Angus would like you all to know that he is very grateful for the advice you sent a few weeks ago about how to train a puppy.
Now, with great respect, he would like to turn the tables, because who knows more about what a puppy needs than an actual puppy?
As his first year with us winds down, he offers the following suggestions:
• Don’t like counter-surfing? Put the food on the floor.
• To prevent a pup from lunging at a squirrel, lasso said squirrel and hand him over.
• Kleenexes are hors d’oeuvres, pure and simple, and nothing to quarrel about.
• Of course I chew your slippers: It’s called sharing and sharing is good.
• Upset because I chewed the couch? Always have a couch in reserve.
• When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you a hamburger, hand it to me.
• The mailman stuffs litter through that hole in the front door every day, so of course I go ballistic. Littering is bad!
• My bark is about the same as my bite.
• If you bite me, it’s news.
• I’ll chase the tennis ball if you’ll use the NordicTrack.
Angus trotted into our lives a year ago, on the morning of Dec. 30, 2017. So this weekend marks the holiday known to all dog owners as “Gotcha Day.”
Angus was born in November 2017 on the Pine Ridge Reservation and was rescued a week or two later by a group called LightShine Canine. He was fostered by Heart of a Border Collie Rescue until he was old enough to come live with us.
We have watched him grow from a 12-pound, giant-footed, seven-week-old puppy to the almost 60-pound, giant-footed, year-old dog he is today.
And you have watched him grow right along with us — the housebreaking, the leash-training (such as it is), the barking, the socialization (such as it is), the chewing, the cuddling, the sweetness, the goofiness. (Now I’m getting sentimental.)
We have spared you stories that involved gross gastrointestinal problems, but those of you who have dogs know enough about that already.
Angus has a zillion nicknames: Clown Shoes. (Just look at those feet.) Galoot. (As in, you big galoot.) The General. (Dating to his puppy days, when he marched around the house with a military swagger.) Goofball. (For obvious reasons.)
He loves having his belly scratched. He loves racing around the backyard, eating spilled birdseed (see gastrointestinal problems, above), chasing chipmunks, chasing our other dog, Rosie, and now and then digging an unauthorized hole.
He tried to be a good sport about learning fetch, but after a few weeks of running back and forth he simply gave it up. Couldn’t see the point. He’s pretty lazy, to tell the truth. He’d rather have his belly scratched.
I am only now, after a year, learning to read his facial expressions and understand his vocabulary of barks. Some barks mean “Let me in!” and some mean “I’m hungry!” and some mean “stranger alert!” and some mean “Rosie’s barking so I’m barking, too.”
Gosh, a year. A year. It feels, as it always does with a dog, like he’s been with us forever.
It feels like he’ll be with us forever.
Neither, of course, is true. But we are happy to be on this ride. Angus is lucky to have us. And we are so very lucky to have him.
The Puppy Chronicles documented a year with a rescue puppy. Read the whole series at startribune.com/puppy.
Editor’s note: In 2019, the Puppy Chronicles will run monthly, with additional updates when Angus misbehaves in a stupendous enough way to write about.