Be more beagle

Over the past few days a couple of my good friends have made their longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge. This has made me sad as well as feel a little introspect as you my have noticed from the last couple of blogs. I make no apology for airing my feelings now and then, as it is apparently good for you and may allow me to think more clearly.

One thing it has allowed me to see is that I am still a lucky beagle with a great life full of comfort and security. Others may not have these assets and I feel a little concerned by that.

We only get one shot at this life. It’s probably best to be a bit more beagle, a little more Lenny.

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.

Think about it.

As I mentioned in a recent blog I have been struggling to find subjects to woof about. Maybe the pandemic has been going on for so long that my earlier windswept and interesting lifestyle has become staid and dull. I don’t know when this state of stupor will subside and I can go back to being wild eyed and footloose.

Anyway the Olympics have been on the tv and I have been watching some of the startling feats and abilities of some very talented humans and equines. I marvel at their feats and wonder at the stories of their endurance both through competing as well as the training in very challenging circumstances over the last eighteen months or so. Hugely technical tricks in the street BMX, pommel horse training in the back garden (whilst on Zoom call to the coach) and swimming as well as gym training at some unearthly hours to maintain fitness to retain a gold medal. All these activities take dedication and a fearsome will to win. I am not sure I have, or ever would have, these traits. I have a fearsome will to get treats or to beat Lenny at bitey face games, all the while running around the garden baying loudly. If there was an Olympic event of Beagle snout jousting, maybe I could enter.

I have also listened to some of the competitors say that they are going to take some time out for the sake of their own mental wellbeing. They feel as if they have the weight of the world upon their shoulders and it’s getting too pressured. I think this is a very brave thing to say. There is so much pressure put on some athletes nowadays that I am surprised more of them haven’t said they need to take a break earlier. When you have been at the top of your sport for years and years, you are unbeaten for a very long time and people are looking at you as the “Face of the Games” then the pressure mounts even more. Throw into the mix a pandemic, an extremely challenging and disrupted training schedule and general day to day family life, then I am in awe. To then hear people grumble and moan about the decisions which the athletes are taking is terrible. People who have probably never landed a double back somersault with pike on the vault or who have never swam under an hour for 100m breaststroke in the paddling pool in their garden. Truly awful to hear that people who have been fighting mentally and physically for years to achieve something that 99.9999999999% of people will never achieve, well its saddening. One of the athletes at the London Olympics recently took part in a documentary. She said that she was the “poster girl” for the Games, she was the archetypal “Face of the Games” and her face was all over magazines, billboards, transportation, murals etc and it piled so much pressure on her that she often wondered what would happen if she didn’t win gold. Thankfully for her she did win gold, and the pressure just lifted as soon as she crossed the line in the 800m final event. But for someone who has trained far beyond many peoples reasonable comprehension to have to think and worry about what will happen if I do not, or cannot perform AND WIN, is surely piling on pressure beyond reasonable limits. It is brave for people to speak up and say “wait a minute, I need to be mentally and physically right for this”.

And they’re off.

I have a buddy on my twitter and his dad is going through a tough time at the moment. He was brave and told people “listen guys I am struggling so I am going to try and find help”. No one as far as I ma aware has been rude, nasty or condescending toward his admission that he wanted to find help. We all try to be supportive and help him see that he is loved by many and that he is important to many people. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right words to say but this doesn’t stop me from trying. Often I see that he has tweeted and many people have already responded with simple messages which we all hope he will read and find love and comfort in. A straightforward reply of “we are here to help you” or “You matter, you mean something to us” we hope can help. I’ve said it before on here but my nan always said that if you can’t say something nice then say nothing. The world is pressured enough as it is, people are struggling and maybe aren’t as mentally or physically tough as once thought. It used to be seen as a sign of weakness to admit that you need help. That’s wrong.

Please! Be kind and thoughtful.

It’s ok to not be ok.

Well, we weren’t expecting that

Phew, what a scorcher. Again! This is getting repetitive and is far too warm for us beagles. Thankfully our parents take us out early morning so we can avoid the worst of the summer heat which can be extremely dangerous for us dogs.

In any case we managed to wake the parents early this morning and watched as they wandered about the house getting ready for the day ahead. I got told off for shouting at a squirrel running along the fence in my garden. I had no idea that the neighbours might not be awake at 7 am. After all, if I’m out of bed, why isn’t everyone else? Lenny and I had our first part of breakfast and then we got walked a really short distance up a local road before returning to the house. We had suspicious ears as this usually meant something else was on the cards. Mum got some water and our travel bowl whilst dad opened up the car to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Lenny saw immediately what was happening and he cowered a little by our side gate. I decided to show him that this was adventure o’clock and leapt, salmon like, into my car travel crate. He was gently coaxed toward the car and then leapt into his travel crate, to the sound of much encouragement and congratulation. It should be noted that I didn’t get any such congratulation. Off we set, turn left, turn right, down the fast road, stay left, turn up a sharp corner and then park under a big shady tree. Come on you two, out you get was the cheerful instruction.

