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.

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.

We need to talk about Lenny

Same breed, different dog. This is a phrase I have been hearing quite often since we have moved kennel. Apologies, since we have moved home.

My parents have been pondering on the difference between Lenny and myself. Specifically the time it has taken Lenny to settle into his new environment, which was about thirty minutes, and myself who hasn’t properly settled after three weeks. Lenny seemed to walk into the house and explored as soon as the external doors were closed. He strolled about sniffing and checking every room with the result that, after thirty minutes or so, he was asleep on the sofa. I strolled about with him, again checking every room. However I seem to be of a mind that this is still a strange place. As a result I haven’t really slept properly since we have arrived, every time someone leaves or enters a room I want to know what’s happening and if a parent happens to be outside the building I pace around the room and then lie very close to the door, awaiting their return. According to some this isn’t very helpful as, opening a door with a beagle behind it, seems to be a hazard to health and human access. Who knew? Lenny just lays in a tight ball, nose tucked under his tail, almost as if he knows that he is safe and secure.

Sleep well my little protege.

At my last kennel (sorry my last home) I was almost the same behaviourally when someone left the house, or went to retrieve something from the garden, garage or even another room. It is a difficult thing to quantify really but I think I have some inner fear of being left behind once more. When I first adopted my parents back in December 2013, I had been in and out of a home and rescue so I didn’t know what to expect. We worked hard to help me overcome my initial fears of belonging to a place I could trust and rely upon. I had my moments where I could relax and was sometimes found sleeping with a “silly grin on my face”. I suppose I was getting used to the daily cycle and starting to relax when, like a hand grenade, Lenny was dropped into my world. He seemed to feel at home almost immediately whilst I didn’t know what had just happened and was readjusting to a new aspect of my life.

Good grief.

Fast forward to the current home and Lenny wanders in, sniffs, strolls about and then leaps onto the sofa for a snooze. I wander with him, sniff, stroll about, sniff some more, whimper when someone leaves the room and then lay on a chair with my eyelids drooping shut whilst I try to keep them open just in case something is happening. It’s not even as if we have different things here. We have the same sofas, the same chairs, the same beds all over the house, the same blankets, harnesses and leads and the same food in the same bowls. The routine of eating, snoozing, going for a walk and bed time remains pretty much identical. Lenny’s brain seems to just switch him off like the proverbial light, whilst my brain is asking “what’s next, what am I missing, why is this happening”. I think my parents fear I will not be able to settle, that my brain is so “hard wired” that even if I am so tired I can hardly stand on my paws, my brain will still try to tell me not to sleep properly in case I miss something.

Wake up Lenny, something might have happened.

The conundrum remains unanswered. I will have to stay awake and alert for more clues. Lenny, stop sleeping as you are supposed to be helping me.

Well, that was all a bit exciting

After I had experienced the theft and then return of all my toys, beds and food, it was apparently time to settle in to my new home. I call it my new kennel but my parents insist it’s a home. In any case it is warm, comfy and very different to my previous kennel, sorry I mean home. For a start its on two levels and has these strange things called stairs. Lenny and I have wasted no time in chasing each other up and down these strange stair contraptions that take us to another place called “upstairs”.

Lenny and I also wasted no time in taking our parents out to explore the local area to try and sample the delights it has to offer. So it was that dad woke up with a beautifully executed beagle kidney pounce nice and early on the first full day and he was dispatched to make a cup of tea. We don’t want him slacking now, do we? Within a short time we were exploring the village and met a beagle who lived close by. He was very well behaved and wasn’t on a lead which was both surprising and disappointing. Surprising that he was well behaved and equally as disappointing that he wasn’t up to shenanigans. I suppose we will have to make up for his polite behaviour. Not yet however as we still had to scent where the local critters lived. We went down the road, across a road, up a road, across another road, under a bigger road, over the bridge, along another road and then found another road to walk along. All the while our noses were no more than 5 centimetres (that’s 1.9685 inches to old money aficionados) off the ground. We had to take in all the new smells that the village had to offer us. We had to be careful though as street lights were in different places to those we were used to and we found ourselves too regularly almost upon them. We returned home and rested whilst mum and dad did some unpacking of their belongings. Our stuff had already been unpacked and put away in cupboards, so it was good to see them get their priorities right. We went out a couple more times on the first full day and fell into our beds for a long lazy snooze. In fact I was so tired that I snoozed on Lenny’s bed which was a bit dangerous as he is a bit of a vampire. I think he was equally tired so didn’t bother trying to attack me.

