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 bene 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.

March toward sleep

There must be something in the air at the end of March. Each year I have been here I have been photographed by the resident paparazzi whilst I have been enjoying, what should be, my “me time” as I sleep off the effects of my varied and interesting life.

The only difference is the addition of a vampiric beagle brother who isn’t actually a biological brother as such, and he seems to have the sleep gene very much ingrained in his DNA (or whatever it is that vampire beagles have).

I know it’s important to sleep and that is why I seem to practice it as much as possible when I am not on patrol or watching, sentinel like, for squirrels invading my garden. I dread to think how much sleep I have clocked up over the years.

Young pup 2014
Can I smell food? 2015
Crossed paws I get food 2016
I wonder if any aunties will notice my paws 2017
Wiggle wiggle wiggle 2018
I’m still waiting for food 2019
The things I have to put up with 2020

I hope I get to sleep for many more March ends.

Hello, I’m pleased to meet you

So there I was, two years ago today, waking up to what I thought was a normal day with the normal walks, small food portions, usual lack of tickles and generally being told to lay down and behave myself. Oh no, how wrong could I possibly be.

I found I was being hurried along through my walk, I then had my attendants watching me eat breakfast and finally found myself quickly returned to my harness. Off up the hill to the station and onto the train. We whizzed past fields, houses, sports stadiums and then into the tunnel before arriving at our first destination station. I stepped off the train and tried to breathe in the stale London air. Being moved along the platform at great pace, I wondered what was happening. It only got more intriguing when we left the station and I was allowed to walk through Regents Park so I could chase squirrels. At least that is what I thought I was doing there, but my parents had other ideas. Leaving the park and crossing the very busy road we descended into the bowels of the London Underground whereupon I was told in no uncertain terms to “Behave”. It was only appropriate for me to arooo and make everyone on the tube carriage smile. This was behaving, right?

We ascended to street level somewhere called Aldgate and I was swiftly marched across another wide road. I was enjoying this but I had no idea what exactly was happening. We stopped at a small cafe near the Tower of London and this unfamiliar pair of hands suddenly descended upon my ears. As I looked up I saw a face full of love and a pair of hands that just couldn’t leave my ears alone. Hola tia Carolina, como estas? I gently woofed at this new person who had come all the way to London, via Europe and most of the rest of the UK, from Argentina. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was so happy that I immediately grabbed the nearest piece of fried chicken laying on the pavement nearby and started to chew the bone. It took much persuasion and plenty of fingers (dads) in my teeth to make me drop this tasty morsel.

Hello auntie. Ooh look pavement food.

Once I had been denied a tasty snack it was decided that I was to show auntie Carolina around London. We walked around the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, underneath London Bridge, past Sir Francis Drake’s ship, to Shakespeares Globe, across the Millennium Bridge, around St Pauls and thence back onto the tube to Buckingham Palace via St James Park.

I wonder if there is a St Dexter’s?

The humans had lunch there and I even managed to do some expert squirrel bothering, much to my mums distress as I pulled and jerked on my lead. The squirrel was being fed by a nice lady and it ran away rather quickly when it saw me trying to get to it so I could dental cuddle it.

But I like sandwiches mum!

It was mid afternoon that I started to tire and a decision was taken on my behalf that I should be returned home where I could rest my weary bones. So I sadly said my “adios” to auntie Carolina and started the long process of guiding my parents back through the hullabaloo of London to the train station and eventually home.

I live over there. Or is it over there?

I had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hope she can come back soon.

What’s up there Dex

What’s up there Dex?

Up where, Len dog.

There?

Stars matey.

Stars? what are they?

Well, I think most of them are planets outside of the solar system that we live in.

So, how far away are they?

Ugh, a long way little buddy.

A long way? Like, further than going to grandads house?

Oh yes, much further than grandads house and probably further than you came from Cyprus.

Wow, that was quite a long way Dex. Can we travel to these planets or stars.

No, we cant. They are so far away that not even the humans can get to them.

Do you think humans will get to other planets one day?

Probably, but not in our lifetime. I don’t think they will get to the far away stars as they are something called light years away. A light year is about a thousand human years. We usually live for about 12-15 human years.

So, these stars which are planets, does anyone live there?

