A life in the day of a Beagle

Apparently I am obsessed with squirrels. I have no idea what this means. According to the people who make my dinner and get taken for a walk by myself and Lenny, I am forever walking between vantage points in the kitchen and dining room so I can spot when the grey furry invaders dare to enter my garden. In order to prove their point, one of my parents has watched me almost continuously today. If he hasn’t, it certainly feels like it. So, here begins the story of one day in the life of a Beagle (Harrier).

Where is it?

I woke up, got dressed and was immediately introduced to the overnight scents in the garden. About forty five minutes later, the scent of the first breakfast wafted upon my nostrils and I decided I would grace Lenny and the parents with my presence. It was somewhat of an unwanted interruption from squirrel scenting but sometimes needs must and all that. Having eaten my porridge and kibble (it’s actually quite nice) and then the obligatory marrow bone biscuit, Lenny and I were harnessed and off we go for our daily constitutional. Lenny went off with Dad separately today so I was off to pull mum around the fields. We reconvened at home and my baying at deer was duly reported to dad. Second breakfast was taken in the kitchen and we are supposed to go and lie down to sleep off our shenanigans. Herein lies the first problematic area with the request to snooze. Lenny being the goodie four paws goes and lays down and is quickly snoozing off his exertions. On the other paw, I always get this feeling that there is an invader in my garden. My favourite window pane has plenty of nose art on it. As I cannot see all my garden from a single vantage point I have to move around to the other window so I can see transversely towards the trees. It is at this point that certain parents want to know why I cannot just lay down and go to sleep like a certain younger brother of mine? And how was I to know that dad had a breakfast bowl full of cornflakes (other cereals are available, kids) when I decided to “stand under his feet”. Anyway, there wasn’t any movement in the garden so I retired to my bed on the sofa. Twenty minutes later I thought I might have heard something in the garden which would need investigation. I managed to wake up Lenny as well which meant there was double the quantity of parental eye rolling at our ability to stand in the wrong place at the wrong time. Use of “the” eyes is thus required to allow our release into the garden and we find ourselves running up and down the garden in pursuit of a squirrel that might have been there, some twenty or thirty minutes before. After a further thirty minutes or so, we decide that it is time to scrounge some training treats from a pliant human so we stand dolefully and quietly at the door waiting for our paws to be wiped upon entry to the house. Well, Lenny was quiet whilst I aroooed at the top of my lungs just out or dads reach. Sadly I didnt see the squirty water bottle with which I squirted very expertly by dad. We retire to our beds once more and peace reigns. Suddenly its lunchtime which can only mean one thing. Off my bed and to my favourite window pane, I see a squirrel, arooo and whine constantly until I am released and I can chase it out of the orchard. I am tricked once more, this time by the scent of my most favourite snack of beef jerky. I am extremely obedient when beef jerky makes an appearance. Ok, I must admit that lunchtime is often when I can snooze for more than twenty minutes or so. The squirrel obsession count was five or six wanderings to the favourite window pane and five sessions of “annoying” whining. All before lunch, I was quite proud. Not sure where they get this obsession idea from though.

I can hear a squirrel.

On to the afternoon and it is clearly time for the windows to be checked, both vantage points assessed and ensure that the garden is clear. There might have been a squirrel so this means I have to patrol and bay at the top of my lungs for forty minutes. Back in from the garden, I lay down in mums office and then I hear a noise that may be within a five mile radius. This means it may be in the garden, which means it may be a squirrel. Dad has to let us out again and then gets the blame when we arooo loudly and mum is trying to concentrate. This may have happened twice more before our dinner was served, somewhat late as usual. A quick snooze and I am back to the window pane for squirrel bothering and whining until I am released again. This time the garden patrol is only around twenty minutes so I can retire to my bed for a short time before Lenny and I are both released pre-teatime for our standard run around. Today it was a bit different as by the time we were ready to return to the house, dad had closed the curtains which means that my sight lines are closed off and I have little choice but to admit defeat for the remainder of daylight hours.

