Sit and Deliver

Regular readers may remember my post about my new next-door neighbor, Angus, a Border Terrier puppy. He moved in about six weeks ago, and after some trepidation, I decided to accept my role as Angus’s teacher. I had visions of instructing my young charge in the customs of dogs and the ways of the city. In my mind’s eye, our exchanges would go something like this:

ALBERT:  Angus, please do not jump up in my face like that. It is most unseemly.

Angus backs off and lies down. He looks up at me with adoration and wonder.

ANGUS:  I will never do that again, sir. You are so wise, Professor Albert. I want to learn everything you know so that I can be as wise as you.

ALBERT:  All in good time, grasshopper.

I imagined my pupil absorbing all my lessons and even surpassing my own abilities to become the most well-behaved dog in history. Perhaps Mr. Harvey Weinstein would want to produce a movie based on my inspiring story as a teacher who sacrificed his own chance at glory to drive his reluctant student to greatness.

In reality, our lessons went something like this:

ALBERT:  Angus, please do not jump up in my face like that. It is most unseemly.

Angus jumps in my face again.

ANGUS:  Let’s play!

ALBERT:  Maybe if you stop jumping on my face, I will consider playing with you.

ANGUS:  Okay, is this better?

Angus jumps in my face again.

ALBERT:  Get out of my face. I’m serious.


Angus jumps in my face again.


ANGUS:  You’re so funny when you growl at me!

Angus jumps in my face again.

I run to my People.

ALBERT: Are you going to help me here?

THE GUY/THE LADY:  Oh, Albert. I guess you’ve had enough.

Albert and his Person exit stage left.

Repeat ad infinitum.

We never made it past lesson one. I’m afraid it’s time to admit that I have been a failure as a teacher. The Lady has been trying to make me feel better about this by telling me that She was a failure as a high school teacher and that it is harder for introverts to have to perform in front of a classroom for hours a day because it takes a lot of energy for them to interact with other humans. But I am not sure this applies to me.

Firstly, I was not in a classroom; I was working with a private student, and for minutes a day rather than hours. Secondly, I am not even sure whether dogs can be introverts. The Lady thinks they can and says that I am not as introverted as She but that I am still on the more introverted side of the dog personality scale. For example, I really enjoy meeting humans and other dogs, but when there are a large number of other dogs around, I usually like to stay on the sidelines and observe. I rarely want to be in the middle of the action. And I do find energetic younger dogs rather exhausting to be around. The Lady says that when Angus is a bit older and calmer, I may find it easier to deal with him. I certainly hope so, or else I will live in fear of a puppy ambush every time I step into the hallway.

I will have to do more research to determine whether dog introversion is a thing or whether the Lady is just trying to assuage my feelings. Readers, what do you think?


21 thoughts on “Sit and Deliver

  1. Archie had a very similar experience with his neighbour by the name of Max. He feels your indignation and remarked how you carried yourself with decorum and restraint. He congratulates you Albert, but feels you should neither of you give up on your young charges. After all the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and they must learn.

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  2. I’m not sure about whether dogs can be introverts, but I am sure your Lady taught you your impeccable spelling and grammar! One of the reasons I love your blog is that it is so well-written – the fact that She’s a high-teacher explains why! 🙂

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  3. Hello, Albert! I’m sorry your pupil was not more compliant, but do not attribute his insubordination to a lack of skill on your part. My brother, Walter, is suspected to be a Border Terrier/ Chihuahua mix and, at the age of three, is still a total spaz (not the clinical term). You should have seen him as a puppy. Yikes!!!

    I’m only a cat, but I agree with the Lady about you being an introvert. Introversion and extroversion are about how you re-charge your batteries, so to speak. And, based on your description, you recharge by taking time for yourself. Both of my moms are introverts (Little Mom more than LOUD Mom), so I know a lot about how introverts work. After all, they are the main subjects of my observations.

    Thanks for another entertaining and thought-provoking post, Albert!

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    • Thank you for the encouragement, Carol. I know Angus is a special case, because there is another new puppy in the building. Unlike Angus, Whisper is very calm and quiet (nominative determinism, perhaps?). It may just be that I am not the ideal teacher for a Border Terrier.

      Based on your explanation, I think I probably tip more towards introversion. I do need my quiet time! But the Lady says that this winter I seem to have confused re-charging my batteries with re-charging my stomach. I’m worried I’ll soon be put on a regimen like Sherman.

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      • You raise an interesting point, Albert. Angus’s human(s) may want to consider a new name. Perhaps Tranquil or Quiet? Seems worth a try.

        I’m sure those extra ounces will come off once the warm weather arrives and you can get out more. The key is not making up for the extra activity with extra treats! Hopefully extreme measures won’t be necessary!

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        • That’s a thought, Carol. I don’t see it happening, though. Angus is such a Scottish name and so appropriate for a Border Terrier.

          I hope Sherman and I can both slim down without too much hardship!

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  4. I’ve only recently met you, Albert, but I am guessing you were once an overly-energetic puppy yourself. It is the “job” of older, wiser, calmer dogs, to let puppies know when they are being too energetic. It is also the job of their human moms and dads, of course! But puppies tend to learn best from other canines. It won’t be easy, but I bet you (and other dogs Angus meets) can do it.

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    • Thank you for the comment. I am pretty sure I was absolutely perfectly behaved from the moment I was born. 😉

      But you are right; there were definitely some older dogs who used to correct my oafish behavior. I will just have to try again with the little fellow.

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  5. “How do I reach these kids??” Patience and perseverance, dear Albert. Maybe your mom could throw in an extra treat or two to help keep your patience up. (Don’t worry about the extra pounds… like Carol said, once it warms up you’ll be svelte in no time.)

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  6. Dear Albert, I hear the discouragement behind your words. Don’t sell yourself short. Just because you’re not getting immediate results, does not mean you are not a positive influence in Angus’ life. Give it time. He will calm down as he matures. I also think his being able to get outside and run off some of his extra energy will also help.
    I’m an introvert, too. My down time is precious to me. Necessary. Like food and water, creatures like us need our quiet time. Never apologize for that, Albert. It’s part of who you are. I suspect, if it were me in that hallway with Angus jumping up in my face, I’d want to get away, too!

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    • Dear Pickled Pastor, thank you for this thoughtful comment. It is true that I get discouraged easily. He is a friendly little fellow, so I think once he gets older, we should be able to get along. And yes, this lingering cold weather is not helping matters at all.

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  7. The Bean and I have discussed this at length. We agree that dogs can be introverts. The Bean herself gets extremely overwhelmed with other dogs, not helped by a Newfoundland the size of a small camper van deciding to boistrously play with her in the middle of a village in the Alps the other day. She doesn’t snap like she used to and French people understand her need to say hello first but overall we think that she falls on the introvert plain. Like me, in fact 🙂

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  8. I know what you go through with Angus. My 3-year-old neighbor Bella is still as rambunctious as ever and I keep disciplining her when she bugs me too much. But I have hope that the more time we spend with each other – warm weather and all – she will settle down. Maybe that’s what will happen with Angus! ❤ LadyBird

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  9. Albert, you raise a curious question about whether dogs can be introverts. I have wondered the same about cats, who are often seen as less outgoing, on the whole, than dogs. Angus, in any case, sounds like an extrovert. I hope you find some good middle ground!

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    • I suppose cats might have different personalities, too. I can’t say, I have not made a study of them. I am hoping we find some middle ground too, perhaps in year or so when Angus has calmed down a bit.

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