#199: The Big Sleep

woman sleeping

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Can’t believe, after all of these blog posts in a row that I’ve written, that I haven’t talked about sleeping yet. Sleeping is so, so enjoyable, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I love drifting off to bed with my head’s weight laying down on the pillows, nothing else in mind except the tranquility and relaxation I’m experiencing in this moment. The softness of the pillows, the coziness of the comforters. And nothing feels better than waking up before your alarm, realizing you still have a few more hours of sleep to go, and then drifting back off to sleep another time. I’d like to crystallize that moment and keep it forever, endlessly repeating it over and over until I eventually have to go into work or school or wherever is next. If only it were possible!

Sometimes my anxiety prevents me from falling asleep on time, but I’ve had good luck recently in falling asleep exactly when I need to. I’m almost always tired and ready to go to bed, regardless of what time of the day it is, so if the opportunity presents itself for me to drift off to bed, I’ll take it immediately and with no regrets. Having a strong, sturdy bed with various pillows and a dog sleeping next to the bed definitely helps, although, like I’ve said in other blog posts, having a dog sometimes makes sleeping more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes you want to sleep for longer during the weekend, and then it’s all wrestled away from you by a dog jumping up on the bed and bothering you until you take him outside. It’s a sensible, ethical alarm clock. Thankfully he’s gotten better at not doing that since we got him his new bed. He’s been a good boy.

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#198: The Dog Weekend

close up photo of dog wearing golden crown

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We had an eventful weekend involving Angus, that’s all I’m going to say. It was full of ups and downs, high ups and low downs. On the one hand, Angus and I had a bit of a confrontation on the bed that lead to some drama and difficult conversations afterwards. That’s all I’ll say about that, to ensure I don’t stress the topic more than I need to. It’s done and over with, and we’ve moved on, the two of us (Angus and I).

But on the other hand, Angus was taken on a long, nice walk around the park outside on Saturday that filled out hearts with joy. He always makes us happy when we get to see his tongue flying around and his head swaying from side to side. He’s like a little child sometimes, and we tend to say that a lot about him. His behavior resembles that of a little kid with an old man’s body. He walks around with the swagger of a young child, his head bobbing up and down as he pants recklessly. That’s my favorite part about taking him on walks; we get to see him absolutely lose it whenever he gets to go outside. It’s clearly one of his favorite things about living with us. If there weren’t two parks near us, I’m not sure what we would be able to do to have fun with our boy.

Speaking of fun, the weather outside was perfect these past few days, and now as I’m writing this blog post, the weather is back to its terrible, chilly, rainy messiness. Typical May showers, right? I wish it were warm again, but on the other hand, I’m glad to be able to wear sweaters from my wardrobe again. It’s like I get to dig into this whole other array of work clothes I don’t normally get to wear. They’re finally unlocked and open.

#190: The Dog Bed

bed bedroom cute dog

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In my last post, I discussed what it was like bringing Angus to Petsmart, the dog store, where he got groomed and his nails clipped. Today, I’ll be discussing in more detail the bed we bought for him, and how wonderful it’s been. Having the opportunity to buy Angus a new bed was special, and we needed it in order for him to stay off of our bed during the night. Spoiler alert: the night after we bought him the bed, he didn’t jump onto our bed that whole night. So, believe it or not, it’s possible the bed was enough of a motivating factor to get him to relax overnight for once. If it stays like this, which has been a consistent problem for awhile now, the bed’s price will be worth it for that factor alone.

So, the new bed is considered an “ergonomic, orthopedic sofa.” What that basically means is that it’s comfortable for a dog to lay on, and it’s built specifically for comfort and relaxation. It’s got armrests that travel along the sides of it, making a half-circle for him to rest his big goofy head on. What Alex and I realized after watching Angus go about his day is that he loves resting his head on things, whether it’s the arm of the arm-pillow we have on the couch or a pillow on our bed. So, it was smart to get a bed that actually matches his needs and desires. I feel so much more considerate of him, now that I know something a bit more about his general psychology. The truth is, after all this time, it’s still difficult to interpret his behavior sometimes. It’s all a work in progress for us, and we are just trying to do our best with what we’ve got. Sometimes that’s good enough, like today.

#189: The Dog Store

portrait of whtie and white coated dog

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Petsmart is basically the dog store, and today I’ll be talking about Angus and our trip to Petsmart over the weekend. I know I’ve talked about Petsmart on this blog in the past, but I run out of ideas quickly!

For those of you who know me well, you know that I used to work at a Petco store in North Haven for half a year back in 2013. It was mostly miserable, and I disliked my experience there aside from a few of the coworkers I met there, who have been good friends since then. I was a Petco loyalist until we discovered there’s a Petsmart right near our apartment, about 7 minutes away, directly next to the veterinarian and dog hotel. Basically, it was impossible to resist going to this store, and I’ve since converted over to the light side of the pet franchise wars.

