The travails of age

I’ve been struggling recently as age is catching up with me in its many and varied disguises. I have not been on here as much as I would have liked as there are issues with my health that needed dealing with first.

As the avid reader will be aware I am a rescue dog and no one really knows how old I am. My chip says 2010 but that doesn’t necessarily mean I was less than a year old when it was put in my shoulder. When people ask, they are told I am “about 12 and a half”. I may be older however.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago it was noticed that I had started to wander about and stare into space, as if I had seen or heard something. There wasn’t actually anything there. I would be staring at a wall or an empty chair. I sat looking at the door in the utility which is the normal escape route for our escapades and shenanigans, however I was staring at the hinged edge of the door despite having been out of it hundreds of times. One of my assistants wandered past and I never even noticed him standing directly in front of me. I have been scratching my right ear far too regularly and to such an extent that I had cut the inside with my toe nail. I have been hearing sounds that I had never reacted to before and, equally, been silent to previously reactive things. I didn’t notice any of the fireworks this year which is strange as I normally try to hide behind a chair or dig holes in the carpets around the house. Certain sounds that I was hearing were making me anxious to such an extent that I was being ill. My brother kept on sniffing either side of my face as if he can tell that there is something not quite right which is true, as he normally sniffs me before biting my ears. Combined with this is the arthritis in my scar leg and I am, in the words of my parents, a “bit of a mess” at the moment. I had the shakes in my leg, and I wasn’t putting it down on walks, even though the said walks are getting shorter it seems by the day. The muscle is wasting away because I cannot use the leg as much as I would like to.

I went off to the vet to see what they said. Apparently I had quite a bad ear infection which may have been the cause of me not sleeping properly, scratching my ear and hearing some sounds and not others. Drops are being liberally applied to said ears. Of course I am going deaf with my age. My eyesight is also waning so I am starting to stare at more things more often, if you see what I mean. My leg is arthritic and even though I am on medication daily now, it isn’t getting any better. There is a physio option for me which will be discussed when I go back to the vet. The pain relief quantities have been increased so I can hopefully grumble less in my sleep. I heard my parents speaking today about the difference in the muscle tone of my rear legs. The rear left is strong whilst the muscle on the right has pretty much wasted away and my hip bone shows a bit more. My walks are becoming shorter and shorter as I am struggling with the lack of mobility in my leg which, in turn, means I don’t exercise it. My brain still seems bright and my senses are somewhat strong. Each time I see a squirrel, smell a deer or I am aware of a cat, I still try to chase after them baying as I go. This clearly doesn’t do my leg much good as I strain at the harness. I am off to the vet again tomorrow for a check up and see what can be done, if anything, to alleviate my current malaise. I will let people know how I get on.

Please look out for us as we do depend on our parents. This isn’t a sympathy post today. I wanted to purely place in words that we do get old, we do get wobbly and we do need our people to look out for us and make sure we are living as comfortably as possible. You are our lives, we rely on you for so much throughout our lives.

In other news, dad put up the Christmas tree yesterday.

I didn’t see that coming

I am going to hand over this blog to my younger brother who, whilst not actually a blood relation, is growing on me. Also I have allowed him to live here so he feels like a sibling. Over to you Lenny.

Waking up ten days ago I had no idea that something strange and wonderful was afoot. Now I am not great in the car as I used to get ill as soon as I was in my travel crate. However the parents have been taking us out for trips recently and clearly they were making me more comfortable travelling, without me noticing. It’s a little sneaky but it worked. We were walked a short distance first thing in the morning and then back home. Dex & I knew something was on the cards. Dad loaded stuff into the car and then we were lifted royally into our travel crates. Off we go. Who knew where. Quickly onto the motorway we seemed to be going for ages which was confirmed by some serious grumbling about traffic coming from the front of the car. One motorway merged into another, which merged into another and so on. We stopped a couple of times and stretched our legs which was a welcome relief from being cooped up in our travel crates. About ten hours later we pulled up outside a small cottage and we breathed in some clean air. What was this sorcery? All our baggage was unloaded into the house at which point we decided to decamp to the pub across the road which was packed with people and a fairly large number of dogs. Dex and I enjoyed their company as we lay quietly under a table. We went to bed tired but happy as we were told that we were in a place called Bassenthwaite. This was the exotic Lake District that Dex had been telling me about ever since I arrived.

