When the hubby and I moved home to Whitehorse after living in Toronto for almost two years, one of the first things we did was move out of town. We needed to live in the bush, after all that city living! And when you live in the bush, lots of people get a dog.
It’s good to have a dog around while you are living in the bush for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is it’s nice to have an early warning system to detect bears and other large, sharp animals whilst meandering in the wilderness. It’s also nice to have someone to play fetch with, chase gophers and a buddy in general. For myself, I taught Angus to eat spiders, which there seem to be more of when you live in the bush. Definitely worth the effort!
We decided to get a rescue dog from the local shelter, Mae Bachur Animal Shelter. There had recently been a litter of pups found in the nearby community of Carcross eating out of a dumpster. The person who found them brought them to the shelter and they had been there for a while in quarantine. They were about four months old, a little older than what we were looking for, but we thought we would take a look anyway.
They were German shepherd/husky cross puppies and they were all male. We looked into the holding pen and one of them came over to see us. He had floppy ears and the cutest eyebrows. To say we both fell in love would be putting it mildly. It was like he picked us. We brought him home the same day and named him Angus Young, after the guitar player for AC/DC.
I think at first we were in shock. Still in our twenties, it seemed like a puppy was a pretty big responsibility. Now that we have kids, I think it was akin to bringing home a new baby, although on a lesser scale. What had we done? They let us leave with him? Were they crazy?? Needless to say, we adjusted. I really think a dog is good practice before having a kid!
That was almost fifteen years ago. In that time, we have moved three times (always in the bush!), gotten married (Angus was the ring bearer!), had two kids, travelled, changed jobs, it goes on and on. And all through this, Angus has been there. He’s almost completely deaf now, although if you whistle or scream at a higher decibel, he’ll hear you. We use a lot of hand signals. I think he’s having trouble seeing, but he’s not walking into walls or anything yet. I think he may also have a bit of dementia. He’ll walk into the kitchen, stop, stand there staring for a minute, and then turn around and go back into the living room. I guess I do that sometimes, so maybe it’s not dementia?
A dog can teach you a lot of things about life because they live on a shorter time line. I’ve watched him go from crazy puppy phase to old man in the space of only fifteen years. He’s starting to feel really brittle and he doesn’t hear the squirrels that used to drive him insane. It’s a sad thing to watch a dog age. He’s been there for so many things and I know when he goes to Dog Heaven, there will be a really big hole. I do, however, feel honored to have had him this long. He’s outlived all of his dog buddies. The kids have never known a life without him, so I know that it will be really hard for them too. We actually talk about it a lot, trying to prepare them a little. Although, my ten year old never fails to remind me that the oldest dog in the world lived to be 33. Perhaps he’ll make it that long, but I don’t think so.
So here’s to my Angus, the oldest dog I’ve ever met. Thanks for all the life lessons and we won’t mention the accidents!