I had grown up with a couple of cats. Not finicky ones that use -- or don't use -- litter boxes. Our cats came in the house for bacon and loving, but relieved themselves outdoors. They were good cats. But they were no dog, and certainly, no Angus.
My husband Mike and I got Angus in 1994 when we were living in Santa Rosa, Calif. Mike grew up with dogs, and I was game, as long as it was going to be a smart dog. Angus was a border collie, blue heeler and Australian cattle dog mix -- a dangerously high-energy, high-intelligence combination. We took him home from a backyard breeder as soon as he was 6 weeks old. And despite all intentions, he spent that first night sleeping right between us in our bed.
We started Angus early on the game of Frisbee and it wasn't long before he mastered the sport, adding twists and jumps to his catches. At the park near our house, Angus loved an audience. When people stopped to watch, and even clap, he poured on the showmanship -- always throwing in that over-the-shoulder catch 5 feet up in the air. He was so athletic and such a star.
Angus lived for the game of fetch. At our annual Derby Day parties, folks were amazed -- if not annoyed -- with his nonstop passion, throwing that soggy Frisbee at their feet. When we mowed the lawn, Angus quickly learned that if he dropped the Frisbee in our path, we'd have to stop and throw it. The kitchen hallway in our Minneapolis house was streaked with the cheap colors of plastic toys that he dropped at our feet as we cooked, or more likely, drank.
Mike kept Angus when we got divorced. And when I finally decided to get my own dog, I immediately began looking for another border collie. And Nick is the best dog ever ... on Flat Top Mountain. Second-best dogs? Will, Mom's Tibetan terrier mutt, a white ball of fire who showers her with love, and sister Maggie's Newfie mutt Sally, who's also up there in years and fighting the good fight. Yup, the whole family has gone to the dogs.
Last week Mike and his wife Glenda learned Angus had end-stage kidney failure. Angus, now almost 18 years old, had other health issues for several years, but clearly this was his last fight and there was no reason to make it more painful for him than it needed to be. With a vet's help, his fight ended today. His ashes will be buried at the Dvorak family cabin on Lake Superior, where Angus used to swim after sticks until he shook with near hypothermia and we had to force him to rest and warm up in the sunshine.
Loved that dog.
Best. Dog. Ever.