Quarantine quandary

I was going to say there hasn’t been much going on here, but I have been thinking again. Life has been taking place, albeit in a more cosseted and restricted manner. Since the passing of Gracie Mae to the Rainbow Bridge, there doesn’t seem to be that much of importance to report. I did wonder how I could follow such a sad post but then I thought that I shouldn’t be following it. It occurred to me that this ongoing quarantine time has taught Lenny and I to look up and around us when we are on our walk, or even when we are in the garden. Again I know I am lucky to have a garden and to be able to walk each day in the fields and lanes which are nearby my home. It has taught us that our friends, both furry and human are precious.

Brothers in arms

Our walks have been a little more restricted in recent times as regular readers will be aware. We would love to go on the tube train and explore further afield or maybe go into the capital so I can show Lenny around a little more. We haven’t even got in the car and driven to fields and woods outside of our town. There is so much to explore and maybe I am becoming a little impatient to show places to Lenny. I know I have to curb my enthusiasm somehow. In any case, we don’t have face coverings so we aren’t really allowed on the tube, are we? As a result of our quarantine we have been limited in our range of places to exercise and now the routes we walk are getting a little bit duller each day. I am not going stir crazy just yet, but I fear I am on the slippery slope.

We did a quick check on the mileage since Lenny arrived in my house and we seem to have walked 1,578 miles on 377 different days. It would have been further but someone around here, who shall remain nameless, didn’t get a watch that recorded distance and time for around half of March. Did you dad? We haven’t done too bad I suppose since Lenny has arrived. We can walk together now and each have our own sniff trails to follow, he has learnt to lurch into the hedges and undergrowth to try and catch rabbits and he is also extremely good at aroooing at passing runners, cyclists and other dogs. We have explored pretty much everywhere there is to investigate here so our combined desire to explore further afield becomes stronger each day.

Where are those pesky rabbits?

For now we will enjoy our health as well as our safety whilst we are locked away locally. We know there will be opportunities on the horizon to make our way to different places, we just have to continue being a little cautious.

Come on dad, it’s time for a walk.

Or maybe not.

Gracie Mae

Some days I wake up, stretch and look outside eagerly to see what shenanigans I can get up to. I look across at Lenny who is often times sleeping quietly in his bed and think I am the luckiest Beagle Harrier I know. Today wasn’t one of those days, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

As dad sat down to eat his cornflakes he flicked onto my Twitter account and saw that one of my oldest friends had passed over the Rainbow Bridge. Gracie Mae Beagle lives in America. She was one of the first friends I met when I joined Twitter in late December 2013. My account was opened as my parents had no experience of owning a rescue dog, let alone a beagle and they sought some assistance from other beagle owners in respect of what to expect over the coming months and years. One of the first people to respond to some of our questions was Gracie’s mum, called auntie Wendy. She said Gracie would love to try and help us understand more about Beagles. She was kind, thoughtful and willing to try and help us through the early stages of Beagle adoption and all its intricacies.

Over the years since we first woofed, I am proud to be able to call Gracie my friend. We have shared many funny times, as well as cried on one another shoulders metaphorically when things aren’t so good.

Pardon me mum, Dexter wants to know what?

Gracie allowed me to become part of the Sploshun Squad, an elite band of furs who can destroy stuffed toys in minimal time and with minimal fuss. Gracie was the best at beating up her stuffed toys. Many times I performed dental lobotomy on sheep, squirrels, reindeer, elephant and snake toys. The fluff and innards would be everywhere, I would be laying on my back laughing and arooing in triumph. As soon as I checked my work with Gracie she would be arooing with me, and giving me encouragement and tips on faster destruction of the toys.

Gracie gave the world the Gracieball, whereupon you sleep in the tightest ball possible, preferably with your nose tucked under your back legs. So many pals tried and succeeded in making a Gracieball that I hope she had proud ears.

Lenny got 10/10 for this effort

Gracie was the queen of stink eye. If you disapprove of something or someone, the sideways glance or glare which more than adequately expresses your disdain. She was a mistress of the art, a true queen of the trade.

