Gone too soon.

At 12.15 today 7th January 2022 my cousin Minnie made her longest journey. She was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on New Years Eve. I wanted to place in writing my admiration for her.

Minnie was found tied to a fence in Epping Forest, which is on the north east London and Essex borders. Her rescuers estimated she was between 15-18 months old when she was found. This was in 2017. Just let that sink in a little. She wasn’t even two years old and she had been abandoned!

Minnie’s first day

Once she had been rescued and was being looked after, my auntie and uncle went to see Minnie and decided she would go to live with them. I found out very soon after they had made the decision to adopt Minnie. My heart sang with happiness. I knew she would be looked after like royalty as they had rescued greyhounds before and both of the greyhounds had lived wonderfully happy lives. So it was that in early October 2017 Minnie found herself a forever home and she quickly set about making it her manor. She was swiftly into training her new parents and getting them used to servicing her every whim.

Minnie walked every day, she went on holidays to Suffolk and Cornwall. When she was away, she waded in the sea, chased rabbits in the long grass, whizzed along the beach after her ball and laid roaching in the sand with a grin on her face. She was a pub dog, she visited homes and gardens, she went to see her grandparents and I even got to meet her once. Sadly I made an idiot of myself and I have felt guilty ever since. At home she would be chasing deer, rabbits and squirrels across the marshy areas around the river Arun. She even managed to need rescuing by the Fire and Rescue people as she got stuck on a little island in the middle of a tidal river. She had swam across and could not return.

After her shenanigans in the river she was limping a little and it wasn’t getting better so she was looked over by the vet and it was thought she would need some treatment for what seemed a strain type injury. When the X-Rays came back, the prognosis changed as there were signs of advanced cancer in her front right leg and shoulder.

Minnie made her longest journey today. She follows many others to the place where there is no pain or suffering and where there is only soft light and warm meadows. It is the kindest and yet most difficult decision that our parents can make for us when our bodies are tired and cannot keep going.

I will miss you Minnie. Very much.

Today I have the saddest ears, for Minnie was a sweetie of a dog. She was, and is, an angel in the true sense as she was happy and loved and she touched the lives of all those who came across her. She had a great life once she had been rescued and found her forever home. My auntie and uncle changed her life, and changed it for the better. They gave Minnie a life of love, comfort and showed her she was cherished. She will be looking down at them with love in her heart.

Run free Minnie furcuz, free from aches, ills and pain. Free to chase the rabbits for as long as you want. Free to feel the warm sun on your back. You are released from your duties down here. Farewell Minnie, for it is never goodbye. We shall meet again some day.

In conversation

Sometimes Lenny and I have a few minutes to spare. We like to check up on one another, make sure we are happy and to swap yarns and tall stories about the things we got up to before we became a noisy duo. Oh erm, Happy New Year to you all.

Lenny: Dex, do you like living here?
Dex: I do, Lendog. Its very different from the last place but its cosy and comfy. Even the carpets are warm and I can stretch out on the floor. What about you then, Lendog?
Lenny: It’s pretty good here. I dont like that the garden is way smaller than our last one but the house is warmer and we have stairs to chase one another up and down.

Dex: Would you go back to the previous house then?
Lenny: No. I would bring the old garden with all its scents and smells here. Then we could run around like a couple of idiots.

Lenny: So we’ve been here nearly a year and I have settled in to the new routine, I think.
Dex: Lendog, you settled within twenty minutes. You just leapt on your bed and were snoozing before the removals guys had finished. I, on the other paw, took another month or so to feel at home. I struggle to feel settled quickly, there seems to be too much else for me to understand and explore.

Lenny: New paths, new woods and new roads to explore. What do you think are your favourites?
Dex: All of them. We dont have as many places to explore here so we need to make sure we enjoy them all as much as possible. It helps that there are squirrels everywhere. What are your favourites, Lendog?
Lenny: Well, now you ask I like the longer walk I do with dad, down to the top end of Storrington and Sullington. Its mostly on the road but sometimes we return home through the little footpath between the fields and then over the little wooden bridge. I did like the circular walk to Thakeham but since the farmer has ploughed up the path with the tractor we are banned from going that way.
Dex: Do you miss the old walks then Lendog? I know I do, I used to like the strolls around the big field in Botley, the walk up to Chalfont Woods and the ride on the tube?
Lenny: Yes, I do miss them. The circular Pednor walk as well as running through the fields at Mayhall were always good, fun walks. I think we may have to persuade them to take us back, even if only for a day.
Dex: If I could bring back those walks I would be happy. Having said that, I am slowing down now and I’m not sure I could manage one of the six or seven mile walks I used to regularly pull one of our parents around.
Lenny: True story Dex. I would also be very happy if I could have those walks again. Maybe it was the familiarity of them as well as being directly on our doorstep. There are too many places here which are fenced off and out of bounds to us.

