The eyes have it

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

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

Metabolism. That’s a long word to stomach.

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

Is this that thing called “down time”?

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

Honest dad, mum hasn’t fed us.

I mean, who could resist these eyes?

What a difference two days make

Setting off this morning took longer than usual as the parents decided that would wrap up a bit warmer. I suppose it had something to do with it being -3C out there. Lenny and I just cut our usual fashionable selves with our harnesses.

Once the parents had readied themselves we were off to the fields. We knew where we were going as we headed straight down the footpath instead of along the road to avoid the school. Into the fields we went, with the grass and trees stretching away into the distance. The farmer had placed some barbed wire and fences across a couple of gaps in the hedge, so we weren’t allowed to go around those areas, even if we had wanted to. Across the diagonal path we wandered. Lenny got onto a deer trail pretty quickly and I found another trail soon after. With as much baying and pulling as I could muster, mum found herself slipping and jogging behind me whilst Lenny was being “resistance trained” by the immovable object, also known as dad. The sun was just coming over the horizon on our left by the time we crested the top most field and we took a moment to enjoy the early morning rays on our fur.

Good morning one and all.

Our home town was clear far below us and Lenny wanted to know when the aliens had given it back. I hadn’t the heart to tell him about fog and general meteorological activity so I just let him stew a while. The ground was cold and crisp so the scents were held at grass level for our noses to enjoy.

All the fun of the chase.

An hour and a half later and we are safely back home where I can run around the garden shouting at the local squirrels whilst Lenny gets to play fetch with his soft fabric bone toy. All is well in the land of Dex & Lenny. Our town is returned.

Did aliens eat my town?

We decided we would be out and about early this morning. Lenny and I were quickly on our toes into the garden for a pre-walk snooter around the grounds. I had already checked the garden at 03.30 with dad, although he wasn’t best pleased to be out in the freezing cold. We managed to snaffle our first breakfast and then got harnessed to a human for our morning patrol.

Out of the house we turned right and went up the hill which meant only one thing. We were going to the woods and were about to enjoy its contents of sniffs, creatures and gooey sticky muddy paths. Lenny and I marched on with silly grins on our faces at the thought of what we could get up to. As we walked up the road, the traffic fumes filled our lungs but we knew we would soon be away from the cars and vans for the majority of the walk.

Across the road and over the fallen trees, we found ourselves in the woods. Suddenly Lenny hit a trail and started baying. I found a separate trail and followed suit with the noisy alarm likely scaring off all creatures within a mile radius. When we get on muddy paths our parents have to be careful as we tend to pull this way and that. Its not our fault we have four paw drive and they’re only rear wheel drive. We got through the first section of the woods which had an eerie foggy atmosphere to them and made our baying sound even louder as it resonated through the trees.

Deer? Rabbit? Fox?

Into the open pasture we were still on our trails and we pulled the parents off the paths and through the longer grass. Sadly they both had wellies so we didn’t have the joy of listening to them grumbling about wet feet. Into the next field and the gloom hung like a blanket over the view. We decided to turn right and head towards the mile field where we hoped the fallen tree was still lying in situ. If it was there we knew we would have to walk across the claggy mud which is extra slippery for our parents and usually makes for some fruity language as they try to stay upright whilst negotiating the furrows of the ploughed field. We reached a gap in the hedge and looked back to where we live. We both stood there, aghast and agog, as Chesham wasn’t there. It had disappeared, indeed it had vanished having been swallowed by the gloom of the morning fog. Lenny wondered where it had gone. It’s a bit difficult trying to explain meteorology to a two year old pup, so I didn’t bother. Instead I just told him that aliens had eaten the town. We saw that the fallen tree was no longer there so we trudged around the mile field and back to the top of the hill. Still Chesham wasn’t there and when I looked at Lenny I could see he was a bit worried about the aliens having consumed his home. Again I couldn’t be bothered to let him in on the real reason just yet. It’s good to see him worry about nothing sometimes.

We descended past the copse and then back onto the track leading through the field toward the houses which began to emerge from the gloom. As it dawned on him that I may have been spinning him a yarn for some time on our walk, he wanted to bite me to show his appreciation. However mum was a bit quick with the lead and he was left biting thin foggy air instead of my neck. We managed to get back home just before the fog lifted properly so the town still hadn’t emerged from the misty gloom.

