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.
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.
Off we go for our walk this morning, little knowing what the day held. Down through the town and back through the little wooded area. I have been on shorter walks recently due to the allegation that I may have overdone my longer walk last Sunday and injured my wrist. What is an eleven year old beagle harrier supposed to do? Walk nicely? Anyway we returned home to have some breakfast and then wandered about whilst we allowed our parents to have some food too.
Suddenly we were re-harnessed, found ourselves strolled up and down a local road and then back to the car. This was different and I was extremely surprised to see Lenny jump straight into his travel crate. Hmm, what did he know that I didn’t? Off we went up the road, turn right, under the big road, left, right and a few more turns we arrived at a multi storey car park. Wow, if this was our final destination, it was a bit boring. Once our parents had worked out how to work the parking meter we found ourselves heading toward another ticket machine. Two tickets were delivered and we pulled our parents onto the train station. As the train pulled in, we tried to get on before the doors opened. We got reminded that this was criminally stupid and we should calm down. There were quite a few people on the train but we weren’t allowed to say hello. Ugh good grief, parents can be really boring sometimes. We whizzed along toward our destination and, all the while, the train filled with more people for us to try and befriend.
Quick sharp you two, we are here, was the call that Lenny and I got. As we exited the train we breathed in and then coughed as we tasted the stale air. London! We are in London. As neither Lenny or I can read we had to rely on the station announcer telling everyone this is London Bridge. Excellent, let the shenanigans commence. As we descended from the platform into the street the number of people increased dramatically. Our parents looked at one another with dread and fear etched on their faces. Anyway Lenny and I had other ideas so we quickly pulled them in the direction of London Bridge itself.
As we crossed we laughed and bumped into one another.
Turn right at the top and then stroll down Eastcheap and into Great Tower Street.
Past the Tower of London and we strolled quickly across Tower Bridge before finally turning right again into Tooley Street and back to the station.
All too soon we found ourselves on the return train back home and our adventure was nearly over.
For some reason we slept all the way home in the car and crashed out on our sofas after we had eaten our food. Sometimes we have good surprises from our parents.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
Time will beat us all, so spend it wisely and don’t waste it. We only get one chance at this life lark.
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.
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.
We liked it, and we don’t think you will be disappointed.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
As he has been here for yet another year, I thought I should conduct Lenny’s appraisal. Thankfully I didn’t allow him to have one of those new fangled 360 degree appraisals. I don’t want him spreading false rumours about me. Anyway, sit back and make what you will of our chat.
So Lenny, 2020, what did you make of your first full year?
Well Dex it was very strange wasn’t it? We started the year off quietly, then too many people broke the rules. After that those who are in charge didn’t take action quickly enough so we went into three further quarantine periods. Thankfully we had each other, as well as our parents, in our own little bubble. We seem to be on the right path now, so I just hope everyone can continue to be careful and not become blasé.
Then we had the strange goings on when we were barred from bitey face in the guest room because loads of boxes appeared. Our parents never told us about the new kennel. All we saw was them disappear now and then, to suddenly reappear a few hours later. When the guys came to take away our possessions I was a bit worried, especially for all the toys that suddenly weren’t strewn across the floor in inappropriate places for mum and dad to fall over.
Do you miss our old stomping grounds then?
I do. Sometimes. When I arrived in 2019 you were kind enough to show me quite a few excellent walks from a couple of miles to a really good 10 miler that I did with dad once. I actually think we took a wrong turn and he just couldn’t admit that he’d gone the wrong way. Apart from that I enjoyed walking around the many places and seeing tons of really nice views. The deer and squirrels helped to make our adventures interesting. And, of course, we got to travel into London on the train or tube which was fun. I can see why you enjoyed the big field around Botley as you can see for miles from the tree line. As for the regular Pednor trips, yes I do miss them as I got to know plenty of other furs and people. It was nice to have some routine and, I suppose, regularity to life.
I do like it here though, as we have plenty of new places to visit and we’ve already been to the beach. The deer are bigger here too, although thats a bit scary if I think about it too much. There are many places we haven’t been to yet so I am looking forward to those. Also we haven’t been to the pub yet, and that is always interesting.
What do you think to the new house?
Oh I like it as it is very different to the previous one. Firstly it has these strange “stairs” that we can run up and down, whilst we chase one another. Also it has many different rooms in places that I need to get used to. I keep on doing things like chase you into the living room, only to find its actually the kitchen. A downside, if there is one, is that the garden is smaller than the previous house so I can catch you more quickly so we tend to shorten our garden exercise. I suppose the fact also that there is a water gun to curtail our over exuberant shenanigans is also a bit of a downside too. Dad is far too good a shot with it. I feel like I have settled really quickly here. I just feel like it’s safe and warm, I suppose. Also I have you and the parents so I feel safe in that regard, knowing I have you to rely on.
Did you find it strange that for a large proportion of 2020 we were under a degree of restriction regarding moving around and meeting people?
No, not really. We were lucky that we had the lovely walks almost on our doorstep. Combined with that we were sensible and stayed clear of people as much as we were able. If we met people when we were out dexploring the countryside we were able to greet them in typical Beagle fashion whilst staying at arms length. When we were allowed some freedom from the restrictions we didn’t really venture too far. It was almost like we knew that we were in the middle of a storm and were just riding it out. We did see Raffa’s mum in September when the rules were relaxed slightly but then people in general didn’t really behave properly and we went back into quarantine. I think as dogs we just followed our daily routine of walks, eating, sleeping and shenanigans in the garden. We had the freedom to do that without having the human worries about the virus, money, work and life in general.
