Happy Birthday Lenny

It’s my protege’s birthday today. He is three.

We had a good walk this morning and then I saw that he got some extra kibble in his bowl. Not much, mind, but enough for me to notice. Apparently he’s on something called a “bit of a diet”. Anyway happy birthday little brother Lenny, I hope you’ve have a good day and I might even let you chew my ears as a treat. I suppose I had better let him say something.

I wonder if I’m allowed to eat bees on my birthday?

Hello everyone it’s me Lenny. It’s my birthday apparently and I am something called three. It’s good being three as I got extra food in my bowl for my second half of breakfast and my dinner. I hope I get extra biscuits later before I am forced to go to bed. So, I am determined to enjoy myself today and, who knows, maybe tomorrow I will be four and get extra, extra food? What do you all mean it doesn’t work like that?

If I sit nicely, I might get some extra food.

I’m off to complain to the management.

Been thinking again

Another of my good buddies passed over the Rainbow Bridge two days ago. Freddie was fifteen and had been enjoying his life. Recently the inevitable slow down and then some ailments meant that his parents had to take the worst, and kindest, decision. He said farewell with his parents close by and surrounded by the love he gave and received throughout his life.

I was wondering aloud to myself this morning about my age and how lucky I am to enjoy good health currently, along with a loving home and even a brother that I am actually becoming quite attached to. Ok, he’s not a biological brother but he’s got a place in my heart and I suppose I like him quite a bit. As regular readers will know I was apparently eleven back in May. I say apparently as I am an orphan so no one really knows. I pondered as to how many beagle pals I have that are older than me. I cannot think of many to be honest.

I am so lucky.

I have pals of other breeds who are older and I am so pleased to still have them to chat with regularly. I was talking to one of them earlier today. Her name is Bella and she writes on WordPress. She is a thirteen year old Greyhound and we have been buddies for quite a while. She said today that she struggles getting up and down stairs sometimes. This resonated with me as I am beginning to stop halfway up stairs so I can take a breather. I still manage to scale the dizzy heights but I realise that I am having to slow down too. I am taking longer naps on the sofa, will lay on my side on the nice warm carpet and even go back to bed in the morning once I have had my fill of gravy bones. This would have been unheard of a few years ago when I was happily impersonating a gazelle both on walks and in the house. My energy seemed boundless and my parents arms were forever stretched whilst holding my lead.

I am slowing down and becoming an “elderly gentlefur” whatever one of those may be. My parents even canvassed my friends regarding some food for “senior” dogs so I don’t get an upset tummy so often now. I am blessed with an active life and very few ailments. I want it to remain this way for as long as possible.

I look at Lenny and want him to do the things I have done, see the places I have been and experience the wonders I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy. I want to show him so many places and situations that I hope I can retain my good health for as long as possible.

Stick with me Lenny, I will show you the good things.

Time will beat us all, so spend it wisely and don’t waste it. We only get one chance at this life lark.

A Sunny disposition

I wanted to return to one of the recurring themes which has allowed me to write this blog and, hopefully, keep people interested in reading it.

As some of you may know I, along with many others, had a beagle friend called Fred who lived in Germany with his parents. Sadly Fred made his longest journey on 22nd January 2021 and there were a large number of people who were extremely upset, not least his parents. Within a few months of Freds farewell, his parents rescued a lost soul called Ignaz (subsequently called Sunny due to his happy demeanour). This is his story of safety, love and security. Thus far.

I spoke with Fred’s mum, auntie Cathy and I am very grateful for her help in writing this blog.

Ok, I am going to start with the sad part (sorry) about Fred. Please don’t cry too much. When Fred passed over the Rainbow Bridge, you were both obviously very sad. However did his passing ignite a desire within you to get a rescue or did you harbour a desire to get a rescue anyway?

