I aroo like to be beside the seaside

There was nothing out of ordinary to alert us as to what was in store for Lenny and I yesterday. Waking up as normal, I stretched and climbed out of bed to go and see mum who is the gravy bones dispenser. My tongue was duly crossed with the brown bones of tastiness and I sloped back off to my bed for a snooze. I think dad was pleasantly surprised there was no kidney pounce. In any case breakfast for Lenny and I was taken in the Utility Room once the parents had decided to get out of bed.

As soon as we realised it wasn’t raining we were quickly on our toes and pulling our respective parents along the road. Suddenly we were turned around and marched back towards home. We had hardly started our walk. What was this sorcery? Dad opened the car and we were cajoled into our travel crates. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically, what was going on? It wasn’t time for the v-e-t visit, surely? Then we were off the driveway and headed down the road, turn right and then turn right again after a mile or so. The road went left and then right, we were getting lost now until we pulled up at somewhere familiar. When the boot was opened, a scent filled our noses that told us we were in for a fun time.

It was the seaside! I could hear the wind, and the waves as they gently crashed upon the sandy foreshore. Come on Lenny, let’s go. As we trited to leap out of the boot, we were swiftly caught mid boing, harnessed and told to be good. How bothersome of our parents to cut short our attempted shenanigans. We crossed the road and pulled our parents across the stony section of the beach toward the softer sandy section. We had visited this place before but we hadn’t been on this part of the beach so we were in for a treat.

Of course you can trust me to behave.

As we wandered along the top of the pebbles we saw the seawater tempting us away to our left. Mum and dad had little choice but to go to the edge of the water so Lenny and I could find dead crabs, seaweed and cuttlefish pieces washed up along the sand. This was fun, we walked along with grins on our faces and the wind in our ears. The scent was high and Lenny was taking it all into his scent factory. Behind us another beagle strolled past so we took the chance to bay. Loudly. Very loudly. So loudly in fact that people on the promenade heard us and started smiling. Further along the sand Lenny found a dead crab and picked it up. He suddenly realised that seawater tastes disgusting so dropped it immediately and went to grab some seaweed instead. He spat that out too. We strolled along, saying hello to people who all kept their distance from us, so keeping everyone safe whilst the quarantine is still in place. The another beagle came strolling toward us and we met him in customary fashion, proceeding to tangle our leads and try to play bitey face with him. Duly embarrassed at our uncouth behaviour, mum and dad continued to walk away whilst apologising to the other beagle owner. He just laughed. We walked all the way along the beach to a river which we couldn’t cross so we returned to the car, all the while running in circles, tangling our leads and generally making mum and dad laugh. When we got back to the car something strange happened. Dad told Lenny to “Hup” into the boot and he did so immediately. Lenny doesnt like travelling in the car as he still gets some travel sickness but he had just leapt in freely. My brother was so happy from his walk that he had apparently forgotten about his travel sickness. I followed him into my crate and we both laid down for the return home which was nearby. What a morning we both had.

It was as much as we could do to raise our heads later in the day to eat our food. Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but, we were tired and happy. We had been to the beach, we had been sensible when we encountered people and we had a good time. Hopefully everyone follows the rules and Lenny and I can go to the beach more often. Maybe even get an ice cream.

Sad yet hopeful – the final part

As promised I continue my thoughts on the strange year just ending. It’s a sad, frustrating year, yet it had some bright sparks now and again.

July.

Lenny and I had been set the task of trying to recreate all the photographs on a calendar we sent to Raffa’s mum last year. According to our very kind pals the pictures we were in were better than the originals. Then on Raffa’s birthday there was a little tribute where many friends painted a rock and took it to somewhere that Raffa would have loved to go. We went to our garden and tried not to squabble whilst the picture was taken. It didn’t last long. Sadly I heard that a long time friend called Seb the BT was due to go to the Rainbow Bridge. He had such a wonderful heartfelt send off that it made me proud to consider that I had known him and woofed with him over his time on Twitter.

August.

My nanny died. Dad was very sad as she had been ill for quite some time and he had been half expecting the phone call for a while. When it came though it was still a nasty shock. Lenny and I did our best to behave in an appropriate manner. Lenny then celebrated his birthday and I allowed him to beat me at bitey face. Later in the month we went to see our remaining grandad who said we should all go to the seaside. Lenny had never been to the sea in the UK and he was in awe at the wind and waves. In fact he was so much in awe that he fell asleep. He didn’t try to lick the seawater like I did in the Lake District a few years ago. Everyone had a nice time and mum even got saltwater spray all over her face as she forgot to take her sunglasses. We didn’t laugh, honestly.