So we went to Petsmart this weekend. We made sure to take Angus out in advance, because last time we went, Angus peed over the floor because he saw that another dog had already peed there. Marking his territory and what not, I guess.

When we got there, Angus was a bundle of energy. We walked down the aisles and picked out a new bed, a $60 sofa with armrests for him to lay his head on overnight. We then walked to the toy aisle, but he didn’t pick anything out in particular this time. Usually he picks out a toy based on his sniffs and that’s the one we take home with us.

At the grooming station, Angus got his nails clipped, so he doesn’t have to skid across the floor and scratch at it as much. His nails were pretty long and uncomfortable. He was much better this time than the last time. He was calm, cool, and collected for once. Occasionally, he would wrestle with the groomer, but after some wrangling, he decided to be good for enough time to complete the grooming.

#187: The Dog Night

high rise buildings during nighttime

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At night, when we least expect it, that’s when Angus is most active. He’s a bundle of energy any time of the day, realistically, but when both of us are sound asleep, Angus takes advantage of the chaos and wreaks havoc. And by wreak havoc, I of course mean, he jumps onto the bed which he’s not supposed to do.

If you’ve ever owned a dog before, you know what this is like. You try so hard to enforce a rule so that it becomes ingrained in the pet’s mind so that they listen to you earnestly and obey it, but then when they break the rule, it’s at 3am and you’re not even halfway awake and there’s very little you honestly want to do about it, so it never gets fixed. The rule is difficult to enforce when it’s broken during an hour that no one wants to move at all. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of being a pet parent.

The difficult thing is that pets learn by force of habit. If Angus sees it as habitual for him to jump onto the bed during the early morning hours, when neither of us are awake or willing to do anything about it, he will continue exhibiting that habit. We’ve yet to really figure out how to get him to stop jumping onto the bed at night. Over the weekend, it becomes a huge nuisance because we both like to sleep for awhile, and Angus jumps on the bed to inform us that he needs to be let out. Unfortunately, these two desires are competing with each other and are incompatible.

We’re working on it, though. I’ve gotten better at just kicking him out of the bed. I’m less careful about it. Alex has been giving him late-night treats to encourage him to stay down instead of jumping up. It’s a work-in-progress, like all things, but we’re making some progress.

#185: Forever

gray and black dress pins

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Forever. Sometimes, we get lucky and are able to let the meaning of the word “forever” enter our lives. I’m an absurdly lucky and fortunate person, able to live a life that’s blessed with people I know will always be there for me, like Alex. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t know where I would be without her. Certain things like this connection we have are bound to last as long as possible. When we talk about forever, we talk about Angus, we talk about our lease and the apartment, we talk about getting married and living our lives like this, the way they’ve been lived, forever. We know what it’s like to be alone, especially for long periods of time and when we need someone around us the most. I think that’s partially what fuels our collective need for long-term commitment, because nothing is more reassuring and uplifting in the moment than hearing that the person who makes your life positive and radiant has no plans of leaving any time soon. Having been alone for such a long time, literally and figuratively, sucks.

I mean, it also helps that Alex is a great person who lifts me up when I’m feeling down, and who is beautiful and smart and courageous and wonderful. She is an inspiration for me to look up to, and she takes care of so much around the apartment. I wouldn’t be able to survive in this crazy world without her, at this point. I know that much is certain. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so grateful to be with her.

You know, sometimes people talk about what it means to be in a relationship that lasts, and so far we’ve lasted strong for about 27 months. I’d say I know a thing or two about what it means to have someone’s back while they have yours. And it feels great.

#183: The Playmat

person rolling green gym mat

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While playing Magic: the Gathering, it’s customary for Alex and I to set things up first. We take the magazines and plants off of the center table, and then we put pillows down on my side, by the TV, for me to sit on. Angus walks over and, as is custom, he brushes against us and the magazines and they spill over as we pet him vigorously, because he loves attention while we play magic. He always gets excited whenever we sit down together and start to prepare our things for card playing. His face perks up and he starts to pant, like he’s outside in the steaming heat.

Next, we unroll my massive Dark Confidant playmat, which I got in 2014 and which was signed by the artist, Scott Fishman, at a magic convention in Worcester-Boston. He signed it with a little fish next to his name, which is how I remember what his name is. It’s written in silver sharpie. When we went, Dan, Alex (different Alex this time), and I all got playmats from the same guy and for the same purpose, but I think I’m the only one who still uses his playmat. I think Alex sold his, and Dan uses a different one whenever he plays. I don’t even own a Dark Confidant card, but having the playmat makes me feel like I do, at least in some sense.

