I have a new neighbor.
His name is Angus. He is a nine-week-old Border Terrier.
Rumors of the potential arrival of a new neighbor were circling a couple of months ago. As some of you may recall, I vowed as part of my New Year’s resolutions to treat my new neighbor with “patience and good humor.”
I have been having trouble keeping this resolution.
I had heard the wee fellow whining a few times when he arrived last week, and later I heard him scampering about in the hallway. I alerted my People to these worrisome sounds, but they showed little concern.
Our human neighbor, Angus’s guy, is an big-hearted optimist who wants me to be friends with young Angus. So on Thursday night, we finally met face to face.
Readers, the encounter was not what one would call a smashing success.
I entered the hallway curious to know who had been making all that noise and leaving such unfamiliar smells about the place. Before I knew it, Angus was upon me with an enthused but uncouth greeting. I was, quite frankly, appalled.
I told Angus to back off. He did not. I looked up at my People to inquire why I was being subjected to the discourteous maulings of this wee intruder, and they tried to reassure me. Be nice, they said. Go away, I told him.
He did not go away.
I tried to hide behind the Guy’s legs. Here is what I learned about young Angus: He is wriggly as a ferret and displays an alarming albeit impressive ability to squeeze himself into tight spaces where he is not wanted, such as the gap between the back of the Guy’s knees and my terrified self.
After a few torturous minutes of this, the experiment concluded, and I was allowed to return to the sanctuary of my home.
The next night, I heard him out in the hallway again. I ran to the door and growled at him in warning. I felt rather grand and puffed up, and I looked to the Lady to let me out. She opened the door, and I ran out, ready to assert my authority. Angus promptly deserted the ball he had been chasing and rushed at me like a tiny, furry linebacker. He barked in my face. He lay down on the floor, wagged his little stump of a tail, went into a play bow. He leapt up again and pawed at my side, as if he were about to climb aboard me.
Readers, have you any idea what it is like to be attacked by a creature full of dumb gusto and no sense, armed with needle-sharp teeth? I recoiled in horror and demanded the Lady let me back into our apartment. I decided that from that point on, that miniature beast could do whatever he wanted out in the hallway. I was staying put.
Much like my New Year’s resolution, that vow was soon left by the wayside. Last night, I heard Angus again. I stood up, growled, and took a step towards the door, only to retreat and lay down on my blanket again. I was torn between wanting to do something about this problem and wanting to do nothing in the hope that it would go away. I searched my People’s faces for some aid to my quandary.
Once again, we went into the hallway.
This time, Angus came right up to me, stood on his hind legs, and pawed at my face. I warned him off in no uncertain terms with a loud vocal remonstration. He backed down, for a moment at least. The Lady commended me. You’re a good boy, Albert, She said.
I am well aware of that, I replied. Why then, are you letting this pint-sized monster torture me?
You’re such a good boy, Albert, Angus’s human said, scratching my back.
I then began to understand my role in all this. I am not here to be Angus’s punching bag or his guinea pig.
I am here to educate him. (Lesson 1: Get out of my face.)
Readers, I must get started on my syllabus. There are so many things to cover in this young pup’s curriculum.
Seen in this new light, Angus reveals himself as perhaps lacking in decorum, but able to respond to constructive feedback. I think he will be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
And I suppose he is even a little bit cute. If you like that kind of thing.