September.

Knock knock, who’s there? Arooo, its auntie J. Raffa’s mum was going on holiday and diverted to come and see us in our natural habitat. She was rubbish at hide and seek although quite good at starting bitey face games. We were still under some restrictions but they seem to be easing once again. Not that it made any difference to Lenny and I, as we still got our walks, food and beds. We could feel the seasons changing toward the end of the month so we got ourselves ready to bed down and hibernate for the winter months. The squirrels were much more active. Lenny and I managed to catch one but were told in no uncertain terms to DROP IT.

October.

Time for trees to fall down in front of us. This stick was too large even for Lenny and I to take home with us. The rain returned with a vengeance, causing the ground to be saturated and the tree roots to give up completely. Luckily we weren’t underneath it when it came down. Lenny is looking up to me a bit now. I think he has accepted that this is his forever family and he’s relaxing enough to want to know what else we can get away with.

November.

Here we go, back into a partial quarantine. Will it work, will it fail and will we ever get our dinner. This year the service has got worse as the days and months pile up. Maybe we need new parents as the current incumbents clearly aren’t up to the mark. Lenny and I are bonding far more. We are taking time to do things that don’t always include bitey face games or chasing each other around the garden. In fact we managed to steal socks from dad and were referred to as “International sock thieves of some distinction”. We remain quite proud of our abilities.

December.

As I write this missive we are in Tear (yes I did mean to spell it like that) 4 of restrictions which means that the pubs and restaurants are closed, and only the essential shops are open. We cannot see friends from other households over Christmas and we still wont be able to go to the pub. This quarantine is like the hokey cokey. We’re in, we’re out, we’re in again and then we’re shaking it all about. Christmas is likely to be quiet with just ourselves to play together and amuse ourselves.

I am not sure how to sum it all up really. We lost some well loved and revered furs this year. Raffa, Gracie and Seb the BT amongst too many others. Sadly life and death were ever present as usual. The pandemic spread fear, death and misadventure throughout large swathes of the human population which was sad to see. Many people got on with their neighbours better than they had for a long time. Some people even found out that they had neighbours which was a bonus. This lockdown brought the best and, sometimes, the worst out of people.

I did learn something in the past year that will stick with me for some time. I realised that many of my friends live in beautiful places around the world. As we were all restricted in one way or another, I got to see friends local areas when they tweeted about their daily lives. Often because you are familiar with your local area, the beauty of it passes you by. I have also learned that Lenny is settled, he is happy and likes living here. This makes my heart sing as, despite what I may say about him sometimes, I do love him and want him to be happy.

And we move on to 2021. I cannot begin to wonder what it holds for us all. Hopefully vaccines are developed and provided so the virus recedes and some degree of normality returns to swathes of the worlds population. I hope so as this will allow us to get out and about more often. We want to see friends and family to try and resume some degree of new normality. Is there to be such a thing as normality? There is only one way to find out.

Sad yet hopeful – part the first.

I know many people do a review of the year passing or passed. Where shall I start without using the C word? Ok, I shall take this month by month and try to explain why this year, which will pass into history very soon, was seemingly one to forget but also contained some little gems.

January.

It’s on its way everyone. 2020 was starting on a chilly and cool note although January was surprisingly dry for us in Chesham, where it is usually soggy, drizzly and really rather damp. Lenny is getting used to the incessant photography, however he has yet to master the art of the silly grin. I’m working on him so please bear with us.

February.

It’s arrived although not yet in huge numbers which we will soon suffer. Raffa went to the Rainbow Bridge and many, many people were very upset at the loss of a fine and wonderful friend. The days were getting a bit longer, the mornings were misty and made Lenny look thoughtful. I spent much of the first few weeks wondering why pals aren’t here any more, why we have to go to the Rainbow Bridge and generally having a good think to myself.

March.

It’s here. Just before the quarantine took place fully I had the chance to travel briefly into London. I was intent on finishing the postcard for Raffa. She had missed the Beefeater and I thought it was only right that I get the picture for her. Then it struck and we were all locked away for a while. People panic bought toilet roll, bleach and pasta (I do not need that recipe) and we made sure we didnt make contact with anyone in the hope that this might slow down the transmission rate.

April.

Flowers bloomed in my garden. Lenny and I helped to water them as the sun grew warmer and the colours burst back to life. Out of quarantine at the end of April but it made no difference. We were living like hermits and avoiding as much contact with other people as possible.

