When the time arrived, we gathered our things — the backpack, the watermelon salad in a grocery bag, Jimmy’s clothes and things — and left the apartment. It was 11:00am, and we knew we wouldn’t be back for awhile longer. It’s on days like these when I worry about Angus, our dog, who hasn’t been alone for very long over the summer. He hasn’t run into any problems in 52 days, hasn’t tore up the incense holder but has certainly torn a bunch of his toys. He’s been a busy boy, spending time mostly home with me, taking walks or casual strolls around the apartment and back and forth a few times until he decides to pee. He’s a long walker, and he’s got ambitions of his own when we take him outside; sometimes those ambitions include walking around and dragging me through the park until he finally decides it’s time for him to plop down and poop.
But there are other times when Angus is alone, and I feel bad for him. He’s a good dog and I don’t like the image of him sitting on the couch, waiting for us to eventually come back and greet him again. I feel like it must be lonely for him to sit there by himself, eagerly anticipating our return only for it to not come for another hour or more. I know it’s normal, and eventually he’ll get used to it again after I have to return to work, but when that time comes, I’ll still be feeling bad about our dog. The alone time is never fun, and I know that already based on what it was like while I was unemployed not too long ago. This is what the alone time is; Angus mostly being by himself when there’s nothing better for us to be doing with him.
Again, this post is a continuation of the previous two posts, so read those if you haven’t already before this one!
Last time, we were on the topic of Angus and his communication skills, and how novel it is that he’s able to talk to us through his actions.
The silence and stubbornness is, of course, not the only way that Angus communicates with us though; he wags his tail when he’s excited, he barks when he’s angered or alert or in pain, and he lounges the rest of the time, communicating to us that he doesn’t want to be bothered for the foreseeable future. I don’t blame him, of course; I would want the same thing if all I had to do every day was lounge and relax like a big lard boy. It’s almost as if he’s a very old man trapped in a dog’s body, which I say but then remember as I’m writing that he’s 6, not totally a new dog on the block. He’s been around a few times before.
Like Walt Whitman, this dog contains multitudes. He’s full of energy and complexity, whenever I get the chance to take a good look at him. I hate when people say that dogs don’t have real personalities, memories, or affections for their owners; I can absolutely sense a desire for closeness with us whenever Angus is around. He loves attention to the point that he will whine for it sometimes, but not often. When he lets out a moo or a moan, it’s communicating to us that he wants something, or that he’s just gotten into a really comfortable position and does not want to be disturbed. I’m envious of him whenever he gets like that; I can only imagine how comfortable life must be as a dog, when you’re made of fur and hair and able to get rubs whenever you ask for it.
This post is a continuation from the previous one, so if you haven’t read that one, you may want to go back and check it out so everything makes sense!
When Angus starts to wander around outside, it’s best to just let him do what he does. If you try to stop him in the middle of a jaunt, he’ll once again stay completely still and wait for you to give him rubs on his head. Again, this is a fickle animal with fickle needs and desires. His stubbornness is one of his defining characteristics, after all.
But even though I write about him in this way, I hope you understand that I do so out of love for him. It’s all playful and meant not to deride him as a pet, but to poke fun at his idiosyncrasies. His uniqueness is what makes him so lovable to us, and when he decides to stand completely still while waiting to go to the bathroom, it feels like he’s communicating to us through his behavior. I like that feeling, that he’s trying to speak to us in some way and this is the only appropriate way he feels able to communicate whatever he’s feeling.
Angus is an absolute blessing on our lives and I don’t know what life alone during the summer would be like without my constant canine companion by my side. I’m so happy that Alex and I were lucky enough to find the perfect dog for us while we were at a local adoption event at Petsmart in North Haven, almost out of the blue. We were looking for another dog in particular that we saw online, but when he was taken, we decided on looking around elsewhere. I convinced Alex to check out the big boy in the crate, and she acquiesced. It just worked out perfectly, like it was meant to be or something.
Sometimes, when Angus is being a bit frustrating, he refuses to do much outside.
If it’s raining or even snowing, he’ll stand at the doorway into the apartment complex and just wait for you. Nothing especially interesting going on in the lobby, just Angus being completely still, almost invisible. When he gets like that, you have to give him rubs or talk to him a bit before he eventually starts moving again. It takes time to get Angus back in his groove, with him moving around energetically after standing still and silent for so long. It’s a phase that he goes through, but occasionally it happens more than once per visit outside. In those moments, head rubs are again essential, but usually those silences take longer to bust through.
See, if you haven’t already gleaned this from reading the blog in the past, Angus is a stubborn boy. He’s a bit of a loner, likes to sit by himself and put his paws next to his head, and his favorite spot in the whole apartment is nestled between the pillows on our bed. This is made better when you end up in the shower or are momentarily on the computer, because he likes attention and if he’s not getting it, he’s going to be on the bed instead. He’s got a mind of his own, this dog. I could write essays about his personality and inclinations, but I doubt anyone would want to read them.
When you take him outside, sometimes he doesn’t find a bathroom spot right away. Sometimes he walks in circles in front of the apartment complex lobby and just waits for some inspiration to hit him. He needs a very specific spot and a very specific temperament in order to pee appropriately. This is the way of the Angus, and nothing will get in his way of it.
Before I get started, let me say that this is a milestone blog post! #200 is here! I couldn’t think of anything fantastic to mention or discuss here, so I reverted back to talking about Angus as is the usual trend of things.
(Before you ask, no, we don’t feed Angus big, sweet cupcakes like the one featured in the picture, especially because it has chocolate in it and that would be an absolute disaster. We’re smart dog owners; I promise!)
Angus is a good, good boy, and good boys deserve treats every once in awhile. Today I’ll be sharing some of the various treats we give him and how they’ve impacted his storied life so far. Sometimes, Angus digs into them with reckless abandon and with no regard for anything except his inner craziness. He rushes forward and puts his mouth around the long, curled bone and rips into it with his teeth for hours and hours until eventually it’s all in his stomach, and he’s then a tired, exhausted mess on the couch. That’s usually how he reacts when we give him bones from our big bone pouch in the kitchen. We’ve stopped giving him bones all day, instead deciding to give him enough to last a week and that’s it.
We originally got Angus a nylabone toy, with cheeseburger flavoring on it, but he didn’t like it at all, so Alex gave it to her sister. When we’re downstairs, taking him outside for whatever reason, he will jump up onto the counter in the lobby with the milkbones in it. He’s a fiend for milkbones. Unfortunately, we’ve stopped giving him milkbones because they’re not very good for him and he’s gotten a bit chubby, but he still jumps for them regardless. That’s the price to pay of starting a habit and then taking it away quickly!
We also recently started giving him raw hide pieces, but he rips those up quickly too. No matter what we give him, he will devour it. Angus the Devourer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.