The next day we strolled around the village so we could acquaint ourselves with the area. Then we decided to go to somewhere called Cockermouth which is a town in the northernmost part of the Lakes. It was quite quiet but we had a good stroll and got provisions for the coming days. As a precursor to what lay in wait, it was an easy start.

Monday arrived and we decided to seek out a place called Buttermere which was on the western side of the Lakes. Sadly dad was doing the navigation so we arrived at Crummock Water which was close but still needed a couple of miles walk. Of course we walked along by the side of the lake, drank the water, chatted with other dogs there and had a fun time. We had a great time.

Tuesday dawned and we were quickly onto our paws. A brisk stroll around the village meant we had to wait for the parents to finish their breakfast. Duly loaded into the car we travelled to Keswick. Dex seemed to know where he was going and pulled along the paths and lanes toward Derwentwater. As we gazed across the water from Friars Crag we realised this was the best fun we’d had for ages. It certainly wasnt time to go back to the car so a trip further around the shore was undertaken with much happiness.

Dex looking regal at Derwentwater

We wandered tired back through the town and visited a few shops, and then found ourselves in the car and whizzing along the lanes to the cottage. We fell asleep in the pub in the evening.

When we looked out on Wednesday it was still good weather so we did some more local exploring and then strolled down to the lake at Bassenthwaite near the cottage. This was great as it was almost deserted and we could stroll and sniff to our hearts content.

Bassenthwaite Lake

All this fresh air and tons of exercise was beginning to take its toll and we were getting sleepier and slower. Dex warned me that this was probably a ruse by the parents to slow us down. It worked, as we spent another evening quietly snoozing in the Sun Inn.

The Sun Inn, Bassenthwaite.

Thursday arrived and the rain poured. Then it rained some more and just for good measure, it continued to rain for most of the day. We had the fun bit of watching our parents getting their waterproof gear on to take us for a couple of walks however they both realised that their walking boots were so old that they weren’t fit for purpose. In fact their footwear was disintegrating as they walked along the lanes. We enjoyed Thursday as it was a down day so we could recharge our batteries for one final assault on our senses.

As we peered around the curtains on Friday we were filled with much trepidation. Thankfully it was bright and sunny so we knew an adventurous day was in the offing. Having been walked around the village and stopped outside the pub for the customary photo opportunity, we almost leapt into the car and wondered what was in store.

The best behaved beagles in The Sun Inn.

After an hour or so we were unloaded and found ourselves at the beach in a nice little place called Allonby. I remembered the last time that Dex & I hit the beach as we could eat all the dead creatures washed up. Unfortunately this beach was clear of dead sea creatures so we had to amuse ourselves with pulling our respective parents along the tide line for a few miles. We also took the time to sing the song of the breed to our friends over the border in Scotland.

That’s Scotland over there, Lenny.

As we left the beach we took a slightly different route which made me wonder where we were going. Dex & I looked at one another as we went left and right down little country lanes, up and over hills and fells until we arrived at a place called Wasdale. As we were let out of the car I couldn’t believe my eyes at the beauty of it all. Dex had told me about Wasdale and Wastwater and I thought he was exaggerating. No chance, it really was fabulous. We walked down by the water, we trampled through puddles, we paddled in the freezing cold lake, we climbed rocky outcrops, we gazed at the hills and mountains and felt like we never wanted to leave.

Wastwater. It’s beautiful.

Sadly for us, we had to listen to the parents who insisted that we return to the cottage so we could start packing. Dex & I knew this was the end of our holiday so we wandered dolefully back to the car and home for our last night.

As we awoke on Saturday it was clear that we were making tracks back to our home down south. We were loaded into the car which was pointed down the motorway and after one stop for a stroll about we arrived back to normality. I am very lucky to have been able to see places that are so pretty. I wont forget the trip in a hurry but, in the meantime, I have some sleeping to do.

Ferring or not Ferring.