Lenny: Have you met next doors cat yet, Dex?
Dex: No buddy I haven’t. Most people in the village would have known about it if we had bumped into each other. I haven’t properly met the little dog at the other end of the road yet either. In fact there is another dog in the farmhouse opposite that we haven’t been allowed to say hello to? I think we are missing out on something.
Lenny: I don’t know what I would do if I met the neighbours cat. I would probably aroo loudly and then try to play bitey face with it.

Lenny: We went to the beach quite a few times this year. It was fun as we could get out and about in the fresh air and enjoy an early morning stroll along the edge of the sea.
Dex: Yes we did enjoy ourselves, especially the part about eating all the dead washed up stuff that came from the ocean. I’m not sure if our parents enjoyed our trips as much but, hey, they only needed to clean up for three or four days afterwards.
Lenny: I remember that. Somehow they didn’t think we would try to eat all the smelly dead stuff that has washed up in previous tides.
Dex: And we got to see grandad more often, which is always a bonus as we can teach him the art of good tickles and belly rubs. I am quite proud we have shown him that not all dogs are bad or naughty.
Lenny: You were training him before I came onto the scene, so thats all your own work. I just turned up, saw he was half trained and then set about helping you finish off his studies.

Dex: So, Lenny, what do you remember about your life in Cyprus?
Lenny: Not much now. It was nearly three years ago that I adopted all of you so I have been quite busy making sure I have my paws under the table here.
Dex: Fair enough, I suppose you have had a lot of things to adapt to here. Is it different from your Cyprus life? Apart from the weather of course.
Lenny: Indeed it is. I was a street dog for most of my very early life. I am not sure if I just escaped or was dumped from the hunters but I was very lucky to be picked up and rescued. There are far more rules here and I am still not wholly content with this lead and harness stuff. I know we are told its for our own safety and, mum and dad would be really upset if I got off, but it’s still quite restrictive.
Dex: I agree with you about the lead and harness stuff. I went through a time where I was collar walked and I nearly strangled myself because of my utter insistence in chasing everything all the time. As you know I escaped three times and on each occasion, they were really worried about me doing something stupid. I think we are going to have to put up with harnesses, sadly.
Lenny: So what do you remember about before you arrived here then, Dex?
Dex
: Almost nothing matey. It is so long ago now that I have had too many memories in between my arrival and today. I know I came from Wales originally but I don’t remember where. I know I was rescued, escaped, tried to play with a car and lost. After that I came to live with these two and have ruled the house ever since. Well, until you arrived that is. Then the dynamic changed once more and I had to learn how to live with another dog. I was confused at first but you didn’t push in too much on important stuff like food and water so we didn’t need to squabble over those. The parents were quick to set down rules about eating and stuff like equal tickles or belly rubs so, again, we didn’t need to squabble over those.

Dex: So, overall, you enjoy living here?
Lenny: I suppose so. The house is nice and we get to run up and down the stairs playing bitey face games. The garden is way too small for us but the squirrels seems to have emigrated south with us. What about you, Dex?
Dex: Me? Yeah. The other garden was way better, both in size and places to sniff and play. However I can lay in about ten different places here in the house and we can get some downtime from each other which is good. I’m a bit older than you so I need my naps, despite being alert whenever I am awake. It seems to be warmer and more cosy here. We need to find some other walks and adventures nearby in time for Spring so we can go off exploring again. There aren’t as many walks as before.

Lenny: I’m hungry. I think we’ve solved the problems of the world. I think it’s time to go and pester a parent for food.
Dex: Good idea Lendog, lead the way.

End of times

Well, it’s my end of year review to be more honest. I know that many people do these, however I suspect they don’t do a review from a canine point of view. What a tumultuous year it has been for Lenny and I.

In JANUARY we moved kennel from north west of London to West Sussex and closer to the seaside. Not that we were thinking of the sea, sand and balmy beaches at the time as it was freezing cold and raining. All of our belongings had been packed away and we had lived in an almost empty house for the last week of the month. It was a strange time, within the strangeness of Covid times.

In FEBRUARY we were trying to unpack all our belongings, become accustomed to our new home, explore new paths and seek out new civilisations, to boldly go where few beagles have been before. I fear I may have strayed into sci-fi with that last section. Having said that we met another beagle on our first walk, so that was a good result. We also made our first venture to the beach.