No not as far as the humans know. They think they are all incapable of sustaining human life as there isn’t any air or water or food.

But that doesn’t mean that other creatures don’t live there, you know these alien things that people speak of.

I think you’ve been watching too many films young Len dog.

So, how did the planets that are stars become planets and stars.

Well, that is quite a long story but I can woof that I think it was about 100,000,000,000 years ago there was a load of rock and debris all floating around being molten and hot in outer space. Then there was a big explosion and all the bits of the explosion started forming together and made planets. We live on one of those planet things but ours became habitable as it got these things called an atmosphere and water, air and plants.

So this 100,000,000,000 years, is that older than our human dad.

Very good Len dog, but yes it is older than dad. Don’t let him hear you woof that.

Dex, do you think there is intelligent life out there, you know, in the darkness in between those stars and on the star planets?

I am not sure, little buddy. If you mean intelligent compared to humans, then possibly. Compared to dogs though, I have my doubts.

Hee hee, dont let them hear you woof that Dex.

So how come they are all twinkly at night but all disappear during the day, Dex?

Well, thats because the earth goes around the sun and we have this day and night stuff. We run around all day being silly and play and then we are supposed to go to sleep at night when its all dark and quiet. Our planet goes around the sun which is that big orange thing that keeps us all warm. Going around the sun is called orbiting it. Whilst orbiting the sun we also spin around our own axis so we have night and day. During the day time we are facing the sun and we cannot see the stars, but during night time we are facing away from the sun so the stars show up and we can see them.

So the stars go to bed during our day time then, Dex?

No silly. The stars don’t have things like bedtime or dinner time, they are always there, it’s just that we cannot see them.

So, what about the ones that fly across the sky?

Well, those are meteors or asteroids and they are usually really big bits of rock that have broken away from their planet and decided they want to go on an adventure. I think they get a bit warm when they fly across our night sky which is why we see them.

So if one of them hit the earth, what would happen?

Oh that’s easy. Depending on how big the meteor is, it would either just crash land into the earth or if its really big, it would blow us up and we wouldn’t be here any more.

So whats the one called that I see most nights?

Ah, that’s called the Moon. Its always there and man has been to that one and stood on it. They had to wear a special suit so they could breathe as there isn’t any air up there. It took them ages to get there, about three days I think. No one lives on that one, its like a big round rock that is always there, held by our gravity.

What’s gravity?

Gravity is the stuff that keeps you on the earth. It’s like the atmosphere around the earth, the air that you breathe and it pushes you down to make sure you don’t float away into outer space. A man called Newton invented it, when an apple fell on his head. Sorry, he discovered it, silly me.

Thanks Dex. I am still none the wiser, but its fun listening to you sometimes. I think I need to rest my brain. Shall we have a game of bitey face first?

Are you afraid of dying?

I saw this question raised in a tweet from an author in America and it got me wondering. People don’t really talk about it. It seems as if it is a taboo subject sometimes. Firstly let me assure everyone that I am ok, I am not ill and I am not feeling unwell or had bad news. I am just having a ponder.

As people who have followed my blog for a while may have noticed quite a few of my friends from around the world have sadly departed for the Rainbow Bridge. The description of Rainbow Bridge we use is softer, as it conveys less of a final ending to the life of a beloved pet on earth, and more of a farewell to another place where we will meet again. We will all make the journey to the Rainbow Bridge as none of us is able to beat that one opponent who always wins, Time.

The subject is treated, at least amongst my friends, with compassion and thoughtful attention to the words used to try and comfort those who are grieving. I realise there are few if any words that can comfort the people who are left to remember the good and bad times when we were around in the immediate times after we have gone from sight. A simple sentence sometimes conveys enough sentiment to allow people to smile with love and remembrance, and lift the heart slightly from its depths.

I lost both my nans in 2020, thankfully not to Covid-19. I saw what happened to my parents when they got their respective news. I kind of instinctively knew what to do and of course how to behave. With both nans it wasn’t unexpected however it was still a horrible shock when the news was received. We were out on our walk on both occasions and both Lenny and I changed our usual malarkey of pulling and yanking about on our leads, to walking and sniffing more sedately. It wasn’t innocent and all that loose lead stuff by any means however we did rein ourselves in. When we got home we both gave out leg leans and curled up next to the parents. We were told this felt good and that they loved us very much. It appears that stroking a beagle and telling them how much they are loved is food for the soul and helps to alleviate some of the sadder or more pensive moments.

