Angus: A Memoir

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My mother reminded me earlier this week that Oliver's birthday was coming up and that I should do a special post for him like I've done with every other member of the immediate family. Of course this idea presented a challenge since I normally read a book that's on a subject that interests that person, and since Oliver is a dog I couldn't exactly ask him what reading material he prefers. As far as I can tell his interests are chewing up things, eating bugs, and jumping on the furniture even though he knows he's not allowed up there. Since I couldn't find a book on any of those subjects I had to settle for a book about a dog. That's right I'm really going to write a blog entry about the family dog. When I pointed out to my Mother that people might find that a little odd she replied, "Hey, he's a member of the family too" - and judging by the number of pictures she has of Oliver in her photo album I would say he's the most popular member of the family.

He's also endlessly entertaining, and the most entertaining thing about having Oliver in the family is watching my parents struggle to figure out how to handle him. You see my parents are what I affectionately call low energy people. They'll sit in the living room and refuse to get up and get water despite how thirsty they are because It's all the way in the kitchen or my Dad will start swearing because he's so mad that he has to bend his arm and lean one inch to the left because he's too far away from the TV for the remote to work if he doesn't. So Mr. and Mrs. Low Energy decided to get a nice low-energy dog from the shelter, a Beagle who is past the puppy stage. But then they went to the shelter and my Mother spotted Oliver and decided that We were meant to be together, despite the fact that he was only five months old. But they figured having a puppy won't be so bad, and the puppy stage will just fly by anyway. So they brought him home, took approximately 1,000 pictures of him and got incredibly attached to him. And that's when they took him to the vet and discovered that he was part Beagle and part Jack Russell Terrier (I can't even keep from laughing while typing that.) That's right, they accidentally adopted a dog whose breed is often described as "high energy, extremely stubborn, and often hyperactive." When my Mother first read that description of the breed she said, "That's our Oliver." And to give you a little glimpse into his behavior problems, here are a few pictures:

And then there are the temper tantrums he throws whenever he doesn't get his way - which I wish I had a video of - in which he runs around the room so quickly that you almost can't see him, and then jumps from one piece of furniture to the next while growling and pretending to bite people as he lunges past them, and then he caps it off by attempting to rip up the carpet a few times. He does this for about five or ten minutes or until he gets too tired to breath and then he passes out on the floor.

But, I don't want to leave you with the impression that Oliver is always doing bad things, because he has delightful moments as well. And despite the disparity in energy levels, Oliver really does belong in this family. And I have pictures to prove that too:

Here is Oliver enjoying his first garage sale experience - reaffirming for my Mother that they really were "meant to be together" because, as she pointed out, "He's a garage sale kind of dog."

And here is Oliver showing us that he loves all things related to Disney as much as the rest of the family. And yes, my parents really do have a three foot statue of Mickey Mouse in their Living Room.

And now on to today's book, "A young dog names Angus lies wounded at the edge of a dark wood. In the distance he sees the lights of his owners' cabin. As he starts the long, valiant climb back to them, all the stirring sights, sounds, and scents of his brief but wildly episodic life begin to replay before him."

I found today's book kind of disappointing - but it was entirely my own fault. I picked out the book without actually reading the description (big surprise there) - I just saw the cover and thought Oh that looks amusing, it'll be like that movie Look Who's Talking but with a dog, except maybe not so much like that movie because that movie wasn't really amusing. But it turns out the book wasn't a fun book at all because Angus is the kind of dog who has deep thoughts that are kind of bleak sometimes. I like to think that Oliver has shallow but pleasant thoughts, thoughts like Since I'm so cute and lovable don't you want to give me a few extra treats? And then there are times when he gets all excited and starts bouncing along behind someone as they walk from one room to the next and I like to imagine him thinking Oh boy, where are we going, what are we doing, what's happening next? But what do I know - I guess it's possible that he could be sitting around having deep thoughts like If a dog barks in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it really make a sound.

And in honor of Oliver's birthday I'm going to print up two copies of today's entry so that when I give it to my Mother to read I can also give Oliver a copy to shred because shredding paper (as you can see) is his all-time favorite activity.