We were somewhere new. I looked at Lenny, who looked at me and then we both looked quizzically at the parents. What was this sorcery? Dad made sure mum had the water bottle and travel bowl. Off we go onwards and upwards. We strolled along the gravel track and then turned a corner and followed the track up a small hill to another corner with a predominantly chalky trail to follow. We wound our way along the rising path for about twenty five minutes when we were told that we have just conquered Chanctonbury Ring. The views were lovely and we seemed to be so high we could touch the sky. However we were more interested in the critters that live in the long grass and wild flowers along the edges of the footpath. We initially went past the wooded area on the crown of the hill but then returned to stroll through the wooded copse. The smells in the Beech trees were much more interesting than listening to our parents chattering and enjoying their walk. Lenny and I had to regularly remind them that we were still there.

King of the Hill, when Dex allows me.

The sun was getting higher in the sky and we were getting warmer so our parents decided that we should go back to the safety of some shade and shelter, so we didn’t overheat. Returning to the car we were pleased to see that it was still in a cool and shady spot and, this time, Lenny leapt straight into his travel crate without being prompted. We arrived home just in time to see our second breakfast being served. We even managed to sit nicely as dad prepared our food.

We decided that we would return again to Chanctonbury Ring. Apparently it is the site of an ancient Neolithic fort atop the hill. The original fort was thought to originate in the late Bronze or early Iron ages. The “fort” was a low earthen rampart surrounded by a ditch which gradually became unused. In 1760 the local landowner wanted to make the top of the hill more beautiful so he planted a large number of Beech trees. They survived until the Great Storm of 1987 when winds over 100 miles per hour destroyed many millions of trees across the south east of the UK. Subsequent replanting has allowed the hill top to recapture some of its beauty. The hill lies on the South Downs Way so if you’re in the area, try walking to the top and enjoying the views.

The path to the top.

We liked it, and we don’t think you will be disappointed.

Borde not bored.

Phew what a scorcher. It’s been hot and humid around these parts recently. We have been walking early in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day. I knew it was tropical down here when I moved, but this is a bit much at the moment. Apparently this warm weather has a distinct benefit in that Lenny and I seem to be lazier and more likely to sleep for longer.

When we woke up this morning we were quickly onto our paws for a try through the local wood and then along the farm track. Turning round at the bottom of the track wasn’t exactly in the plan despite it being rather warm and humid. We arrived home and breakfast was provided in reasonable order. Suddenly we were put back into our harnesses and the car was opened. This was most peculiar! Off we set for places unknown. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically. Left and right, along roads and through a town, under the railway bridge and then left again. “Come on you two, out you get” was the command and we of course obeyed. Welcome to Borde Hill Gardens said the sign. It was warm but we were looking forward to seeing what this place was all about. When we were checking in, we each got a biscuit from the nice lady at the entrance. Armed with a map and pulling our parents along we decided to explore the gardens of this lovely old house. We strolled (read pulled and yanked on our leads) along the paths and up to the wooded walk. It was cool and there were many scents of squirrel and deer in the woods. We yelled noisily for a while until we were instructed to sit and be calm. I looked at Lenny, who was looking at me knowingly. They had no chance of anything like calm or sense being forthcoming.

Avenues of Lavender? Where are the squirrels?

We went up hill and through woodland paths, downhill and along manicured lawns. We went to the Italian gardens and even managed to politely avoid getting some tasty morsels when strolling close to the cafe.

I bravi beagle davanti alla fontana

All too soon we were directed to the car for the return journey. When we fell asleep quickly after we got home, it was deemed to be a good end to the trip.

What a great place is Borde Hill Gardens. Very dog friendly and very pretty gardens. We enjoyed ourselves greatly and we would recommend to pals to visit if they are in the area.

Is this age creeping up on me?

I’ve been a bit ill recently. No, you’re not getting any pictures of me recycling my food as that is personal. Of course my illness had nothing to do with me raiding the kitchen bin and finding all sorts of goodies in there including tea bags and bits of kitchen roll which needed to be shredded, chewed and in the case of the teabags eaten. Unfortunately at 5 am this morning, I decided I needed to be sick and my parents were left with the clean up operation. I feel better now, thanks for asking. Also a while back my diet was changed as it seemed that my belly couldn’t handle the food I was eating and there were many and varied trips to the garden at plenty of unearthly hours of the night. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something?

