Today I was looking back over some of the photographs of my life here for the last 7 years. This first one was taken about a year after I arrived. I was all sleek and tricoloured as some Beagles are “supposed” to be. I hadn’t settled properly which is why I have a bit of a face on me.
Then I saw this picture which was taken last week. Oh my dog, I thought, what has happened to me? I have aged so much that I look old and tired. I would hasten to add that the picture was taken in the evening and I had undertaken many shenanigans during the day.
I have heard it said that I look thoughtful and wiser but I am not so sure. At this point I admit it sounds like I am after compliments but that isn’t actually true.
Maybe I am wiser, I cannot say. I am certainly older and my bones ache quicker. And the fact that I am forced to chase my brother Lenny around the garden when he tries to chew my ears and legs doesn’t help my attempt to retain my boyish good looks. I am certainly more thoughtful than in the days of my youth.
We all age, and sometimes our life is written large upon our faces. I am having a good life with many fun and interesting things to do. Maybe the perceived wisdom written upon me, is that I am enjoying it all and want more to come my way. I wish it upon all my friends, pals and buddies.
I sometimes think my life is really dull and boring. You know the thing, you just plod through your days dragging a parent out on a walk whilst looking at trees and fields. When I get back, my brother is usually there readying himself to attack me in the style of the vampiric Beagle that he is. Anyway, this is how it all started on the Saturday just passed.
The parents woke up later than usual and decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk across the fields. It had been raining for the last few days so the ground was fairly wet. Lenny and I knew this meant there would be plenty of mud and puddles to splash about it, as well as drink from. Off we set, going via the alleyway where there is always a black cat that sits there goading us into trying to have fisticuffs with him. We try to entertain the feline mauler but we forget that we are shackled to a human and they are fairly adroit at spotting said furry hooligan. Turn left at the end of the alleyway and up the hill towards the fields. As we go through the gate the pastures stretch away in front of us and we are allowed to roam, pull and wander about at the end of our respective leads. Rabbits scatter for their burrows and the deer in the field to our right look up, no doubt sighing, and wander off to a safer place to eat the farmers crops. Straight through the first of numerous large muddy puddles and we skirt the edge of the woods at the top of the hillock only to come back down to earth and into the first ploughed field. We see another dog along the top path and say hello from across the field, much to the non amusement of the parents. Along the path by the hedge and just as we enter the second field we turn sharp left then right and take a walk around the edge of Penn Grove. More of Penn Grove later in the tail (see what I did there). We arrive at the opening in the hedges where the gravel track crosses, at which point we see the mile field ahead. Let the fun begin. We manage to pull and jerk on the leads so much that the parents are slipping whilst trying to regain some degree of control. It’s only when they notice that we have seen a deer some way off in the field that they realise why we seem to be entering a competition for “Best Sled Dog Beagle Team in Bucks, UK”. Having regained our composure as the errant deer strolled away we navigate our way around the field all the while ensuring that all the muddy puddles are navigated centrally with all our paws as well as the wellington boots of the relevant parent. I am sure they will thank us at some point. We manage to circumnavigate the field and find ourselves near the burn site where the farmer makes ash from various hedge cutting activities. It is starting to rain so the parents decide it’s best to take the direct route along the gravel track, through Penn Grove and back towards home. I give Lenny the nod and he applies the beagle brakes whilst attached to mum. We get into the wooded area and Lenny is still applying the beagle brakes, somewhat to the annoyance of mum and much to my pride, that I have taught him well. Dad and I marched on ahead and suddenly heard this Crack, Whoosh, Thud as a tree in front of us falls directly across our path. Timber! It wasn’t a big tree, maybe 70 foot tall (that’s about 21.3 metres to you metric aficionados). We stopped and looked back at mum and Lenny. They were aghast and agog whilst we just had silly grins on our faces with the excitement. With the swish of his catlike tail Lenny had turned mum around and was walking swiftly back the way we had come, so we could take a treeless detour and not have any trees falling on our heads. When we got to the other side of the horizontal tree we could see that the root was very shallow and very waterlogged. It was now that we heard and saw our pals Charley and Bromley, accompanied by their mums as usual, telling us that a tree had fallen down. Don’t we know it pals, it nearly hit us on the heads.
Home and a race around the garden chewing each others ears was clearly needed. I don’t live a quiet and dull life, sometimes excitement is just around the corner. On this occasion, waiting to fall on my head.
Apparently I am obsessed with squirrels. I have no idea what this means. According to the people who make my dinner and get taken for a walk by myself and Lenny, I am forever walking between vantage points in the kitchen and dining room so I can spot when the grey furry invaders dare to enter my garden. In order to prove their point, one of my parents has watched me almost continuously today. If he hasn’t, it certainly feels like it. So, here begins the story of one day in the life of a Beagle (Harrier).