Sorry but just no.

Gracie was always one of the first to offer her sympathy to so many pals around the world when something terrible happened or the inevitable time of the longest journey arrived. She was kind, thoughtful and compassionate, a true friend to all who met and woofed with her.

Today Gracie made her longest journey and we have lost one of the best furs possible to the Rainbow Bridge. She had been ill recently, the vet was looking after her but circumstances dictated that it was, most sadly, Gracie’s final curtain call. I know that her Basset brother Roscoe will be so sad that his sister is no longer here to play with him. Despite having fun beating each up, I know they were best buddies and would always look out for one another.

We will miss you Gracie sweetie. Run free from your cares and ills. Find all the pals who will be waiting to greet and guide you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and rest easy. Your work down here is done.

For you Gracie.

We patrolled in your honour today, Gracie beagle. Farewell but never goodbye for we shall meet again one day.

Tick tock

A cautionary tale today pals.

If you are out on patrol and are lucky enough to be able to stroll through fields and woods, please ask your parents to check you for ticks when you return home. I was found to have a passenger attached to my neck and, for once, it wasn’t Lenny. They saw what seemed to be a cyst shaped object poking through my fur just below my collar. At first they thought “Oh he’s 10 or so and we need to be aware of various lumps and bumps”. It was only once my parents looked it up on the wonder that is the internet and saw it was actually a yucky tick that they were concerned. They spoke briefly to the emergency vet who said to speak to our local vet practice this morning.

Please excuse dad’s unsightly fingers

The little blighter fell off during the night and was found sleeping soundly upside down in my bed. Duly scooped up and put in a jar for posterity (or destruction) the tick is now history. I woofed with the vet lady this morning who saw my x-rays, also know as some pawparazzi pictures, and said that I should be ok. However my parents need to keep an eye on me as ticks can be carriers of all sorts of really nasty diseases and may even be fatal.

Be gone, foul beast of the night

Enjoy your walks pals and people, but please be careful and vigilant of nasty little bugs and critters attaching themselves to your fur and often trying to drink your blood in the process.

Tick tock, your time has come, nasty tick critter. Time for you to leave me alone.

I do worry about humans sometimes

The world seems rife with struggles, fear and general antagonism between too many people at the moment.

As a dog, and a much loved and cosseted one, I am aware that I may not be in the direct line of many troubles which affect and afflict humans. This includes my parents who always try to keep Lenny and I safe and happy. For this they receive our love, and often we manage to lick their hands when they are giving us belly rubs or attending to our every need and whim. Apparently licking them isn’t very hygienic as they “know where our tongues have been and eating bits of dead rabbit is disgusting”.

Anyway I am not going to lurch into a diatribe bemoaning one thing or another. I merely wish to woof the following request.

Be more beagle please. Stay safe and try to get along. Be pleasant to each other and if you cannot, then don’t say or do anything to be nasty. Have fun and enjoy your lives. You only get one shot at this “life” game, so would it not be better to depart from this mortal coil with some degree of fulfilment in your heart? In the grand scheme of things, we are all tiny specks in a massive galaxy. To our friends and loved ones, we are very important and they rely on us to be there for them.

I’ve got your back. Thanks brofur

Here are some pictures of flowers in my garden, they cheer me up and I hope they make you feel a bit happier.

My nan would say “If you cannot say something nice or sensible, then say nothing at all”. I love my nan.

Different day, different field

Another warm and sultry day starts in my home town. The weather is set fair, the parents are going to be busy, so Lenny and I are on our toes early. We too have supervising to do in the garden, when we return from our walk. Ok we usually have our eyes shut, or we are playing bitey face in the middle of the lawn, but we are still aware of what is going on around us.

We are suitably shackled to our respective parent and off we go. We pass the pub, cross the road, wade through the river which crosses the lane and still hasn’t been fixed despite many, many calls from people to the local authority, to find ourselves with a view of the countryside becoming greener and noisier with the birds and creatures in the hedgerows and fields each day. The Lapwings swoop and circle, the geese sit on their precarious nest, the rabbits run scared back to their burrow and the foxes watch it all with anticipation from their hiding places in the woods. Along the lanes we march, sniffing and scenting all the time, in the vain hope that our parents won’t be looking when we dart into the hedge and come back with a live rabbit. Sadly another day passes without any prey actually being caught. Maybe I am losing my touch, who knows.

