they played a game of chase or find the human in the garden, just so they didn’t forget about me. They also found out that if one of my beds gets put on the bench, I will quite happily laze away a couple of hours relaxing, interspersed with running around the garden like a fur possessed.
Often I will also help the humans by digging holes for them. I thought I was being useful but apparently I am digging holes in the wrong places and they have already planted things there.
After the initial excitement of getting used to my new home, life continued apace. I was really unsure as to whether I would be living here for a long time or whether I was only around until another home could be found for me. I sometimes saw my humans getting frustrated with me, because they didn’t understand my arooo, and I didn’t understand what they wanted me to do. This was difficult as we were struggling to get to grips with us all living together and it was only the first few weeks. I was trying really hard, and so were they, but something was missing.
One day, after I had been here for a couple of weeks, we went for a ride in the car. We arrived at somewhere called a Dog Training School. This is what my humans said it was called. Now, I can’t read words so I had to rely on them telling the truth, but this place seemed to be quite interesting and exciting to me. Once we got inside, I realised that I was there to teach the humans how to look after me. They were being taught how to tell me off, how to make me come and sit, and generally what to do to try and take better care of me. It was fun sometimes when I was learning new things, but my humans were being told to shout at me, because the instructor was trying to teach them to dominate. I didn’t like this, and when I looked at them, I don’t think they did either. We went back twice more, and the lessons were quite fun to begin with, and I got some treats if I was a good boy. But there was still this shouting going on, and I was liking it even less each time and my humans were also not happy. I’m a rescue dog, I wasn’t being naughty, I just didn’t understand what I was needed to do. When we left after the third session, I heard them talking about it and how they weren’t going back. It was the last time, we were on our own. This was part of the adventure and we were in it together. This was going to be fun. We were our own little pack and we would work it out on our own.
I am a scent hound and a Beagle Harrier. The last part is important as will become apparent later in my life, on a number of occasions. I think I missed out on my puppy training when I was, well, a puppy. This meant I was now expected to be a grown up dog, without all the good puppy traits I should have received. I wasn’t being aggressive or bad, I just followed what my senses were telling me to do. And, being a Beagle Harrier, I am very stubborn. So, we decided that we would try and work on my obedience on our own as it was clear the Dog Training School hadn’t worked for us. When I woke up we would go out for a walk to heel on the lead. After a few weeks, I got a harness because I was pulling and panting so much that I was hurting myself. One time leading up to getting the harness, I tried a choke chain and I pulled so much that I made myself sick. I just wanted to explore. It was still difficult to communicate with my humans, and we all really struggled with each other in trying to explain what we wanted. I was with my humum for most of the days, and I could see that she was becoming more frustrated each time I didn’t, or couldn’t, do what she asked me to do. I had sad ears because I wanted to do the right thing but it was difficult as I didn’t know what they wanted either. This upset us all. I was trying to be a good fur, I was trying to do the right thing and she was being really patient with me. Whenever we went out for a walk, it turned into something akin to me pulling her through the lanes, fields and woods near where we live. I kept on getting stopped and told to walk nicely, or to heel, but this wasn’t really working as my senses were overtaking the command and only my nose was working properly, albeit on overtime. I would get walked through different places so it didn’t get boring for me or humum, which was of course always welcomed.