I woke up, got dressed and was immediately introduced to the overnight scents in the garden. About forty five minutes later, the scent of the first breakfast wafted upon my nostrils and I decided I would grace Lenny and the parents with my presence. It was somewhat of an unwanted interruption from squirrel scenting but sometimes needs must and all that. Having eaten my porridge and kibble (it’s actually quite nice) and then the obligatory marrow bone biscuit, Lenny and I were harnessed and off we go for our daily constitutional. Lenny went off with Dad separately today so I was off to pull mum around the fields. We reconvened at home and my baying at deer was duly reported to dad. Second breakfast was taken in the kitchen and we are supposed to go and lie down to sleep off our shenanigans. Herein lies the first problematic area with the request to snooze. Lenny being the goodie four paws goes and lays down and is quickly snoozing off his exertions. On the other paw, I always get this feeling that there is an invader in my garden. My favourite window pane has plenty of nose art on it. As I cannot see all my garden from a single vantage point I have to move around to the other window so I can see transversely towards the trees. It is at this point that certain parents want to know why I cannot just lay down and go to sleep like a certain younger brother of mine? And how was I to know that dad had a breakfast bowl full of cornflakes (other cereals are available, kids) when I decided to “stand under his feet”. Anyway, there wasn’t any movement in the garden so I retired to my bed on the sofa. Twenty minutes later I thought I might have heard something in the garden which would need investigation. I managed to wake up Lenny as well which meant there was double the quantity of parental eye rolling at our ability to stand in the wrong place at the wrong time. Use of “the” eyes is thus required to allow our release into the garden and we find ourselves running up and down the garden in pursuit of a squirrel that might have been there, some twenty or thirty minutes before. After a further thirty minutes or so, we decide that it is time to scrounge some training treats from a pliant human so we stand dolefully and quietly at the door waiting for our paws to be wiped upon entry to the house. Well, Lenny was quiet whilst I aroooed at the top of my lungs just out or dads reach. Sadly I didnt see the squirty water bottle with which I was squirted very expertly by dad. We retire to our beds once more and peace reigns. Suddenly its lunchtime which can only mean one thing. Off my bed and to my favourite window pane, I see a squirrel, arooo and whine constantly until I am released and I can chase it out of the orchard. I am tricked once more, this time by the scent of my most favourite snack of beef jerky. I am extremely obedient when beef jerky makes an appearance. Ok, I must admit that lunchtime is often when I can snooze for more than twenty minutes or so. The squirrel obsession count was five or six wanderings to the favourite window pane and five sessions of “annoying” whining. All before lunch, I was quite proud. Not sure where they get this obsession idea from though.
On to the afternoon and it is clearly time for the windows to be checked, both vantage points assessed and ensure that the garden is clear. There might have been a squirrel so this means I have to patrol and bay at the top of my lungs for forty minutes. Back in from the garden, I lay down in mums office and then I hear a noise that may be within a five mile radius. This means it may be in the garden, which means it may be a squirrel. Dad has to let us out again and then gets the blame when we arooo loudly and mum is trying to concentrate. This may have happened twice more before our dinner was served, somewhat late as usual. A quick snooze and I am back to the window pane for squirrel bothering and whining until I am released again. This time the garden patrol is only around twenty minutes so I can retire to my bed for a short time before Lenny and I are both released pre-teatime for our standard run around. Today it was a bit different as by the time we were ready to return to the house, dad had closed the curtains which means that my sight lines are closed off and I have little choice but to admit defeat for the remainder of daylight hours.
So ends the story of the day in my tormented life. I don’t think I am obsessed with squirrels, despite needing to chase them or at least try to spot them, every twenty minutes or so during daylight hours. Sadly Lenny doesn’t seem to share my love for all things squirrel shaped as he just does the bare minimum in chasing them off. Then he’s off to chew a stick or trying to annoy me with unplanned bitey face. I remain a bit worried by his apparent lack of concern for the squirrel invaders.
I am aware that I haven’t blogged for some time so I want to rectify that omission on my part. There is no excuse on my part however I have been busy. In any case, I can now dictate my latest missive for publication.
Lenny and I have had a hectic few weeks. I blame squirrels. I also blame the earth for spinning and orbiting the sun. Finally I blame the seasons, specifically one of them namely Autumn. Maybe I should try to explain.