Lenny, the rabbits aren’t at home.

Off the lane, along the path past the barn and then turn left up the steep hill. This is the section where our parents are glad that we pull and yank on our leads as we drag them up to the top of the gravel path and into the relative calm and quiet of the stroll through the woods along the edge of the field full of wheat swaying gently in the summer breeze.

I feel on top of the world

Descending we are reined in fully so as not to go too wild eyed if we see a squirrel cross our path. Cross the lane and into the field with the horses. Lenny has learned that if he is quiet and respectful then they are actually quite friendly.

This is fun. Ooh look, rabbits!

He used to bay at them, however, now he whimpers a little and shakes to let them know he’s friendly. We are getting used to the kissing gates at the edge of the fields and then it is back along the road, through the river, past the pub which mum and dad will visit once it re-opens. Alongside the river and soon we are through the door to our house. We have our paws and bellies wiped clean and then its time to squabble until breakfast is served.

Time for supervising in the garden. Our various beds are put out in numerous locations on the patio, however we ignore them for the first twenty minutes or so, as we are still busy chasing each other around the garden having fun. We are baying at the top of my voice, barrelling into one another, fighting in a heap on the grass and then end up laying next to each other exhausted. I think this maybe a subliminal message from mum and dad that if we are tired we are quieter. Anyway, once we have made sure that the garden is secure from invaders and all scent trails have been relentlessly pursued we settle down to ensure that our grounds are tended to our satisfaction.

You’ve missed a bit. Yup, just over there.

Lenny will get pieces of twig and small branches and deliberately chew them in the middle of the lawns. This ensures that the grass is cut regularly. I will make certain that all the holes we kindly dug over the preceding days and weeks are in exactly the right places for a beagle. Whether they’re in the correct places for mum and dad to plant flowers and shrubs, well, thats not my problem. Lenny has recently started to check on the growing rhythms of the carrot seedlings which were put out in the vegetable patch earlier this week. For some reason he keeps getting told to “get off the soil and stop trampling on the seedlings”. We are always on hand to help with the watering of whichever shrubs and plants look like they need a bit of a dousing. We have been known to do the watering whilst mum or dad have been on the plant nearby. Again they don’t seem too enamoured by our assistance.

Lenny and I are proud of our efforts to make sure the garden is kept neat and tidy, fully stocked with plenty of pollen fuelled plants for the bees and ensure that the tracks across the flower borders which are not the racetracks that Lenny and I use regularly to maintain our fitness are kept weed free for mum and dads access. I suppose we are lucky to have a nice garden which we enjoy. I don’t take it for granted by any stretch of my imagination as I know there are others who cannot enjoy a little bit of colour outside their house.

All this supervising is exhausting. Go fetch me a cold drink please.

We will continue to try and ensure that our garden is up to scratch. It’s difficult as one parent in particular doesn’t seem to listen to our advice. He seems to believe we are messing about and squabbling in the middle of the lawn, when we are actually giving him guidance. If only he knew.

Do you want to vet on it

I went through a stage where I was being ill, or injuring myself with fair regularity. Maybe I should deal with the ailments individually, starting with the illness.

No one knows really if I was eating all the wrong things, or if I was picking up germs around the walks I was taking, but there were quite a few times when the vets was nearly called, but avoided – just.

