#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

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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!

#152: The Dog Bathroom

bathroom interior

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When living life as a dog, everywhere is a bathroom, at least until you’re trained not to. But even when you are trained, sometimes you like to take big doggy poops outside in the bushes and leave them in places where Anthony has a difficult time picking up with his doggy poop bags. That’s what happened the other day, when Alex was away for the weekend. I took Angus outside earlier than usual, and upon reaching his usual pooping destination, he promptly squatted onto the ground and let loose a stinky mess right in the middle of a prickly bush. Of course, I tried as hard as I could to pick up after my dog, like a responsible and appropriate dog owner, but there was only so much I could do without hurting myself even more.

Taking Angus outside is always an experience. Being someone with perpetual anxiety, I always worry that we’ll bump into another dog and Angus will jump on them and make a mess in the apartment main lobby. Thankfully, that’s only happened a couple times and he’s gotten a bit better since we bought him a harness, but it’s still a concern of mine. Whether it’s human or dog, Angus will leap onto whoever seems the most interesting to him at any given time. When taking him outside, he tends to be a bit more excitable and interested in whoever is around him. He used to pull on the leash whenever cars or buses stormed through the streets, but he’s gotten much better at not doing that since we first adopted him.

Angus is the type of dog who loves attention, so much so that he’ll give off a little doggy moan from the couch if you leave him alone for too long. Alex and I used to think it meant he was tired, but now that we’ve had him for long enough, we’re convinced Angus just needs perpetual rubs to keep him from moaning during the day. And we provide the glorious body rubs for our boy, that’s for sure.

#146: The Dog Hotel

sears tower usa

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I’ve mentioned the dog walk, but not what it’s like to bring our little Angus to the vet and dog hotel combo over the weekend. Alex and I were able to spend a weekend without our wonderful dog in Boston, but not without spending some money getting Angus room and board in a fancy, up-scale doggy hotel. We had an overwhelmingly satisfactory experience there, and we will most definitely bring Angus back there when we go on vacation again.

The dog hotel didn’t look as fancy as the stock picture I posted above, but it still works. It was a fantastic place for him, as they kept sending us email updates on his test results and status. He had to get some tests done while he was there, so we knocked out two birds with one stone and managed both at the same time. When they brought Angus out on Sunday, he galloped over to us and the lady taking care of him said he was one of her new favorites. If we paid extra, we could’ve gotten him individual or group play time, a stuffed Kong treat, and a camera live-feed so we could watch him in his crate while we were in the hotel, in case we wanted to reminisce about our dog while on vacation. Not that we’d ever do that; some level of separation between us is okay, believe it or not. We considered it, though, and that says enough about who we are as dog parents.

As I mentioned, the vet did some tests on Angus while we were gone, primarily looking into his previous history of heartworm. Initially, the tests came back positive for some traces of heartworm, but they completed a few other tests afterwards that we haven’t heard the results from yet. Still no word on whether or not the heartworm will resurface in our good old boy. Fingers crossed he doesn’t have anything going on; he doesn’t need that additional pain in his life.

#127: The Pet Store

adult black pug

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Recently, but not too recently, Alex and I visited Petsmart with Angus to get him groomed for the first time. I’m going to be talking about that trip in this blog post, and what transpired during that incredible, ill-fated journey of ours.

It started on a Sunday morning, both of us waking up along with Angus completely unprepared for the day ahead, as usual. Alex checked the Petsmart website again to see what we needed to bring with us, and I came up with the idea of having Alex sit in the backseat with Angus, driving Ms. Daisy style, to make sure he didn’t get too restless while we drove 5 minutes to the store. Even though the store isn’t that far away, I think it’s important for us to make sure Angus isn’t jumping all over the car, which he definitely would do, given the opportunity.

In the car, Alex made sure to hold onto him tight, and we were off. He put his paw on the backseat a few times but overall, nothing too crazy to write home about. The real craziness was when he tore up all the contents of the recycling bin, but I’ve already written about that.

Then, we arrived at the pet store. We walked to the grooming section, only to find out that we needed to bring his rabies paperwork with us because this was his first time visiting. A huge blow. We debated whether or not to go back home to get it then, but we decided against it. Instead, we walked around the store more and bought some rawhide for Angus.

Angus also chose a toy based on what he sniffed the most, and he chose a lucha libre doll that we named Jeff Angel, based again off of The Adventure Zone.