When Fred died we were so broken, the grief was unbelievable! He had been my side kick for 12 years and I had no idea what to do without him. I had always wanted to rescue a lab beagle and we said that the next Beagle would be a rescue or a lab Beagle. But we didn’t think we would do it so soon. We just started researching who could help us and then we found http://laborbeaglehilfe.de and Sunny (previous name Ignaz) was on there with his brother and we enquired, never thinking we would be able to get him. We thought it would take months and months to find a rescue but as soon as we saw Sunny, and found out he was still available, we were smitten and really wanted to give him a forever home! It didn’t end my grief but it certainly brought the light back into our lives. Definitely. I wish Fred was here as well – he’d be teaching him all the bad habits. I had Fred from he was 12 weeks old but I always knew that I wanted a rescue at some point.

The air of freedom. I love it.

What processes did you have to go through in order to get Sunny? Did you meet him (Covid etc) before he arrived and how much did the rescue tell you of his past

The rescue process? We were looking for organizations that could help us and Klaus found laborbeaglehilfe and that was it. We saw Sunny and knew we had to try to give him his forever home. They are small but I think quite well known. We had a couple of very long phone calls with the rescue lady from http://laborbeaglehilfe.de where she asked about our experience with Beagles, where we lived, how often would he be alone, did we have a garden (we don’t!) and many other questions. We were then waiting for her decision and really hoping we could get him. We checked the website and saw that he had been moved to ‘reserved’ but we hadn’t heard anything. So then we were panicking that he was going to someone else! But thankfully not as we received confirmation that we had been successful.

We didn’t get to meet him until the day he arrived. I think it was mostly COVID that meant we couldn’t meet him first but also think they like to take them straight from the lab to their new home if possible. The ladies from the rescue came in first and checked out our house (and us too!). Then when they were happy they went outside and brought him in with another Beagle (Robin) to help him not be so nervous. We know he is from a lab that did medical testing but the rescue don’t tell you anything else – no testing details or location. They just said that this lab was one of the better ones in terms of the care they take with the dogs (apart from the horrendous testing obviously!). It’s scary to hear how much animal testing still goes on in Germany!

This is new. I wonder if I will be loved?

Were you expecting what walked through the door? Did you have expectations or pre-conceptions of Sunny and his behaviour?

When he arrived I sat on the floor and he came straight over to me which was great because we had no idea how he would be with people. He’s been very snuggly since day 1. The rescue people had us prepared for all the worst case scenarios. For instance that he wouldn’t come near us, that he wouldn’t be house trained, that he would jump on the table. However he was the opposite! Teaching him how to use stairs was the main thing but after 3 days he had it sussed and he’s now really confident with them. As for sleeping in an actual dog bed – forget it! He’s set foot in it once. Its only sofas and the big bed for this boy!

Wake me up when it’s lunch o’clock.

How did you approach the basics of showing him his new life?

He made great progress really quickly. Indeed his curiosity was stronger than his fear (most of the time). He’s such a sweet, funny little goof ball and it’s amazing to see his personality come out more and more. We were prepared for all the worst scenarios with him but he is so snuggly, well house trained and also has no interest in human food (unbelievable for a beagle!). We tried to get him into a routine as quickly as possible to help him feel safe and secure. Now he sits outside the kitchen in the morning impatiently waiting to go for his walk.

Did you speak to anyone else about taking on a lab beagle?

We didn’t speak to anyone about it. We just started looking, thinking that it would take a long time and suddenly he was almost here.

The house was so empty without a dog in it and we knew we could give a rescue a great life. It all happened really fast.

I have heard other people say that their dog who recently passed to the Rainbow Bridge had “sent” the current dog. Do you think Fred had something to do with Sunny?

I do think that he was ‘sent‘ by Fred. The day we heard we were getting Sunny, a Robin bounced across my path as I was running and I knew it was Fred telling me it was ok. We wanted a lab Beagle because it is something I am passionate about – ending animal testing. It was through following the Beagle Freedom Project that I came across the Twitter pack so it feels like it was meant to be!

Are you strict with him, given the possibility of his previous life being pretty awful?

We are not very strict with him. We figure he had a hard enough life and now he can enjoy the sofa and the big bed as much as he likes. We do make him sit and he is really good off the lead. We work with him on that so he is learning and getting good stimulation. Thankfully he is really keen to learn. We push him only if it’s things like going out for a pee etc. Really its to keep him to his routine but otherwise we are patient with him and let him make progress at his own pace.

What do you think are his best and worst habits?

