Postcard from London

A few years ago I sent a postcard to my good friend, Raffa the Beagle, who lives near Liverpool. It was a postcard of London with a tick list of sights to see, including Big Ben and the Tower of London amongst others.

I wonder how many I will see?

A couple of weeks ago, we heard from Raffa who said that she was going to come to London to try and tick off some of the sights, and she asked me if we would like to be guides. Of course I couldn’t think of another fur in this house who had been to London so I volunteered my service and took Lenny along to carry the bags.

It came as somewhat of a rude shock to Lenny that we were unceremoniously woken up at 6 am on a Saturday. After a very brief walk locally we were marched up the hill to the train station so we could whizz into London. Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day but it was a bit chilly. After we arrived in London, we strolled through Regents Park towards Euston Station so we could greet Raffa and her mum in true beagle fashion by a huge arooo in the middle of the station concourse. Raffa was in her chariot as she cannot walk as far as she could do when she was a young pup.

We immediately wandered off to find the tube station as Raffa had always wanted a trip on a tube train.

Raffa and her protection on the tube

We got off the tube at Moorgate and strolled to the Guildhall (original meeting place of the Guilds of craftsmen for the City of London), Royal Exchange (the original stock exchange), Bank of England (where Raffa keeps her pennies), Mansion House (official residence of the Lord Mayor of London) and then on to Leadenhall Market (poultry market from Victorian times but now a boutique shopping area) where we made our first pit stop for some coffee to warm up the humans.

We started the next leg by walking down to the Tower of London which was very busy with visitors, and where Lenny managed to see a pesky squirrel but forgot to tell me & Raffa. We then crossed Tower Bridge.

We went along the side of the river, making our way through the throngs of tourist visitors on the south side of London Bridge. We showed Raffa the replica of the Golden Hinde ship (Francis Drake’s ship), the Clink (original dungeon prison in London) and then went on to see the rebuilt Shakespeares Globe theatre.

Now for the exciting part as we crossed the Millennium Bridge, also known as the wobbly bridge, and saw St Pauls Cathedral in its glory directly ahead.

Having strolled past the cathedral we went down Ludgate Hill and into Fleet Street (famous for printing) and managed to get two tables in a pub for some lunch snacks, as well as warming ourselves away from the chilly wind. Suitably refreshed we set off and found ourselves in the middle of a wedding procession coming out of the nearby St Bride’s Church, accompanied by a brass band. This surprised us all. We continued along The Strand and dad managed to stop pedestrians crossing the road, as he told Lenny to “WAIT” and they thought he was talking to them. We continued towards Trafalgar Square to see Nelson’s Column and then off to Whitehall (government area) to stop at Horseguards Parade to see a member of the Household Cavalry, who was watching Raffa to make she didn’t misbehave.

The London Eye across the river was spied, then Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were ticked off before we ended up at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately the Queen wasn’t at home otherwise we would have popped in for a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich (without crusts of course).

To finish we wandered slowly up The Mall back towards Trafalgar Square and took a London Black Cab to return to the train station at Euston. We woofed a sad cheerio to Raffa and her mum as they boarded their train back to Liverpool and their home.

Our journey home on the train passed like a blur, mainly due to Lenny and I having walked nearly 13 miles in total and being very tired. It was worth being really tired though, as we showed Raffa around London and she ticked off all the sights on her postcard except one. No Yeoman of the Guard Beefeaters were seen at the Tower of London. We hope we did Raffa proud as she managed to see nearly everything on her postcard list.

So close to getting all the sights.

Finally I have to admit that Lenny was so good, given it was his first trip to London. He managed the trains, tubes and strolling around with great aplomb. We took ages getting from one place to the next as so many people wanted to say hello to us and give Raffa, Lenny and I many tickles. He dealt with the sights, smells and noises of London without fright or fear. I am proud ears of him.