As a beagle harrier I am hardwired to chase small furry creatures that dare to enter my line of sight. Recently there has been a plethora of creatures present on our walks. On our walk through hill and vale we are restrained so any sighting of an unsuitable creature bounding across the road or field ahead of us means we are only able to advance to the end of the industrial strength leads. Worse still they have been invading my garden in the search for food for the forthcoming winter season. We have apple trees which should provide us with tasty and nutritious fruit for eating in their natural state as well as being baked in pies and tarts. This is in an ideal world and doesn’t account for the activities of the local squirrel, magpie and blackbird populations. I say local but it seems to attract all and sundry from around a ten mile radius. If it was only the magpies or blackbirds, the world would be a sane and reasonable place. Sadly, with the addition of squirrels, the facade of calmness is removed and replaced instead with frantic door scratching, constant whimpering and persistent marching from one door to another so I can get a better view of the pesky creatures whilst they cavort in my garden, eat apples and then try to bury their winter food in the grass. Being a beagle harrier with expert vision up to a mile or so, it is extremely difficult for me to miss seeing them in the garden. I have to constantly remind the parents that I should be chasing these furry little chaps and I need to be let out. At this point I should also comment that my little brother Lenny doesn’t help the situation much. He will fly out of the door with me and chase the squirrels up and down the garden. Once the invaders have been repelled he will wander nonchalantly up to the orchard and pick an apple off and start to eat it. I need not describe the look of sheer horror and abject disappointment that I feel.
Having said all the above, Lenny and I actually caught a squirrel last week and were about to play tug of war until we were foiled by our parents. We were strolling around the patio having a sniff when all of a sudden, from the left side, this squirrel wandered towards us. We were stunned at his bravado. Did he not realise who we are? Did he not understand that we are hardwired to “attend” to small furry chaps such as himself. In any case it didn’t matter as within a second his head was in my mouth and I was trying to cuddle him with my teeth. Lenny ran around cheering me on whilst asking to pay tug with the squirrel. My fun was short-lived as a dad shaped object advanced quickly upon our shenanigans and I was told in no uncertain terms to “DROP IT”. I followed the instructions but Lenny then picked the squirrel up and started to practice his dental lobotomy on the furry little chap. We knew we were in big trouble when mum appeared on the scene and the fun was over. Dad still had to remove the very scared, and somewhat drool covered, squirrel from the garden. Fortunately he was wearing gloves as the squirrel bit the finger of the glove to show his gratitude at being saved from a certain doom. Dad had the foresight to loosen his finger from the glove so he wasn’t bitten.
So there you have it. I blame the seasons, the earth spinning and orbiting the sun and the fact that Autumn is upon us. If it wasn’t for all of these factors combining there wouldn’t be as many squirrels in my garden and I wouldn’t be driven to absolute distraction by them. That’s my story and I am sticking by it.
I do think that Lenny looks at me sometimes and wonders why. Just why?
I was going to call this article “The Joy of Dex” but that may attract a different type of reader.
I’ve been watching my brother recently and noticed that he has settled so much faster than I did when I arrived. I am forever on the go, I need to see whats happening, when its happening and why. If someone goes out of the room, I will be right there dutifully trotting along behind. It has come to my ever increasing notice that Lenny just stays on his bed, lazily opens one eye to survey the scene and then falls back to sleep again.
Chalk and cheese we are referred to. The rare times upon which he will move swiftly usually involve food or going into the garden to run around like hounds possessed.
On our walks around the local lanes Lenny has started to find his own trails more often although we still sniff the same scents now and again. When we look at him, he is trotting along with his tongue hanging out, happiness writ large over his cheery little face.
Today I was in the office with mum whilst she worked away and dad made dinner. Lenny strolled to the door and asked politely if he could go outside, so dad obliged. Within five minutes there was a quiet bump on the door and Lenny was playing happily with a small unripe apple that had fallen from one of the trees in my small orchard. He picked up the apple, tossed it onto the patio and play bowed with it. He was so engrossed with such a small thing that brought him so much joy that he hardly noticed dad watching him.
Apparently he is a little heart melter just like me. We may be the same breed but we are so different in our nature. He is the epitome of a rescued dog living his best life with love and security showered upon him.
Today I saw something that made my heart warm and brought a smile to my face.
Dad had to run an errand and Lenny was whimpering a little whilst he was out. When dad returned, Lenny bounced along the path in the garden and greeted dad with a wag of his tail and the usual standing on dads leg so he can get closer for tickles and ear rubs. I always got the feeling that Lenny liked living here but now I can confirm it.
Dad has been taking Lenny on some longer walks for a few days a week recently to try and get Lenny more accustomed to some different places and scents. We have been restricted during the quarantine period as to where we could go fairly safely and not bump into too many people in a close proximity, for instance on a narrow path through the woods. On the walk Lenny gets plenty of praise if he does something right, such as being polite to another dog, not arooing at humans, walking closely if they’re on a steep downward slope and returning from the end of the lead when called. I think it has worked. When Lenny saw dad come home, his whole demeanour changed.
I had praise and tickles when I first arrived but I don’t think I necessarily appreciated or understood what they were for. I always though they were a precursor to more shenanigans and pulling like a bucking bronco at the end of my lead. I know I am happy and have a forever home here. I think until recently Lenny was still slightly hesitant. The last few weeks he has come on markedly and feels more attached to us all.
He’s found his forever home too. I, for one, couldn’t be happier.