Hope Lenny doesn’t notice!

The peace and tranquility was shattered on the first Sunday we were here however. We went out across the fields and were having a great time exploring and seeing new places to enjoy in the future. Suddenly Lenny was pulling and jerking on his lead whilst all the time baying at the top of his voice. Whatever could have possibly caused this commotion. As I looked up, there were seven Roe deer prancing through the field in front of us, maybe 100 yards away. It would have been rude of me if I hadn’t joined in the general commotion so I duly obliged mum and dad by doubling the volume of baying. I am not sure they were all that impressed as we were swiftly turned around and we walked a different path all the time listening to mum and dad muttering something about “why didnt we get Labradors or Poodles?” Then we went out on our final constitutional of the day and a fox must have wandered past the front of our home a short time before. We managed to bay, pull and jerk for the entire walk around the block whilst conveniently forgetting that we had “things” to do. We were quickly reminded of our duties however. Apparently it’s lucky we don’t have neighbours yet.

To be explored.

Then, during the week, we found the lane which leads to the path which leads to the pub which isn’t open yet. Mum and dad seemed happy to have found the path to the pub.

Lenny, that’s not the pub.

We have behaved ourselves really well so far, even if I do say so myself. There has been quite a bit of disruption to our daily routine. There has been so much unpacking and moving things about that we sometimes didnt know if we were coming or going. We haven’t yet been allowed out into our garden as the turf and soil need time to bed in apparently. It is tantalisingly out of reach for another week or so.

Garden racing will have to wait I suppose.

And another

As if yesterdays sad blog wasn’t sufficient for the near future, I heard today of another kind and happy soul who has made their way to the Rainbow Bridge in a distinctly untimely fashion.

My friend Fred lived in Germany with his parents. I came across Fred early in my Twittering career and he has remained a resolute and funny pal ever since. Most weekends I would see that he was accompanying his mum on her Parkrun and he was clearly the centre of attention for the volunteers who were there to make sure everyone got around safely. Let’s be honest, he was always going to be the centre of attention, the handsome devil. Even when it was time for dinner I would see Fred waiting im-patiently beside the counter for his mum to hurry up and make the food, cut up the fruit and ensure that he had something tasty to eat. Typical beagle you may say. There is nothing wrong with making sure our parents do things right and on time, say I. Whether it was sunshine, rain or snow (I wonder if he ever had all three?) he was outside and enjoying his life running around being silly and making everyone smile.

I shall be there in spirit.

His parents were supposed to be married last year and Fred was to be the ring bearer. I suspect they will be sad when they do finally have their lovely day and there is no four legged pal to accompany them to make sure they do it all correctly.

Eleven years of wisdom, not grey fur.

So when today I saw that he had succumbed to a number of nasty tumours, I was saddened to see that he had made the longest journey. His parents made the bravest, and the most difficult, decision to release him to the company of those who have passed to the Rainbow Bridge before him. As with Lucy yesterday there will be far too many of our friends and allies who will be awaiting his arrival. He leaves behind a legacy of fun and a life lived fully. Run free Fred, free from cares, woes and troubles. You are once again young, healthy and you now have the warmth of the everlasting sun upon your fur.

Come on mum, run faster!

We only get one go at this life. Live that life like Fred. And Raffa. And Gunner. And Lucy. And Pruny. And Charley. And Seb. And Bean. And Port Hunter. And far too many others that I apologise for not mentioning.

Officially, I’m not actually in the kitchen.

The sun set a little today

It was a lovely crisp start to my day. The rain of the previous couple of days had cleared to the east although for many people in the Midlands and north of England it was still sadly pouring down, causing flooding and misery aplenty. Our walk was nice as there weren’t too many people out and those that were seemed a little cheery due to the blue skies and chilly wind. Lenny and dad saw a rainbow in the distance, away toward the horizon.

