We came home from work in a downpour. Normally I check the side gate to make sure it is closed, but this day it was raining so hard we just dashed to the house and let the dogs out. And this day, for some reason, the side gate was wide open.
Rosie ran down the sidewalk toward freedom, Angus right behind her.
Oh, my heart. Angus! Rosie!
And here I must back up.
Angus, now 9 months old, remains in the rebellious stage, the full flush of hormones and confusion. Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, he was nearly perfect. Then adolescence hit, and everything we had taught him went out the window.
His need to chew is off the charts. We keep him well supplied with bully sticks and elk antlers, as well as ropy tug toys, but it’s never enough. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were discussing whether we could trust Angus outside of his kennel when we’re not home, and at that moment Angus came trotting around the corner of the doorway. In his mouth was my favorite bra, the strap chewed off.
OK, so not yet.
The day I rescued my bra, I also rescued a ballpoint pen, the newspaper, the porch rug and a dish towel. The next day, he chewed through two chest harnesses. Yes, two in one day.
He is also backsliding in other areas: barking at other dogs; barking at visitors, counter surfing and digging. He has destroyed yet another dog bed, white fluff everywhere.
I am tired of correcting him. And then he rolls on his back, I rub his belly, he paddles his big clown feet in the air, and all is forgiven.
Angus is at the age when dogs are most at risk of being surrendered — between 6 months and 2 years, the highest-energy time, the time when they need the most attention and correction. We would never surrender Angus, of course (or any dog). At home, he is the sweetest dog we have ever had, all snuggles and enthusiastic smooches. I just wish I could fast-forward time to the point where he calms down in the rest of the world.
The other night we walked down the street, setting off all the dog alarms, as usual, when I heard a woman trying, in vain, to hush her dog. The dog had flung itself at the window and was going ballistic as we passed her house. I heard the woman yell a panicked confusion of commands: “No! Watch me! Leave it! Sit! No! No!”
And as Angus barked right back at him, I thought, “Sister, I feel your pain.”
But then, a week later, this happened: We came home from work in a downpour. The side gate was wide open.
Rosie ran down the sidewalk toward freedom, Angus in pursuit.
I called, “Angus!” and without slowing down, without breaking stride, he executed a beautiful U-turn and came racing back.
Oh, my heart!
A happy ending all around: Rosie did not go farther than the front yard — the rain and thunder kept her close.
We closed the gate. We got both dogs into the house, toweled them off, lavished them with treats and praise.
I could hardly believe it: With freedom beckoning and his sister leading the way, Angus came back when I called his name.
Angus, Angus, maybe you’re growing up after all.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. She is not a dog expert, just a dog lover, chronicling her puppy’s first year on these pages. 612-673-7302. @StribBooks
Coming Sept. 1: Now that he’s no longer a baby, where should Angus sleep? Follow Angus’ adventures at startribune.com/puppy