We didn’t meet many other furs at first, we tended to walk on our own as I could be quite over exuberant. Also I didn’t have many manners when it came to meeting other dogs. It didn’t seem to matter to me whether they were a Rottweiler or a Dachshund, they got the same treatment with tail wagging, much aroooing and then I would approach them without looking at the warning signs being given off. I usually met the other dogs in the park or in the fields near by, and sometimes they would be off lead. I did wonder if I would ever be let off lead. The other furs looked like they were having so much fun, whizzing round the field or park, leaping through the tall grass and crops and playing together. This made me feel quite sad inside, I wanted to go and say hello and play along with them, but I knew that I had much work to do with my humans so I decided that sniffing and pulling on the lead was about the best I was going to do. We met some furs quite regularly and I started to see when I was better not to approach them with my usually gusto and like a whirlwind. Some of the furs were much bigger than me and sometimes when they growled I knew it wasn’t a good idea to pounce all over them. There was one time in the park though that I was just sniffing around and a lady dog wandered towards me. I thought I should be polite and nice and I didn’t try to leap on her, as she was a bit bigger than me. I then heard her growl and she bit my neck and ear. This was very painful as she didn’t let go despite me asking her nicely to stop biting me. I had blood in my ear as there was a little bite mark and tear on the inside of my ear. Mum and dad were really upset for me, but they were equally angry with the human who had the dog off lead and he didn’t have control over the lady dog. On the other hand I must tell you about a Bernese Mountain Dog called Mikaela, who was so nice and we had so much fun that when she sat on me, I didn’t mind. In fact it was quite fun as we are pals.
One day we were out on a normal walk and mum spoke to another person who said what a handsome dog I was. This gave me proud ears that someone said I was handsome. Mum and the man spoke about me and he asked if I was like this all the time. She said that they were trying to walk me to heel much more often to try and break the hunting trait. He said that she might try to get me to walk nicely for the first part and then to allow me to go and explore when I was in the fields. He said to control what you can, and manage what you cannot. I’m not sure if she really believed him at first, but we tried it a little bit. It took some time just to get used to walking nicely to heel for some parts of the walk and then allowed to go and sniff to my hearts content. We tried the good walking close to the house. There is a busy road so it was good practice for me. Also I had bad memories about my accident with the car, and mum saw that I was still a bit scared when walking close to traffic. I think I was starting to understand what was wanted of me and I tried my best to be good. I knew that once we got to the field or park I could go off to the end of the lead and I could sniff, hunt and wander about as I pleased. Mum seemed a bit more pleased with me after a few weeks, but I think she was still struggling with the lead and the constant thought that I might try to escape. My sensory overload tended to get the better of me and I struggled to remember the right things to do instead of trying to run away.
I was settling in a little more, and Dog Training School was a dim and distant memory. It was time to try and see if we could continue and improve my understanding of some of my training, somewhat later than anticipated. Mum and I had been practising the heel walking near the road, with me being allowed to go and sniff the scents across the fields and woods once we were away from the dangers of the traffic.
It was difficult as we still didn’t really know what we all wanted from one another. We were trying to work on how we were going to get me to feel more settled. Because I had not had any real formal training, and I had been in rescue, I was still quite unsure if I was going to stay for a long time. Indeed I didn’t know if this was another temporary home. I wanted it to be my forever home, I was trying to settle, I really was. I was starting to get used to my surroundings. I needed stability. The humans took me out each day, sometimes morning and afternoon. I had a really good sniff around and got a walk which was of course nice. The local town was a bit cold and dark in the early winters mornings, but it felt good to be out and about with a bit of freedom. At home I was being really well looked after, and there seemed to be quite a few beds making an appearance. More beds are of course welcomed with open paws. Having beds in different rooms, as well as the trust starting to build in me, seemed to help me settle a bit and feel more comfortable in the house. I was starting to trust these two humans as well, but it was quite a slow and cautious approach from me. Having been in rescue, been homed, rejected and then back to rescue, I needed a little time to really feel as if I was staying. I still had the same question going through my head; was this forever or was I going to be back to rescue. I needn’t have worried as it turns out, as this is my forever home and these are my forever parents.