Early in my tenure here I must have eaten something rotten and was ill. It made me feel loved that mum sat up all night with me to make sure that I didn’t come to more harm. She looked very tired in the morning and I felt really sorry for her, but she was looking after me and the bond seemed to be growing. Sometimes I felt that I was upsetting her as I was ill so often. Another time I had been ill for 2 or 3 days in a row and I heard the conversation saying “Yes of course we can bring him in, if you can have a look at him as we are a bit worried by the continued illness”. When I arrived at the vets the nice lady looked at me and said that I had a bug and that I needed to be put on a diet for a while. This meant that the bug would pass and I could get back out into the fields more quickly. So I was pleased to find out that I was on chicken and rice for a few days. It was very tasty, but there wasn’t much of it which was a shame as I was really hungry. I was getting fed more times a day, but I was still on meagre rations. After a couple of days I felt like it would never end, and I feared I would be on small rations for a long time. A few days later however I noticed the portions got a little larger, but they still weren’t normal. I was only going out in the garden, not my longer walks out in the streets and fields like I had been used to. Gradually the food got back to normal, and I wasn’t being watched all the time and then it happened, I was back out on longer walks outside the house. Phew. Apparently I was eating all the wrong things in the fields and lanes, sniffing all the gross objects which lay before me and generally treated the animal waste recycling biodiverse product as a smorgasbord. Who knew?

Injuries are the next subject. I have done all sorts of stupid things to myself, usually when I broke free and whizzed around like a racing snake. I have had the usual array of sprains and strains to my ankles and knees.

This story is from September 2015. My biggest trip to the vet took place after we had been out one day in the fields. There was an awful lot of sniffing and investigation to be done. It was summer, it was nice and warm. I was allowing mum to accompany me in exploring the area. I was starting to learn things such as chasing and eating bees isn’t the best thing to do. I got told off and tried to stop catching them but they whizzed about and were too tempting. Anyway all the plants were growing and the the grass and nettles were really tall. I didn’t know that nettles stung like bees. I just marched through the fields. When we got home mum noticed that I had a big mark on my pad, and it looked like something had got into my foot. Of course I decided that the best thing would be to chew and nibble my paw, as this would obviously make it better. I am a boy so don’t be surprised at some of the things I manage to do.

Ouch.

Mum and dad watched me for a couple of days as I was limping, sometimes quite a lot and often I couldn’t put my paw down, it was so painful. So a trip to the vets was arranged and the nice vet lady looked at my paw and said she thought I might have a grass seed in there. This made mum and dad look at each other with a bit of worry, as this can be quite bad and I may need an operation if it was true. I didn’t really understand what this ‘operation” meant, but I heard them all agree I would need to come back to the vets and fairly soon. So I went home and nothing really changed, apart from me having to wear a Cone of Shame to stop me nibbling at the paw and making it worse. I was given some antibiotics as they thought this might help draw the seed out of my paw. Strangely they couldn’t see the puncture where it had gone in. About a week passed, I went back to the vets and they still couldn’t find anything like a hole or wound in my paw, and then wondered if I have trodden on something that was caustic and burned my paw. In any case, it wasn’t getting better so it was decided that an operation would go ahead.

A couple of days later I was surprised when I wasn’t allowed to have any breakfast. My tummy was rumbling and I had been out for a walk, so this was different as I usually returned from my walk and ate my breakfast. We went to see the vet early in the morning and when mum and dad left me there I was quite sad. I didn’t know what was happening. However the nurses were very nice and I was being looked after and fussed over when all of a sudden I felt very sleepy. The next thing I knew, I was waking up under a big blanket, feeling a bit groggy, and with a huge bandage on my paw. Best of all, it had bones on it, but I knew that I couldn’t eat these bones as they were on the outside of my leg.

Ugh good grief, where am I?

I was allowed to go home at the end of the day and it was very exciting, despite having to wear a bag on my paw. I didn’t realise that I had to keep the paw clean. The Cone of Shame made an unfortunate reappearance.

I look like one of those frilled lizards.

The first night post-op just drifted by and I didn’t really know if I was coming or going to be honest. Then days went by, and I was getting used to the Cone of Shame, which was surprising as it was seriously hampering my ability to hunt in the garden. The pigeons and squirrels could see me coming from miles away. It was like having a neon sign attached to me. Inside the house however the cone of shame was very useful as I could bash into mum and dad when I wanted some extra food, or to lay on the sofa as I was ever so poorly. Every time I went outside the house, I had to wear the plastic bag over my damaged paw to make sure it was dry. We went back to the vets a couple of times in the first week as I needed my bandage changed to make sure I didn’t get an infection. The nurse was very happy that I had been a good boy and kept my paw clean, that it wasn’t nibbled and that the cut was healing well. I had proud ears and I got some extra biscuits. Another few days and I could have the bandage off. The bone bandage could be going. I told myself I had to be good, I had to be good. Come on Dex, concentrate!