The history of Hamish

Continuing in the vein of speaking with friends who have inspired me and made me feel loved, I thought it might be good to hear some background on a funny, intelligent, happy BT who lives in Glasgow and who goes by the name of Hamish. Many people follow him which is not unsurprising. He is most approachable and always pleasant, polite and happy to woof with all furs. He is the epitome of what being friends is all about. From personal experience he has helped me out on a number of occasions where I have needed a shoulder or a wise ear to bend. I will never forget his kindness.

He was one of my first twitter pals, and though I haven’t yet met him, I wanted to find out some more about the brilliant fur he is. So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

When you arrived in your forever home as a pupster, were you adopted or bought? If you came from breeders, do you have famous posh heritage.

I was little 8 week pupster and I came from just outside Bannockburn. I was the tiny pup and my sisters were about twice the size.

You say you were the smallest, does this mean you were the youngest of the litter? Assume you were healthy and everything was good.

Yes I was healthy but the girls in the litter were definitely bigger. I remember I was so small that my first vaccines were the ones for a rabbit.

Do you know where all your litter siblings are? Do you still have contact with them?

I don’t know where my siblings are. There were 2 boys and 3 girls in the litter.

No idea why I’m wearing collar on day one.

Have you always lived in Glasgow?

Yes, I like living here as I like the city and I can be nosey at all the people. Also Glasgow has got lots of big parks and green spaces so it all good for exploring.

When you joined twitter was it for fun or was there a background reason?

My mum joined twitter because she bought a job lot of candles and sold them on eBay!! Hence the yankee bit in our name. But then she tweeted a picture of me wrapped in a Scotland flag around time of referendum thingy in 2014 and Clapton found me. The rest is history as they say.

Scotland the Brave.

Ok, once you had joined Twitter and Mr Clapton “found you” did you change your approach? What I mean is did your picture appearing on your Mum’s page change her mind straightway to being more about finding out about BT’s, the breed and traits.

Yes my mum only had about 20 followers and didn’t really understand Twitter but then everyone so welcoming and we quickly got to know lots of other BTs and really enjoyed their adventures.

Are you the first dog that your mum has owned?

There were two Jack Russell Terriers in the house when she was growing up but she never had a dog of her own before I arrived. She knew she wanted a little dog and one that was fairly uncomplicated in terms of grooming and things. Then one day she was walking up at Loch Lomond and there was a couple with two little brown dogs walking in front of them. All day up and down hills their tails were wagging. Mum and her pal caught up with the owners when they stopped for lunch. The people said they were Border Terriers and they said they were the best dogs ever. So that was that and the rest is history.

When you decided to change your M’s twitter perspective, was it an instant decision to try and make it predominantly light hearted with some interesting stuff like #hamishdoeshistory thrown in?

I’m not sure we really thought much about the tone of our twitter we just thought we’d share our walks and trips.

Were you a naughty or a goodly pupster, easy to train or just have a mind of your own?

I’m not well trained: I’m not allowed off the lead as I have no recall. This is more mum’s fault than mine as she would worry too much that I might run away!

Has Twitter changed since you have been on here?

We really like twitter. We have got to know so many nice dogs, cats, hamsters, humans that we would never have met in real life! We know so much more about different places now. The support from twitter and the shared fun and laughter does make us very happy!

You are the Quartermaster in the ZS. How did this come about?

Aw yes! Well we do love the zombiesquad and I’m not sure how it all started from my perspective. And I am in the BeagleBugClub which means loads! I’ve never had post from Argentina before! That was so special! Everyone is so kind and welcoming.

When you do #hamishdoeshistory do you feel like you are introducing people to your city?

Yes I think you are right about Hamish does history we try to show people things they might not see otherwise.

When I did the interview with Winston about his life and achievements, I asked him about the reason behind starting ZS. He said it was to bring together as many pals as possible to show that if everyone all got on and pulled together, then anything could be achieved. Is this something that you see? I only ask as you are a friend to everyone and always happy to help and lend an ear.

I dont think Winston, Clapton and others probably realise the difference they make to a lot of folk’s lives. We spoke about it at a tweet up. There are people who don’t have a dog or maybe for health reasons they don’t get out as much as they might like but through Zombiesquad or the BT Posse or Beagle Bug Club they have this community they are part of!

