What do Beagles think about?

There is a scurrilous rumour going around that beagles think only of their stomachs and then complain that they haven’t eaten in all of fifteen minutes. This is a shocking allegation.

It struck me again today that Lenny and I are extremely lucky to have so many buddies around the world that we can rely on to make us laugh, cry and feel wanted. Throughout the recent past we have retained our friendship with so many of our pals, despite a worryingly large number making their final journey. For this we are very grateful and truly humbled. We also see that there are quite a few pals who parents sometimes struggle to come to terms with life in general and more often the day to day things that they have to do. We have a close knit community amongst the friends and, as we have mentioned before, we always try to make sure that if someone is struggling mentally or emotionally (is there a difference?) we can be there with a word of encouragement or gentle virtual hug. Sometimes we think it may not make any difference however we hope that it will. I think that may be the operative word here, hope. We know that we cannot be by our friends sides 24 hours a day so we are, kind of, relying on a simple act or word of kindness or thoughtfulness, to make them feel better about themselves. Albeit it is a brief interlude in their darkening thoughts however our hope remains steadfast.

I wonder?

We also know that just by us being us we can lighten a load upon some people. From experience Lenny and I are aware that we sometimes make our parents proud as well as a little more fulfilled in their lives. They look at us curled up on the sofa, the chairs, the big bed, maybe sometimes even our own designated beds and they cannot help but give us a tickle, a belly rub or stroke our long soft ears to make them feel happier. As rescues we know they have done the most important thing for us so, I suppose, its only incumbent upon us to allow them to give us tickles and belly rubs. Food is also welcome of course. Oops I wasn’t going to mention that, was I?

The world can be a terrible place sometimes what with the war, arguments, politics, racism, famine, pandemics, arguments about the pandemic and general malcontent of large swathes of the population. If we can help to alleviate even a little of that dark cloud then maybe, just a little, we have worked our magic on you and made you feel more worthwhile and valued. After all what else is there for us to do?

What’s that Lenny, it’s time for some snacks. Great, lead the way.

The Posse is depleted

A wonderful and honourable friend made their longest journey earlier today. I wish to pay tribute to a true buddy.

I am a member of the #BTPosse – I was invited to join by a great friend called Hamish, some years ago. The Posse is very much like the BeagleBugClub in that it is full of friends who look after one another, who cry or laugh together and always look out for everybody, with a kindly word or metaphorical shoulder to cry upon. One of the first Border Terriers I was introduced to was Macbark who lived with his parents, and joined more recently by his little brother Fin, in Edinburgh. Mac was a jolly, cheerful, wise and very handsome fur who always had time for some laughter as well as friendly advice for his fellow BT pals. Many a time did we speak about important subject like Aberdeen FC, Whisky distilleries, Bellfield Brewery and hikes around Arthurs Seat amongst so many other things. He was a font of knowledge on many subjects. He loved travelling to different places in Scotland and even made it down to the Lake District in the north west of England. Apparently he enjoyed that too, in spite of it not being in Scotland. Cheeky wee fella he was. He was at tweet ups and always able to show the many pals around his locale with a smily face.

A fiercely proud BT.

His little brother, Fin, arrived in early August and proceeded to turn Mac’s world upside down. He was typically grumbly about his new little brother but I think deep down he was chuffed to bits that he would have a new pal to play with. Also he had the chance to show Fin all the wrong things to do.

What do you mean I cannot show Fin the muddy puddle?

Within the last week Mac was diagnosed with an advanced case of Gallbladder Mucocele which is apparently fairly common in Border Terriers, sadly. Today we heard the terrible news that Mac had made his final and longest journey over the Rainbow Bridge. He was only eight!

Run free wee fella, free from cares and woes amongst the everlasting meadow with the warm sun on your fur. It is a privilege to say you are my friend and that we will miss you terribly. Farewell Mac but never goodbye.

Hello, pleased to meet you

Five years ago today I was on holiday in the Lake District. I decided that I should take my parents off to a place called Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of Ullswater. It is a lovely spot with views south across the water to the hills in the distance. The midges were out in force that day and there was quite a bit of mumbling and groaning from the parents about being “smothered in flies”.

