In conversation

Sometimes Lenny and I have a few minutes to spare. We like to check up on one another, make sure we are happy and to swap yarns and tall stories about the things we got up to before we became a noisy duo. Oh erm, Happy New Year to you all.

Lenny: Dex, do you like living here?
Dex: I do, Lendog. Its very different from the last place but its cosy and comfy. Even the carpets are warm and I can stretch out on the floor. What about you then, Lendog?
Lenny: It’s pretty good here. I dont like that the garden is way smaller than our last one but the house is warmer and we have stairs to chase one another up and down.

Dex: Would you go back to the previous house then?
Lenny: No. I would bring the old garden with all its scents and smells here. Then we could run around like a couple of idiots.

Lenny: So we’ve been here nearly a year and I have settled in to the new routine, I think.
Dex: Lendog, you settled within twenty minutes. You just leapt on your bed and were snoozing before the removals guys had finished. I, on the other paw, took another month or so to feel at home. I struggle to feel settled quickly, there seems to be too much else for me to understand and explore.

Lenny: New paths, new woods and new roads to explore. What do you think are your favourites?
Dex: All of them. We dont have as many places to explore here so we need to make sure we enjoy them all as much as possible. It helps that there are squirrels everywhere. What are your favourites, Lendog?
Lenny: Well, now you ask I like the longer walk I do with dad, down to the top end of Storrington and Sullington. Its mostly on the road but sometimes we return home through the little footpath between the fields and then over the little wooden bridge. I did like the circular walk to Thakeham but since the farmer has ploughed up the path with the tractor we are banned from going that way.
Dex: Do you miss the old walks then Lendog? I know I do, I used to like the strolls around the big field in Botley, the walk up to Chalfont Woods and the ride on the tube?
Lenny: Yes, I do miss them. The circular Pednor walk as well as running through the fields at Mayhall were always good, fun walks. I think we may have to persuade them to take us back, even if only for a day.
Dex: If I could bring back those walks I would be happy. Having said that, I am slowing down now and I’m not sure I could manage one of the six or seven mile walks I used to regularly pull one of our parents around.
Lenny: True story Dex. I would also be very happy if I could have those walks again. Maybe it was the familiarity of them as well as being directly on our doorstep. There are too many places here which are fenced off and out of bounds to us.

Lenny: Have you met next doors cat yet, Dex?
Dex: No buddy I haven’t. Most people in the village would have known about it if we had bumped into each other. I haven’t properly met the little dog at the other end of the road yet either. In fact there is another dog in the farmhouse opposite that we haven’t been allowed to say hello to? I think we are missing out on something.
Lenny: I don’t know what I would do if I met the neighbours cat. I would probably aroo loudly and then try to play bitey face with it.

Lenny: We went to the beach quite a few times this year. It was fun as we could get out and about in the fresh air and enjoy an early morning stroll along the edge of the sea.
Dex: Yes we did enjoy ourselves, especially the part about eating all the dead washed up stuff that came from the ocean. I’m not sure if our parents enjoyed our trips as much but, hey, they only needed to clean up for three or four days afterwards.
Lenny: I remember that. Somehow they didn’t think we would try to eat all the smelly dead stuff that has washed up in previous tides.
Dex: And we got to see grandad more often, which is always a bonus as we can teach him the art of good tickles and belly rubs. I am quite proud we have shown him that not all dogs are bad or naughty.
Lenny: You were training him before I came onto the scene, so thats all your own work. I just turned up, saw he was half trained and then set about helping you finish off his studies.