His most endearing trait is his goofiness! He’s a bit a clown and falls over himself quite frequently. His one bad habit is he is a poop eater. Big time!

He has quite a nervous character so we have to watch him with loud noises and new things but his shaking episodes are not so frequent now. Recovery from trauma is not a linear process so we just take it day by day and if he has had a lot of stimulation and activity we will make sure he has a quiet day so he can process and recover.

He’s such a sweet boy – he really brought the life back into me after losing Fred. Life with no Beagle is not fun!

These people are great. It’s good to be loved.

Thank you auntie Cathy. I think Sunny is in very safe hands and will learn that love and safety are now his for the rest of his days. He’s a very lucky beagle. And yes, life without a Beagle is no fun.

Is that a dead crab?

What’s that noise? Oh good grief its pouring with rain and thrashing against the window. Time for a longer snooze I think. Suddenly Lenny is past me and has stood on dads kidneys so it seems we will be waking up now. Tea and no sympathy seem to be the order of the day thus far. After a while we are duly harnessed and stand ready for the shenanigans of the day to come. It’s ok though as the rain has eased and we might only get a little soggy. Upon leaving the house we watch as our travel beds are loaded into the car, but strangely we are shepherded away from the car. What is this sorcery? Up the road and back once we have done what we need to do and the car is unlocked. At this point I looked at Lenny who was cowering away from his travel bed and crate.

It seems that his fears of car travel have returned as we haven’t been out in the car for some time. This is going to take some gentle persuasion on the part of the parents although I am concerned to see that treats weren’t considered necessary to coax him into the car. I tried to show him the way to do it, but he sat there shivering and cowering away so mum gently picked him up and put him in his crate ready to go.

Out of the house and down the road. We wound our way to an adventure. I watched out for my brother to make sure he wasn’t feeling too bad. We stopped and the boot was opened. The fresh and windy sea air filled our nostrils so we knew we were just about to have some fun pulling our parents along the seashore for a while. Just as we leapt out, it poured with rain again so we strolled quickly into a shelter on the promenade to wait out the shower clouds. Then we were off in earnest toward the sea so we could try to find the best stinky stuff to lick, sniff and hopefully roll in. Immediately we came to some seashells which were tasted before moving on to find the remains of a cuttlefish. Lenny seemed to enjoy this and was quickly forgetting about the car journey. I saw the dead crab stuff first but, as usual, Lenny barged in front and was getting up close and personal with the crustacean. We pulled and jerked on our leads for a few miles as we strolled along the sandy foreshore, up and over the little breakwaters and then back up to the pebbly section near the promenade. We had to walk along the prom for the last bit as dogs aren’t allowed on that section of the beach. I am not sure why we aren’t allowed on that part though. We don’t drop litter, break glass, leave tin and plastics everywhere or barbecue stuff and make it all thoroughly untidy. Our parents pick up after us so I am wondering if humans should be banned from the beach instead of dogs. Anyway, we followed the rules like the good boys we are and strolled along.

There may have been treats on view.

As soon as we were getting into our stride we were turned around and headed back toward the car. We saw some other dogs running in and out of the sea chasing a ball and we aroooed them. We saw some dogs walking nicely along the beach and we aroooed them as well. We even saw some dogs playing on the little green spaces near the promenade so we might have aroooed them too.

Come on Dex, there’s more stinky stuff here

Back to the car just as the sky opened again and this time Lenny leapt freely into his travel crate so it seems he had forgotten his fears of the car.

Once we were home it was back to the routine of food, snoozing and running around the garden chasing pesky magpies. I did hear talk of doing another trip next weekend if the weather is agreeable. I wonder where we can take Lenny next time?

An unexpected gift

Yesterday was my birthday. Well, officially I am an orphan and no one really knows when my actual birthday is, but please stay with me on this. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, birthday. I am now eleven. Apparently. My chip says 2010 so even rudimentary Beagle maths makes me two years away from becoming a teenager. Bad luck mum and dad.

I have been pondering as one does upon the life I live and what, if anything, I would like for my birthday. I am not a particularly materialistic type of dog and as I looked around the house and garden it struck me that I have everything I need or could want.