We had an unexpected trip yesterday morning. As we left the house we saw that dad had his camera with him. Lenny and I also seemed to be going in the same direction. Mum asked dad “do you know where you’re going?” to which he rolled his eyes and got a poke in the ribs for being cheeky. As it turned out, he didn’t know exactly.

Along the little lane and then turned back towards home. We knew there was going to be a car journey. Great, another adventure. Soon after we had been lifted regally into our travel crates, we were off south bound. Right, left, straight over and then left into a car park overlooking the Channel.

This is going to be fun

We were allowed out and breathed in the sea air. As we looked up I saw a building called Sea Lane Cafe in Goring by Sea and then looked at dad, who looked at mum and sheepishly told her that this wasn’t the Bluebird Cafe in Ferring. I thought you knew the way! We all rolled our eyes at him and then set off east along the path and the edge of the beach. We strolled, counted beach huts, said hello to other dogs, strolled further and then found ourselves on the edge of Worthing.

There’s the pier at Worthing

We turned back at this point as it was getting warmer and the water bottle was running a little low. As we wandered past the Sea Lane Cafe (Not the Bluebird Cafe) we decided to see if it was possible to get to where we were supposed to be.

Lets go this way. No, lets go that way

Lenny was flagging by now as he has no stamina for longer walks. So yet again we turned and made our way toward the car.

I think Ferring is this way!

I have to admit that I was also tired by now so I was glad of a little rest in my travel crate. Once again we required to be regally lifted and placed in our respective places and off we set, retracing our journey northbound and to home. Maybe we will get to the correct cafe one day. When we got home we heard rumour that if breakfast had been taken al fresco, Lenny and I were on for snaffling some sausage.

Currently we are curled up dreaming of long walks on a pebbly beach with a stop off at a dog friendly cafe serving breakfast sausage fit for beagles. If only dad knew where he was going.

That was all too brief

Dad was taking the car into the garage early yesterday morning as it needed fixing. As such Lenny and I were in sole charge of our mum, so we knew we could have some fun. On “mum only” days we would leave the house, go up the old road, briefly into the woods, then out and around the fields. This gives us maximum chance of a snifari whilst giving mum a reasonable chance of keeping her shoulders in their sockets. Anyway we left and then turned right. Away from the old road? We had been this way once before and had strolled (read pulled on our respective leads) through the bigger woods on the other side of the big road. Surely she wasn’t making the same mistake again. Under the bridge, right along the footpath and then we descended the track toward the farm with the stagnant pond. We wandered (read pulled on our respective leads) along sniffing and wondering where we were going. Left turn and the gate was closed behind us. We sat and were told “You’ve got 25 minutes so no shenanigans”. No chance, we were at the Paw Paddock and we only had one parent to try and control us.

Boing boing boing

Lenny was first to be left off lead and he walked alongside mum instead of running about aroooing like a hound possessed. I always knew he was a “goodie four paws”. Then he was re-shackled and I was allowed off.

Don’t worry mum, I’ll stay close

For some strange reason I too strolled about quite calmly and only had a very quick run around with loud baying. Then we both got let off together and we surprised each other by just trotting along scenting and having a good time without bothering one another.

Yes, even I walk nicely sometimes

When called we both returned and sat nicely to allow our leads to be re-attached to our harnesses. There may have been tasty snack bribes but we can gloss over that bit.

We returned home, ate our breakfast and then wandered about the garden, making sure there were any squirrel invaders. Maybe I am getting old or, maybe, Lenny and I are just calming down when in the presence of each other.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Ernie’s mum who threatened to bring him along to the next Paw Paddock trip. This could be interesting.

South along the Downs Link

The avid readers amongst you may recall that Lenny accompanied me on a walk a couple of weeks ago from West Grinstead station north to a little village called Copsale. Today we returned to West Grinstead once more but, somewhat surprisingly, we went south along the path to a village called Partridge Green.

Tickets please!

We were shocked when we walked up and back along the old road near the house, finding ourselves at the car for the second day in a row. What was this sorcery? This was unheard of? Two trips in succession? We wondered if it was because today is a Bank Holiday and our parents felt like we needed something extra to amuse ourselves. In any case we drove a little way north and then east. We arrived at the little car park and we swiftly disembarked from our travel crates. Lenny is getting better at travelling and doesn’t seem to feel as ill as often as he did.