Dex: So, Lenny, what do you remember about your life in Cyprus?
Lenny: Not much now. It was nearly three years ago that I adopted all of you so I have been quite busy making sure I have my paws under the table here.
Dex: Fair enough, I suppose you have had a lot of things to adapt to here. Is it different from your Cyprus life? Apart from the weather of course.
Lenny: Indeed it is. I was a street dog for most of my very early life. I am not sure if I just escaped or was dumped from the hunters but I was very lucky to be picked up and rescued. There are far more rules here and I am still not wholly content with this lead and harness stuff. I know we are told its for our own safety and, mum and dad would be really upset if I got off, but it’s still quite restrictive.
Dex: I agree with you about the lead and harness stuff. I went through a time where I was collar walked and I nearly strangled myself because of my utter insistence in chasing everything all the time. As you know I escaped three times and on each occasion, they were really worried about me doing something stupid. I think we are going to have to put up with harnesses, sadly.
Lenny: So what do you remember about before you arrived here then, Dex?
Dex
: Almost nothing matey. It is so long ago now that I have had too many memories in between my arrival and today. I know I came from Wales originally but I don’t remember where. I know I was rescued, escaped, tried to play with a car and lost. After that I came to live with these two and have ruled the house ever since. Well, until you arrived that is. Then the dynamic changed once more and I had to learn how to live with another dog. I was confused at first but you didn’t push in too much on important stuff like food and water so we didn’t need to squabble over those. The parents were quick to set down rules about eating and stuff like equal tickles or belly rubs so, again, we didn’t need to squabble over those.

Dex: So, overall, you enjoy living here?
Lenny: I suppose so. The house is nice and we get to run up and down the stairs playing bitey face games. The garden is way too small for us but the squirrels seems to have emigrated south with us. What about you, Dex?
Dex: Me? Yeah. The other garden was way better, both in size and places to sniff and play. However I can lay in about ten different places here in the house and we can get some downtime from each other which is good. I’m a bit older than you so I need my naps, despite being alert whenever I am awake. It seems to be warmer and more cosy here. We need to find some other walks and adventures nearby in time for Spring so we can go off exploring again. There aren’t as many walks as before.

Lenny: I’m hungry. I think we’ve solved the problems of the world. I think it’s time to go and pester a parent for food.
Dex: Good idea Lendog, lead the way.

End of times

Well, it’s my end of year review to be more honest. I know that many people do these, however I suspect they don’t do a review from a canine point of view. What a tumultuous year it has been for Lenny and I.

In JANUARY we moved kennel from north west of London to West Sussex and closer to the seaside. Not that we were thinking of the sea, sand and balmy beaches at the time as it was freezing cold and raining. All of our belongings had been packed away and we had lived in an almost empty house for the last week of the month. It was a strange time, within the strangeness of Covid times.

In FEBRUARY we were trying to unpack all our belongings, become accustomed to our new home, explore new paths and seek out new civilisations, to boldly go where few beagles have been before. I fear I may have strayed into sci-fi with that last section. Having said that we met another beagle on our first walk, so that was a good result. We also made our first venture to the beach.

I hope it gets more exciting.

In MARCH the sun came out, we were allowed to explore our garden and we slept, having become more accustomed to our new house. We explored more paths, smelt more squirrels, greeted more dogs and generally made more of a nuisance of ourselves.

In APRIL we explored further afield, Lenny saw a stag in Knepp Estate, we smelled the bluebells and played in our garden. The mists lifted and the area looked prettier so we decided to stay for a while.

In MAY we took another trip to the beach, we ate dead stuff that had washed up and this gluttony meant we had to wake our parents up at midnight, 2am, 3.30am and 4.30am on a couple of occasions. We explored more of the lanes and byways whilst having a fun time. We also saw more bluebells.

In JUNE the sun was still shining, our grass was growing prodigiously, we lazed and sunbathed whilst also fitting in walks each day. We sniffed the flowers, played bitey face in the garden and enjoyed the start of the warmer summer months.

In JULY the warmth of the summer sun meant that we could go in the car and visit Borde Hill Gardens which was great, and we managed our first ascent of the season of Chanctonbury. The views from the top were great. In between we managed to laze about and play in the garden.

In AUGUST we decided to rein in the adventures for a few weeks. We only explored the lanes and byways, found some new woods to bother some squirrels and celebrated Lenny’s birthday. All in all a quieter month but one of rest and recuperation.

In SEPTEMBER we needed all our energy as we had a special visitor. We showed Raffa’s mum our new kennel, showed her the pub and then, the piece de resistance, our best bitey face in the garden. We think she was impressed. The week after we went off exploring in the car and then on the train back to London for a quick stroll around the City. Lenny tried to eat pavement food and got told off. We rested and chilled out for the rest of the month. We were exhausted.