I am sure I live over there. Somewhere.

I might have to use that line about aliens again, it was fun watching Lenny try to work out if I was pulling his tail.

The A-Z of things I can do

Just to complete the series I thought I would look at some of the things that I am able to do.

A. Arooo loudly. This is probably the most obvious comment ever made.

B. Bitey face. I still excel at squabbling with Lenny in the house and garden.

C. Chase squirrels in my garden. They know not to settle for too long.

D. Destroy toys. Not as much these days, but I am still able to lobotomise them.

E. Enjoy my life. Even with my brother biting me, I still have a good life.

F. Find and eat field food quicker than I can get told off.

G. Go on days out and holiday. I did this before quarantine and will do it again soon.

H. Hike my parents across the fields and through mud. This is a speciality of beagles.

I. Injure myself through excessive shenanigans. I am currently injury free, thankfully.

J. Jump onto the garden table and out of the dental clutches of my vampiric brother.

K. Kick dad when I’m sleeping on the sofa. A fun activity.

L. Laugh. I make my parents smile. I can be an idiot sometimes apparently.

M. Make dad give me secret treats just by looking at him in a doleful way.

I can enjoy walks and life

N. Nice sitting when treats may be involved.

O. Open mums heart just by looking at her sometimes.

P. Pretend to ignore Lenny’s antagonism, and then pounce on him.

Q. Question if Lenny is a vampire, a giraffe or just a pest. I suspect a mixture.

R. Run around the garden. See also (A) apparently.

S. Sleep more often, and snore more loudly. Allegedly it comes with age.

T. Tongue Out Tuesday. I have an extensive tongue which makes this quite easy.

U. Upset my parents when I don’t feel very well or look old and tired.

V. Views. Enjoy what I see whilst strolling around the lanes and fields near my home.

W. Wee on Lenny’s head if he’s not looking where he’s going on our walks.

X. e(x)pect my food to be provided on time. Is this too much to ask?

Y. Yawn. I seem to do this far more often now. Age? who knows.

Z. Zooms around the garden with or without Lenny.

I can smell a squirrel over a mile away.

The A-Z of things I cannot do

A. Aroooo quietly during bitey face.

B. Be sad. I am a naturally happy Beagle Harrier boy. Unless I have poorly pals.

C. Calmly watch squirrels cavorting in my garden.

D. See Dixie, I would love to meet her just once but New Jersey is a long way.

E. Eat my dinner in peace and quiet. I seem to have a vampire permanently watching me.

F. Feel happy when my friends feel sad or unwell.

G. Get extra treats. Dad has a heart of stone.

H. Have off lead fun outside of my house.

I. Ice Cream. Because my parents don’t allow me any. This may not be true.

J. Jet around the world to see my friends, sadly.

K. Knit things. Opposable thumbs you see.

L. Love Lenny and my parents any more. They are the best.

M. Moan about my life as it is allegedly very good.

I cannot sit still.

N. Needles. I don’t do needles, they are horrid things. I can’t look.

O. Open cupboard doors as I don’t have those opposable thumbs.

P. Patrol the garden without smelling squirrel.

Q. Quiet. Apparently I don’t know the meaning of the word.

R. Ride a bicycle. Opposable thumbs.

S. Sleep past 6.30 in the morning. Boing boing boing arooo.

T. Tell Lenny off when he steals my dinner. He was an orphan like me after all.

U. Understand why there aren’t extra treats.

V. a(V)oid having fun during the day.

W. Wait patiently whilst my paws are cleaned after a really muddy walk.

X. e(X)amine my brothers ears without wanting to clean them with my tongue.

Y. Yell quietly. See Q, apparently.

Z. Zooms with too many friends who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Cheeky boy.

What are your things you cannot do?

A year has passed

We were awake early a year ago today to make sure we were on time for our appointment in London. We had a very important guest to meet and we had to be on our best behaviour. Strolling up the hill to the station I told Lenny what was happening and where we were going. He was excited to find out what London was like. I also told him about who we were going to meet and he promised me, paw on heart, that he would be gentle and polite. The train journey passed quickly and we found ourselves dragging our parents through the back streets between Marylebone Station on our way to Euston Station. As the chariot containing our visitor was pushed up the slope from the platform we heard the babble of people cooing and saying kind things about Raffa Beagle, who sat like a queen, regal in her splendour. Lenny was true to his woof and greeted Raffa with a gentle nose bump.