We strolled about and watched the Ullswater Steamer come into the jetty to discharge its passengers and then make its return journey to Glenridding via Howtown. Smaller yachts bobbed gently on the water whilst, all the time, dad grumbled about the midges and that he wouldn’t need any lunch as he’d eaten so many of them.

We made the journey back to the holiday cottage, strolled about the lanes and byways of Patterdale, made a visit to the local store and then I was allowed to go for a restorative nap whilst the parents fussed about, doing stuff and things that parents do.

I had to insist that they take me to the pub for some food as well as allowing me to continue my snoozing. I got my customary gravy bone from the lady at the bar. I strolled past another lady we had met the night before who had told me I had the softest ears and then I took my rightful place on my settle mat. Cue extensive snoozing, twitching and the occasional snore for a while.

Suddenly I was awoken with a wet beagle nose which had pushed its way through the stair baluster. As I looked up Raffa was stood there with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Hello, you must be Dexter? I am, I arooed, much to the amusement of the pub clientele. Whilst the parents chatted, Raffa and I resumed our sleeping poses. She had made the journey from home and I had been on my paws all day. We had agreed that we would go out walking the following day so we knew we had enough time to sleep and recuperate now.

Our friendship blossomed from that moment and we shared many more adventures in the years to follow. I am so pleased I got to meet Raffa, a true and lovely pal to many.

Farewell to another

Another of my friends is making ready to take her longest journey very soon. I have known this particular pal from very early in my social media career. I will be extremely sad to lose her to the Rainbow Bridge but will remember that, all the while, we will all end there once our time here is done.

I read the message that her mum had posted. There was a little video of her snoozing away, snoring gently. I read the words that were written and wondered how much pride, bravery and despair must have gone into the composition of the messages telling her friends that she would be making her journey soon. I cannot yet comprehend how words can be formed into coherent sentences whilst watching us slowly slip away. It must be terrible enough when we make our journey suddenly but to watch us, knowing that at a set time on a set date we will take our last breath and fall asleep forever, takes courage and fortitude beyond my understanding currently.

When does love overcome despair? When does pride overcome the emptiness of loss? When does grief become overtaken by remembrance of those times shared? I cannot answer any of these questions directly.

The original friends that I was lucky enough to find are diminishing faster than I would like. The days upon which I do not hear of another pal making the journey seem fewer. I have never met most of my friends, and likely I never shall. Some who I have met, have become wonderful pals and their loss is felt greatly. It is the family effect that we feel amongst our group that holds us together. People may disagree on so many things in life however when it comes to looking out for each others dogs, there is this unity of strength. A bond if you will. A bond of the strongest substance of love and friendship.

The world still turns, the sun still shines and we will all go about our daily business until we falter and fall by the wayside. More friends will come to the party but it will not diminish the memories of those who have passed, those who we have loved and continue to love even though they are no longer in our sights.

Farewell Newfy sweetie, I will miss you so much.

Time flies

It was Lenny’s birthday two days ago. He is now three. He had a good day with a nice walk in the morning and I noticed that there were some extra treats being slipped into his food. The parents think I don’t see these things. As a scent hound I may not see them but I do smell them. I don’t mind, it was his big day and as an older brother I am not going to spoil it for him.

Onto other things. It was a year ago today that my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge. Time has flown since dad got a phone call whilst we were out on our walk, that nanny had passed away overnight. Dad was very sad to hear the news from his sister but knew it was coming. In fact it comes to us all at some point. I remember we finished our walk and Lenny and I got extra tickles and a kiss on the bonce once we had snaffled our second breakfast. He told us that nanny had gone to the Rainbow Bridge and was now in the company of too many of our pals who had already made their longest journey. We understood that we wouldn’t be able to get tickles or naughty treats from her, and nor would we be able to give her leg leans any more. We were sad as we liked getting tickles from nanny. She was the one who said “if you can’t say anything nice, then say nothing”. This is something I apply every day. I’m happy that she got to meet Lenny on a few occasions although she did get him and me mixed up the first time he visited her.