In OCTOBER we found ourselves back at the beach so we had to eat more dead washed up creatures, thus allowing us to ensure our parents couldn’t oversleep. Lenny missed me dreadfully, apparently, when I was away for the day having my teeth cleaned and polished. One tooth fell out so I received sympathy but no extra food. We ascended Chanctonbury again but didn’t get as far as we wanted to, as bulls and lively older beagles aren’t a good mixture.

In NOVEMBER the mists returned as the sun lowered in the sky. Beautiful mornings gave way to rainy days and we dodged showers on our walks. We found some new fields to wander around, although the lack of squirrel bothering opportunities was worrying.

In DECEMBER something called Christmas was going to be celebrated this year. A tree suddenly appeared in the corner of the room, we were warned to stay away and not to play near it. Our walks became muddier, the sun seemed to disappear earlier and we didn’t get any leftovers from Christmas dinner.

Yet again however we lost many friends, colleagues and buddies. We all know that, one day, we will make our longest journey. We know that we will travel with love and affection permeating every part of our existence. However, the pain does not lessen with this thought. Too many friends have left an indelible paw print on too many humans. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe not so many of us will make the journey. Maybe we will be able to meet up, explore new places with old and new buddies. I hope so.

Obsession

No, not some perfume which has probably been tested on beagles and then sold to unsuspecting people, but apparently something that applies to me.

I am a beagle, you may have noticed. Lenny is also a beagle and, again, this may have come to your attention. In that case, my parents want to know, how are we so different when it comes to certain small furry creatures which run along the fence at the back of my garden sending me into some delirium in the process. Of course I refer to squirrels. The grey variety that hitched a ride over from the North American continent and which now plague woods, forests and my garden so successfully. I would like to thank whoever it was that thought they would be a good idea, but I cannot do so.

They have been cavorting all day and I have been unable to control my whining and pacing in and out of different rooms to get a better view of them. As my view improves the whine goes up a decibel or ten, with associated baying when I cannot get to them. I move from a chair in the living room to the kitchen, back to the living room, off to a bedroom overlooking the garden, return to the kitchen, push the closed and locked door in the (vain) hope it will open and then stand in the living room once more noisily whining at whichever parent is closest. It would appear I am tormented by them (squirrels not parents). According to said parents we are not going to live in a cave whereby any and all views into the garden are shut out with curtains, so my view is panoramic around the garden. As soon as I am released into the garden to chase off the pesky critter it merely leaps into a nearby tree and pulls faces at me. I return to the warmth of the living room and watch as the squirrel descends from its lofty perch and continues its efforts are sending me doolally.

Then Lenny decides to wake up and see what’s going on. I cannot believe that he has missed the entire squirrel bothering episode because he’s been sleeping soundly. Does he not understand that these creatures are our mortal foe, they represent everything that makes a beagle obsessed with shaking it warmly by the neck.

These pictures were taken about four seconds apart. He’s just awoken from his nefarious slumber. I had been like this for the previous ten minutes, gently whimpering at the scoundrel running amok in my garden. I really don’t understand how he can be so relaxed about having squirrels in the garden. Is he truly a beagle? Maybe it’s me? I think I need to have a bit of a lie down in a darkened room.

Gotcha

Another year has passed since I arrived in my forever home. Eight years ago today I strolled into a new house with new people, new rules and hopefully a new way of life. I was a little worried at first as I had no idea about what was happening or if this was foster or permanent. As the days turned into weeks, then into months I began to realise that this was it, this was my forever home with people who would look after me and make sure I got love, food, beds and some degree of routine. I say “some degree” as most beagle parents will tell you that there is only a certain amount that us beagles will tolerate before we have to give in to the stubborn traits so wonderfully associated with us.

So that is it really. I was a Christmas dog, but the parents started their homework on me in the previous September. Three visits and numerous internet searches led them to be my guardians. We went through all the teething troubles in the first eighteen to twenty four months and then I began to feel more settled. We look after each other to be honest. When Lenny arrived my world was turned upside down and had the normality shaken out of it. We had a new family member to look after and I am still training him to be my protege. He will get there, I hope.

I’m the handsome one on the left.

Us rescues have many events in our lives and most of them we have no understanding of their meaning. Christmas and birthdays are fun. The one day we will always seek to appreciate will be the day when we were rehomed for the last time, into our forever life and with our guardians.

