Then and Now: Angus


The puppy pic was taken on the day we brought Angus home. Daddy had to go out and buy puppy food. The adult pic was early 2021.

[Angus was originally named after a B5 ship and a veg. We were in a food-and-craft naming period for a while: Nutmeg, Ginger, Truffle, Piper, Gennaker. I'll use this actual name during our trip down Memory Lane.]

Angus arrived in his new forever home on Friday, 16 May [2014]. We aren't entirely sure what he is. Beagle, they said. Chihuahua, they said. We think there might be a bit of wiener dog in him. Don't know, doesn't matter. He's around 8 weeks old and a sweetie.

Gus has been a delight so far; very mellow and curious but not aggressive or snappish. He's working on his housebreaking and has only had one accident (because Daddy wasn't paying attention to his signal at the back door.) We've learned "focus", "exam" and "C'mere!" Unfortunately, we're still learning our name, and commands are still at the "repeat it several times" stage before we see a result. Mmmm... it's worth it for a nibble of boiled chicken breast, though! Our favorite toys are Weasel, Chicki-Bone, Swirly Ball and Green Thing. He has a few puppy-sized tennis balls but those are for fetching (which he's learning well) and aren't left down - I'm not a fan of scooping tennis ball fuzz from mouths every few minutes.

He's a fast learner. I started him off with the lower portion of a portable kennel. We put the lid on the day before last and it didn't phase him. The gate went on today and he cried a bit, but it was "sleepy-bye" time and his cries died back after a two minutes. Hey, it's not our first rodeo! We've been training dogs for over twenty years!

Of course, we're still isolated in the kitchen. The house isn't puppy proofed and the large-hole floor registers are dangerous to puppy paws. I tune in Pandora and big band music, make my coffee and stage my day around training, eat and play, and sleep, with trips outside interspersed between. That's probably the most time-consuming thing. But, do it right at the beginning and you'll get a properly trained dog in record time.

All of our dogs, with the exception of our greyhounds, spent their awake hours in the kitchen. A baby gate prevented them from getting into trouble. It made housebreaking and training so much easier. In Angus' case, it let a gentle and sensitive pup thrive away from a pack of buttheads - no bad habits to learn. I didn't have this luxury with Hershey and Zoie, and it shows.

The nights have been fairly good. Our dogs are bed-trained, meaning they settle into bed with us each evening and they get let out once or twice during the night when we feel them moving around. It means light sleep but it also prevents the dog from learning to soil a kennel. Gus sleeps solidly and has a tendency to move from between our pillows to the foot of the bed (under the covers) but he doesn't jump down.

Ah, but this heavenly period will end soon once he's big enough to jump from the bed, climb up stairs, jump onto couches and get into mischief. We're right there on the cusp of the puppy version of the "terrible two's".

Gus didn't go through that mischief phase. He remained upbeat and sensitive. Sadly, the bullshit situation we moved into caused him to lose much of that sensitivity. He would dart between Jeff and I, trying to prevent us from screaming at each other. We were all wound up. We had only one room to live in. The frustrations were obvious. Angus also became aggressive towards other dogs due to my mother's bastard of an asshole dog. I harbor so many regrets, and this living situation is most of them.

Angus and his companions spent most of last year with freedom to come and go as they pleased. There isn't a baby gate separating them from the downstairs anymore. What do they all do when they hear a noise downstairs? They sit on the landing and bark, or chuff, or do a host of other things besides going down. I find that learned behavior absolutely hilarious.

And Angus loves his newfound ability to just chill with us in the living room.