Beds? check. Brother? check. Safety? check. Food? check. Walks? check. Friends? check. I don’t do toys any more.

As I don’t “need” stuff, I asked my friends on my Twitter account to post a picture of them or their buddies having a good day, doing something they enjoy, getting some love or generally being somewhere that makes them happy. Whoa! what had I unleashed. At the time of writing my request has generated 397 pictures and 1,221 likes. This is unheard of and is truly wonderful. I know there will be people who will say “yeah, I get that regularly so what?” and they would be correct. However, for one day my Twitter account went off the scale with pals and their parents putting up photos of happiness, joy and contentment. Social media did a good thing, I think. I have friends who are really struggling with mental and physical difficulties and they tweeted pictures that made me, and others, smile. One of my friends was at the veterinary with her dog who seems quite poorly, and she posted a lovely picture. For one day the world seemed a little brighter and less populated by hate, fear, pandemic, brutality, death and hunger. Fine you may say, it was one day only. However that brief interlude made people smile for a short time, maybe only for a minute or so.

I truly did not expect to see the reaction I received to my tweet. Maybe twenty to thirty friends would post. I could smile and feel happier than I normally do and my birthday would have been good. I was and remain truly humbled by the response.

Thank you.

Lennys Appraisal for 2020

As he has been here for yet another year, I thought I should conduct Lenny’s appraisal. Thankfully I didn’t allow him to have one of those new fangled 360 degree appraisals. I don’t want him spreading false rumours about me. Anyway, sit back and make what you will of our chat.

So Lenny, 2020, what did you make of your first full year?

Well Dex it was very strange wasn’t it? We started the year off quietly, then too many people broke the rules. After that those who are in charge didn’t take action quickly enough so we went into three further quarantine periods. Thankfully we had each other, as well as our parents, in our own little bubble. We seem to be on the right path now, so I just hope everyone can continue to be careful and not become blasé.

Then we had the strange goings on when we were barred from bitey face in the guest room because loads of boxes appeared. Our parents never told us about the new kennel. All we saw was them disappear now and then, to suddenly reappear a few hours later. When the guys came to take away our possessions I was a bit worried, especially for all the toys that suddenly weren’t strewn across the floor in inappropriate places for mum and dad to fall over.

Do you miss our old stomping grounds then?

I do. Sometimes. When I arrived in 2019 you were kind enough to show me quite a few excellent walks from a couple of miles to a really good 10 miler that I did with dad once. I actually think we took a wrong turn and he just couldn’t admit that he’d gone the wrong way. Apart from that I enjoyed walking around the many places and seeing tons of really nice views. The deer and squirrels helped to make our adventures interesting. And, of course, we got to travel into London on the train or tube which was fun. I can see why you enjoyed the big field around Botley as you can see for miles from the tree line. As for the regular Pednor trips, yes I do miss them as I got to know plenty of other furs and people. It was nice to have some routine and, I suppose, regularity to life.

Pednor in the sunshine

I do like it here though, as we have plenty of new places to visit and we’ve already been to the beach. The deer are bigger here too, although thats a bit scary if I think about it too much. There are many places we haven’t been to yet so I am looking forward to those. Also we haven’t been to the pub yet, and that is always interesting.

What do you think to the new house?

Oh I like it as it is very different to the previous one. Firstly it has these strange “stairs” that we can run up and down, whilst we chase one another. Also it has many different rooms in places that I need to get used to. I keep on doing things like chase you into the living room, only to find its actually the kitchen. A downside, if there is one, is that the garden is smaller than the previous house so I can catch you more quickly so we tend to shorten our garden exercise. I suppose the fact also that there is a water gun to curtail our over exuberant shenanigans is also a bit of a downside too. Dad is far too good a shot with it. I feel like I have settled really quickly here. I just feel like it’s safe and warm, I suppose. Also I have you and the parents so I feel safe in that regard, knowing I have you to rely on.

Did you find it strange that for a large proportion of 2020 we were under a degree of restriction regarding moving around and meeting people?