To illustrate the connection building between my parents and me, I must recount a story. One day I think I ate something in the garden which didn’t agree with me. I wasn’t my usual self, feeling a bit poorly. That night I was unfortunately really ill and I felt so ashamed and sad that I hadn’t been able to wait until I was in the garden. The humans heard me and when they saw the mess, I thought they would be really angry with me, so I went and hid in the corner of the room. I was shaking through feeling ill and, I have to admit, being worried in case they were upset with me. But they looked at me with so much love and understanding that my heart was starting to fill with some love and affection for them. I got taken out into the garden and the mess was cleaned up. I needed to go again when I was in the garden because I felt so bad. That same night, my mum stayed out of bed to watch over me and make sure that if I needed to go outside again, I could go quickly. This made me feel a bit better and I started to feel that there was a bond growing between us all, indeed that they liked me a bit. My illness went on for about three days and mum slept in the living room with me for al three days. On the third day itself, they decided I should go back to the vet lady because I couldn’t eat anything and I was losing weight really quickly. I was put on a diet of delicious chicken and rice but it was quite small portions and my tummy still felt empty. At first I didn’t like this “feeling ill” idea as all I wanted to do was eat. But after a while I realised it was ok, and once I had been eating smaller portions for some days I felt strong again. There are some more trips to the vet which I recount later, but overall I am not too sickly or injured, thankfully.
That my mum would sit up and watch me for three nights in a row showed me that there was a bond growing. They wanted me to succeed and there was hope for the future.
So, where was I? Oh yes, nose art in the car and a potential new home. All very exciting.
Pulling up into the driveway of this new house, I wondered if this was where I was going to live. I carefully got out of the car and sniffed around to see what it was like. I could smell plenty of things like squirrels, pigeons and even a deer I think. Mainly however it was squirrels I could smell, I’d know them a mile off. The house looked good from the outside and I wondered what it would be like inside. When I entered the front door it was equally as nice. This was very different from my old kennel. At first I was quite interested to know what was going to happen and where I was going to be allowed to wander. I have to admit the first steps into and around the house were rather hesitant. There was a big crate in the first room we got to and it all looked safe and quiet. I walked slowly round the house and smelled everything I could. The house looked ok. I thought to myself, “I could live here”. In one of the rooms there was even a green tree with lights on it. This had to be examined and sniffed. Then I saw the garden, and it was like a dream come true. I was so excited to get out there but the humans didn’t seem so keen and kept on showing me around the house.
I was unclipped from the lead and I was allowed to wander around the house of my own free will. I was exploring inside the house but I really wanted to explore the garden. This house however was exciting and I had a really good time investigating all the different places. After a while I thought it best that I showed I am a good boy, so I went and sat in the crate. After all I was used to living in them. It looked really safe and secure so I thought it would be ok to have a quick sleep. I was tired and it was a long day. The excitement had been good.
After a quick snooze it was time to wake up and explore the garden. I was put on the collar and lead and we all went out into the garden. My eyes filled with wonder at all the different places I could wander and my nose filled with all the new smells. This was great, I was happy to see there was so much garden. I thought of all the zooming around I could do, all the squirrels I could chase and the shenanigans I would get up to here. But, I still couldn’t get away from the question that had come to my mind when I first walked in the door. Would this be my forever home?
When evening arrived I was a bit unsettled. To be honest I didn’t know what to do really. Would I be allowed to sleep in one of my beds, or maybe in the crate? I had 2 beds so this was a luxury I wasn’t used to and I couldn’t really make up my mind where to sleep. And I had a great blanket which I could rest on, when snoozing in front of a lovely warm fire. Decisions, decisions, but all good decisions thankfully.
Through the night I continued to be restless as I wasn’t really used to the environment and I could hear the humans sleeping. I am used to hearing other dogs sleeping. My bed here was very warm and very soft. I liked this, it was better than a kennel that’s for sure. I don’t think my new humans slept properly either. I heard them talking and saying they hoped I was ok on quite a few occasions.