Safe. It’s the best.

That is the best day with the best feeling.

We only went and did it again.

The week after we had shown Raffa and her mum around London, we were asked most politely to show some more pals around the capital. Lucy lived in the US. Arizona to be exact. Her mum and dad were in the UK travelling and seeing all sorts of wonderful places as well as many friends who live here. It was our pleasure to be the final furry pals on their trip in December 2019.

We had another early start on 8th December to make sure we got to the station on time. On this occasion Lenny was up with the game and knew what we were doing. We’d only just recovered from the previous weekends shenanigans with Raffa but we made sure we had best bib and tucker on for this latest expedition.

Pfft, the smelly tube.

We arrived in London, alighted at Barbican and strolled down Aldersgate Street towards St Pauls Cathedral. We announced our arrival in the usual beagle fashion and made auntie S and uncle J laugh at our antics. The day had started well. We tried to show them things that were a little off the beaten track and that visitors wouldn’t normally get to see. We wandered through Postmans Park, went around the back lanes to Spitalfields via the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange.

Some of the brave people in Postmans Park (with a strange dog)

We strolled, chatted and showed them around. I aroooed at some police horses and the lady riders laughed as I was so loud that it reverberated through the empty streets. We were doing the breed proud as we marched on.

Arooooo!

When we had lunched we took them to the Tower of London and sadly had to say goodbye.

Me and Lenny with auntie S

We had fun again that day, our paws ached and we slept most of the way home on the all stations tube journey.

When they come for another visit hopefully we will be able to show them other places.

Always love

Dad is a little thoughtful today. We have been told to not be so cheeky and give him leg leans. Forty seven years ago today his older brother passed over the rainbow bridge aged just eleven. Five days before his twelfth birthday. A life set to be so happy, fun and full of joy and adventure cut short by cancer.

My nan used to have a quiet think to herself about what happened and I think she wondered why. We all wonder why. Why is it so cruel, why is it so gut wrenching, why did it happen to someone so young? Nan is with my uncle now, as she took her longest journey in August 2020. Maybe they are at peace, and catching up on forty six years of things to speak about. I have no doubt that grandad will be with them, making a nuisance of himself.

No parent should have to go through what my nan and grandad did however, they do and until there are advances, more people will suffer. Christmas may be just around the corner but no gift, however expensive and thoughtful, can bring back those times which should have been showered in happiness, love and laughter but which are shrouded in sadness and reflection for what could, and should, have been.

Always love.

Rainy days and Tuesdays

I suppose I am lucky to live here. Safe, secure and loved I live in a nice house which is warm and dry. Looking out at the weather for the past couple of days, I am very fortunate.

I know it’s winter here in the UK so there will be wind and rain but, come on, that’s two storms one quickly after the other and it’s not even Christmas. My garden is flooded in places and the paths through the woods that usually contain some great scents are now muddy slides with added slippery leaves on the surface which make for fun viewing as one or the other parent goes sliding around. You need four paw drive dad, just like Lenny and I.

Early morning before the rain sets in

We walk earlier in the morning at the moment so we have predominantly missed the worst of the rain over the last few days. We have also been walking the lanes so as to avoid the muckier sections of woodland paths which we normally enjoy. I knew my parents were mean to us by not allowing us to mess about in the mud. No that it matters much as the verges are soft and often I find myself wading through puddles up to my elbows. Lenny on the other hand avoids walking through puddles for fear of getting his paws wet. Strange boy.

He’s bored. Dry but bored.

We are restricted to quick garden excursions between the rain so we can do our business and then return to the safety and security of a sofa each, all the while with a human leg to snooze against. We are pretty bored to be honest but that pales into insignificance when we look outside and see the rain lashing against the windows. Also it is dark and dreary so this suppresses our need for running around like a couple of crazed hounds, so our parents are fairly pleased.

Go away rain. I need to do things.

I think I will stay here as being just bored is better than being bored and soaked, needing a towelling down.

Thinking of things past

Being busy with the day to day chores of keeping parents and my brother (not biological but I allow him to live here) in check, I have missed an anniversary of a wonderful day that Lenny and I were privileged to take part in two years ago.