I know dad misses her everyday but he is comforted a little that she is no longer suffering or in pain. He cannot be naughty or cheeky and get told he will get a clip round the ear. We are all sad that she never got to see our new house as I think she would have liked it quite a bit. She is with grandad now and at peace.

Love you nanny, fly high.

Life is shorter than we all think sometimes. When we are young we think we are invincible and old age is in the far distance so we often don’t think to say what we feel. I will give dad an extra leg lean today so he knows we are all a bit sad.

Happy Birthday Lenny

It’s my protege’s birthday today. He is three.

We had a good walk this morning and then I saw that he got some extra kibble in his bowl. Not much, mind, but enough for me to notice. Apparently he’s on something called a “bit of a diet”. Anyway happy birthday little brother Lenny, I hope you’ve have a good day and I might even let you chew my ears as a treat. I suppose I had better let him say something.

I wonder if I’m allowed to eat bees on my birthday?

Hello everyone it’s me Lenny. It’s my birthday apparently and I am something called three. It’s good being three as I got extra food in my bowl for my second half of breakfast and my dinner. I hope I get extra biscuits later before I am forced to go to bed. So, I am determined to enjoy myself today and, who knows, maybe tomorrow I will be four and get extra, extra food? What do you all mean it doesn’t work like that?

If I sit nicely, I might get some extra food.

I’m off to complain to the management.

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.

A Sunny disposition

I wanted to return to one of the recurring themes which has allowed me to write this blog and, hopefully, keep people interested in reading it.

As some of you may know I, along with many others, had a beagle friend called Fred who lived in Germany with his parents. Sadly Fred made his longest journey on 22nd January 2021 and there were a large number of people who were extremely upset, not least his parents. Within a few months of Freds farewell, his parents rescued a lost soul called Ignaz (subsequently called Sunny due to his happy demeanour). This is his story of safety, love and security. Thus far.

I spoke with Fred’s mum, auntie Cathy and I am very grateful for her help in writing this blog.

Ok, I am going to start with the sad part (sorry) about Fred. Please don’t cry too much. When Fred passed over the Rainbow Bridge, you were both obviously very sad. However did his passing ignite a desire within you to get a rescue or did you harbour a desire to get a rescue anyway?

When Fred died we were so broken, the grief was unbelievable! He had been my side kick for 12 years and I had no idea what to do without him. I had always wanted to rescue a lab beagle and we said that the next Beagle would be a rescue or a lab Beagle. But we didn’t think we would do it so soon. We just started researching who could help us and then we found http://laborbeaglehilfe.de and Sunny (previous name Ignaz) was on there with his brother and we enquired, never thinking we would be able to get him. We thought it would take months and months to find a rescue but as soon as we saw Sunny, and found out he was still available, we were smitten and really wanted to give him a forever home! It didn’t end my grief but it certainly brought the light back into our lives. Definitely. I wish Fred was here as well – he’d be teaching him all the bad habits. I had Fred from he was 12 weeks old but I always knew that I wanted a rescue at some point.

The air of freedom. I love it.

What processes did you have to go through in order to get Sunny? Did you meet him (Covid etc) before he arrived and how much did the rescue tell you of his past

The rescue process? We were looking for organizations that could help us and Klaus found laborbeaglehilfe and that was it. We saw Sunny and knew we had to try to give him his forever home. They are small but I think quite well known. We had a couple of very long phone calls with the rescue lady from http://laborbeaglehilfe.de where she asked about our experience with Beagles, where we lived, how often would he be alone, did we have a garden (we don’t!) and many other questions. We were then waiting for her decision and really hoping we could get him. We checked the website and saw that he had been moved to ‘reserved’ but we hadn’t heard anything. So then we were panicking that he was going to someone else! But thankfully not as we received confirmation that we had been successful.