Morning followed but I was awake much earlier than day break. I could hear stirrings in the house so I sat like a good boy in my crate to greet whoever appeared first. To be honest it didn’t matter who appeared first, as long as someone did. Within minutes I was ready to go out for my first real walk with these new humans. This was exciting and another adventure for me. It was cold and dark, but I didn’t care one jot. I was going out for a walk somewhere new and I was going to enjoy every step of it. When we got outside the house, I thought I should behave properly and show that I can be a good boy. I only pulled a little on the collar and lead as there were so many great smells and sights that I wanted to get to them quickly. My new dad was strong though and I kept on being held back and told to slow down. I met another dog, we chatted and I found out that the town where I was now living was quite nice, and that there were plenty of other dogs to meet and play with. However I would have to wait a while for this. I had a great first walk, it was a good exploration and I saw loads of places that I wanted to go back to soon. When I got back to the house, I even had my paws wiped and my fur was cleaned. I could definitely get used to this! The first week passed and we were still getting used to each other. I was being fussed over quite a lot, it was strange as we were all trying to communicate with each other and no one really understood what we wanted. The second week started and I was still finding my paws. This was all so new that I was still trying to work out what was expected of me.
What were my new parents like? Would we bond? Would they like me? Would I like living here? I had no idea yet however I was willing to try and find out. This was all very exciting.
As far as we know I was found wandering around in Wales as a stray pup. Once captured I was placed into local rescue centre also in Wales. Fortunately I was soon on my way to my local dog rescue kennels in Buckinghamshire. Whilst there I was looked after really well, given lots of food and love, and allowed to run around in an enclosed paddock. It was great to feel the wind in my ears and to have some freedom to be a puppy. Then, one day, my world changes and some people came to see me and took me away to live with them.
When I arrived at my first home, there were little people. We had fun and played all day. It was great, I liked it. After a short time there, I found that someone had left a gate open and I thought it would be an adventure to play outside in the street. Sadly I had an accident with a car when I ran out of the gate. This was extremely silly and it hurt me quite a bit. I now have a scar on my leg where I ran into the car. The vet said that the fur wouldn’t grow back. Apparently I was very lucky to escape with no broken bones and no lasting damage. I am keeping my paws crossed he is right but I know it was still pretty stupid. I went back to see the vet and they checked me over. As you would expect I was told I needed to rest some more, but I should be ok. However, when I was due to return to the house, we think it was considered that the commitment and time to train me couldn’t be guaranteed. I was really sad as I had only just arrived and was starting to enjoy myself. They decided that I should stay at the rescue centre.
So, I returned to the rescue home and I waited what seemed a long time for some other people to come along and like me enough to take me home with them. I was still sad, and quite lonely, in the rescue centre even though there were lots of other friendly dogs and even some cats who I could chase and play with. I would sit some days in my kennel and wonder what it would be like have a home, with a garden and a bed with toys. What would it be like to go out for walks with some nice friendly humans, and maybe have some belly rubs. It was making me feel a little sad. I knew I was a good boy but it seemed that no one came to see me. I felt I started to lose my bark as it appeared that there was no point in trying to attract people.
One day, two people came to see me and I was told to sit and be a good boy. This was easy as I am a good boy and I wanted to make sure the people were impressed with me and I could behave well. I was connected to one of them by a lead and I walked them around the field. I was such a good boy that I think they were saying nice things about me. I had proud ears, as I showed I could behave myself. I started to wonder whether they would like me enough to take me with them, but they left not long after and I went back to my kennel. I was alone again, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the people. The following week the same people came back to see me and we went out in the field again, and this time I had the long lead on in the enclosed paddock. I ran around and had great fun, playing with the other dogs and hoping to impress these people. After a while they spoke to one of the rescue centre people and they left again, but were smiling and kept looking at me. I went back to my kennel and fell asleep, dreaming of what it would be like to live somewhere nice.
It was cold when they came back for the third time, but somehow this felt different. I went to the training paddock, which was a good sign. I was put on a lead and I walked the humans behind me so they could see what it would be like. I was such a good boy, I sat when told to and walked when told to. It felt like I was training them to see if they were able to look after me. This time however, I didn’t go back to the kennel and the new humans had me on a lead. They spoke to the great people at the rescue centre who looked after me. The next thing I know the rescue people said goodbye to me. One told me “Be a good boy” whilst another person said “We were a bit worried that he was getting quite depressed. It seemed he was losing his bark”. I knew they were talking about me as I was the only one involved in the conversation who had a bark.