No, not really. We were lucky that we had the lovely walks almost on our doorstep. Combined with that we were sensible and stayed clear of people as much as we were able. If we met people when we were out dexploring the countryside we were able to greet them in typical Beagle fashion whilst staying at arms length. When we were allowed some freedom from the restrictions we didn’t really venture too far. It was almost like we knew that we were in the middle of a storm and were just riding it out. We did see Raffa’s mum in September when the rules were relaxed slightly but then people in general didn’t really behave properly and we went back into quarantine. I think as dogs we just followed our daily routine of walks, eating, sleeping and shenanigans in the garden. We had the freedom to do that without having the human worries about the virus, money, work and life in general.

Is there anything that you would do differently looking back over the last year?

Erm, no not really. I think the virus made everyone think a bit more about their local area and their life outside of their regular workplace. Maybe I would like to have had more days out on the train or tube, meet ups with pals and trips to the pub with our parents. Wow, I sound like I am desperate to go to the pub!

I think there were days when I could have done with a bit of a scenery change and had something different to look forward to. You did some trips into London the previous year up to March 2020 with dad which I would liked to have done but couldn’t due to the travel restrictions. Also now we have moved and we are much further away from a train station it would prove to be much more of a challenge getting to and from the station, let alone wandering around the big city saying hello to people. I am hopeful though, if people behave themselves, that I can still get to do some additional dexplorations, especially if I can do them with you.

Is there anything you think you have got better at?

Yes. Walking nicely on the lead and playing bitey face with you. I have learned from the Master of Bitey Face so I think I had no choice but to get better. Dad has worked harder with me when we have been out and I do listen more to him when he wants me to walk nicely or stop eating disgusting stuff. Well, most of the time I try to listen but you know how difficult it is. Mum is a bit more cunning when she wants me to obey commands whilst dad is a bit more direct. I suspect both their training styles have had effect on me. They both still roll their eyes when squirrels or rabbits are in my view though. I probably have to work harder with mum though, as I am not sure she believes I can walk nicely.

If you could bring one thing from the old house to the new one, what would it be?

Easy. The garden. It was like an adventure playground for us. Once I had been living in your house for a few months and had the chance to fully dexplore the garden, it just kept on giving up more secret places and scents to me. The new garden will be ok but it isn’t as large and there aren’t as many scents or nooks and crannies at the moment.

Apart from that, it’s really nice here in the house. This underfloor heating stuff came in handy when it was a bit chilly for the first month or so when we got here. And carpet instead of hardwood flooring in some rooms? Luxury as we could lie on the soft carpet and feel the warmth coming through.

Is there anything here that you would change?

Yes. I would stop the oven and hob from bleeping and upsetting you. I don’t like seeing you leave a room or go and hide in the study upstairs when the kitchen is in full flow. You look so worried sometimes, although you have got much braver recently and returned to make sure dad was ok when he is cooking. However I would still stop the bleeps.

I hope Dex is alright?

Have you got a favourite walk yet?

I like the circular walk through Thakeham via the church on the hill, down the farm track, past the church, past the next farm and then back via the gravel track. It’s about five miles or so and is a good stroll. Also I have to admit the walk I did recently with dad when we went to the top end of Knepp Country Park was great fun. It was over seven miles and we saw the biggest deer I have ever clapped eyes on. And I was very tired when we got back although I think that was dads plan, the meanie. I hope to be finding some more favourite walks soon.

What are you looking forward to doing in the next twelve months?

Ugh good grief, where do I start? Now we are far more settled I am looking forward to the beach, walks to the pubs and seeing pals as often as possible. Summer is on the way and I hope to get to walk to many places to experience different things here. I haven’t tried this “ice cream” yet and you promised me that I would get to taste yellow snow in the winter, so I am looking forward to those treats. Apparently we are close to the South Downs so I want to go walking over those. And our fur cousin Minnie doesn’t live too far away now so, if I am lucky, I will meet her too.

Beach dawgs

Do you feel safer, or more secure, now?

Yes, I do. Now I have been living with you for two years I do feel much more part of the gang. As we said last year I was feeling my way around at first, maybe taking some liberties with your toys, beds and food until I understood better what was yours and what was mine. Now I can see that I am safe and loved, I feel more relaxed and I am happy in my fur. I have got used to being your little brother and it’s good as we knock along together quite well now. Often times we can do our own thing, and then meet up afterwards for a chat and snooze. I don’t feel like I have to compete for space any more and we can share things either in the garden or the house. We still squabble over the ownership of that bouncy orange ball but I haven’t seen it for some time so I assume it’s appearances are being limited.