Another few days passed and it was off to the vets. The bandage is coming off, I was so happy that I just laid there and let them cut the bandage off. I was getting my paw back. The bandage was sliced off, my paw felt free and I had an itch, I could see the stitches and decided that I couldn’t wait. As soon as the vet nurse and mum and dad turned their backs, I managed to chew two of the stitches out. When everyone turned round and saw what I had done they were initially upset but then saw the cut was closed and there was only one stitch left, so that was snipped off and I was free. Or so I thought. The plastic bag went back on, the paw had to be kept clean. This wasn’t fair. Did no one realise that it is really difficult to chase squirrels with a bag on my paw? The pigeons and squirrels were laughing at me. And I wasn’t allowed off the lead in the garden for what seemed like weeks. What had I done to deserve this extra punishment.

Ugh, good grief this is dull.

I had to put up with the bag and Cone of Shame for ages. I was better but I didn’t want to go through another operation. It severely hampered by ability to pursue squirrels in my grounds, and that would never do. I resolved to get rid of the Cone of Shame and Plastic Bag of Impediment as soon as possible. I had to be good, I had to. This was so difficult. I was going to have to put up with the shame of the squirrels and pigeons laughing at me for what felt like an eternity. I would be back though, faster and cleverer, I promise. Watch out tree dwellers.

How can we be the same, and yet so different

I’ve been watching my brother recently. Usually it is because he is about to bite my neck, ankles or ears. I think he thinks he is a vampire. He certainly acts like one so we decided to call him Count Barkula when he is on nefarious activities. We had heard the phrase and thought it fitted him perfectly. The neck chomping aside I have also been looking at how he has changed since he’s been here and I keep on wondering if he and I are really the same breed. We are such different personalities that sometimes its quite stark. Please allow me to try and explain.

I am a wild eyed hunter hound in the garden and fields. If I smell a squirrel or fox in the next county I will be onto the trail relentlessly and will not give up. I can be in the garden at six a.m and there will be a trail from the previous night. Sometimes it may only be a pigeon. Often it can take me thirty or forty minutes to stop baying and tracking. My breakfast is more often than not cold by the time I am finished. Compare this to Lenny. He can be in the garden with me, will see the same pigeon and he just watches it. He may start to stalk it, give a half hearted chase and then go back to eating grass and flower heads. We can start on the same trail and he will look at me like I am a dog possessed, as I am still scenting even when the trail goes cold. Equally he sees a deer in the fields and he will bay and pull on the lead trying to get to it. Once it moves and he realises he cannot catch it, he quickly stops and walks along sniffing at the edge of the crop. If I see the deer in the fields, I will try to pursue it as if my very life depended on catching the creature. Whichever human I am attached to at the time is lucky if they escape with their arms still in the shoulder sockets. If we happen to be on a downward slope at the time, its like skiing apparently. The only creature that provokes a similar reaction for us both is a rabbit. We found out that beagles are hard wired to pursue hares in Cyprus so we think this is where his wild eyed crazed pursuit comes from. For my part, I have no excuses, I just want to get the creature as quickly as possible. I do feel like my training regime of rufty tufty pursuit of all things fluffy and feathery is going to waste on Lenny sometimes.

Concentrate on the rabbits Lenny, concentrate!

We are allowed out into the garden at all times of the day. One of the best times for scents is just before we go to bed, as we haven’t been outside for a while and any scent trails are fresh. In the evening we are supposed to be doing “our thing” before going to bed but, if a trail is newly laid, I can completely forget what I went out there for and it is a good twenty to thirty minutes of baying. Lenny will give the initial chase, see that there isn’t actually anything there any more and then go and do what he needs to. I am seemingly hard wired to chase and pursue until all scent avenues are exhausted.