We walked towards their car. I had seen one of these before, it was big and scary but I was brave and jumped in when asked to do. I had excited ears as we pulled away from the car park as I knew I was starting a new adventure. Looking out of the window all the way, I wondered where I was going, what it would be like, if I had a bed, or maybe 2? I looked at the humans and they both seemed nice to me, there was a big blanket and it was warm and soft. When I looked out of the window again, I wondered if we were going to my forever home. I really hoped so. It seemed to be quite a long drive to the house, and every time we went round a corner, the blanket slid across the seat and I got some tickles off my new human dad. And I got to do some nose art on the car windows. This was an exciting adventure and I wanted to see where we were going.
Was this the start of my new life? I think I was about to find out.
I’m sitting here and the rain is drizzling down the window. It’s February, its windy, we’ve had two winter storms in quick succession and they are digging up the road outside my house. Do they not know I am trying to sleep. Even more surprising but equally as joyous, Lenny isn’t trying to bite me. Now if you have read some of my recent blogs, you will know I have been somewhat contemplative. If you are hoping for shenanigans in this article, then I fear you will again be somewhat disappointed. Earlier today I was wondering to myself about becoming older and, apparently, wiser.
Being older is a bit obvious really. I have more grey hair, I eat my dinner more slowly and I dont need to walk as far as I used to. I’ve even missed scenting rabbits and squirrels according to assorted parents I have been attached to when these alleged missed sightings have taken place. I can still play bitey face with Lenny, and give him what for, but I tend to duck out of said prolonged snout jousting after a short time. Being beagles we are docile chaps and even when we are in full cry with sofa covers flying around, furniture being rearranged and rugs being ruffled, we manage to stop for a breather on fairly regular occasions. Sometimes it takes a parent stepping in between us to remind the warring parties that its time for a break but, on the whole, we tend to cease and desist quite readily. I am then happy to retire to one of my six or so beds to snooze. However Lenny seems to have a little extra bounce in his paws although I think that is because he is around eighteen months old and I am, allegedly, going to be ten next birthday. No one truly knows how old I am due to me being a rescue but the wise money is on nearly ten now. I am happy for him to run around a little longer, chew what remains of one of my toys and then fall asleep on the sofa. Usually this is interspersed with trying to bite me but again, being docile, I try and fend him off without sending clear signals that I just want to rest.
As for being wiser, I don’t really know what that entails. If it means that I have seen things, been places and done stuff, then yes I am wiser. If it means that having done said activities, I have learned from the experiences, then not necessarily. For example I have been on the tube and train to London quite a few times, however I still want to investigate what those wonderful smells are down on the track. Thank goodness for a lead and attached human apparently. Another example, is that I have lived here for seven Christmases and, despite the jolly red faced man delivering me many wonderful things but nothing closely resembling a pizza tasting gift, it is wrapping paper I am still fascinated by. I can’t eat it, I know I can’t, but does it stop me from trying? Of course not. Many winters have I seen here, many dirty puddles have I walked through in a Moses style and many times have I been told “Dex, no, ugh good grief you look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Does it stop me stomping through puddles in the most triumphal fashion? No, of course not. I have stopped chasing pigeons in the garden and that’s not because I am banned from the garden. Far from it, for I merely allow my protege to chase them for me. Young whipper-snapper legs are faster than these old bones of mine. I have stopped chewing my toys to a misshapen soggy jumble of fabric, with an accompanying scene of death and destruction wrought across the rugs. Again I leave the dental lobotomisation of toys to Lenny, as he seems to have picked up the baton fairly quickly and extremely proficiently.