I noticed recently that when you go into your cave bed which is next to mine, you curl up closest to my bed?

Oh, erm do I? Ah well erm. Ok here goes. I feel really settled and secure here. That is due entirely to you and our parents. As I am not allowed to sleep on the big bed, despite being found on there some mornings, I like to curl up next to you as I feel like I am safest when I am with you. I know I was like the proverbial hand grenade when I arrived into your house, and you all accepted me and made me feel really welcome. I just try to repay your trust by being nice. Yes, I know that’s difficult to believe when we are rolling around in the garden playing bitey face, but its a true story.

Brothers in arms or thick as thieves?

Ok, last question. What will you like to see and do in the coming year?

I want to go out more often and explore plenty more paths around here. I also want to go to the hills which I can see from my house. Then there are the beaches which are now much closer. If I can meet grandad more often we can take him with us as long as he behaves himself.

I would like to improve on my technique of creeping up on you from behind to play bitey face. I seem to permanently get to you just as you roll over and see me. I think I need to make my approach a little quieter. I do suspect that you know I am advancing upon your neck so I will have to work harder.

Practice makes perfect

Hmm, yes that is something you need to improve upon. However I think that we can conclude this appraisal by confirming that I will allow you to spend the next year living with me so I can continue to train you as my apprentice.

Erm thanks Dex, that’s really kind of you. I will try not to disappoint you. Now, can I go and get some food?

Enjoy the bluebells.

Fighting weight

Lenny and I went to the vet last week. We moved house and needed some tablets to make sure that worms don’t live for too long in our guts. I know its disgusting and I apologise if you are having your tea but that is what we did. We were tricked into going by a mean parent who only said that we were going for another walk. Anyway the vet asked to see us so we could be weighed and quickly checked over. Due to the current quarantine restrictions we were allowed into the vet practice separately and dad had to sit outside. As he was the mean parent who tricked us, both Lenny and I wanted it to be raining so dad would get wet. Sadly it was dry and bright. I went in first and sat on the scale like the good boy that I am. Thirteen point nine kilos dad was told, whatever that means. Then it was Lenny’s turn to sit on the weigh bridge, sorry scales, for his quick check over. Fifteen kilos, the vet nurse said to dad, who was taken aback somewhat at the number. This got dad thinking on the way home and he was quick to speak with mum. A plan was hatched and Lenny was none the wiser thankfully. Lenny is going out with dad for longer walks and he will get a little less food in his bowl as well as fewer biscuits are treats.

So it began the following day when I was attached to my mum and Lenny to dad. We started off in the same direction and after a couple of miles I was turned around to head for home. Lenny and dad were heading for the hills it seems. They disappeared around the bend in the road and I was left wondering what was happening. I found out soon enough that Lenny had taken a longer route through the country estate that we had so enjoyed a week or so before. I was feeling bit jealous until I saw Lenny’s breakfast was smaller than mine and he hadn’t noticed. As usual he had dived in and inhaled his food, much in the fashion that a Labrador is alleged to inhale their food. I say alleged as Labradors are bigger than me. The following day Lenny was hooked up again to dad and they took off in a separate direction to mum and I. Again he came back with a grin on his face and recounted where he had been and the other dogs he had met. I didn’t feel as jealous this time as, again, his food bowl didn’t look as full as it used to and he hadn’t noticed. The weekend arrived and we went back to walking as a group. This time we went around the country estate together and Lenny showed me where he had seen the long horned cows as well as where he had scented the deer. We took the long route to the pub yesterday and Lenny and I were allowed to pull and jerk on our leads quite a lot. When we got home we both realised how tired we were from all our lead based shenanigans and it occurred to us that maybe there was a method to us being allowed to mess about so much.

So tell me all about your day.