It was a chilly morning under our paws as we walked swiftly up the hill from our previous house to the train station. We were on a mission to show an excellent pal around London. The scenery whizzed past the window as we sped into London. A walk in the park, a trip on the tube and then the anticipation built until we heard Raffa and an entourage of adoring people walking up from the platform at Euston Station. Another quick tube ride was all that was needed to take us to our starting point.

What do you mean I’m too young to be in the pub?

Guildhall, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Tower of London, London Bridge, Tate Modern via Shakespeare’s Globe was followed by a wobble across the Millennium Bridge for a photoshoot outside St Pauls.

Off to the pub for a cheeky half and thence along the Strand, where dad made everyone wait at the traffic lights by sternly telling Lenny and I to wait for the green cross man. It’s lucky he didn’t say “Sit”. Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Horseguards and then Buckingham Palace. A black cab ride back to the station for a fond farewell to Raffa and her mum.

Nice to meet you Raff, you are as lovely as Dex said you are.

We slept all the way home and I think it may have had something to do with the half marathon we had walked to see the sights. What a day, what an adventure, though sadly not to be repeated as Raffa took her longest journey in February 2020.

I will get back to London, and I will take Lenny again. We will show more friends around London so they can enjoy it as much as I did and still do. It goes without saying that I will tell you all about our adventures.

Safe and sound

It’s all grey, drizzly and dank out there. It is not as bad as it is predicted to be in the northern part of the UK and I am grateful that we won’t be sharing their wet, wild and windy weather on this occasion. I hope they all stay safe and secure though.

I’ve not blogged for a while, you may have noticed. I am currently under another cloak of feeling a bit blue, a little out of sorts and not having much to talk about really. We are jogging along, doing our thing Lenny and I. We still play bitey face, chase squirrels along the fence and pull on the lead on walks much to the annoyance of whichever parent we are attached to at the time. I was accused today of being a three year old dog in an eleven year old furry skin. I had been pulling, huffing and puffing after so many scents that my brain went into sensory smell overload to the detriment of my other (alleged) senses. I arrived home, aroooed at the top of my voice, got some breakfast and then crashed out on a sofa. I am quite proud of my efforts if I am honest. They should be happy I am so active.

Lenny has been out on separate walks from me for the majority of the week as, when are together, we tend to bounce off one another and compete to get to the scent first. Apparently this isn’t good for human arm sockets so our parents cheated and walked us separately. Not that it mattered as even on our separate walks we managed to jerk and pull like a couple of idiots. I think we won that little discussion.

Anyway what I wanted to say is that, during my miasma of brain fog, I have been thinking about stuff and things. Lenny and I have also been talking about said stuff and things and we have decided that we are happy beagles. We are loved, looked after and we are safe and sound. There is an allegation that this picture proves how happy we are. I wouldn’t know, as I am asleep.

I suppose we can keep him!

Are you prepared?

That time of the year approaches quickly once more and thoughts turn to having a festive season of fun, happiness and enjoyment of other peoples company. All honourable thoughts to have as we all hope to surface from the pandemic over the last eighteen months or so.

I might as well put this comment out there now. Please don’t buy or rescue puppies or older dogs unless you understand the consequences of what you are considering. Many dogs were bought or rescued during the throes of the pandemic and, whilst some of those dogs remain in safe secure environments, there is now a growing and worrying trend of them being taken to rescue organisations for re-homing as human circumstances revert to something akin to normality. Worse still there is a rise in dogs being dumped and left to fend for themselves. This isn’t just puppies but older dogs who need medication and have experienced a home environment for many years. We are a commitment not a passing whim.

I was rescued just before Christmas in 2013. My parents came to see me three times before they decided to give me a forever home. Each time they walked me, they asked questions of the rescue people, they listened to the rescue centre and then thought about it even further. They researched vet bills, food costs, leads and harnesses, beds and toys. They looked at where we would walk, if there were enough paths and trails, whether they would be home, how much would kennelling cost and if their jobs would mean them being away for any length of time. They researched the breed traits, energy levels and where the good or bad aspects were. They even looked at the availability and costs of things like holidays with me, in case I couldn’t be placed temporarily in kennels whilst they were away. When I arrived from the rescue centre I had no idea what was going on and it took me around eighteen months to settle into my new home. I was skittish, distracted and sometimes thoroughly distant and aloof. The number of times that worry or frustration was evident was sadly high. I didn’t really connect with them in the first year or so. They tried to implement a routine for me but I remained skittish and distant. However, and this is the most important thing, they never ever gave up. They never wanted to send me back. Even when I was destroying toys at alarming speed due to frustrations on my part, I was still a work in progress but they remained determined to work with me. They had committed to me having a better life and it occurred to them that if I was returned, it was a waste of time and effort on everybodys part. I settled and now have a younger brother to look after and try to ensure he feels loved and secure.