Once we had returned and our second half breakfast was consumed, we went about our daily routine of messing about and playing bitey face before looking to snooze on our beds. Suddenly dad looked up from his computer and told mum something that made them both very sad. He had seen that Lucy Beagle whose parents visited the UK from Arizona in December 2019 had been taken ill quite suddenly. The most difficult but kindest decision had been made to release Lucy from her suffering and she went across the Rainbow Bridge to seek out far too many of our friends who have already made the journey.

Contented sleep of a good life

I first came across Lucy a few years ago and when we spoke she was always polite friendly and clearly had a love for life and everything it involved. She would complain about toe nail theft, she would badger her parents for food and then look at them pleading for more in case they had forgotten that she had just had something. She would wait and listen for her parents to return from this work malarkey that they all seem to do, and then curl up and revel in the love that she was, quite correctly, given. Even when she damaged her cruciate ligament later in 2020 there was never a bad word from Lucy. She enjoyed the life she was living and the friends who she shared it with. When her parents visited the UK, both Lenny and I had the privilege of trying to show them some interesting things in London that maybe people aren’t aware of when they visit. I hope they enjoyed their trip. Lucy wrote a guest blog, which I was more than happy to publish, about her parents adventures in the UK.

It’s comfy. Sshh.

I will miss Lucy, she is a good buddy. I say “is” because she may be gone from sight but she will remain forever in the hearts of her parents and many other friends around the world. I chased a squirrel in her honour today and mum said I nearly got it. Run free sweet Lucy, you are released from your worldly duties. You are free from pain and suffering, so seek out the friends who are on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge to look after you and show you the way. Dad just looked at me and I think his heart hurts a little as he knows I am getting older.

Rest easy Lucy

My world is emptier today.

The eyes have it

I am a beagle, you may have noticed. This will be my eighth Christmas with my parents so I have had plenty of practice in extracting love and food from them. Or so you would think. Beagles are renowned for having bottomless stomachs, hollow legs and probably the most expressive and irresistible eye contact. I am no different and I am certainly trying to teach Lenny to be equally as persuasive with his peepers.

I’ve been a bit unwell recently and there have been days and nights where a number of trips to the garden have been needed to avoid indoor accidents with significant clean up required. The parents were concerned over the food I was eating and wondering if it was one thing or a combination so dad was taken with taking me outside in the garden whenever I needed to. He felt a bit foolish when, on the only occasion I wasn’t attached to the lead at 03.30, I forgot what I was supposed to be in the garden for and started baying at the top of my lungs at all the lovely scents. Seeing him chase me around trying to quieten me was amusing.

Metabolism. That’s a long word to stomach.

The worst thing was having all treats removed from my diet. The best thing was that I went onto a chicken, rice and potato diet. I love chicken. Anyway the guilty food source appears to have been located and removed from my diet. It seems simply that as I am getting older my metabolism is changing and I cannot accommodate certain foods in the same way as when I was younger. Also I am not quite sure how the parents have managed it, however I am being fed delicious chicken at the same time as Lenny is being fed his normal food. He does cast the odd envious look at my food bowl but I ignore him as my face is usually busy and he cannot get his muzzle near my food. Anyway dad usually stands guard when we are eating so Lenny will be growled at if he makes a sideways movement toward me. Having said all of that Lenny eats his food like he’s never going to get any more. He inhales his food. He’s not quite up to Labrador speed of consumption but he’s nimble even for a beagle. I haven’t had any emergency trips to the garden over the past few days so it seems I have settled down again. Lenny seems to have become more aware of my desire to exist in a quieter place sometimes. We still practice our bitey face shenanigans but we break off and then shake at each other more readily.

Is this that thing called “down time”?

The change of food on my part as well as my beagleness have allowed me to practice the use of “the eyes” on the parents. They are aware of the visual pleading tendencies. They have also cheated by telling one another that Lenny and I have had breakfast, treats, dinner or supper biscuits. This is grossly unfair as we cannot take advantage of one parent over the other.

Honest dad, mum hasn’t fed us.

I mean, who could resist these eyes?