Wake up Lenny!

So ends the story of the day in my tormented life. I don’t think I am obsessed with squirrels, despite needing to chase them or at least try to spot them, every twenty minutes or so during daylight hours. Sadly Lenny doesn’t seem to share my love for all things squirrel shaped as he just does the bare minimum in chasing them off. Then he’s off to chew a stick or trying to annoy me with unplanned bitey face. I remain a bit worried by his apparent lack of concern for the squirrel invaders.

Hardwired hound

I am aware that I haven’t blogged for some time so I want to rectify that omission on my part. There is no excuse on my part however I have been busy. In any case, I can now dictate my latest missive for publication.

What can I blog about?

Lenny and I have had a hectic few weeks. I blame squirrels. I also blame the earth for spinning and orbiting the sun. Finally I blame the seasons, specifically one of them namely Autumn. Maybe I should try to explain.

As a beagle harrier I am hardwired to chase small furry creatures that dare to enter my line of sight. Recently there has been a plethora of creatures present on our walks. On our walk through hill and vale we are restrained so any sighting of an unsuitable creature bounding across the road or field ahead of us means we are only able to advance to the end of the industrial strength leads. Worse still they have been invading my garden in the search for food for the forthcoming winter season. We have apple trees which should provide us with tasty and nutritious fruit for eating in their natural state as well as being baked in pies and tarts. This is in an ideal world and doesn’t account for the activities of the local squirrel, magpie and blackbird populations. I say local but it seems to attract all and sundry from around a ten mile radius. If it was only the magpies or blackbirds, the world would be a sane and reasonable place. Sadly, with the addition of squirrels, the facade of calmness is removed and replaced instead with frantic door scratching, constant whimpering and persistent marching from one door to another so I can get a better view of the pesky creatures whilst they cavort in my garden, eat apples and then try to bury their winter food in the grass. Being a beagle harrier with expert vision up to a mile or so, it is extremely difficult for me to miss seeing them in the garden. I have to constantly remind the parents that I should be chasing these furry little chaps and I need to be let out. At this point I should also comment that my little brother Lenny doesn’t help the situation much. He will fly out of the door with me and chase the squirrels up and down the garden. Once the invaders have been repelled he will wander nonchalantly up to the orchard and pick an apple off and start to eat it. I need not describe the look of sheer horror and abject disappointment that I feel.

Having said all the above, Lenny and I actually caught a squirrel last week and were about to play tug of war until we were foiled by our parents. We were strolling around the patio having a sniff when all of a sudden, from the left side, this squirrel wandered towards us. We were stunned at his bravado. Did he not realise who we are? Did he not understand that we are hardwired to “attend” to small furry chaps such as himself. In any case it didn’t matter as within a second his head was in my mouth and I was trying to cuddle him with my teeth. Lenny ran around cheering me on whilst asking to pay tug with the squirrel. My fun was short-lived as a dad shaped object advanced quickly upon our shenanigans and I was told in no uncertain terms to “DROP IT”. I followed the instructions but Lenny then picked the squirrel up and started to practice his dental lobotomy on the furry little chap. We knew we were in big trouble when mum appeared on the scene and the fun was over. Dad still had to remove the very scared, and somewhat drool covered, squirrel from the garden. Fortunately he was wearing gloves as the squirrel bit the finger of the glove to show his gratitude at being saved from a certain doom. Dad had the foresight to loosen his finger from the glove so he wasn’t bitten.

Come on Dex, lets play tug.

So there you have it. I blame the seasons, the earth spinning and orbiting the sun and the fact that Autumn is upon us. If it wasn’t for all of these factors combining there wouldn’t be as many squirrels in my garden and I wouldn’t be driven to absolute distraction by them. That’s my story and I am sticking by it.

Wotcha Dex.

I do think that Lenny looks at me sometimes and wonders why. Just why?

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.