Hello Raffa, I’m Lenny.

Off we set on our tour of London. I had sent Raffa a postcard some time ago and she had pestered her mum to bring her to London so she could see all the sights pictured on the postcard. It was cold, crisp and sunny so we kept on moving to keep warm once we had ended our initial trip on the tube train. We saw so many things that I was struggling to keep up with what Raffa needed to see to complete her postcard.

Typical boys, never do what they are told.

Over bridges, along streets, next to the Tower, past palaces, near big wheels, over wobbly bridges, in front of cathedrals and even a cheeky trip to the pub all ended with us catching a London cab from The Mall to Euston Station where we sadly woofed cheerio to Raffa and her tired mum. We heard later that Raffa had enjoyed herself so much she had slept all the way home on the train and in the car. We also slept all the way home on our train.

Which way now. Right for the Cathedral, left for the South Bank

We were proud of our efforts, despite not seeing a Yeoman of the Guard which was the only item on her list that we missed out on. I solved that omission earlier this year so we could say that all items were ticked off.

Since then Covid and other sad events have blighted our year. Raffa went on her longest journey in February this year, so we hold this trip dear to our hearts. We like to look back on fun days like this and smile at the memories. We can feel warm in times of stress and worries. I think it is important to hold on to memories of good days so they cancel the bad days where things just aren’t going the way you plan.

Where are the cucumber sandwiches then?

Live like Raffa, enjoy every day.

Winter is on the way

It’s getting cooler out there. Our morning walks have provided us with crisp clear days followed by fog and mist smothering the hills with its veil. This week we have been strolling the lanes of Pednor, close to my house. The first picture was taken on Monday 23rd November and was looking toward the position of the second picture taken this morning 27th November.

And this picture was taken this morning

It was a cool morning on Monday as Lenny and dad enjoyed their morning stroll, whereas this morning it was -2.5 Celsius, the overnight cloud had lingered and turned into mist which was just beginning to lift slightly. Gloves, warmer clothes and shoes were the order of the day this morning.

The beauty of the countryside close to my home is something I enjoy. I don’t mind the cold weather as it tends to keep the scents at ground level and my nose hardly rises above my ankles.

I wonder what fun the weekend walks will bring to Lenny and I?

The alphabet of things I like

I saw something like this recently posted by another blogger and wondered what it would be like from a canine (that’s me) perspective.

A – Ashridge Estate. I love going up onto the common so I can stroll through the long grass, get far too many scents in my nose and then get back to the car with a happy smile on my face. It isn’t far from me so quite easy to get to.

B – Beds. I have seven of them. I have to share my day time snoozing beds with Lenny but we have an unwritten code that we just go onto a bed and don’t hassle each other when we are sleeping. I have my night time bed whilst Lenny has his night time cave bed and never the twain shall meet.

C – Chesham. Where I live. I like the town with all the friendly people and other fur friends I have made here. It is surrounded by open fields and countryside so I get to walk the highways and byways to sniff out squirrels, rabbit and deer to my hearts content.

D – Dad. I have the safety and security of parents who look after me and make sure I am ok. One of them is my much maligned dad who, I must be honest, loves me to bits and who worries about me far too much. I am his first dog and he does some silly things which we all laugh at. But his heart is in the right place. Lenny and I know that he would always do stuff to make sure we are safe, loved and happy.

E – Exploring. I am able to explore for quite some distance locally and nationally. All the paths and byways near my home have been walked. I have also visited many places in the UK and always enjoy seeing new sights and exploring new scents.

F – Friends. What would I do without them? Life would be so much less interesting if I had no one to woof with on Twitter and on here. I always enjoy listening to my friends when they have good or bad news. It is nice to be friends.

G – Grandad. He is my only grandparent so I always have a fun time when we see him. Since he first met me, I have shown him that I am a friendly lad and he need not be worried about me. He is getting much better at tickles and I am going to take credit for that.