If I ignore him, he might sniff somewhere else.

I have been thinking quite a bit over the last few weeks about me slowing down too. Since we moved into our new house, I have these new fangled stairs to negotiate and I seem to be using up more energy every time I go up, especially when I am chasing Lenny. Then when I get upstairs I seem to seek out the bed under the desk in mums office or try to lay snoozing on one of the spare beds. This of course relies on Lenny not finding me and trying to bite me. When we are outside in the garden it may be smaller than our old one, but I seem more content to just stroll about and try to eat bees. Yes I know that is pretty stupid and I am regularly squirted with the water gun that has been bought just for this eventuality. However the bees seem to buzz around and I cannot help but try to catch a few of them. I have yet to succeed, much to the relief of the parents. Lenny and I seem to understand that the garden is smaller and that I like to have more time to sit on a bench to watch the birds land on the fence and then listen to the sound of the cars and trucks outside in the road. I suppose it is because I am allegedly 11 now that my body and mind is telling me to take things easier.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with bee(s).

If only that were the case when we are out on our morning walk though. I seem to be permanently pulling at the end of the lead trying to get to the critters in the fields and hedges.

I am not saying that I am old and infirm, far from it. I think I am beginning to realise that when I am in the house and garden, I don’t have to run around like a hound possessed all the time. I have a good life and generally I am very healthy, it is just that there seem to be more occasions where my bones feel a little weary and my mind is telling me to relax and not chase that squirrel on the fence.

Come on squirrel, I’ve still got what it takes.

Did someone say squirrel.

Through the eyes of others once more.

Another picture from the archives of my grandad.

Battersea Power Station has stood on its current site, on the south bank of the river Thames for nearly 100 years. The building was started in 1929 and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott joined the team who were designing and building the power station. The first set of chimneys were finished by 1935 with the Western Chimneys being 101 metres tall. Both the RAF and the Luftwaffe used the plumes of white vapour emanating from the chimneys to guide them through foggy and misty London on and after 1941. The fourth and final chimney was finished in 1955 and the power was subsequently generated at full speed.

The main boiler house is so large that St Paul Cathedral would fit within it. For the purposes of scale St Pauls is 515 feet (157 metres) long and 227 feet (69 metres) wide across the transepts, with two 212 foot (64 metres) high towers and a magnificent 365 foot (111 metres) dome.

In 1977 there occurred probably the most famous incident which made Battersea famous throughout the world. Pink Floyd tethered a giant floating pig to one of the southern chimney for the cover of their Animals album. The inflatable pig came loose and floated into the flightpath for London Heathrow airport until it floated away and eventually landed on a beach in Kent.

Then, in 1983, it stopped generating power and was sold off to leisure company. At its height it was generating a fifth of the power required for London. The power station used over 1,000,000 tonnes of coal each year with the coal coming predominantly from mines in South Wales and North East England. It arrived on coastal Collier ships which used the Thames to discharge their cargo directly to the cranes fitted to the quayside. Some of the coal was delivered by train from the Brighton and South Coast Railway which runs alongside the power station.

It is now being renovated and refitted into housing and a social and entertainment.

The photo was taken around the early 1970’s when the power station was in full operation. It would have been snapped from the north side of the Thames, likely to have been on Grosvenor Road which follows the path of the river from east to west.

You may also recognise some other work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. If you ever stepped into an old London red telephone boxes, you have entered his realm. Equally he is the designer of Liverpool Cathedral as well as Waterloo Bridge which crosses the Thames further downstream from Battersea. The Bankside Power Station along the edge of the Thames from Battersea is also one of his visions. It is best known now for being the Tate Modern.

Recycling old buildings for future use seems to me to be a sensible thing.

Through the mists of time.

I have always had a fascination with the City of London. The history of The City is everywhere for people to see. The City has endured many changes, usually inspired by humans, and sometimes not for the better. Occasions including The Plague, the Great Fire of London and the Blitz have all left their mark upon The City. It has always been the centre of wealth and commerce for traders throughout the world, when once Britain ruled over vast swathes of the globe, prompting the observation that the sun never sets on Empire. Those days of Empire are very much gone, however The City continues to survive and flourish.

