Farewell to a friend

By Kris Ferrazza | Apr 06, 2018

He was an impulse buy. He was grounds for divorce. And he was, quite possibly, the sweetest dog I’ll ever know.

We said goodbye to Angus the collie a few weeks ago. He would have been 12 this summer, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Having had four surgeries in five years, my husband joked that Angus was the Rob Gronkowski of Midcoast Maine.

With movie-star good looks, he was something of a celebrity in our neighborhood. Smart and sensitive, he had a sable coat like Lassie, but under all that fluff, he was tough as nails. He recovered like a champ after two hardcore orthopedic surgeries for ruptured ACLs and other health problems. Our vet would marvel at how stoic he was, and he still wagged his tail on his last day with us.

His arrival into our family in 2006 was fraught with emotion. We were reeling after losing our beloved collie Milo unexpectedly to cancer at just age 4. My husband did not want another dog right away, but I was crying myself to sleep. Our daughter was an infant, and I was not completely myself. So in an uncharacteristically impulsive move, I found a purebred puppy and purchased it on the sneak. That’s right, I bought a dog against my husband’s wishes and prayed I’d get away with it. We’ll chalk it up to temporary insanity.

Enter Angus.

When Tim finally laid eyes on the precious pup, he looked at me and said flatly, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I wondered for a minute if he might divorce me. I knew it could be a possibility. What I’d done certainly was grounds for divorce, and I wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on in family court.

All I could do was wait and hope that my husband would fall in love with the dog, and then one day remember I wasn’t all bad either.

Lucky for me, that’s exactly what happened.

After less than an hour, Tim grumbled, “I assume he has to go out.” He clipped a leash to the puppy’s collar, and in no time they were frolicking outside. The dog’s tail wagged non-stop as he zig-zagged to and fro, sniffing everything in his path, and Tim jogged to keep up with him. My new puppy had instantly become his dog, and they remained best friends until the end.

Angus was 5 months old, and our daughter was 6 months old that December. We also had a young cat in the house, so Christmas was crazy. Once I knew it was safe to joke with my husband again, I would kid that Santa Baby had slipped a sable under the tree for me. He was only half-amused.

Since I spent my days at home with baby Elizabeth, Angus ate when she ate, played when she played, and napped when she napped. I’d change her diaper, then think, “Well, that means he needs to go out.” At mealtimes, I’d feed her in the highchair, and he’d sit next to it. I’d snap a bib onto each of them, and proceed to feed them both. She would sleep in her playpen and he’d snooze next to it on the floor. Looking back, it was baby bliss.

As they got older, they competed for our attention like siblings, and tried to get each other in trouble. One day my daughter announced, “Aggie bit my finger!” I scolded the dog, shocked that he would nip my toddler, and sent him straight to his dog bed. He hung his head and looked so sad Elizabeth couldn’t take it.

“No, Aggie can stay here,” she said. When I asked if he truly had nipped her, she replied, “No…” then added, “Not yet.” Needless to say, he never did.

But he was no angel. He would steal my daughter’s food and toys, upset board games, stomp through her Lincoln Log villages, chew Barbies and herd her. As payback, she would make him wear aprons and fairy wings, boss him around, sit on him, “accidentally” lock him in his kennel, and force him to trot through hula hoops in her “circus acts.”

Once Elizabeth started school, Angus was her loyal bus stop buddy. He waited outside with her every morning from the first day of kindergarten through grade 6, rain or shine. And my daughter’s daily chore was to feed and water the dog. She would take his dish to the porch and call, “Angus, puppy chow!” each morning and night, summoning him from the barn or field with her sweet little voice. After so many years, those routines are sorely missed.

Angus was a lover of cookies, cats and cold weather, but he disliked squirrels, stairs and swimming. He especially enjoyed barking and birthday parties, but hated fetch and fireworks. He guarded this property like it was his job because, well, it was. He protected our hens, got beat up by a rooster, groomed our cats, and shared his squeak toys with the pony.

He was a sidewalk superintendent who carefully supervised while we dipped shingles, CMP replaced our meter, and Colby & Gale delivered propane. He also was a Renaissance dog who figured out the cone of shame could double as a snow cone maker. As recently as last month, he used his to funnel snow directly into his mouth.

Angus lived life to the fullest, having once eaten half a peanut butter birthday cake that was not his. He also had experienced the excitement of being sprayed by a skunk, and posed with great dignity in three separate family portraits.

He had a large fan club, as evidenced by the phone calls and cards of remembrance and sympathy that have arrived daily since he left this earth. Children often waved from passing school buses, and neighbors honked and called to him by name.

Sweet old Angus will be sadly missed. I like to think he and Milo are ripping it up in heaven, likely destroying the place, and jumping on all of the couches (assuming there are couches in heaven). We look forward to a happy reunion one day. And at the present time, there are no plans for a puppy. That is, unless my husband is shopping on the sneak.

And the beat goes on.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 06, 2018 16:01

Wow! Such a testimonial! Pets fill our souls and give back such love. Thanks for sharing. Made me remember my beagle, so young, then so old!

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