I hope it gets more exciting.

In MARCH the sun came out, we were allowed to explore our garden and we slept, having become more accustomed to our new house. We explored more paths, smelt more squirrels, greeted more dogs and generally made more of a nuisance of ourselves.

In APRIL we explored further afield, Lenny saw a stag in Knepp Estate, we smelled the bluebells and played in our garden. The mists lifted and the area looked prettier so we decided to stay for a while.

In MAY we took another trip to the beach, we ate dead stuff that had washed up and this gluttony meant we had to wake our parents up at midnight, 2am, 3.30am and 4.30am on a couple of occasions. We explored more of the lanes and byways whilst having a fun time. We also saw more bluebells.

In JUNE the sun was still shining, our grass was growing prodigiously, we lazed and sunbathed whilst also fitting in walks each day. We sniffed the flowers, played bitey face in the garden and enjoyed the start of the warmer summer months.

In JULY the warmth of the summer sun meant that we could go in the car and visit Borde Hill Gardens which was great, and we managed our first ascent of the season of Chanctonbury. The views from the top were great. In between we managed to laze about and play in the garden.

In AUGUST we decided to rein in the adventures for a few weeks. We only explored the lanes and byways, found some new woods to bother some squirrels and celebrated Lenny’s birthday. All in all a quieter month but one of rest and recuperation.

In SEPTEMBER we needed all our energy as we had a special visitor. We showed Raffa’s mum our new kennel, showed her the pub and then, the piece de resistance, our best bitey face in the garden. We think she was impressed. The week after we went off exploring in the car and then on the train back to London for a quick stroll around the City. Lenny tried to eat pavement food and got told off. We rested and chilled out for the rest of the month. We were exhausted.

In OCTOBER we found ourselves back at the beach so we had to eat more dead washed up creatures, thus allowing us to ensure our parents couldn’t oversleep. Lenny missed me dreadfully, apparently, when I was away for the day having my teeth cleaned and polished. One tooth fell out so I received sympathy but no extra food. We ascended Chanctonbury again but didn’t get as far as we wanted to, as bulls and lively older beagles aren’t a good mixture.

In NOVEMBER the mists returned as the sun lowered in the sky. Beautiful mornings gave way to rainy days and we dodged showers on our walks. We found some new fields to wander around, although the lack of squirrel bothering opportunities was worrying.

In DECEMBER something called Christmas was going to be celebrated this year. A tree suddenly appeared in the corner of the room, we were warned to stay away and not to play near it. Our walks became muddier, the sun seemed to disappear earlier and we didn’t get any leftovers from Christmas dinner.

Yet again however we lost many friends, colleagues and buddies. We all know that, one day, we will make our longest journey. We know that we will travel with love and affection permeating every part of our existence. However, the pain does not lessen with this thought. Too many friends have left an indelible paw print on too many humans. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe not so many of us will make the journey. Maybe we will be able to meet up, explore new places with old and new buddies. I hope so.

Obsession

No, not some perfume which has probably been tested on beagles and then sold to unsuspecting people, but apparently something that applies to me.

I am a beagle, you may have noticed. Lenny is also a beagle and, again, this may have come to your attention. In that case, my parents want to know, how are we so different when it comes to certain small furry creatures which run along the fence at the back of my garden sending me into some delirium in the process. Of course I refer to squirrels. The grey variety that hitched a ride over from the North American continent and which now plague woods, forests and my garden so successfully. I would like to thank whoever it was that thought they would be a good idea, but I cannot do so.

They have been cavorting all day and I have been unable to control my whining and pacing in and out of different rooms to get a better view of them. As my view improves the whine goes up a decibel or ten, with associated baying when I cannot get to them. I move from a chair in the living room to the kitchen, back to the living room, off to a bedroom overlooking the garden, return to the kitchen, push the closed and locked door in the (vain) hope it will open and then stand in the living room once more noisily whining at whichever parent is closest. It would appear I am tormented by them (squirrels not parents). According to said parents we are not going to live in a cave whereby any and all views into the garden are shut out with curtains, so my view is panoramic around the garden. As soon as I am released into the garden to chase off the pesky critter it merely leaps into a nearby tree and pulls faces at me. I return to the warmth of the living room and watch as the squirrel descends from its lofty perch and continues its efforts are sending me doolally.

Then Lenny decides to wake up and see what’s going on. I cannot believe that he has missed the entire squirrel bothering episode because he’s been sleeping soundly. Does he not understand that these creatures are our mortal foe, they represent everything that makes a beagle obsessed with shaking it warmly by the neck.