This last week or so I have heard the door to the garden being quietly opened to let Lenny out around dinner time, whilst I have been snoozing in my bed. Mum and dad are pretty sneaky in that they try to cover the sound of the door being opened by cooking or hoovering. Earlier this week I saw Lenny in the garden and he was sitting next to the little birdbath we have. There was a pigeon sitting about 6 feet away and they were just looking at one another. Neither the pigeon nor Lenny moved. Both just looked at each other. Then they wandered off, Lenny did his effort at a half hearted chase and the pigeon fluttered away to safety. This is a somewhat worrying development for my training programme with him. Mum and dad are apparently proud of him as he is calmer than I am when he goes out into the garden and doesn’t pull as much as I do, or I did, when we are out on patrol in the lanes and fields.

I wonder if the deer is in here?

In another way we are very different. I tend to walk past “animal biodiverse recycled product” in lanes and fields. I may sniff and then move on. Lenny however seems to think that most of it as a supplement for his meals. On at least two occasions recently, he has needed to have items removed from his mouth. The removal has left dad sometimes bemoaning the fact that Lenny eats everything that is truly disgusting. We know that he loves Lenny but I don’t blame dad for getting a bit irate at the continual chewing of certain revolting items. I have to admit though it does make me laugh to see dad’s face when he is pulling stuff out of Lenny’s teeth with his bare fingers. I have never been partial to extra curricular non-food items as far as I can remember. Lenny’s predilection to disgusting items may be due to him being a street dog for a short time in Cyprus and therefore having to scavenge anything and everything. On a slightly lighter and cleaner note, Lenny does liks vegetables. I can eat vegetables if they are surrounded by chicken or turkey for my breakfast and dinner. Lenny however is quite happy to sit and wait for various pieces of vegetables to fall onto the floor whilst they are being prepared for our parents food. He will even have the potato peelings, and particularly enjoys carrot peelings. Strange boy is my little brofur.

You’re supposed to be going into the hedge.

And today my entire commentary on this blog was blown to smithereens. At 7.05 BST precisely, Lenny went into wild eyed loon mode when he saw 2 Muntjack deer crossing our paths in one of the fields. We were baying for Britain as we pulled our respective parents along. Even after we had crossed their trail we were puffing and panting like the steam trains you see the old films we all know and love. To see him in full cry made my little heart sing. Well it would have done if I hadn’t also been in full cry.

Look at what I have to endure!

Maybe I have misjudged him and my rufty tufty training is sinking in. I’m off to teach him more stuff.

My quiet field

I think this quarantine is getting to me. As people will know I have some favourite walks and some of them are off limits at the moment. Much as I would love to go and ride the tube into London, I cannot. We can, apparently, jump in the car and go somewhere “for the day as long as we return home before dark”. This sounds to me like something worrying happens once darkness falls upon the land. I already know that Lenny bites me in daylight as well as at night so I am not sure what could happen that is worse. Anyway I am going off track slightly so I shall return to the point in hand. Or point in paw in my case.

We were out on a stroll recently and were being buzzed by cars, cyclists and runners. Every minute or so, Lenny and I were being hauled in as people were approaching us and the lane was fairly narrow. Due to recent restrictions the number of other people out and about has greatly reduced. Do the cyclists and runners not understand that we are supposed to be sniffing the creatures in the hedges and fields. We had been on the outward leg for around 2-3 miles and it was fun despite the regular reining in we had to endure so we weren’t run over by cars, cycles or runners. We had even managed to find the dead rabbit carcass that had lain by the edge of the road for about six weeks. Sadly we were not allowed to play tug with it. Anyway on the return leg we were still getting hauled back, so I decided to take matters into my own paws. I told Lenny to hang a left on a particular corner so we could walk through a field that I know is pretty much always empty. Its bliss usually, and so it proved again. Just the parents, Lenny and I. And the buttercups and daisy flowers.

I said it was quiet in this field.