Lenny is going to get longer walks, fewer biscuits and a little less food in his bowl. We are also going to get less cheese that is “accidentally” dropped when food is being prepared. Apparently I don’t need long walks every day as I am getting older and I seem to be getting more stiff joints and cramp when I don’t drink enough water or go too far on a walk. I actually quite like not going too far as it means that I can come back and relax for a while before the hooligan hound breezes through the door and bitey face begins in earnest.

I hope this new routine doesn’t make him even more ravenous for my neck!

The psyche of a beagle

There once was a beagle. He was found wandering in a lane in Wales and was picked up and transported to a rescue centre in Buckinghamshire. Whilst he was there he found a home, however he wasn’t at the home for very long as he ran out of a gate and tried to play with cars. He was returned to the rescue centre. He then found himself whisked away once more, after 4 months or so, to another home. This time it was his forever home, although he didn’t know it at the time.

As he hadn’t had much in the way of socialisation or training he had to teach his new parents, pretty much from scratch, how to look after a beagle and pander to his every need. Things got off to a slow start and there were quite a few times that frustration got the better of everyone involved and sometimes there were some tears. However everyone knew they had to make the training succeed so they persevered, tried harder to understand what each other wanted and sought to find alternate ways of engaging with this beagle. After eighteen months or so, he started to settle in and feel a little more at home. He ran away three times in the first six months and each time he realised that it wasn’t very clever and it worried his parents very much as they were growing more attached to him as the days went by. The fears and doubts that had plagued him in his formative days in his new home gradually started to melt away as he realised that he was becoming more familiar with his house, the routine of the day and the parents he had chosen to look after him. His parents showed him love and guided him along the path toward some degree of normality in his life. Having said that there was still this distance in his eyes sometimes, that he was still not fully attached or that he was still not quite sure why he was here and what he was supposed to do. He still tried to escape at pretty much every opportunity and would regularly try to pull from the socket, the arm of whoever he was shackled to.

Then one day a nine month old rescue pup beagle was dropped into his world and it was like a hand grenade going off. For the first week of this new arrival, they fought and squabbled like a couple of feral children. In fact they fought and squabbled so much that it was close to his young pal being returned. However the situation relented and his new young protege was allowed to stay and flourish under the older beagles tutelage. Both beagles became familiar with one another, their surroundings and generally their lives together was becoming better. However the older beagle still showed signs of unrest on some occasions, usually when he was in the garden and being asked to come into the house for his food. Bribes or treats sometimes worked but on other occasions there was little that would sway him to consider returning indoors to eat his food. It was almost as if he felt that he was being trapped on occasion, whilst at other times, he would freely enter the house and join in with the ritual breakfast, dinner or supper inhalation.

Then the family moved to a new home and the younger beagle settled really quickly whilst the older beagle followed each of his parents around, in case they disappeared and he may be left an orphan once more. He would follow them from one room to another, stand directly behind them when food was being prepared, watch them whilst they were sitting down talking and would watch them from his bed when he should have been sleeping. Many of these time he could hardly keep his eyes open. His parents wondered and worried that he might still have something in his past that revisited his mind on occasion. They couldn’t work out what it was however they tried to make the routine simple immediately they had moved into the new home. After two weeks or so it appeared that the beagle in question had followed his brothers lead and started to relax and understand that his new surroundings were his home. However the older beagle then began regressing into old habits, where he would stand in the garden baying loudly, would refuse to come back into the house for food, would watch his parents as they went from one room to another and whine loudly if someone left the house. His parents wondered if they would ever understand the psyche of the beagle in question.

They decided that they probably wouldn’t so they would just give Dex love and comfort anyway.

Oh deer, what is that scent?

Boing boing boing arooo. Hurry up and get out of bed. Its Bank Holiday Monday and we need to do something instead of having a well deserved lie in. Lenny delivered the wonderfully precise kidney pounce on dad and, suddenly, the morning tea was being made albeit with way too much grumbling about “we should have got Labradors or poodles”.