My fur cousin Angus & I. Best of buddies

Hamish, apart from George Square where the Duke of Wellington is duly attired with his traffic cone hat, do you have a favourite place in Glasgow.

In Glasgow my favourite place is Pollok Park it a big country park with highland cows and Clydesdale horses.

Also do you have a favourite place in Scotland.

I love going to Loch Lomond which is just about 25 minutes in the car there lots of great walks and places to explore

A proud Terrier

If you could have a dinner party, who would you invite and why?

My dream dinner party would be a BBQ on Luskentyre beach on Harris and I’d want to invite all our twitter pals!

Is there a favourite #hamishdoeshistory place you have been to, and are there other places you haven’t yet visited but want to?

This my favourite Hamish does history it was recreation of ww1 trenches

As for places I have never been, I would really like to visit London. We would pretend to be the dog on the monopoly board and go to all the places on the board.

Is there anywhere in Glasgow that you havent yet covered for #hamishdoeshistory ?

Well I’d like to sneak on the pitch at Hampden Park but that might be hard to achieve.

What three pearls of wisdom would you give a fur just coming onto Twitter?

I think my advice to folk joining twitter would be enjoy it! Be yourself and don’t worry if any troll type folk reply. Just ignore them as they soon get bored and go away.

You are allowed to meet one person, living or over the rainbow bridge. Who is it and why?

This is tough but the fur I would have loved to have met was Marley. He started something so special. It’s so sad that his life on this side of the bridge was so short but Clapton, TT and the wider BT Posse community do so much to keep his memory alive.

On that note I want to thank Hamish and his mum for allowing me to ask questions. It is an honour to know of Hamish and to chat with him. He is a wise and gentle fur, and a very good friend to all.

Adoption is better

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. Almost. People will be looking for the best gift for a loved one and dogs will undoubtedly be somewhere near the top of an awful lot of wish lists. However please take a moment to think before you do anything. Please!

Happy I was adopted.

There are rescue centres, adoption centres, re-homing and shelters all over the world, some bursting at the seams, with dogs of all shapes, sizes, colours and varieties all waiting for a comfy sofa to enjoy. The residents are puppies through to older dogs, all hoping for a chance to repay someone with love and loyalty for the remainder of their lives. For one reason or another every one of the dogs in “rescue” have not been able to find a home, or stay in homes, with people that could and often have loved them for a long time.

That feeling of the wind in your ears

The bright lights, glitz and glamour of Christmas bring an alluring glow to the prospect of welcoming a furry bundle of joy and fun into your house, to please the children and make the adults smile and coo over the sheer cuteness. Think for a moment though about where the little bundle of fur has come from? Has he or she been bred through a reputable breeder or just mass produced by some puppy mill, who’s sole purpose is to make money likely for more criminal activities. Every time a puppy is purchased through a puppy mill, the money goes to unknown and very likely said nefarious activities continuing to cause misery to dogs. Many of the dogs provided through these mills are sick and will have a multitude of problems from the very first breath they take.

What happens also once the initial glitzy allure has worn off. That time you look outside and it’s raining, pouring even, and we need to go out for a walk and do what nature intended us to do. When the little bundle of joy wakes you up at 4 am needing to go out or having been ill and needs some love and attention. The time when you are working hard and we pine for some attention, some interaction through play or training. We can’t justifiably be pushed to one side as an after thought.

Rescue or shelter dogs are historically considered as having problems. This is fairly unlikely. The vast majority of rescue or shelter dogs are unwanted or abandoned for so many different reasons and very few of those reasons are our behavioural difficulties. Rescue and shelter organisations are adept at ensuring that those of us with behavioural difficulties are either homed with an appropriate family or we are assisted in steadying our fears and any reactions we may have.

Lenny and I are rescues, both from different organisations and different parts of the world. Both of us it seems were unfortunate enough to be unwanted and found wandering the streets. We weren’t a passing thought, a swift consideration or an off the cuff purchase. We were and remain a commitment. We are for life, not just for Christmas and a few months after. So many other dogs end up in rescue because little or no homework has been done on us prior to purchase.