If growing older and wiser means seeing things, going places, enjoying the view, smelling more flowers and generally knowing that I should take my time to appreciate and immerse myself in all the things I rushed to see previously, then I am older and wiser. I still have adventures, I still walk and pull on the lead, stick my head down rabbit holes and try to climb the banks along the lanes and byways I explore. I still look in awe at the beauty of the countryside I visit, gaze at the buildings and people in the city. But I let it sink in now, I actually look at what is in front of me and then usually fall asleep soon after, twitching and dreaming. I am trying to pass on my perceived wisdom to Lenny. He is often too busy bouncing around, trying to sniff everything, meet every fur and being a very lovable pest in as quick a time as possible. I see much in Lenny that I had in my youth and this gives me a warm feeling. I hope I can help him to understand that, at some point, he will sit and watch the world go by, with a peace and calmness that I seem to be achieving more often.
Who knows, maybe that is the secret to being older and wiser.
It’s a lovely sunny day here today just over a week since my very good friend Raffa made her final, and longest, journey to the Rainbow Bridge. I seem to be contemplating many aspects of my life quite often recently. Maybe it’s because I am becoming older and apparently more knowledgeable. I don’t know, but if I may indulge you. This may ramble a little, but stick with it!!
There is so much war and destruction, death, famine and argument happening in the world at the moment that I am pleased I don’t seem to be directly affected by most of it. Maybe I live in my own little bubble, protected by those who love me the most, and thus unaware of much of the rigours of daily life for so many. I hear the humans in my house when they see or hear the news. Most of the time they are despondent at the state of much of the world, seeing the greed and avarice of an awful lot of people. Then they look at Lenny & I, and you can see their whole demeanour changes and often times a small smile will emerge.
I walk in the morning and get to see the lovely places in close proximity to my home. The leaves are yet to show on the trees, the stalks of the bluebells are just emerging through the ground in the hedgerows and the Snowdrops give colour to the brown and grey landscape of the fields and hedges in late winter. Everything seems to be without colour and form, but there is something of a stark beauty in it all. Even watching the plough carving patterns through the field, tilling the soil in readiness for sowing the crops for autumnal harvest, the gulls swoop and settle in the furrows to feed upon the worms and bugs that have been exposed to the air and sunlight. There is something about it which seems strangely hypnotic. The landscape changes from one field to the next or from one turn in the country lane to another. The countryside is being shaped by man and beast, and has been for centuries. We are strolling through on our journey. We know where we want to go, and hope to know how we are going to get there, but we don’t know what we will encounter along the way. It’s an old cliche but it’s like my life really.
This morning my younger brother (ok he’s not actually my biological brother but I allow him to live here with me, and he’s a Beagle) was walking with my dad. In the corner of one of the fields there was a tree snapped in half in the recent wind and it was now laying across the normal path. They knew they could get past it, so just strolled around it and continued with their journey. No harm, no problem and on they go. Around the next corner, another tree was broken due to the winter storm and this time it lay across the path and into a particularly muddy puddle. They just got their feet and wellies wet, dad looked down at Lenny, smiled, gave Lenny’s ears a tickle and on they went. They returned to the top of the hill which overlooks the town and the trees and hills form a lovely natural framing of the town. Lenny and dad stopped and just looked, not for long but for long enough. Then they looked at one another and thought “I reckon Raff would have loved this view”. Dad smiled knowingly at Lenny, who wanted to get on and sniff and snooter.
I have lost some wonderful friends to the Rainbow Bridge and with each one that makes the longest journey maybe I become more reflective. To meet many of these friends and just to know others, for sometimes, a few years, makes me feel happy. I am happy that I have had the chance to share some of my life with them, and equally I have shared some of their life too. We’ve walked, we’ve woofed and we’ve had fun. Few cares in the world have been able to dampen our spirits. Even when the humans meet up, they talk, drink too much coffee, eat cake and generally have a good time. Their worldly worries seem a little decreased.