You may note that I always call it “The City”. This is because it has a unique history which goes back almost 2,000 years. The Romans arrived and set up on the North bank of the Thames. There were already settlements there, however it was the coming of the legions that sparked the location and construction of what is today The City. It is not a borough and has a separate administration. It is the place from which present day London grew. The Romans set up a port and trade thrived. The area was fortified and surrounded by a wall which enclosed an area of approximately 1.12 miles. It seems wider than it is taller. The boundaries of The City are marked with black bollards showing Griffins or dragons upon them. Over time the area surrounding The City grew and London thus became larger and spread out from the boundaries of The City. Hence London is a city but The City is a distinct, and somewhat separate, part of London. In any case the majority of the history is contained within The City.

Locations such as the Bank of England (set up by Royal Charter on 27th July 1694), Lloyd’s of London, The Monument to the Fire of London, the northern section of London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral and The Royal Exchange all have a place within the boundaries of The City. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London do not fall within The City boundaries.

It remains the premier location for investment, finance and insurance provision in the UK. Ancient history resides next to modern architecture, albeit sometimes with great unease. The City is continually regenerating and the old is becoming covered in glass and metal edifices which stand tall and dominate the skyline, giving the impression of a global power.

Lloyd’s of London

It is fairly easy to lose yourself, both literally and metaphorically, in The City. The past often returns from the alleys, paths, courtyards and churchyards our ancestors frequented over the previous hundreds of years. On chilly, foggy nights, the ghosts of the past seem to come back and loom large.

30 St Mary Axe

The old City isn’t finished yet, she still has the power to remind us of those who have been here before. Go and visit when you are able, walk down a side street, through the alleys and into the churchyards and feel the old City surround you with her atmospheric tentacles.

Well well, Fancy that.

This blog is on a subject that I have wanted to tackle but haven’t had the chance or insight to do so. Until now.

Puppy mills are an abhorrent method of producing large sums of money at the detriment to the dogs involved. I discovered that Fancy, who is one of the Wirral & Cheshire Beagles was used in a puppy mill. As I wanted to write something on this subject, I asked for the kind assistance of her mum, auntie Karen, who has been wonderful and extremely helpful in helping me write this blog. I cannot say “enjoy it” as I hope that you find it predominantly thought provoking and enlightening as to these terrible practices.

Thank you for allowing me to ask some questions about Fancy. When we spoke you told me that she was a puppy mill dog. Can you let me know a little more about her position before she came to live with you?

She had been in a puppy farm, kept in a concrete pig pen and had 3-4 litters in just over 3 years. Many of her pups died of Parvo either there or within 24 hours of being picked up for their new homes.

That sounds awful. Do you know how old she was when you met her?

They told us she was about 5 but she turned out to be 3.6 years. She was 4 on Valentine’s Day.

So, by my calculations, she was about one year old when she would have been forced to have her first litter. This makes me feel very sad.

How did you find out that Fancy was up for rescue and rehoming?

We saw Fancy on a “Beagles missing, found and in need ” site on FaceBook and we fell in love with her immediately. She had such sad, dark eyes and it occurred to us that she had never known a day’s happiness or been loved. There were so many people applied for her we didn’t think we stood a chance. However we were contacted by Many Tears twice that week and, because I’d previously had a home check and had 2 kind caring beagles, we were chosen.

Please help me! Please.

We drove over 10 hours that day to Llanelli, Camarthenshire and met her in an area used for meet and greets. She was petrified of us but not my beagles, Eddie & George. She just ignored them. There was no eye contact with us, nothing. She just paced up and down and cowered in a corner. When it was time to take her home she had to be cornered and caught to get a slip lead on her. She just wet herself. It was heartbreaking. My husband Alan carried her to the car where she laid down in the travel crate. She didn’t sleep but just kept very quiet all the way home. She came from a real lowlife puppy farmer. He’s a multi millionaire who posts “his” beagles or pups running free on fields. In actual fact they’ve never seen a blade of grass. The BBC did an undercover investigation on him.

In any case, when she arrived it was a lovely Sunday evening last July 2020. So we sat outside and watched her exploring and sniffing around the garden. She kept hiding in a corner if we looked at her so we stopped. It took 8 long days before I touched her and that was only because there was a wall behind her. She went to the toilet in the house but thanks to Eddie & George she soon got the hang of going outside. They were fabulous with her and soon realised she wasn’t a boarder but a new sister. I certainly couldn’t have done this without them and the beagle field.

Is this ok? What am I allowed to do?

What sort of condition was Fancy in when she arrived? I am going to assume she wasn’t in the greatest shape, given her life up to her time coming home with you?