I am going slightly off topic so I apologise. I don’t think I am afraid, as such, of making my way to the Rainbow Bridge. When my time comes, for it surely will, I hope that I will take the longest journey with love in my heart. I know I will leave people behind who will miss me and maybe that is a sign of how much affection people hold for one another in our groups of friends. I suspect people will cry because I am no longer in sight but I know I will make my journey having had a full, interesting and fun life. I am told every day that I am loved which is more than I could ever have asked for when I was adopted many years ago. In my minds eye, I will be off to see my buddies who have already made the transit across the Rainbow Bridge and who now happily run free in the everlasting meadow. They have no cares or woes and this gives me comfort when I think about it. I wonder if, instead of being afraid, I will be sad to leave behind many pals and people who are in turn saddened at my leaving.

Again don’t worry, I am alright and I am just having a little think to myself.

New paths, new friends and old foes.

It was chilly this morning once we were out and about on our paws. We managed to prise mum and dad out of bed at a reasonable hour and we were quite impressed with our efforts. Come on, they said, we will take a stroll a little further than we have been before. We were intrigued with the lack of clarity over where we were about explore.

Out of the house and along the road, we soon found ourselves in the lanes through the countryside. We had walked it a few times so the views seemed to arrive quite quickly. The scents also came thick and fast and we had to slow down to make sure we got as many sniffs as we could. Past the church, right, then left, through the gate, along the path, through the next gate, along the track and we find ourselves standing at the lower end of a wonderfully quaint and very quiet Sussex village. Lenny and I decided that we shouldn’t make ourselves known to the residents until we knew why we were there. Mum and dad clearly had a purpose for coming this way as they were looking left and right as we walked all the while dad saying “I’m sure its just here on the left”. We continued along the narrow lane for another few minutes and dads face lit up as he realised they had found the pub that they had wondered about ever since we had arrived four weeks ago. It wasn’t open due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown as well as the more prescient fact that it was 9 am on a Sunday. Having satisfied their interest we all strolled on to the end of the lane fulfilled now we knew the purpose of our walk today.

Apparently its just around the corner

Turning round we walked back toward home. At this point dads had slid down my lead and I was told to stay close to him. Being an obedient Beagle Harrier I always listen to him, despite it being extremely boring when I cannot explore at the end of the two metre lead. Lenny then let out a long arooo and as I looked up there was another beagle walking toward us. We greeted this fellow beagle in traditional fashion, with all the humans feeling very embarrassed at the loudness of our greetings directly in front of someones house. We found out that our fellow beagle had been rescued by Beagle Welfare and rehomed about eighteen months ago. She was now living a wonderful life with walks aplenty, a comfy sofa or two and multitudes of scent possibilities. We parted company after a few minutes and felt happy in heart and soul. We agreed to say hello the next time we were in her village.

Was it something I said?

Lenny and I made sure that the “beagle brakes” were liberally applied most of the way home so we could enjoy the scents of the hedgerows for as long as possible. Happily for us a cat ran across the road in front of us toward the end of our return home and we managed to ensure that the feline fiend knew we were in the area. For some reason we don’t get on with cats. Whilst we were trying to introduce ourselves to the cat, it appears that we had invented a new pastime of “Beagle wrangling” so it sounded like it was worth while taking our stroll today.

I’ve worked hard today

Mission accomplished. Time for a nap I think.

Spring seems to have sprung

We suffered a cold snap last week when temperatures barely lifted themselves about zero Celsius for swathes of the UK. I know this isn’t as bad as other countries have endured however, for us, its a perennial big news story. The allegation is that if London gets more than 1 centimetre of snow, it grinds to a halt. I’m not so sure.

In any case, the sun seems to be showing its face this week making a welcome return as far as I am concerned. Lenny and I have been exploring the highways and byways around our new home. The ground is drying out so we can go careering across fields and along bridle paths at top speed. Actually thats not strictly true as we could go careering along if we weren’t shackled to parents. The flowers have started to flower and the tips of the shrubs and trees are due to burst into their Spring coat in the near future. This means the smells and colours will be ours to enjoy very soon. I like Spring. It’s a sign of the rebirth and regeneration of the life which has lay dormant for the Winter months.