The spit spot of rain on the windows didn’t dampen our ardour for going on a long walk to dexplore more of the local area. Where would we go today? No one had a clue but we were on our paws and ready. Out of the house and turn left at the end of the road. Up the lane and along the footpath, turning right at the far end and back onto another lane. We know this lane as its part of our regular walks so we can pull and jerk in all the wrong places to get to the scents which lie in the periphery of the drainage ditches and edge of the woods on either side. Just past the stables we saw the squirrels run for cover as we approached. At this point Lenny decided to see a rabbit which caused mum to grumble about her arm being pulled out of its socket. Down the lane and across the brook we went, Lenny and I having a rare old time. Then we stopped in the road and expected to hear that we were turning around to head back home. This was standard practice but something seemed different today. It was decided for us that we would walk a little way down a bridle path which led off one side of the lane. As soon as we got through the gate, my nose was filled with a strange and wondrous scent and I tried desperately to break free from my shackles. It was deer and squirrels all mixed with the heady scent of rabbits. Also there was a scent I wasn’t quite sure of at the time but it would become apparent in a very short time. We strolled along the wide path and came to a tall gate which spanned the width of the path.

This is going to be fun. For us.

Welcome to the Knepp Wildland, part of the Knepp Castle Estate, it read. Please keep your dogs under control and on a lead, it continued. Deer, pigs and various cows roam free within the grounds. Oh my, oh wow it felt as if we had just stumbled upon a veritable playground for Beagles. Within a millisecond my path to fun and frivolity was blocked by dad who told me to sit. I was instructed to behave, walk nicely and not to bay at any animals that we may encounter. You’ve got no chance I thought. I looked at Lenny and he was clearly getting a similar sermon from mum and was thinking the same as me. Our leads and harnesses were checked and double checked to make sure we were (more than) adequately shackled. This was unfair. As soon as we were told to walk on we pulled and jerked on our respective leads so much so that dad thinks he’s invented a new pastime of beagle wrangling. The scents were everywhere. All we had to do was see a deer and our morning walk would be complete. We saw some rather large cows away in a meadow but we really needed to see deer. We could smell them but it seemed they weren’t happy to come and play. As we walked further into the estate the scents kept on coming and we kept on enjoying ourselves more and more.

The smell of the pigs was there, a little faint but definitely around. Ok, that’s enough decided dad as we stopped at the gate which led through to the next field. This was yet another decision taken on our behalf and without consultation with either myself or Lenny. So it was that we were turned around and began the long, slow and very much beagle brake applied walk back to the lane for the doleful return home. I would add though that Lenny and I did make the return journey with silly grins on our faces.

When we arrived home we were subjected to the ritual wiping of paws and it was as much as we could do to bay loudly for our second breakfast. We had earned it, that’s for sure. Then we were off to rest and reinvigorate our weary bones and brains. Six miles of scent and sights were clearly enough for us today.

Is another trip to Knepp on the cards? Oh I hope so as it was so much fun.

A path trodden by few.

Today we decided to try out a path less travelled. Lenny and I had the usual wait for the parents to get themselves ready. We were fed our first breakfast on time and then waited for what seemed ages for the staff to finish faffing about.

Out of the house and turn right, then left, under the road and sharp right up the slope toward the woods. Lenny and I made ready for our noses to go into over drive as soon as we got to the edge of the trees. We weren’t disappointed as we both picked up scents straight away but were surprised when we suddenly veered left through the woods, along a path and next to a field. What was this sorcery, surely our normal path is to follow the road and then cut into the field slightly? We weren’t complaining, merely wondering what was happening. As we approached the first gate we heard the parents tell one another that this was all new from here on and it would be an exploration. For me it would be a Dexploration. As we quietly said good morning to the horses we wound our way past the farm, along the edge of the trees, over the brook and then back into the woods. It was at this point that we realised we had been hoodwinked. Listening to the parents, they had seen a herd of eighteen Roe deer in a field about half a mile back and they had decided not to tell us, for fear of a continual noise which would “awaken the dead”. This was clearly unfair. We happened upon a path and then a narrow lane which lead us back to the next village from our home. We managed to jerk and pull our parents for the entirety of the lane so that we could remind them of our presence at the lower end of our respective leads until the narrow lane became a road and the cars increased in number. Turn right and up another lane, through the edge of the woods and returning under the road bridge we found ourselves, all too quickly, back at home.

That was fun.

We had adventured and had fun. Here’s to another set of adventures in the very near future. Lenny is duly sleepy so I can escape being bitten for a while.