She was in a bad condition when we got her. She had a dull dry coat and was very underweight with her ribs showing and tail between her legs. It took a few days for her to eat and she’d only do that if we weren’t around. When I first took her to the beagle field she spent the whole time pinned up against the fence. Nothing the beagles did bothered her, only the actions of the humans. I think it took about a month for her to trust one person and let them touch her. Eleven months later and she is still very wary of people she doesn’t know and she will cower away.

That sounds awful, and so sad. Looking at the pictures she seems to have come some way on her path to rehabilitation.

Yes,it doesn’t take much to win her round. A belly tickle, something tasty and she’s your best friend.

Give us a cuddle, says Jay.

How long did it take for Fancy to stop going toilet in the house? Was she called Fancy when you met her at the meet & Greet?

She did her toilets in the house for about 4 days. Maybe twice a day then just first thing in the morning. It tailed off after that as she went out every time with her brothers. Yes she already had the name Fancy I rescued a kitten on the A55 motorway many years ago and she was called Fancy.

You’re safe now Fancy.

You said that Eddie & George immediately knew Fancy was in need of some help. Did they act as if they were guardians to her, showing her the ropes if you like, and making sure that she felt at least some comfort with them.

Definitely. They gave her space from day one when she needed it. Even at the busy beagle field the others knew as well. She never got the initial newbie rough welcome. They all love her very much. Beagles know these things.

Erm, when did you start to see a real breakthrough in her feeling more at home and less scared of all sorts of situations? What was the thing that made you think “you know, Fancy is feeling a bit happier”.

I lay that lead next to her for about a week. I started to show it to her and make a big fuss like it was a toy. She was petrified as she’d only been put in a “rape harness”. She’s still wary of it but can’t get out of it thank dogness.

If you could give people a simple message regarding getting pups from a mill what would it be? Apart from “dont do it” that is.

I’ve given many messages of support to people thinking of puppy farm rescues. Don’t ever give up on them because of their fear. Beagles are so loving and trusting of us the good times far outweigh the bad and no mistake. I have a friend who 12 days ago adopted one with identical problems and the difference in her each day is amazing. Day 12 today and she was dying to jump into his arms when he got home but held back and did an excited dance. We all love his daily updates.

I wish I knew the answer to the puppy mills question I really do. They’re clever people who advertise their pups as living in loving happy homes with caring owners. When in reality they use dirty filthy concrete pig pens where they receive no vet care whatsoever. People see the advertisement and pay a large deposit, when the time comes most travel hours and they won’t leave their puppy their a minute longer so will take them home and face the consequences. Many die over 24 hours and some will be saved by a good vet. One of Fancys pups and owner I know so I know how she was fooled. She knows others.

May I ask about Wirral & Cheshire Beagles generally. Are you a registered charity and, if so, with whom do you work and co-operate?

Yes the beagle group is a charity. We give £1000’s away to beagle charities each year. Mainly Unite to Care where we got ex laboratory George from and Many Tears who are absolutely fabulous and rescue so many ex breeding beagles.

Beautiful

To sum up I am so happy that Fancy is now safe and loved. It is wonderful that she will never again suffer the privations of puppy mill life. It is sad and wholly awful that she had to suffer in the first place. If people didnt buy from puppy mills, then there might be a chance that they are served of their ability to operate. Please please think before making a decision to adopt a dog. Puppy mills are awful and make our lives a misery.

Thank you to Fancy’s mum for her wonderful help on what is a very difficult subject. Without her help, I couldn’t have written this.

Through the eyes of others

I have been struggling to blog recently. I was lucky to have the assistance of Sunny’s mum in writing his story thus far. Apart from that, I have had a bit of a blank as well as feeling that there is little happening to me that is of any interest to anyone. A fellow blogger gave me some sound advice though and I will try to follow her words of wisdom.

Many of you will know that my grandad went to the Rainbow Bridge a while back and we have a large quantity of his old slides which we have been looking through and trying to clean up. They have all sorts of marks on them so we are looking to make them clearer and cleaner. Anyway I was looking at this photo that he took from The Monument to the Great Fire of London and it struck me how much of the landscape and buildings are no longer there.

If you know London there is little narrative I can add to the picture. I think it was taken in the mid 1960’s so will be around 55 years old. The Post Office Tower was topped out in 1965 and should be on the right side of the photograph above.

It is interesting to see how London has changed in the last 50 odd years. This is a vista I will not see as am I barred from climbing the Monument. Also there are a number of tall buildings now obscuring the view. I have walked around the base of the Monument on one of my visits to the Big Smoke but I am not allowed to ascend.

This photo taken in 2019 gives a better impression of the lack of vista. For the purpose of reference, the railway bridge in the first picture is partially obscured by the building to the left in the second photo.

I do wonder if all change is for the good.