These pictures were taken about four seconds apart. He’s just awoken from his nefarious slumber. I had been like this for the previous ten minutes, gently whimpering at the scoundrel running amok in my garden. I really don’t understand how he can be so relaxed about having squirrels in the garden. Is he truly a beagle? Maybe it’s me? I think I need to have a bit of a lie down in a darkened room.

Gotcha

Another year has passed since I arrived in my forever home. Eight years ago today I strolled into a new house with new people, new rules and hopefully a new way of life. I was a little worried at first as I had no idea about what was happening or if this was foster or permanent. As the days turned into weeks, then into months I began to realise that this was it, this was my forever home with people who would look after me and make sure I got love, food, beds and some degree of routine. I say “some degree” as most beagle parents will tell you that there is only a certain amount that us beagles will tolerate before we have to give in to the stubborn traits so wonderfully associated with us.

So that is it really. I was a Christmas dog, but the parents started their homework on me in the previous September. Three visits and numerous internet searches led them to be my guardians. We went through all the teething troubles in the first eighteen to twenty four months and then I began to feel more settled. We look after each other to be honest. When Lenny arrived my world was turned upside down and had the normality shaken out of it. We had a new family member to look after and I am still training him to be my protege. He will get there, I hope.

I’m the handsome one on the left.

Us rescues have many events in our lives and most of them we have no understanding of their meaning. Christmas and birthdays are fun. The one day we will always seek to appreciate will be the day when we were rehomed for the last time, into our forever life and with our guardians.

Safe. It’s the best.

That is the best day with the best feeling.

He’s only done it again

It was a bit chilly around these parts this morning. We set off for our daily walk together and managed to negotiate one of the local roads that some drivers treat like a race track. Sadly our normal path through the woods is cut off by an enormous tree which has fallen across it. In any case we managed to cross the road a few times and avoided being pummelled by the speeding cars and lorries.

We turned right onto a quieter road and climbed the short hill away from the hubbub of the morning rush. Squirrels darted left and right as we advanced upon them. Our parents complained that Lenny and I were in competition with one another to try and get to the squirrels. As we descended past the stables the lane stretched away and we strolled (pulled and yanked) along enjoying our walk. I was attached to mum and Lenny to dad so we were on opposite sides of the road and could scent and sniff to our hearts content. Dad told mum that he and Lenny were going to walk on a little further as Lenny had been on fairly short walks recently and needed a bit more scenting than I did. So, off they went, as mum and I turned and headed for home. I didn’t mind to be honest as it meant that I could zigzag across the road and scent both sides without the interference of my little brother.

When Lenny and dad returned about thirty minutes after us, Lenny could hardly contain his excitement. He had walked further and seen a lovely view across fields and sheep in the farthest field. They had turned for home and the sunlight drifted through the early morning haze and made the trees look all spooky.

I feigned indifference to his tales but secretly I was jealous of him having another walk with brilliant views. I suspect my walk also had good views but I was too busy with my nose to the ground.

Lucky Lenny’s view

Tomorrow we go again on our walks. This time I intend on making sure I keep Lenny firmly in my sights so I can also see the lovely views he gets to see. I just hope I remember to look up from my sniffing along in the grass.

We only went and did it again.

The week after we had shown Raffa and her mum around London, we were asked most politely to show some more pals around the capital. Lucy lived in the US. Arizona to be exact. Her mum and dad were in the UK travelling and seeing all sorts of wonderful places as well as many friends who live here. It was our pleasure to be the final furry pals on their trip in December 2019.

We had another early start on 8th December to make sure we got to the station on time. On this occasion Lenny was up with the game and knew what we were doing. We’d only just recovered from the previous weekends shenanigans with Raffa but we made sure we had best bib and tucker on for this latest expedition.

Pfft, the smelly tube.

We arrived in London, alighted at Barbican and strolled down Aldersgate Street towards St Pauls Cathedral. We announced our arrival in the usual beagle fashion and made auntie S and uncle J laugh at our antics. The day had started well. We tried to show them things that were a little off the beaten track and that visitors wouldn’t normally get to see. We wandered through Postmans Park, went around the back lanes to Spitalfields via the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange.

Some of the brave people in Postmans Park (with a strange dog)

We strolled, chatted and showed them around. I aroooed at some police horses and the lady riders laughed as I was so loud that it reverberated through the empty streets. We were doing the breed proud as we marched on.

Arooooo!

When we had lunched we took them to the Tower of London and sadly had to say goodbye.

Me and Lenny with auntie S

We had fun again that day, our paws ached and we slept most of the way home on the all stations tube journey.