May.

Now it was beginning to get a bit boring. We still got our walks. We still got to arooo in the garden. We still got to chase each other around the garden playing bitey face. However we were a little restricted on where we could go for walks outside the garden. Fortunately we were able to walk in places that not many others knew about so we often had the lanes to ourselves.

June.

We were still under restrictions so had to behave ourselves in and out of the garden. It had the advantage though of showing Lenny that I didn’t want to be bitten all the time and often it was nice to just chill out instead of running at 100 mph around the garden. We became more accommodating of one another as the restrictions wore on. It got warm and we became lazy or lazier depending on who you listen to. Early in the month we learned that another friend, Gracie, also passed to the Rainbow Bridge. This was another time for sadness and reflection as she was a good friend.

Here ends todays missive. The final part will be published soon. I am not sure if the year got any better to be honest. However you’ll just have to wait to find out.

What happens when the novelty wears off?

It occurred to me today, in the middle of this latest quarantine lockdown, that it is ninety days since my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge to see grandad and all my buddies who have departed. And it made me wonder again about my life. I know I seem to be quite cogitative recently and maybe its because of the current situation with this virus and many other things happening. The time has flown since dad took the fateful phone call in mid August. Nanny and grandad are still in our hearts and minds. Sometimes I think I can see dad looking toward the heavens when I have allegedly done something silly.

I know I am a little disparaging about Lenny but it’s good to have a little brother to run around after, play with and generally share my life. I say it often enough however I am a very lucky dog to have love, safety and security showered upon me. Walks every day come rain or shine, food twice a day, biscuits and treats on other occasions and the pick of seven beds to sleep in all add up to me feeling happy. I am happy also that Lenny has somewhere safe to call home. He deserves it.

There are way too many other furs who don’t have the singular luxury of a bed, love, food or security throughout their lives and this makes me sad. Since the global virus marched its way through almost every country on the planet, I read about dogs being sold for extraordinary amounts of money because the demand outstrips the supply. Thousands of pounds for a puppy sold over the internet, on the back of no visit to see the little fur in its “home” environment, not seeing it with mum, sometimes a lack of health certificates and no check on any breeding or bloodlines. Are we a commodity, to be sold and bought in the same way as traders sell wheat, coal or motor cars? As sentient creatures, should there not be a more respectful and measured approach to us. I know that there are some people who look after us, breeders who make sure that they see where we will go, ensure we will be looked after and keep in touch for further questions.

People are at home for far longer than they used to be and crave company to combat their lack of social mobility. What happens when, or if, the virus is controlled a little and people start to carefully return to their places of work. What is to happen to the many pets who have been purchased and who may be left alone at home, almost fending for themselves with no walks, interaction with their humans and losing the regimentation of a regular daily life? I fear that a large number will merely be surrendered to a rescue centre, or shelter whose facilities will become bursting at the seams with the influx. I hope I am wrong, I really do.

Then we turn to the dreaded “C” word. Not Covid, but Christmas! How far will “pester power” stretch this year? How many dogs will be introduced to a new home with all the noise and joviality going on around us. Sitting there bewildered by this new place, the brightly coloured surroundings and not knowing what to do, how to interact and feeling completely confused with it all. The novelty often wears off quicker than a Christmas Day dinner and we look for some guidance and interaction to make us feel wanted and loved. Maybe this year should be the time for people to do their homework before bringing us into a new home. Speak to a rescue centre, ask what would be the best dog to suit the human and canine needs and then see if there is an unwanted dog at the rescue or shelter. I was a Christmas rescue dog, my parents did their homework as far as they could, they spoke to the rescue centre, saw me three times, walked me on each occasion, asked questions and thought about me for about three weeks before I came home. I was, and remain, lucky because they persevered with me despite some difficult early months for us all. People will say “oh but the rescue centres and rehoming centres aren’t allowing visits” which is often times true at the moment. That doesn’t stop them from researching our traits, which would be the best type of dog to get and then ask more questions.

Maybe what I am saying is this. Instead of “What will happen when the novelty wears off” it should be “Don’t let us be a novelty in the first place”. We are a serious and timely commitment. We will love you, play fetch, sleep in strange places, make you smile and be your best friend. However we will also make you sad when we have accidents, fall ill, run off on a walk and need you to take us to the vet and clean up after us. This applies to puppies who have their whole life ahead of them as well as older dogs who want only to have their years of dotage in a warm comfy place with gentle ear tickles and soft cuddles.

Are people ready for that? If not, then think really carefully about our suitability.