If you want to think about getting a dog this Christmas, please consider rescue. You would be saving two lives as you would empty a rescue kennel space for another dog to move into. The love and loyalty you will receive in return for your decision will make you smile and feel happy day after day.

Brotherly love.

We are worth it. We remain a commitment, however you will have such a feeling of satisfaction from helping us into a loving home will warm you for ages. I promise you, from the bottom of my happy and thankful heart.

Brother Dexter

Hello one and all, it’s Lenny, Dexter’s sidekick. He has allowed me another chance to ramble on his blog. So, here goes.

I’ve been here over six months now and I have settled in to life in my new home with great ease. This is in no small part due to Dex being very accommodating and allowing me to barge my way into his life, routine, beds and many other things without too much of an objection. Having been a street dog in Cyprus I didn’t know a great deal about living in a house before I arrived in the UK. Thankfully I was saved by Cyprus Beagles and came here to live forever. I was initially quite confused as to what was happening and whether I was staying here. I now know for sure I am staying. I have been on some adventures with Dex and my new parents. They all seem keen to try and make my life better and fuller of fun. They wouldn’t take me on adventures and allow me to do shenanigans in the garden, if I wasn’t staying, would they? Would they?

This is fun.

It must have been an awfully big change for Dex when I arrived. He had been here for over 5 years and had enjoyed sole rights to tickles, cuddles, beds, food and generally being looked after. Apparently when I was seen by my parents (they are no longer new!) they wanted to take a closer look at me to see if I would be, suitable as a “brother” to Dex. It appears I am. He has allowed me to start living my real life here in his house. I even get to tear apart his toys as he doesn’t play with them much any more. He said something about it being better for me to “chew a toy than chew his ears and ankles”. I still manage to nibble his ears and ankles regularly enough although I am learning that “break” means we have to stop playing bitey face games and we must relax. There will be enough opportunities to bite him in the future so I am cool with this.

I have been allowed to dexplore so many places with Dex that I cannot remember them all. I have seen fields, woods, lanes and towns. I have been on motorways and had a tweet up with the largest number of beagles I could ever wish for. I’ve been on a London Underground train. I’ve even met a grandma that I never knew I had. What fun I have had in the last half year since I arrived. I could never have dreamed of this when I was wandering the streets of Cyprus looking for food and somewhere to sleep before I was rescued.

Dex said it would be fun on the tube.

I think he’s the best brother I could have ever hoped for. I am not sure where I would be now if it wasn’t for Dex accepting me into his house. I know I was rescued and would have been safe and rehomed, but would I have had a life like I do now? Would I have a great garden to run around in? Would I get walks in the fields and lanes everyday? Would I get to laze on the sofa and dream of what is to come? Probably, but it wouldn’t be the same as Dex wouldn’t be there.

He even laughs at my jokes.

You know that feeling you get when you understand that something is just “right”? Can I have that feeling for ever please. This is my life now and I am content. Very content.

The best brofur I could wish for

With Dex as my older brofur we can go places, he’s the best. We are a team. I have proud ears.

Bonfire blues

I saw today that one of the biggest supermarkets in the UK are not going to be selling fireworks this year. Thank you for this. I really don’t like fireworks.

Each year I have been here in my forever home I have regularly taken cover in a safe place, often numerous times a day, when the 5th November approaches. Thankfully Lenny doesn’t seem to be affected as much as I am, however we will have to wait for evidence closer to the day. We are keeping our fingers crossed he is ok.

It seems that instead of having fireworks on one day to “celebrate” the death of a man 414 years ago, now we are having them to “celebrate” New Year, New Years Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, May Bank Holiday, Summer Solstice, Hallowe’en, auntie Maude coming over to lunch and little Edward passing his school exams amongst a great many other occasions.

Don’t get me wrong, if people want to have them at licensed displays in the park or on the local village green on the closest weekend to 5th November, then go for it. I can live with that for 1 night. However, selling fireworks to the general public seems to me to be a bit dangerous, and maybe could be controlled better. Each year we hear of sad instances where people are injured or killed by “stray” fireworks. Sometimes we hear of fatalities with them being thrown or aimed at people.