The horses in the next field looked up half surprised to see anyone wandering through and then continued with their grass eating activities. Lenny saw the rabbits in the hedgerow and became a crazed, wild-eyed, rabbit catching fiend in an instant. I joined in with the pulling on the lead as it seemed like fun, but my favourite prey is deer or squirrel so it was a bit of a muted effort from me, I am afraid. He calmed down eventually.

Did someone say rabbit?

We strolled on through the next field and out onto the small lane back towards home. Through the little river that is currently running across the road and past the pub we wandered.

When I got back I wondered to myself about the little detour. I hadn’t been in that field for some time and I had almost forgotten how quiet it was. It made a nice change to just do something a bit different. Maybe this quarantine is dulling my senses.

I shall dream of more detours.

Tomorrow I will look for another detour or, maybe, I will send Lenny to find one. He’ll enjoy that.

Ponder whilst I wander

I was going to do a blog today full of worry, concern and generally feeling a bit down about the current situation that the world finds itself engulfed in. However I thought again and remembered that I try to be a positive chap so here we go.

In the midst of this terrible pandemic sweeping across the globe (I suppose that’s why it’s called a pandemic) I have been taking my regulation one walk a day, usually with a (still) Covid free human attached to me for my safety. It has been so quiet without cars, trucks and school run parents whilst I have been scenting rabbits, deer, foxes and squirrels that it got me thinking about things. So feel free to join me on another ramble.

If this pandemic has shown me anything currently, it is that people have been required to change their outlook on life. To somewhat reassess their future I suppose. It’s an awful thing to think about really. You wake up each morning and wonder if you have the virus, if someone you know has it, if you’re going to get it and how serious will it be if you do get it. As a dog I cannot contract it, apparently, unless I have been overly petted by an infected human. I should be alright as the most I seem to get is a tickle on the ears and told I am a good lad.

Pondering the imponderables

On the first weekend of the quarantine in the UK there seemed to be quite a few people who were enjoying the warm sunshine and congregating really rather too close to one another. Despite official advice to stay at home country roads were blocked with cars and vans. People were strolling along the seaside with ice creams, barbecues were lit, beer was drunk, picnics had and parties were enjoyed. It seems that as a result of quite a few people not listening to the advice, the quarantine regulations were increased. At this point I would confess that I don’t like the word “lockdown” as it alludes to a prison type scenario and we aren’t at that stage yet. So people are now being told what they can, and cannot, do and it seems to have worked a bit better in the subsequent weeks. Hopefully this continues and this curve flattens in the shortest period of time. Otherwise there will be a very large number of people who will become extremely bored if they have to stay in for an overly extended period of time.

Anyway, back to my walk. It has been markedly quieter. I put this down to lack of planes in the sky, fewer cars doing the school run and a generally lower number of people going to work by tube, bus, car and train to their workplace. The pollution seems lower too. It may not be lower, but it seems that way. More people are carrying on their daily life either on the computer or via video link, messaging or just plain old telephone calls. I suppose I am lucky that I live near, and know of, sufficient open spaces that I can wander and ponder without bumping into too many people and other dogs. And when I do, I can more than adequately distance myself. I know that there are people who cannot do this, and that is why I don’t take it lightly and I do feel privileged.

Another thing that I wondered about is how will people act or react when this virus is being brought more under control and life begins to get back to some degree of apparent normality. Will people just go straight back to their “old” ways to travel quickly everywhere, push past others in the street, expect everything done yesterday, want their shopping delivered on time and without question all the while ignoring all the people that are currently being lauded as wonderful, brave and superheroes. You know the people, all the healthcare workers from surgeons through to nurses and porters, cleaners, the police, fire service, ambulance crews, delivery drivers, pharmacists, dentists. The list is long and varied and I haven’t included many of the professions. Will all these people still be applauded in three, six or twelve months time. When someone has an accident and needs help, will the police be abused, ambulances damaged, fire crews abused and jeered when they’re putting out blazes. The doctors and nurses who look after the sick and injured when they arrive at hospital, will they need to have a police presence, or security people on the door. When you leave the office of an evening and the cleaners are going through tidying up, will they even elicit a second glance in a years time. I hope they are remembered.