When they come for another visit hopefully we will be able to show them other places.

Rainy days and Tuesdays

I suppose I am lucky to live here. Safe, secure and loved I live in a nice house which is warm and dry. Looking out at the weather for the past couple of days, I am very fortunate.

I know it’s winter here in the UK so there will be wind and rain but, come on, that’s two storms one quickly after the other and it’s not even Christmas. My garden is flooded in places and the paths through the woods that usually contain some great scents are now muddy slides with added slippery leaves on the surface which make for fun viewing as one or the other parent goes sliding around. You need four paw drive dad, just like Lenny and I.

Early morning before the rain sets in

We walk earlier in the morning at the moment so we have predominantly missed the worst of the rain over the last few days. We have also been walking the lanes so as to avoid the muckier sections of woodland paths which we normally enjoy. I knew my parents were mean to us by not allowing us to mess about in the mud. No that it matters much as the verges are soft and often I find myself wading through puddles up to my elbows. Lenny on the other hand avoids walking through puddles for fear of getting his paws wet. Strange boy.

He’s bored. Dry but bored.

We are restricted to quick garden excursions between the rain so we can do our business and then return to the safety and security of a sofa each, all the while with a human leg to snooze against. We are pretty bored to be honest but that pales into insignificance when we look outside and see the rain lashing against the windows. Also it is dark and dreary so this suppresses our need for running around like a couple of crazed hounds, so our parents are fairly pleased.

Go away rain. I need to do things.

I think I will stay here as being just bored is better than being bored and soaked, needing a towelling down.

Thinking of things past

Being busy with the day to day chores of keeping parents and my brother (not biological but I allow him to live here) in check, I have missed an anniversary of a wonderful day that Lenny and I were privileged to take part in two years ago.

It was a chilly morning under our paws as we walked swiftly up the hill from our previous house to the train station. We were on a mission to show an excellent pal around London. The scenery whizzed past the window as we sped into London. A walk in the park, a trip on the tube and then the anticipation built until we heard Raffa and an entourage of adoring people walking up from the platform at Euston Station. Another quick tube ride was all that was needed to take us to our starting point.

What do you mean I’m too young to be in the pub?

Guildhall, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Tower of London, London Bridge, Tate Modern via Shakespeare’s Globe was followed by a wobble across the Millennium Bridge for a photoshoot outside St Pauls.

Off to the pub for a cheeky half and thence along the Strand, where dad made everyone wait at the traffic lights by sternly telling Lenny and I to wait for the green cross man. It’s lucky he didn’t say “Sit”. Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Horseguards and then Buckingham Palace. A black cab ride back to the station for a fond farewell to Raffa and her mum.

Nice to meet you Raff, you are as lovely as Dex said you are.

We slept all the way home and I think it may have had something to do with the half marathon we had walked to see the sights. What a day, what an adventure, though sadly not to be repeated as Raffa took her longest journey in February 2020.

I will get back to London, and I will take Lenny again. We will show more friends around London so they can enjoy it as much as I did and still do. It goes without saying that I will tell you all about our adventures.

Safe and sound

It’s all grey, drizzly and dank out there. It is not as bad as it is predicted to be in the northern part of the UK and I am grateful that we won’t be sharing their wet, wild and windy weather on this occasion. I hope they all stay safe and secure though.

I’ve not blogged for a while, you may have noticed. I am currently under another cloak of feeling a bit blue, a little out of sorts and not having much to talk about really. We are jogging along, doing our thing Lenny and I. We still play bitey face, chase squirrels along the fence and pull on the lead on walks much to the annoyance of whichever parent we are attached to at the time. I was accused today of being a three year old dog in an eleven year old furry skin. I had been pulling, huffing and puffing after so many scents that my brain went into sensory smell overload to the detriment of my other (alleged) senses. I arrived home, aroooed at the top of my voice, got some breakfast and then crashed out on a sofa. I am quite proud of my efforts if I am honest. They should be happy I am so active.

Lenny has been out on separate walks from me for the majority of the week as, when are together, we tend to bounce off one another and compete to get to the scent first. Apparently this isn’t good for human arm sockets so our parents cheated and walked us separately. Not that it mattered as even on our separate walks we managed to jerk and pull like a couple of idiots. I think we won that little discussion.

Anyway what I wanted to say is that, during my miasma of brain fog, I have been thinking about stuff and things. Lenny and I have also been talking about said stuff and things and we have decided that we are happy beagles. We are loved, looked after and we are safe and sound. There is an allegation that this picture proves how happy we are. I wouldn’t know, as I am asleep.

I suppose we can keep him!