Losing Raffa hit me hard, I will make no bones about it. She was a very good pal and we shared many adventures with her when we met up. Maybe it was her approach to life that resonates with me now more than it has done over time. Life is there to be lived, have adventures every day, have fun and see things. #LiveLikeRaffa was our hashtag last week. I am going to follow it and see wherever life takes me.
We are all on life’s adventure ride and I want to make the most of it before it is my turn to get off. I hope that didn’t ramble too much.
Sometimes you become friends with someone who you instantly know is honest, fun and has a heart filled with goodness. This is the story of one such friend who I was lucky enough to meet on quite a few occasions, and who I will never ever forget. If I may indulge you in some reminiscences, I would be grateful for a small amount of your time.
Raffa was the friend I started woofing with soon after I joined Twitter in 2013. After we had been talking on Twitter for some time and finally decided that, as my parents were taking me for a holiday to Patterdale in the Lake District, Raffa and her mum would join us to have some walks and chat in person. We were all really excited as we got the impression from our Twitter talks that Raffa was happy and fun and always exploring. We met in the White Lion in Patterdale on 30th August 2016 and our friendship was sealed in the first few moments when Raffa walked into the pub and nose bumped me whilst I was asleep. I had been walking for miles and was very tired.
The very next day we all walked out on a long trail that was stony in many places. Raffa had her chariot as she wasn’t able to walk as far as she would want to. However she seemed to stride out and I looked on in awe at her. We managed to arooo very loudly at some sheep and generally had a lovely time.
On our return to the holiday house, I escorted her along the road in her chariot as she was a little tired after the days exertions. The next day she went home, however the friendship was set.
In December 2016 we arrived unannounced at a meet up near Sheffield in Yorkshire. We had been plotting with Charley Beagles mum to surprise everyone, and it worked. We walked along a lovely path around a reservoir with many pals. Raffa had her mum push her in the chariot as, again, the terrain was rocky and she couldn’t walk too far. But she still managed to trot happily along for a fair distance which made everyone happy.
We met up with Raffa and her mum again in April 2017 for another expedition to the Western Lake District. This time we explored Eskdale, Wasdale and Ravenglass. We greeted each other with our usual cheeriness and proceeded to explore for the next three days, always with smiles on our faces.
We then had a couple of days with Raffa and her mum, again in Eskdale, in early September 2017. We walked, woofed and had a wonderful time.
Next we all met up at the Beagle World Record in Macclesfield in April 2018. I was fortunate to meet up with Raffa, Bryher, Tean, Charley and 1,024 other beagles who all became record breakers that day. We all finished the course, creating history with every step. As followers will know Charley Beagle went to the Rainbow Bridge in September 2018.
We met at Dunstable Downs in October 2018 and then a hush hush visit to Charley’s mum & dad in November 2018 followed.
When we took Lenny to the World Record Beagle Walk celebration in September 2019 Raffa was still running around when she could, and retiring to her chariot when she was tired.
We topped the year off by having the honour and privilege of showing Raffa and her mum around a few parts of London. I covered this in a previous blog but make no apologies for mentioning it again. We had a wonderful day, we saw so many things, there was laughter and happiness through the entire time and much sadness when we departed.
Sadly, Raffa took the longest journey on 4th February 2020. She was 13 years old. She lived a life full of fun, adventure and exploration. She was loved, she gave love and she smiled and enjoyed her life. She was, and is, a beacon of what I would hope to be. Happy, fulfilled, loved and wholly content with her life. She may be gone from our sights however she will remain in our hearts forever. Run free sweet Raffa it is a privilege and honour to know you, to meet you and to be your friend. We had many adventures which I will never forget. May the everlasting sun shine upon your fur and keep you warm. Until we meet again, for we surely shall, I say farewell but never goodbye.
21st July 2006 – 4th February 2020. Thirteen and a half years of a life fully lived. I have sad ears because this is the most difficult blog I have ever had to write.