I don’t know what to think sometimes

Then I think of the the stories of people finding their local store for provisions which is heartening. The supermarkets seem to have allowed the greedy to triumph over the needy. Shelves cleared when a simple and reasonable solution of limiting the amount of items any one person can buy would have seemed appropriate. Will the smaller local, independent, stores continue to see the new custom once this virus has done with us, I don’t know but I hope so. Also people who had been going out to the pub on fewer occasions suddenly miss the pub now it’s not there. To my beagle mind, the easy answer is to visit the pub when it reopens, acquaint yourself with the beer, chat with friends, enjoy yourself and come back more often, bringing your friends when we are allowed.

So how will this virus change peoples lives once it has been declared as beaten. Maybe the question should just be “will this change peoples lives?”. I do fear that it will not. People will seek to revert to their “old ways”. I hope I am wrong. Maybe I have misjudged the human nature and the aftermath of this virus will give many more people a clearer view of a different future where there is actually some benefit to us all of looking out for each other, instead of seeking to insulate ourselves against approach.

It’s nice to have friends.

Whatever happens I know I shall be safe and secure. Maybe that sounds awfully pretentious and insular, but it isn’t meant to. I rely on other people, namely my mum and dad, to make sure my life is safe, it has a routine and allows me to enjoy my walks or some food in my bowl, with a snooze in one of my beds to finish off each day. In turn, my mum and dad rely on those people who have been nameless and, I suppose, faceless up to now for all sorts of things like keeping roads and paths tidy, grow and make my food, help me and others stay safe and well as well as most importantly manufacture my beds for my snoozes. So many things that many people have taken for granted before have been exposed as important in the last few months and sometimes I worry that the world will revert to its seemingly greedy, dirty and pretty selfish ways. We shall see. I hope not.

More adventures if you don’t mind

I will get off my soapbox now. Life is for living and I have many adventures to plot and plan for the future. When I am finally allowed to go out, I am going to enjoy myself.

When Grandad Chas served Queen and Country.

I loved my grandad Chas. He would tell me that I was ‘andsome and give me some of the best ear ruffles, chin tickles and back scratches I can remember. Sadly he went to the Rainbow Bridge in December 2017 and I miss him quite a bit. I told Lenny about him. I think Lenny had something in his eye when I had finished telling him what a good bloke grandad Chas was.

Anyway, grandad Chas took lots of pictures and most of them have ended up in my house on something called a computer. We were having a look through them and saw there were a large number of Malta, where he was stationed during his National Service between 1958 and 1962. National Service was like a conscription into the Armed Forces of your country and you could be sent, or stationed, in many different places. Grandad Chas was ground crew for some RAF planes, mainly Shackletons, stationed on the island of Malta. Anyway here is a little tour of Malta from around 1958 – 1962 courtesy of grandads camera. Not sure if he actually did any work whilst he was there, mind you.

Porte des Bombes, Floriana

This gate was originally constructed in 1720 with one arch and has survived many conflicts. The second arch was added in 1868.

Robert Sammut Hall

This is a late 19th Century defunct Methodist church, now a state owned building on Triq Sarria.

Wignacourt Water Tower, Floriana

The tower was part of an aqueduct system bringing water from higher ground around Mdina and Rabat to Floriana and Valletta.

The Grand Harbour would have been the centre of life in the post war period along with the late 1950’s as the island was continuing to rebuild after the conflict of the Second World War.

Unknown street

The address looks like 56, Save Street or 56 Sane Street. It could be 56 St. Anne Street but I cannot be certain and cannot find it on any contemporary mapping service. The picture is interesting as the road seems to come to a dead end at the steps, however it turns left and then seems to disappear into a tunnel. This makes me think it is in the oldest, more fortified part of the island, likely to be centred around St Anne’s or St Julian’s in Valletta.

I wonder what these streets and buildings look like now. I wonder if anyone knows where the unknown street is located. Sadly grandad Chas isn’t around now to ask.