Lenny arrived in late April 2019. I have said before that he was like a furry hand grenade being dropped into my life. We fought and squabbled like a couple of devils for the first few weeks. My parents realised they needed some help with our behaviour so they spoke to the lady who facilitated Lenny’s rescue. She guided them and we now live relatively happily together. We certainly fight less but still manage to annoy our parents at just about the most inconvenient times. Lenny settled quicker than I did. I think that is because he was younger when he was rescued, had me to show him the ropes and our parents already knew roughly what to expect. His arrival and settlement went more smoothly than mine.

I think what I am saying is this. Ask yourself some questions about us. Firstly are you prepared for the upheaval we cause? It’s not all Hollywood glitz and glamour when we arrive. There is poop, pee and sick to clear up. Accidents happen and we need the vet. Sometimes these vet visits are at the most inconvenient times and we can need some serious medical assistance too. We need feeding, walking, training, grooming and generally will require your attention when you may need it for yourself. We will leave hair in places you never knew we could leave hair. We will bring mud in from the garden, need to go out at some unearthly hour of the night and possibly on more than one occasion a night. You may need to sit up with us to make sure we are ok, when we aren’t. Are you prepared?

Are you prepared for the rigmarole of checking our history if you buy us, or the rescue process if we are abandoned or have fallen by the wayside. Can you check with the breeder about mum, our bloodline, where we live, medical issues, are the breeders reputable and registered with the authorities? At this point I am going to ask one thing, please. Do not EVER buy us from some back street unregistered “breeder”. Please. Just don’t.

What type of dog do you want? Do we fit in with your circumstances. If you live in an apartment and will be out all day, is it a good idea to get for instance a husky or a beagle? Will you commit to a small lap dog, a more energetic dog or a larger dog that may not be quite as energetic. We all need the same amount of commitment.

Who will walk us in the morning, lunchtime or evening. If it’s pouring with rain or there are inches of snow outside we still need to go out. Are you prepared to take us out for a walk so we can fill our noses with scent and our eyes with the wonders of the world. Even if the rain is coming down so hard that you don’t want to go out. Will you have time to take us out for a decent walk or run around the park. If you are too busy, who is going to walk us?

Are you prepared to include us in your routine so we can play, learn and interact with you. It makes no difference to us being puppies or older dogs. We still need and enjoy the interaction of some play time, learning new tricks and routine in our behaviour which will strengthen our bonding to you. Remember we may be only a small part of your life but you are our life. You dont “need” us but we need you for food, shelter, warmth and companionship if you commit to us.

Having been prepared to welcome us into your home, are you prepared to say farewell to us when it is our time to go. Are you prepared to look after us, live with us and accept our mutual friendship for a long period of time before you take the kindest but most heartbreaking decision to be with us at our end. Good times and bad we will be there once the commitment has been made and accepted.

Most people will know my thoughts on rescue -v- buying dogs so I am not going to push one or the other of those buttons. All I am saying is that you step back and ask yourself if you can make that commitment to look after us for sometimes up to twenty years through day and night, good times and bad. We will disrupt your day, your weeks, your holidays, your plans and your lives generally but we will give you so much joy and contentment. If you can truthfully say that you are able to provide that commitment, and you want to adopt or buy one of us, then take steps to help give one or more of us a life we can enjoy and love. If we are only going to be a status symbol, a play thing or an after thought, then please go to the toy store and get a cuddly stuffed dog and pet that instead. It’s not fair on us if we are going to be anything less than a complete commitment on your part.

Please think about all options before you commit to anything. The commitment we show to you will need to be reciprocated. We will love you and have a happy life if you can honour the commitment to us. You could make a dog very happy if you make a considered decision.