The number of people and animals that suffer each year seems to be increasing. It cannot be good for people who suffer from conditions such as PTSD to have so many occasions where they are hearing such loud bangs going off so regularly. With the advent of social media there is a greater understanding of the number of people who suffer with stress related conditions. Also the number of animals who suffer, sometimes due to an inbuilt fear but other times due to previous experience, seems to be on the rise. Again maybe it is the ease with with the reporting of the street of the animal can be made to the wider public.

If you are going to use fireworks to “celebrate” an occasion please think of those around you before gleefully going to buy them. Many suffer, sometimes in silence, during the firework season.

Hope I get a quieter Bonfire Night?

Here’s a thought. Instead of buying them for yourselves, go along to an organised licensed display and make an equal contribution to the charity which will likely be attached to the organisers. You could be helping others, whilst having fun yourself. And if it is a local village event, you could go to the pub, buy hot dogs and candy floss for the children and thereby contribute to the local economy.

Autumn is one of my favourite times

I have been here some time now and have seen the seasons come and go. I love to explore as much as possible so I can see the colours changing in the woods and fields nearby my house. As I have said before, I am lucky to live on the edge of the Chilterns, a 46 mile long chalk escarpment to the north west of London. This year I am even more honoured as I have been able to show Lenny what it is like in the summer. Now we move into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (thank you Mr John Keats), I shall show him the beauty of the hills as they change. The summers here are kinder than the one he encountered last year in Cyprus, where he was rescued from. Now the skies become darker, the clouds thicken and the rain is falling at a steadier rate than summer. Fruit has been picked, the crops are harvested and the creatures are scurrying about making their winter larders full of tasty food to maintain themselves during the winter that is to come.

As green leaves turn to brown and come tumbling from their lofty perches among the trees, I feel like I am walking on a carpet of warm summer goodness whilst looking out for my friends, the squirrels, rabbits and deer that now forage for their winter stores. The fields are ploughed and the hedgerows rustle with the wind. The paths through the fields and woods become soggy and the grass is springy under my paws. The horses, adorned with their thicker waterproof coats, munch the last of the summer grass in the meadow as we stroll happily past them, giving a sideways glance to show our deference and friendliness. Every now and then I look at Lenny and he seems to be trying to comprehend everything so quickly. I try to get him to understand that he will have many autumns to enjoy, strolling in the cooling breeze and finding new sights at the turn of many corners. For now though he seems intent on filling his senses with as much as he can. I think he’s enjoying it.

The squirrels are this way

Lenny and I stroll through the lanes and byways and watch the belts of trees repeat their ever changing cycle of buds to green leaves and fruits, green leaves to brown and thence to the carpet of foliage on which we walk. He hasn’t seen this change yet, certainly not here in the UK. I’m looking forward to seeing what he makes of Winter.

My house is over there

Record holders reunion

We have known for a while that we were due to go to Beaglelandia at Capesthorne Hall, near Macclesfield in the UK. It was to be a celebration event for last years Beagle World Record of which I was a part. We were really keen to go so knew we had to work on Lenny’s worries about travelling in the car. We have been taking him in the car more often so he can become better accustomed to longer journeys. He was struggling when he took his first trip in the car. We took him out to Wendover Woods and Ashridge Common amongst others. He has come on leaps and bounds so we were becoming more confident he would be ok.

An early morning start with a quick stroll around the fields is always welcome, although I did have suspicious ears as to what was going on at 6 am on a Sunday. I am not sure if my parents realised there was such a thing as Sunday 6 am before Lenny arrived. Anyway our walk was followed by breakfast and I knew this was a little different to normal but didn’t let on to Lenny as it might have worried him. When the car boot opened I leapt in so Lenny would be encouraged to follow, however he seemed to realise there was something awry and had to be lifted into the car. Off we set, and motorway followed motorway. An hour or so into the journey, Lenny settled and curled up. I was still busy watching where we were going. It was great that Lenny hardly stirred during the trip to Macclesfield for some three hours.