H – Home. A place where I can live in safety and security. I am fortunate to have a home now. I remember when I was in kennels at the nice rescue centre. I always wanted a forever home and now I have one, I will always feel lucky.

I – Icy cold weather. For some reason I like it when it is chilly. Maybe its because I can wear my warm coat and that the scents are close to the ground. I always seem to have great fun slipping across icy fields in pursuit of the next good smell.

J – Jerky. Beef Jerky. We get this as a treat sometimes and it is very tasty. I am not allowed too much of it as it can upset my tummy a bit.

K – King sized bed. My bed for sleeping at night time. It is big sturdy and heavy. It has high sides and is fully padded on the base. I get another bed within it for extra comfort. The best bit is that Lenny isn’t allowed in there, and he doesn’t try to break that rule.

L – Lenny. My brother who isnt actually bloodline related but we are the best of friends now I have got used to his nefarious activities of trying to bite my neck, ears and ankles at every available chance. After a turbulent start we have settled into a daily routine and have now got to the stage where we more than tolerate one another. In fact, I wouldn’t be without him.

M – Mum. The best mum of all. I know everyone will say they have the best mum but, in my case, it is the truth. Someone kinder and more thoughtful toward me I cannot think of. She always look out for me, looks after me and I look up to her.

N – Night time sniffs. Before I go to bed, I am allowed out into the garden to do “my business”. There are often many scents lingering from the nocturnal creatures who inhabit the tress around my garden. I get to smell them before I go to my bed. I may be in the garden for some time.

O – Outside, as in, out in the countryside. To see trees, lakes, rivers, big skies, rainy skies even, is to be free in mind and spirit. I am lucky to have some countryside on my doorstep as well as visited some wonderful places further afield.

P – Pednor. Probably my favourite walk around here. The views from most parts are lovely and I can see for miles. The roads are usually quite quiet so we can stroll along at our own pace without the fear of being run over. Also the hedgerows and paths allow me to scent way too many creatures.

Q – Quiet times. Sometimes Lenny gets to walk with dad whilst I go out with mum. We aren’t in competition for scents or territory and the walks are therefore quieter and we can have a chat without having a young beagle nose suddenly pushing me out of the way. When I first arrived I had the walks to myself and enjoyed them. I think mum and dad appreciated that, and try to ensure I still get some down time away from the playful lad now and again.

R – Relaxing after a hard days work. Always good to chill out when I have had a hard day of chasing, sniffing and avoiding sharp vampiric teeth.

S – Sunpuddling. What a treat. Finding the shaft of sunlight coming in through the window, on a cold day, and lying there allowing my fur to soak up the warm rays. We tend to sun puddle close to one another but without encroaching. It is probably my weary bones that need the suns rays the most.

T – Tube trains. I get to use them when I travel into London for exploring the city. I thought I would be scared when I first saw one, let alone boarded it, however once on board and moving I enjoy seeing the world go by. Even going around the actual underground sections doesn’t worry me, usually because I am accompanied by mum or dad.

U – Up on the sofa. I was allowed up on the sofa soon after I arrived. They were covered with throws so I could try and chill out after a hectic day. Now I can take up one sofa, whilst Lenny stretches out on the other. Not sure where our parents will sit but, hey, I am sure they will find somewhere.

V – Vegetables. I know, it’s a strange one for a canine. However if they are mixed sufficiently with my meat food, I can hardly tell they are there and I know they do me good.

W – Walks. They are the best. We always get to walk and explore with our parents. Walks are a vital part of our beagling armoury and help to keep our scent and sight skills up to scratch. Fresh air and wonderful scenery abound locally.

X – being e(x) – rescue. The feeling of safety, security and love all the time makes me content to my very core. To have been rescued and homed is a wonderful feeling. Add to that the fact that my rescue freed up a kennel for another fur, then I am doubly happy.

Y – Young at heart. I feel young when I am happily running around the garden with the sun on me. Chasing my brother is always a bonus. I like to feel youthful as I think it is important to stay young at heart for as long as possible.

Z – Zooming around the garden. Running at full tilt around the garden is fun, especially if I am chasing Lenny. We tire ourselves out whilst having fun. I suspect there is an ulterior motive in there somewhere.

These are my first thoughts on things I like, what are yours?

When I get old.

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.

Timber!

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.