Heading under the road we followed our noses south along the old rail track which has been made into a path for walkers, riders, cyclists and often runners. We were swiftly into our stride of going to the grassy sides of the path as these areas held the best scents which, in turn, gave us the best chances of pulling parents this way and that. Through the old cuttings, past fields of stubble and then into little wooded areas, we strolled along with our noses 2 inches above the ground. Every now and then we were reined in as cyclists or runners went past us. After a good wander we looked up to see a little sign post confirming we were in Partridge Green. My parents of course had to find out where the pub was and we also found out that the Dark Star Brewery is located here. Dad boasted that he had been to the brewery but we weren’t particularly impressed and just wanted to continue on with our walk.

We were beginning to flag somewhat at this point and a water stop was needed. As we turned around and headed north along the track, I looked a little behind me and saw Lenny walking like a “good boy”. Apparently he was still a bit tired from yesterdays herculean efforts on Cissbury. That boy has no stamina, let me tell you. Thankfully the path is fairly flat so Lenny didn’t have too strenuous a return journey although we did have a little stop to rest his weary long legs.

We arrived at the station and were duly lifted back into our travel crates for the return home where breakfast was loudly requested by us running around the garden baying at the top of our lungs.

It’s alright Lenny, you can sleep on my chair.

We have been sleeping for the rest of the day as it is apparent to some that two days of fun walks are more than enough for a senior beagle and his vampiric sidekick. I’m not sure who these dogs are, but I wouldn’t mind meeting them.

Cissbury Ring ramble

I was going to ramble wordily around the houses as to what we did yesterday but the title gives it all away.

We allowed the parents a bit of a lie in as it was a Bank Holiday Sunday after all. Lenny and I had no idea what was happening until we turned out of our little road and went left along the old road. Sharply we were turned around and heading back to the house. Ok, so we weren’t going across the fields for a good scent of fox, rabbit and squirrel. Having ensured that we were lifted into our travel crates, we set off south along the main road. We scooted past our recent ascent of Chanctonbury and seemed to be on our way south. Surely we weren’t going to the beach. After listening to them grumbling about Lenny and I eating “dead stuff” on the previous occasions I wondered if they had relented and were going to give us another chance to visit the garden at all hours of the night for a few days. As I was wondering we turned left up a side road and into a gravel carpark. This was new and Lenny looked as bemused as me. As we leapt out and onto our paws we both looked up and up at a big hill in front of us and I could see the glint in Lenny’s eyes. We set off at a pace as Lenny decided he was going to scent his way along the path and dad was being pulled this way and that, as Lenny did a more than passable impression of a land shark through the long grass. Into the wood, then out and onto the next section of the hill.

I can see for miles, Lenny

Up the steep bank and we were greeted with a view back to Chanctonbury in one direction and the sea in the opposite.

See that clump of trees on the left? That’s our usual walk

This was fun as we could scent all sorts of creatures and we made sure that there wasn’t any laziness or strolling amongst the human fraternity. The walk seemed to be circular and we could see for miles. We went past runners, riders, walkers, other dogs and even other dogs with walkers. We got to the top of the hill, checked out the trig point and then started a descent and were abruptly halted as there were ponies in our way. Not that it mattered as we directed our parents along the path toward the little copse of trees and then out into the open where we overlooked Findon and Worthing.

I wonder if our friends can see us?

It all seemed quite small and far away. I was puffing and panting like a steam train so we made sure to stop a few times to top up on water. Then I heard the worst words a beagle can hear, “I think thats enough excitement for one day for a senior beagle. I think if he keeps on going at this rate, he’s going to do himself another injury”. And with that the fun was over. We retraced our path and descended to the car park, albeit via slightly different route so we could get some final sniffs.

Within two minutes of being in the car we were both snoozing in our travel crates and we returned home for breakfast. Our fun was finished. We slept and dreamed of more shenanigans to come.

Downs Link shenanigans

Come on, hurry up you two, Lenny and I want to go out exploring. A well placed nose on dads leg makes sure that our parents are out of bed and making ready to go and explore.

