Beagle watch

Today, I learned that there is a security company in Gauteng called Beagle Watch. I have a number of issues with this.

To the uitlanders, allow me to explain. Here in SA, many people have their house alarms connected to an armed response security company. That means that when your alarm goes off – most likely because you forgot to switch it off before letting the dog out – a friendly man with a gun will show up at your door in case you’re in trouble. I’ve actually yet to hear a story of anyone actually being saved by the friendly man with a gun, but perception is everything and if it helps you sleep more soundly at night to pay a man with a gun to be on-call, then that’s great.

There are all the usual suspects (pun intended) on the scene: ADT, Princeton, Fidelity, Chubb. And then there are the regional services as well. They claim to understand the local crime problems better than the bigger, less personal entities. One of these local offerings is Beagle Watch in Randburg:

Response Time

The best in class response times! No matter what the emergency, Beagle Watch will be there first!

A Dedicated Team

Proactive security is our focus – we are the only company dedicated to the prevention of crime in your area through continuous, 24 hour, high visibility patrols.

Continuous and 24 hour. Colour me impressed.

But when you choose an animal to name your security company after, you want one that’s ever-vigilant, alert, attentive, powerful and quick to react.

I have a beagle. It’s really none of those things.

And so the name really doesn’t instill any sense of confidence in me. I’m only warning them about this after the well-documented collapse of Sloth Security in Constantia back in 2013.

The badge is also a problem:

It’s like they got an 8-year-old to draw a beagle. Three beagles.

Beagles do have moments where their senses are piqued and they’re ready for action. These moments usually relate to seeing a squirrel in the park and generally only last for 3 or 4 seconds. But a key feature of a momentarily alert beagle is the elevated tail. This is an evolutionary hangover from when they used to be powered by electricity, much like dodgem cars. Also, they always face left when they are ready to go. See?

Squirrel-spotting beagle

A beagle with a tail as depicted in the Beagle Watch logo is depressed, tired or depressed and tired and is certainly not going to offer any resistance to local criminals.

Also, you’d never get three to line up in such an orderly fashion. At least one would already be asleep or foraging for food.

My suggestion to Beagle Watch (and I will be forwarding them a link to this post so that they realise their error in nomenclature), is that they change the name of the business, soonest. And it doesn’t have to be a train smash of process. A simple, carefully applied daub of black paint on each of their vehicles turns Beagle Watch into bEagle Watch: the genus Aquila possessing all of the qualities one looks for in a neighbourhood security company. And they also have an aggressive beak and talons, filling the crims with a sense of fear and dread. Everything that a beagle doesn’t.

Mark my words: you can watch the crime rate in Randburg drop like the proverbial stone.

I’m frankly amazed that no-one has come up with this idea before.

Dirty Dawg

It’s been hot. Cape Town has had one of those weeks where the temperatures stretch the boundaries of belief. The sort of weeks which we only get once or twice a year, in January or February.

Or October.

I took the beagle out for an early walk yesterday to avoid the worst of the ridiculous heat. Things didn’t go well. Long story short, the beagle ended up leg deep in the silt at the bottom end of the dirtiest pond in Wynberg Park.

Those of you who know Wynberg Park will recognise that the competition for the title of dirtiest pond in Wynberg Park is pretty stiff.
From the moment the water oozes out from the hillside beneath the freeway, it stagnates through several pools and ditches filled with the remnants of last weekend’s braai’ing revelries and copious amounts of goose shit, before seeping its way under a wall into the potentially even more murky surroundings of the local Convent school at the bottom of the park.

The beagle was trotting along slowly in the already warm sunshine, approaching a pair of Egyptian Geese and their six goslings. They weren’t hugely happy about this, but the beagle wasn’t after any trouble and was wholly uninterested in the geese and their fluffy kids. Squirrels: different matter, but these were definitely geese, and the beagle really couldn’t have cared less. In any case, our feathered friends were taking no chances and had hopped into the pond long before we’d even got close.

What happened next was rather odd. The beagle basically just walked to the edge of the pond, comprehensively failed to stop, and thus continued down a small bank and straight into the pond, where it immediately became entrapped in the stinking, claggy mud which lay just under the surface of the stinking, claggy water.

The beagle looked up at me, somewhat bemused.
The beagle was stuck.

I watched on in horror, realising who was going to have to rescue it.

The geese watched on in amusement, realising who was going to have to rescue it.

Fortunately, we have recently purchased a new harness for the beagle, which comes with a handy handle on the back. Owners of more lively dogs might perhaps use this to hold their canines back should they choose to attack someone or something, or rear up menacingly in the face of a perceived enemy or threat.

But we don’t have a more lively dog. We have a beagle and it’s currently stuck in some mud. The worst mud in the worst part of the worst pond in Wynberg Park.

Sooooo, lucky me knelt down amongst the goose poo and used the handle to lift the fortuitously-somewhat-less-rotund-than-it-used-to-be beagle out of the thickest, most adherent, most offensive-smelling mud in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.

[For the purists out there, yes: there was a clear PHLOPP! as the beagle became freed from its stinking prison.]

We continued on our walk, with the delicate stench of the pond following us through the leafy suburbs. Upon our arrival home, the beagle was unceremoniously bathed, reawakening the scent of Eau de merde d’Oie. And we still weren’t done. Once cleaned, the daft animal immediately rolled in a flower bed and had to be hosed off again.
My water bill is going to be a nightmare again this month thanks to the antics of this so-called family pet. And the worst bit is that there’s literally not even a hint of apology or repentance. Nada. Dololo.