We arrived at Capesthorne Hall and the man on the gate showed us the way to the parking area. As soon as the car boot opened I was greeted by the same, familiar smells from last years event. I was also greeted by the song of the breed filling my ears as it had done last year. When I turned to see Lenny he was sitting smiling and looking really excited to get out and meet as many of the beagles as possible. In fact Lenny was also arooing in my ear, which was a good indication that he was ready to have some fun. However being shackled mean’t we had to be restrained in our exit from the car boot.

Excuse me Ms Raffa, my name is Lenny.

I soon saw my good friend, Boot the Spaniel, and I greeted him as you would expect. Lenny was next to me sniffing the grass and enjoying all the sights and smells. I introduced Lenny to Boot. Moments later, we saw Griff and said hello to him too. It was quite a poignant time to see Boot and Griff as we had completed the walk the previous year with their brother, Charley Beagle, who sadly passed over the Rainbow Bridge a year ago this week. We made sure we gave Charley’s mum a leg lean when we got a tickle from her. Within minutes we saw Raffa which was great as I could introduce Lenny to her also. I had warned him that Raffa is an older lady beagle so he had to be mindful and have good manners. He didn’t let me down and was very polite and gentle when he greeted Raffa with a nose bump.

We were strolling across the field and suddenly mum and dad stopped to say hello to another couple of people. It turns out that the people were the mums of Tyrrell and Tink, who are two of our great friends from Australia. It was a total surprise for all of us and we were tickled, stroked and cuddled to within an inch of our furry lives by our “aunties Nic and Annette” from Oz. Everyone was very welcoming and they all wanted to meet Lenny as this was the first time he had been allowed out. I was, as usual, happy to let Lenny hog the limelight so he could be tickled, stroked and cooed over quite a bit. Then we were off again, strolling across the lush grass toward the stalls selling all manner of dog related items. Coming toward us were Dolly and Daisy, two more of our friends from Twitter. We said hello to them in our usual restrained manner. This was a great day, and we started to think it couldn’t get any better surely. Then it did get better as we bumped into Ruby who is a 15 year old beagle lady who is another of our pals from Twitter. We were very polite because she is another older lady beagle and, whilst we can be a couple of hooligans sometimes, we do know when to behave correctly.

Raffa and Ruby – 2 grand dames of Beagledom

We had a picnic with our pals under the shade of some lovely trees and the humans ate their food and chatted whilst we all rested and preserved our energy for afternoon shenanigans.

After lunch we went to the main show ring to see Raffa compete in the Best Older Beagle Category and watched aghast as she didn’t win. Another beagle won. We were shocked.

Hurry up Lenny, follow my lead.

After we had regained our composure, we walked around the route of the Beagle World record and I managed to pull dad round the entire circuit just like I did last year. We were overtaking people who moved aside as a result of my dad telling them “Sorry, hooligan beagle coming through”. Lenny and mum walked around at a more sedate pace, along with Boot, Griff, Raffa, Dolly, Daisy and Ruby. Raffa, Boot and Ruby went round the course in their chariots as they are older furs and they need to rest their bones more often than us young whippersnappers.

The Charioteers (Boot, Raffa, Griff and Ruby)

Once the walk was finished we tucked into our dinner with some speed as we were hungry. We had to eat quickly though, as there was a group photo of all the dogs who had taken part in the day. The camera drone was put up and we all waved our paws to make sure everyone could see us in the picture.

Drone? What drone?

Only after all the shenanigans did everyone decided that we had had enough fun for the day and made plans to return home. Lenny and I tried our best to persuade the humans to stay but they were adamant that we should get back in the crates in the car and return home. People said cheerio to one another and everyone set off home. I was tired and when I looked at Lenny I could see he was out on his paws too. I remember dad starting the car and I remember arriving home. I think I slept and dreamed of having great fun with all my friends. Lenny is good in the car, he managed both legs of the trip without incident and he was polite to all our pals. We loved meeting friends again and wondered when we would get the chance to do it all once more.

We shall sleep on that thought.