We were out sharply and expecting to have an hour or so exploring the local area. Instead we were turned left and strolled down the little lane before being turned around and found ourselves being led back towards the house. We knew this would mean that we were off for a ride in the car and, as expected, we were loaded into our travel crates and we turned left up the main road. This was different and when we turned right and then sharp left, Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically. We were indeed somewhere we had never been.

Welcome to West Grinstead Train Station read the sign. Ooh great, we are getting a train ride. As we were shackled and released from our crates we heard our parents mumble something about “This might be a bit boring as it will be flat and shingle covered”. We looked up and saw that there was no train and no track so what sort of train station is this? Not that it mattered as Lenny and I were quickly into our strides with our noses to the ground pulling and yanking on our leads as we scented all sorts of wildlife. We saw horses, other dogs, runners and more dogs. Walkers strolled toward us and smiled as we were pulling our parents one way and another. We met a spaniel who was having great fun in and out of the ditch at the side of the track. After a few miles we reached a place called Copsale whereupon we were turned around and headed back toward the start. More horses strolled past us, more walkers wandered towards us still smiling at our shenanigans and we saw the spaniel who was even dirtier than before. We even managed not to eat the field food which was on offer on so many different parts of the route. Back to the car and Lenny managed to leap in straightaway which means he was tired and had had fun. I was lifted in as my legs were so tired from all the exertions. When we got back home it was as much as we could do to eat our breakfasts and then fall asleep.

It turns out that there used to be a train line through West Grinstead but a man called Dr Beeching carried out a review of the UK rail network in 1963 under the direction of the government. As a result of his report, there were a large number of smaller rail lines which were closed and never re-opened. Most of the track and ballast were lifted and removed on the West Grinstead line between 1965-1970 and the area was left generally untended until part of the line was sold to the County Council in 1970. The scrub was cleared and a path was made linking the North Downs at St Martha’s Hill to the South Downs at Steyning and thence on to the coast at Shoreham, a total of 37 miles.

We pulled and messed about so much that no photos were taken on the walk, only a couple of Lenny and I snoozing at home afterwards. There was nothing boring about this walk, and I can say for sure we are going back. If you get the chance try a stroll along the Downs Link, we can vouch for it being fun.

An annual concern

Today is one of those days when I worry about what will happen next. I am reluctantly handing over my blog to my younger brother who isn’t really my brother. I have taken him under my wing so to speak and shown him the ways of the beagle. Anyway, here goes.

Hello, it is I, Lenny. I’m four today! I don’t know what that means but I do know it comes with treats, a birthday card, extra tickles and a stroll around my new favourite place, being the Paw Paddock. I think I can get used to this sort of attention. Dex has been told he has to be nice to me today (although he usually is!) and I get first dibs on biscuits and treats albeit for one day only.

We went nice and early to the Paw Paddock and I was let off lead to run around like a fur possessed. Instead I merely wandered off, sniffed and then strolled back to a parent to be re-shackled after fifteen minutes or so.

Chicken flavoured treats may have assisted in my recall however I want it known that I have been complemented on my recall generally in recent times. Dex was released and he too just strolled about and then disappeared to the other end of the paddock. When he returned, again to the sound of a treat bag being rustled, he was promptly re-attached and I was again released.

There were some tasty rabbit droppings that I wasn’t told off for eating so, I assume, it must be a special day.

We returned home just in time for the forecast rain to start falling. Its been dry as a bone here for a couple of months so this little period of rain is very welcome. We avoided getting wet and now I’ve been told I can laze on whichever chair I want for the rest of the afternoon. I wanted to laze on the big bed however that was deemed too cheeky and is out of bounds. In due course I will expect my food to be served and then I will relax for the rest of the day.

I’m a lucky lad to be honest and sensible for a moment. I want for little (apart from snoozing on the big bed) and Dex is a good brother to me. He’s had more of these birthday things than I have, although I shouldn’t say “three times as many”.

Travel well

It has been very warm here in the UK over recent days. Some may say tropical and I have to agree with that sentiment. As I age it seems that the heat gets to me more readily and I feel rather unwell more often than I would like. Fortunately my parents are somewhat in tune with my inability to tolerate high heat throughout the day and night and they are aware that I need numerous trips to the garden during the twilight hours to make sure the carpets don’t need professional cleaning. During my day time wandering around the house, Lenny looks up from his various sleeping positions and casts a wistful eye upon my predicament. He doesn’t seem to suffer the same level of heat illness that I do, which is good. In any case we were supposed to go to the beach yesterday however, due to the weather remaining in the high 30’s and me still feeling a little poorly, we decided against it.