So that’s it. The tale of how the beagle ended up waist deep in the most toxic substance this side of Woodstock.
I don’t think that there’s anything you can learn from this aside from reiterating what I’ve already repeatedly told you about the folly of owning a beagle.

I really – really – do hope that you are listening to me.

Regal Beagle

A million or more people have asked if I knew that Meghan Markle owns a beagle, and that said beagle was on the guest list for the Royal Wedding over the weekend.

Yes, yes I did. Thank you.

In addition, plenty of those people told me that the beagle in question (it’s called Guy, by the way) shared a lift to said wedding in a chauffeur-driven, bulletproof Range Rover with the Queen.

Which – as one informed subscriber noted – is not what actually happened.
What actually happened is that the Queen shared a lift to the wedding in a chauffeur-driven, bulletproof Range Rover with the beagle.

There is no way that Colin must ever see this image.

I draw the line way, way above curtseying each time I serve a bowlful of kibble.

Biosecurity Beagle retires

Incoming from Sword Devlin, Purveyor of Crossword Puzzles to Royalty, the Rich, the Famous and even to Commoners Like You: news of the retirement of Andy, Adelaide Airport’s Biosecurity Beagle, and indeed the last Biosecurity Beagle on the Australian mainland.

Andy the beagle, who single-nosedly detected about 2.3 tonnes of biosecurity risk material over a career which took him across Australia, will return to Sydney to live with his original handler.

It’s no secret that beagles are good at sniffing things out. It’s obviously quite difficult to quantify just how much more powerful their sense of smell is than ours, but I’ve seen a lot of estimates of around 10,000 times. Given this astonishing statistic, I’m astounded that they’re not instantly killed by their own Beaglegas, but maybe there’s some sort of innate immunity thing going on there.

But I digress. Often.

The fact is that Andy has been sniffing things out across Australia for over six years and is now ready (between naps) to sniff the pavements and parks of Sydney. And who knows what he will find there, given his record over the last few years:

2.3 tonnes of biosecurity risk material confiscated.
718kg of undeclared fruit and fresh vegetables.
432kg of meat including dried organs.
8.9kg of viable seeds and live plants.

In the last few months he’s been involved in the South Australia Fruit Fly project, preventing fruit flies from annoying South Australians. And we all know what irritating little bastards they can be (the fruit flies, not the South Australians) (although…).

Useful but little known beagle feature – pull that
little tag on its head and the whole thing deflates for easy storage. 

Andy will be replaced – as many of Australia’s Biosecurity Beagles have been – with a Labrador, because as his handler tells us:

“There is a saying with sniffer dogs that labradors will work to please but beagles will just please themselves.”

Well, yeah. I mean, it’s a beagle. But you weren’t moaning when he found that half ton of illicit beef, now were you?

Because while they may be lazy, difficult to train, easily distracted, difficult to handle, distressingly flappy eared, obstinate, surprisingly unintelligent, constantly hungry, selectively deaf to many commands and requests, and just generally massively frustrating to own or work with on virtually every single level, beagles do have a really good sense of smell.
Far better than your average labrador.

Thus, I predict a massive upsurge in dried organ trafficking and fruit fly numbers coming to South Australia real soon now.

It’s worth noting that Cape Town International Airport does still employ a Biosecurity Beagle – you can see him patrolling the baggage carousels in the International Arrivals hall – and he’s probably the reason why nothing illegal ever happens in South Africa. Just saying.

Thanks for all your hard work protecting the South Australians from viable seeds and fresh vegetables, Andy.
Enjoy your well-earned retirement.

Sound

This has been on the internet a lot over the past week, but I’m here to mop up the stragglers who haven’t spotted it yet.

You can now enjoy over 16,000 sound effects recorded by the BBC Sound Effects Department. And what’s more, you can download them and use them (with certain conditions applied) wherever you want.

Fair enough.

What you can do is use it for non-commercial purposes. Or just have loads of fun with it.

This being the BBC, and these sound effects having been collected over a number of years, they are stuffily described in great detail:

This camera, for example:

Multiple shutter click with wind-on of 6 by 6 cm SLR Hasselblad camera.

Or this cash register:

Type Ninety-Six One – keyboard operated, ticket produced, drawer opens, bell, change given, coins put in drawer and closed – 1969 (23Z,reprocessed)

As if someone looking for a cash register noise was ever going to turn around and say:

“Oh dear. I was looking for a Type Ninety-Six TWO. This will never do. Back to the drawing board, I guess.”

The search feature seems to work very well, which is good, given that there are 16,013 different files for your delectation.

I was quite intrigued by this offering:

Beagle Pup, exterior recordings. Aerobatics.

Why can’t our beagle do that? That would be spectacular.
But then I realised that:

The Beagle B.121 Pup is a 1960s British 2–4 seat single-engined training and touring aircraft built by Beagle Aircraft Limited at Shoreham Airport and Rearsby Aerodrome.

If you want to experience a far more realistic version of being a beagle owner, you should listen to this gem:

Dogs: Beagles, Interior, two being fed, fight breaks out at 1’50”, growling and sniffing.

Yep. Sounds pretty much par for the course. 😐