Angus Retrieves

We have discovered that our house hides an endless supply of items only obtainable by a finely-tuned chewing machine, well-equipped with four lanky legs and a protruding snout.

My family is taking care of a 10-week-old Golden Grabber, er, Retriever while her owner vacations in Mexico.

Since Angus’s arrival, our hands, like her mouth, have been full.

As she confidently trotted into our house at the beginning of her stay, she introduced us to a game that would be played all week, and made sure that we were able to securely grasp the rules. In this variation of “fetch,” human involvement is minimal… or non-existent.  Regardless of the age, strength or size of her opponent, Angus always walks, runs, slides or otherwise escapes with the prize.

Of course, she only enjoys this top dog status for a short period of time, as we, the superior beings, can resort to using yummy edible treats to coax the prohibited item from her when the going really gets tough.

With a certainty that suggested she had stowed it there herself, Angus bounced into the TV room and uncovered a sucker stick from under the couch.

This was the first of many times that my kids would watch in awe as I pried her jaws apart, plunged my hand deep into her ominous canine chops and performed a sweep to remove the offending, yet oh so delectable, stick.

Immediately after I retrieved my hand from her mouth, she bolted back to the couch and after some frantic scratching and impressive paw handling, emerged with what I would soon realize was the slobber-covered wrapper that once accompanied the aforementioned sucker stick.

Upon seeing that, the kids high-tailed it out of there in an attempt to avoid the discussion on appropriate after school-snacks, and cleaning up after themselves.

We are following the advice of dog owner friends in an effort to manage Angus’s “behaviour.” She and I have become marathon walkers although my event seems more like a puppy preschooler biathlon during which we both speed walk sporadically, and I (as the superior being) twirl a full 360 degrees at semi-regular intervals.  As she darts from side to side, I spin around in order to avoid switching the leash to my other hand which is already being used to hold the bag filled with… well, you know.

We praise and encourage her to chew what she should, and attempt to correct her by substituting the right for the wrong chewable item. But as my daughter pointed out, we offer a chewy and instead, she dashes off and chomps down on a shoe-y.

When we diligently remove all, in our opinion, non-chewables, or when she tires of the odd stray shoe, boot or slipper, she goes for corners of area rugs and legs of furniture. She starts by licking, her eyes narrowing as she gauges the amount of time she has before we interfere.  Luckily, we have been able to stop her doing any damage, but as I say that, I feel the need to touch wood – with the, at present, still smooth finish.

Angus deftly snatches pairs of matching socks (no kidding) from the laundry pile, and has perfected a fake left, go right lunge she uses to pinch stuffed toys off my daughter’s bedroom floor. But she seems to prefer shirt sleeves…with arms inside.  In her frantic rush to mouth absolutely everything in her path, she will grab my shirt sleeve and adjust her grip so that I can’t escape without tearing my shirt.  Then, she will sit and drop down, settling in for a good chew as she would with a dog toy, or more often, a boot or shoe.  What have I done, I wonder, to make her think that I will actually join her as she gnaws on my arm?

She seems terrified yet intrigued by the big yellow bus that swallows up the kids in the morning, and spits them back out again at the end of the day.  She is not happy to see her favourite human toys go, but is clearly ecstatic upon their return.

It is that enthusiasm, along with the truly entertaining antics of a pup that we find entirely endearing. Angus is undeniably cute and amusing, and I must say that our week together has really made me want to consider…

Babysitting her again, anytime.

But I might need some yelp convincing the kids that, what my husband refers to as our “grandparent” role, will be enough!