Is there anything that you would do differently looking back over the last year?
Erm, no not really. I think the virus made everyone think a bit more about their local area and their life outside of their regular workplace. Maybe I would like to have had more days out on the train or tube, meet ups with pals and trips to the pub with our parents. Wow, I sound like I am desperate to go to the pub!
I think there were days when I could have done with a bit of a scenery change and had something different to look forward to. You did some trips into London the previous year up to March 2020 with dad which I would liked to have done but couldn’t due to the travel restrictions. Also now we have moved and we are much further away from a train station it would prove to be much more of a challenge getting to and from the station, let alone wandering around the big city saying hello to people. I am hopeful though, if people behave themselves, that I can still get to do some additional dexplorations, especially if I can do them with you.
Is there anything you think you have got better at?
Yes. Walking nicely on the lead and playing bitey face with you. I have learned from the Master of Bitey Face so I think I had no choice but to get better. Dad has worked harder with me when we have been out and I do listen more to him when he wants me to walk nicely or stop eating disgusting stuff. Well, most of the time I try to listen but you know how difficult it is. Mum is a bit more cunning when she wants me to obey commands whilst dad is a bit more direct. I suspect both their training styles have had effect on me. They both still roll their eyes when squirrels or rabbits are in my view though. I probably have to work harder with mum though, as I am not sure she believes I can walk nicely.
If you could bring one thing from the old house to the new one, what would it be?
Easy. The garden. It was like an adventure playground for us. Once I had been living in your house for a few months and had the chance to fully dexplore the garden, it just kept on giving up more secret places and scents to me. The new garden will be ok but it isn’t as large and there aren’t as many scents or nooks and crannies at the moment.
Apart from that, it’s really nice here in the house. This underfloor heating stuff came in handy when it was a bit chilly for the first month or so when we got here. And carpet instead of hardwood flooring in some rooms? Luxury as we could lie on the soft carpet and feel the warmth coming through.
Is there anything here that you would change?
Yes. I would stop the oven and hob from bleeping and upsetting you. I don’t like seeing you leave a room or go and hide in the study upstairs when the kitchen is in full flow. You look so worried sometimes, although you have got much braver recently and returned to make sure dad was ok when he is cooking. However I would still stop the bleeps.
Have you got a favourite walk yet?
I like the circular walk through Thakeham via the church on the hill, down the farm track, past the church, past the next farm and then back via the gravel track. It’s about five miles or so and is a good stroll. Also I have to admit the walk I did recently with dad when we went to the top end of Knepp Country Park was great fun. It was over seven miles and we saw the biggest deer I have ever clapped eyes on. And I was very tired when we got back although I think that was dads plan, the meanie. I hope to be finding some more favourite walks soon.
What are you looking forward to doing in the next twelve months?
Ugh good grief, where do I start? Now we are far more settled I am looking forward to the beach, walks to the pubs and seeing pals as often as possible. Summer is on the way and I hope to get to walk to many places to experience different things here. I haven’t tried this “ice cream” yet and you promised me that I would get to taste yellow snow in the winter, so I am looking forward to those treats. Apparently we are close to the South Downs so I want to go walking over those. And our fur cousin Minnie doesn’t live too far away now so, if I am lucky, I will meet her too.
Do you feel safer, or more secure, now?
Yes, I do. Now I have been living with you for two years I do feel much more part of the gang. As we said last year I was feeling my way around at first, maybe taking some liberties with your toys, beds and food until I understood better what was yours and what was mine. Now I can see that I am safe and loved, I feel more relaxed and I am happy in my fur. I have got used to being your little brother and it’s good as we knock along together quite well now. Often times we can do our own thing, and then meet up afterwards for a chat and snooze. I don’t feel like I have to compete for space any more and we can share things either in the garden or the house. We still squabble over the ownership of that bouncy orange ball but I haven’t seen it for some time so I assume it’s appearances are being limited.
I noticed recently that when you go into your cave bed which is next to mine, you curl up closest to my bed?
Oh, erm do I? Ah well erm. Ok here goes. I feel really settled and secure here. That is due entirely to you and our parents. As I am not allowed to sleep on the big bed, despite being found on there some mornings, I like to curl up next to you as I feel like I am safest when I am with you. I know I was like the proverbial hand grenade when I arrived into your house, and you all accepted me and made me feel really welcome. I just try to repay your trust by being nice. Yes, I know that’s difficult to believe when we are rolling around in the garden playing bitey face, but its a true story.
Ok, last question. What will you like to see and do in the coming year?
I want to go out more often and explore plenty more paths around here. I also want to go to the hills which I can see from my house. Then there are the beaches which are now much closer. If I can meet grandad more often we can take him with us as long as he behaves himself.
I would like to improve on my technique of creeping up on you from behind to play bitey face. I seem to permanently get to you just as you roll over and see me. I think I need to make my approach a little quieter. I do suspect that you know I am advancing upon your neck so I will have to work harder.
Hmm, yes that is something you need to improve upon. However I think that we can conclude this appraisal by confirming that I will allow you to spend the next year living with me so I can continue to train you as my apprentice.
Erm thanks Dex, that’s really kind of you. I will try not to disappoint you. Now, can I go and get some food?