We didn’t get to meet him until the day he arrived. I think it was mostly COVID that meant we couldn’t meet him first but also think they like to take them straight from the lab to their new home if possible. The ladies from the rescue came in first and checked out our house (and us too!). Then when they were happy they went outside and brought him in with another Beagle (Robin) to help him not be so nervous. We know he is from a lab that did medical testing but the rescue don’t tell you anything else – no testing details or location. They just said that this lab was one of the better ones in terms of the care they take with the dogs (apart from the horrendous testing obviously!). It’s scary to hear how much animal testing still goes on in Germany!

This is new. I wonder if I will be loved?

Were you expecting what walked through the door? Did you have expectations or pre-conceptions of Sunny and his behaviour?

When he arrived I sat on the floor and he came straight over to me which was great because we had no idea how he would be with people. He’s been very snuggly since day 1. The rescue people had us prepared for all the worst case scenarios. For instance that he wouldn’t come near us, that he wouldn’t be house trained, that he would jump on the table. However he was the opposite! Teaching him how to use stairs was the main thing but after 3 days he had it sussed and he’s now really confident with them. As for sleeping in an actual dog bed – forget it! He’s set foot in it once. Its only sofas and the big bed for this boy!

Wake me up when it’s lunch o’clock.

How did you approach the basics of showing him his new life?

He made great progress really quickly. Indeed his curiosity was stronger than his fear (most of the time). He’s such a sweet, funny little goof ball and it’s amazing to see his personality come out more and more. We were prepared for all the worst scenarios with him but he is so snuggly, well house trained and also has no interest in human food (unbelievable for a beagle!). We tried to get him into a routine as quickly as possible to help him feel safe and secure. Now he sits outside the kitchen in the morning impatiently waiting to go for his walk.

Did you speak to anyone else about taking on a lab beagle?

We didn’t speak to anyone about it. We just started looking, thinking that it would take a long time and suddenly he was almost here.

The house was so empty without a dog in it and we knew we could give a rescue a great life. It all happened really fast.

I have heard other people say that their dog who recently passed to the Rainbow Bridge had “sent” the current dog. Do you think Fred had something to do with Sunny?

I do think that he was ‘sent‘ by Fred. The day we heard we were getting Sunny, a Robin bounced across my path as I was running and I knew it was Fred telling me it was ok. We wanted a lab Beagle because it is something I am passionate about – ending animal testing. It was through following the Beagle Freedom Project that I came across the Twitter pack so it feels like it was meant to be!

Are you strict with him, given the possibility of his previous life being pretty awful?

We are not very strict with him. We figure he had a hard enough life and now he can enjoy the sofa and the big bed as much as he likes. We do make him sit and he is really good off the lead. We work with him on that so he is learning and getting good stimulation. Thankfully he is really keen to learn. We push him only if it’s things like going out for a pee etc. Really its to keep him to his routine but otherwise we are patient with him and let him make progress at his own pace.

What do you think are his best and worst habits?

His most endearing trait is his goofiness! He’s a bit a clown and falls over himself quite frequently. His one bad habit is he is a poop eater. Big time!

He has quite a nervous character so we have to watch him with loud noises and new things but his shaking episodes are not so frequent now. Recovery from trauma is not a linear process so we just take it day by day and if he has had a lot of stimulation and activity we will make sure he has a quiet day so he can process and recover.

He’s such a sweet boy – he really brought the life back into me after losing Fred. Life with no Beagle is not fun!

These people are great. It’s good to be loved.

Thank you auntie Cathy. I think Sunny is in very safe hands and will learn that love and safety are now his for the rest of his days. He’s a very lucky beagle. And yes, life without a Beagle is no fun.

Is that a dead crab?

What’s that noise? Oh good grief its pouring with rain and thrashing against the window. Time for a longer snooze I think. Suddenly Lenny is past me and has stood on dads kidneys so it seems we will be waking up now. Tea and no sympathy seem to be the order of the day thus far. After a while we are duly harnessed and stand ready for the shenanigans of the day to come. It’s ok though as the rain has eased and we might only get a little soggy. Upon leaving the house we watch as our travel beds are loaded into the car, but strangely we are shepherded away from the car. What is this sorcery? Up the road and back once we have done what we need to do and the car is unlocked. At this point I looked at Lenny who was cowering away from his travel bed and crate.