Waking up yesterday I strolled around the house, patrolled the garden looking for squirrels or cats and returned to be shackled and made ready to go for a walk. As I look up my dad looked at mum and said the phrase which is becoming far too familiar to my friends and I recently. He uttered “Another one has made their longest journey”, at which point Lenny and I got a tickle and were told that we are very precious.

Nine weeks old.

I have never met Tyrrell as she lived in Australia with her sister Tink, along with their mums. Lenny and I were privileged to meet their mums at the Beagle World Record Reunion. Tyrrell was fifteen recently and celebrated with a stroll into the park and a wade into the river. She was one of my first pals on Twitter and since I first spoke to her, I knew she was a funny and happy beagle. She was one of the naughty beagles who did some very silly things and cost her mum a fair chunk of money in vets bills. Eating part of her Greenies Toothbrush as well as chewing and consuming a nice handbag are a good indication of her ability to endear herself to her mum, as well as the vets bank account. She loved her little sister despite saying she “sort of liked” her but, I suppose, its a little like Lenny and I. Young siblings are a bit of a pain sometimes even if secretly we love them very much. I don’t think that Tink had the same vampiric tendencies as Lenny so Tyrrell was spared the indignity of having her ears look like colanders. Tink will miss her an awful lot, as they have been living with each other for eleven years or so. Tyrrell amused me by playing along with my stereotypical efforts at telling her to watch out for dangerous snakes, spiders, crocodiles, jellyfish and death drop bears all of which inhabit Australia. She reassured me that there were no saltwater crocs in her local river, but I wasn’t so sure. I do notice that she sometimes sent Tink into the river first though, probably just to check it out.

She was a friend to all, she laughed, joked and cried with the rest of us whenever we shared stories of fun and sadness. Now she is no longer in sight, only forever in our hearts and minds and we will all remember her with love and respect for being a fun and happy fur. When I heard that she hadn’t been well recently and, it seems, she was suffering, her mum took the most difficult but kindest decision. She was holding Tyrrell as she slipped away to make her longest journey. This is all we ask from our parents. Love and kindness when we are here, then love and compassion when it is time for us to leave.

I lay awake early this morning and looked around. Lenny was in his bed next to me snoozing quietly whilst my parents were catching the last vestiges of sleep before we pounce on dads kidneys on our way to the kibble bag in mums bedside cabinet. I realised that I am the luckiest beagle ever. I’m getting older and a bit wobblier every day but I still get to run around chasing Lenny and getting gently told off by mum and dad when I eat something disgusting on a walk.

Run free Tyrrell sweetie, find those who have gone before you and relax in the warmth of the everlasting meadow and their companionship. Your friendship, humility and fun will live on.

Farewell to another friend, never goodbye. Rest easy Tyrrell.

Paw Paddock runaround

My vampiric little brother, who isn’t an actual blood relation went off to the local, and new, enclosed paddock yesterday morning to test it out for our future entertainment. He appears to have given it a solid thumbs or he would if he had opposable thumbs. We would also be able to break into the treat jar if he had thumbs, but that’s for another blog.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand (or paw). A new paddock area has opened in my village and we decided we would try it out. Since I had shown signs of leg ache from the previous Beagle Derby the parents decided it was wiser to get Lenny to test it out and then I can go along the next day to make sure he was telling the truth.

In
Come
ing
Its fun.

He returned home with tales of fun and laughter, of scents and of freedom to run around like a fool for a while.

On the back of this advice I needed to make sure he was telling the truth so, this morning…

It is indeed fun

I can vouch for his honesty, on this occasion. I had a great time running about, scenting and trying to find field food to eat. We will be going back, of that I am certain. I suspect it wont be together as we tend to get a little over enthusiastic and I find myself a little lame in the hip for a day.

If my current snoring is anything to go by, I think it will be fairly soon. The parents are enjoying the peace and quiet. How rude.