We’ve been doing quite a bit of relaxing in our new home. I mentioned in a previous post that Lenny seems to have settled far quicker than me. This still remains true to a large extent however it has been noted that I am beginning to chill out much more readily during the day which is always a bonus for everyone concerned. I got some very helpful and thoughtful comments and advice from many friends to my post about my inability to relax here and I am thankful for each one. I assure you that I am feeling more at home now, even though its taken a month and I am still scared of the bleeps on the induction hob when its switched on. We can work on that though.

I’m off for a snooze. My brain and nose have been filled with the scent of flowers, trees and squirrels today. I even stood in awe as Lenny spotted a herd of deer prancing across a field today and yelled his head off. I am proud of my protege.

I aroo like to be beside the seaside

There was nothing out of ordinary to alert us as to what was in store for Lenny and I yesterday. Waking up as normal, I stretched and climbed out of bed to go and see mum who is the gravy bones dispenser. My tongue was duly crossed with the brown bones of tastiness and I sloped back off to my bed for a snooze. I think dad was pleasantly surprised there was no kidney pounce. In any case breakfast for Lenny and I was taken in the Utility Room once the parents had decided to get out of bed.

As soon as we realised it wasn’t raining we were quickly on our toes and pulling our respective parents along the road. Suddenly we were turned around and marched back towards home. We had hardly started our walk. What was this sorcery? Dad opened the car and we were cajoled into our travel crates. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically, what was going on? It wasn’t time for the v-e-t visit, surely? Then we were off the driveway and headed down the road, turn right and then turn right again after a mile or so. The road went left and then right, we were getting lost now until we pulled up at somewhere familiar. When the boot was opened, a scent filled our noses that told us we were in for a fun time.

It was the seaside! I could hear the wind, and the waves as they gently crashed upon the sandy foreshore. Come on Lenny, let’s go. As we tried to leap out of the boot, we were swiftly caught mid boing, harnessed and told to be good. How bothersome of our parents to cut short our attempted shenanigans. We crossed the road and pulled our parents across the stony section of the beach toward the softer sandy section. We had visited this place before but we hadn’t been on this part of the beach so we were in for a treat.

Of course you can trust me to behave.

As we wandered along the top of the pebbles we saw the seawater tempting us away to our left. Mum and dad had little choice but to go to the edge of the water so Lenny and I could find dead crabs, seaweed and cuttlefish pieces washed up along the sand. This was fun, we walked along with grins on our faces and the wind in our ears. The scent was high and Lenny was taking it all into his scent factory. Behind us another beagle strolled past so we took the chance to bay. Loudly. Very loudly. So loudly in fact that people on the promenade heard us and started smiling. Further along the sand Lenny found a dead crab and picked it up. He suddenly realised that seawater tastes disgusting so dropped it immediately and went to grab some seaweed instead. He spat that out too. We strolled along, saying hello to people who all kept their distance from us, so keeping everyone safe whilst the quarantine is still in place. The another beagle came strolling toward us and we met him in customary fashion, proceeding to tangle our leads and try to play bitey face with him. Duly embarrassed at our uncouth behaviour, mum and dad continued to walk away whilst apologising to the other beagle owner. He just laughed. We walked all the way along the beach to a river which we couldn’t cross so we returned to the car, all the while running in circles, tangling our leads and generally making mum and dad laugh. When we got back to the car something strange happened. Dad told Lenny to “Hup” into the boot and he did so immediately. Lenny doesnt like travelling in the car as he still gets some travel sickness but he had just leapt in freely. My brother was so happy from his walk that he had apparently forgotten about his travel sickness. I followed him into my crate and we both laid down for the return home which was nearby. What a morning we both had.

It was as much as we could do to raise our heads later in the day to eat our food. Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but, we were tired and happy. We had been to the beach, we had been sensible when we encountered people and we had a good time. Hopefully everyone follows the rules and Lenny and I can go to the beach more often. Maybe even get an ice cream.