It seems that his fears of car travel have returned as we haven’t been out in the car for some time. This is going to take some gentle persuasion on the part of the parents although I am concerned to see that treats weren’t considered necessary to coax him into the car. I tried to show him the way to do it, but he sat there shivering and cowering away so mum gently picked him up and put him in his crate ready to go.

Out of the house and down the road. We wound our way to an adventure. I watched out for my brother to make sure he wasn’t feeling too bad. We stopped and the boot was opened. The fresh and windy sea air filled our nostrils so we knew we were just about to have some fun pulling our parents along the seashore for a while. Just as we leapt out, it poured with rain again so we strolled quickly into a shelter on the promenade to wait out the shower clouds. Then we were off in earnest toward the sea so we could try to find the best stinky stuff to lick, sniff and hopefully roll in. Immediately we came to some seashells which were tasted before moving on to find the remains of a cuttlefish. Lenny seemed to enjoy this and was quickly forgetting about the car journey. I saw the dead crab stuff first but, as usual, Lenny barged in front and was getting up close and personal with the crustacean. We pulled and jerked on our leads for a few miles as we strolled along the sandy foreshore, up and over the little breakwaters and then back up to the pebbly section near the promenade. We had to walk along the prom for the last bit as dogs aren’t allowed on that section of the beach. I am not sure why we aren’t allowed on that part though. We don’t drop litter, break glass, leave tin and plastics everywhere or barbecue stuff and make it all thoroughly untidy. Our parents pick up after us so I am wondering if humans should be banned from the beach instead of dogs. Anyway, we followed the rules like the good boys we are and strolled along.

There may have been treats on view.

As soon as we were getting into our stride we were turned around and headed back toward the car. We saw some other dogs running in and out of the sea chasing a ball and we aroooed them. We saw some dogs walking nicely along the beach and we aroooed them as well. We even saw some dogs playing on the little green spaces near the promenade so we might have aroooed them too.

Come on Dex, there’s more stinky stuff here

Back to the car just as the sky opened again and this time Lenny leapt freely into his travel crate so it seems he had forgotten his fears of the car.

Once we were home it was back to the routine of food, snoozing and running around the garden chasing pesky magpies. I did hear talk of doing another trip next weekend if the weather is agreeable. I wonder where we can take Lenny next time?

An unexpected gift

Yesterday was my birthday. Well, officially I am an orphan and no one really knows when my actual birthday is, but please stay with me on this. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, birthday. I am now eleven. Apparently. My chip says 2010 so even rudimentary Beagle maths makes me two years away from becoming a teenager. Bad luck mum and dad.

I have been pondering as one does upon the life I live and what, if anything, I would like for my birthday. I am not a particularly materialistic type of dog and as I looked around the house and garden it struck me that I have everything I need or could want.

Beds? check. Brother? check. Safety? check. Food? check. Walks? check. Friends? check. I don’t do toys any more.

As I don’t “need” stuff, I asked my friends on my Twitter account to post a picture of them or their buddies having a good day, doing something they enjoy, getting some love or generally being somewhere that makes them happy. Whoa! what had I unleashed. At the time of writing my request has generated 397 pictures and 1,221 likes. This is unheard of and is truly wonderful. I know there will be people who will say “yeah, I get that regularly so what?” and they would be correct. However, for one day my Twitter account went off the scale with pals and their parents putting up photos of happiness, joy and contentment. Social media did a good thing, I think. I have friends who are really struggling with mental and physical difficulties and they tweeted pictures that made me, and others, smile. One of my friends was at the veterinary with her dog who seems quite poorly, and she posted a lovely picture. For one day the world seemed a little brighter and less populated by hate, fear, pandemic, brutality, death and hunger. Fine you may say, it was one day only. However that brief interlude made people smile for a short time, maybe only for a minute or so.

I truly did not expect to see the reaction I received to my tweet. Maybe twenty to thirty friends would post. I could smile and feel happier than I normally do and my birthday would have been good. I was and remain truly humbled by the response.

Thank you.