Alex (the first one, not the friend one) is looking to get a playmat for herself one of these days. We’re in the middle of researching the right one for her, and I think she’s looking for one with Deathpact Angel or Angel of Despair on the cover. I think either of those options would look amazing on a playmat, so to imagine them lighting up against my Dark Confidant playmat would be amazing. Darkness versus light, good versus evil, all that jazz. You know how it goes by this point.

#181: The Otter Blanket

dewgong on body of water

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On Sunday night, the one before the most recent one, Alex and I had to sleep with a different comforter on our bed. We fought over the blanket all night, apparently, too, wrestling for control of it because it wasn’t long enough to cover our queen-sized bed. It’s a blanket with a bunch of pictures of otters on it, and I believe my mom got it for Alex for Christmas one year. Don’t quote me on that, though. I’m not 100% sure. Either way, we both had pretty bad sleeps and weren’t able to recover much from it on the day after. The blanket was partially to blame for it.

Now, you might be wondering, Anthony, why did you have to sleep on a different comforter and have a miserable sleep on this night? Why was that necessary in the first place? Those are smart questions! Let me explain what happened.

So, it was a Sunday night, and as has already been established on this blog, Alex and I decided to not watch Game of Thrones. Instead, we relaxed and I turned on my computer and played some Magic the Gathering: Arena. While I was finishing up one of my runs, I hear an unfamiliar sound from the bedroom, and then it again. Alex rushes into the bedroom, and comes out immediately after.

She says, “Angus barfed on the bed.”

My first reaction was, of course, “Why did it have to be on the bed?” I guess I’m a terrible dog owner, because my first thought wasn’t about the health and safety of our dog but rather the location he decided to barf on. Then again, why did he barf on the bed, of all places? We still don’t totally know; it’s not like he was on the bed before. He jumped on, barfed, then jumped off and went about his night. What a weird dog.

#173: The New Record

black and brown short haired puppy in cup

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It’s possible, very possible in fact, that I’m writing this blog post a bit too soon, considering I tend to jinx myself when it comes to these things. I’ve already written about Angus’s countdown in the past, but I want to highlight a new aspect of it today, a new development worthy of some praise and consideration.

Angus has reached a new record on his doggy days countdown, and I couldn’t be happier for him. (Even though he woke me up countless times last night and made going to sleep pretty miserable, I still love this boy, most of the time.) He has officially reached 21 days on the countdown, beating his previous record of 20. I remember his old record so well because he was so close to reaching the great count of three weeks, at 21 days, but he wasn’t able to get there for whatever reason. I think I remember he ate part of the trash can by my desk when we came home from gym; it was a huge disappointment, considering how well he was doing prior to that moment.

This all being said, he hasn’t been completely alone through all of these days. I had a week off during April break thanks to school being off, and I sat around home with Angus for awhile during that time. He got to have some company during this time, and so it’s not like Angus was perfect while we were away from work throughout all of the days on the countdown. He’s been great, though, and that’s worth talking about in a blog post.

When Angus eventually, inevitably, decides to break all of our happiness and mess up the apartment again, we will have to start from scratch with the countdown, and I’m not looking forward to that. But alas, it is inevitable.

As a quick edit before this post goes live, Angus reached 22 days, and then fell flat on his face and ate into my trash can, for no better reason than to get to a wrapper inside. A bit of a shame. He was doing so well.

#168: The Dog Day

two yellow labrador retriever puppies

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Driving around in the morning with Alex fills me with joy and energy to start the day, as I feel a sense of beginning and ending together whenever I wake up and Alex is still around. It’s not the same when she’s got an earlier shift! I love those late shifts for that reason alone, even though she gets more time home when she works earlier. But today, we’re going to talk about how Angus must feel after spending time with me for so long. The day I’m writing this is on a Monday, the Monday after April break, and I’m a bit worried about Angus’s streak, to be honest. He’s been a good boy and hasn’t broken anything in the apartment for 18 days so far, and I trust that he’ll continue this streak further. But what happens is, whenever there’s a time when he stays home with one of us for awhile, he gets used to having company in the apartment. And when that company goes away, as it is about to during this week considering I’m not on April break any more, he tends to lash out a bit. There’s an immediate reaction from him, and he pounces at the opportunity to find food of any kind. I still remember the day when we had a 20-day streak and, after going to the gym for 30 minutes, Angus still ate half of the potato we had resting on the counter. He never reached for them ever before, but during a 30-minute break from the action, he still thought it was appropriate to go off on that poor, defenseless potato. That’s why I’m worried about our dog today, and most days when we’re not around. Who knows what he’s getting up to right now? It could be anything! Anything at all!