Introvert and the Pandemic Puppy

Angus after 1 month with us and after 4 months

We adopted Angus on February 29th, right before the lockdown in New Jersey. The rescue organization said he was a Lab mix. Someone recently said maybe the other half is Great Dane. He has the long, whip tail of the Dane, not the thick, rudder-like tail of a Labrador. Angus is also very leggy and his head shape is more rectangular than square. Perhaps most telling, he has the habit of taking large amounts of water in his mouth and then walking away from his bowl, only to let it flow from his mouth like a waterfall. I’ve seen Great Danes do this. I’m not sure Labs have this habit.

Angus has rapidly eclipsed Zackie-O in size. She is a svelte 50 lb Plott Hound. He is probably between 70 and 80 lbs and he’s not done growing. Angus grows so fast that every other day, he has trouble climbing stairs. He is all uncoordinated, flailing limbs. Today, he stood with his front paws on the bed, hopping with his back end, since he thinks this action will somehow get him on the bed. I’m 5’3″ on a good day and his head reached my shoulder in that position. When he swung his head into me to get pets, he sent me stumbling backwards. He’s a big boy.

As I watched this ever-expanding puppy over the last few months, I grew worried that we weren’t able to properly socialize him. I reached out on social media to friends with dogs and asked for advice. They sent me to several helpful articles on what to do when you can’t bring your dog out to meet people. The articles suggested doing things like drive-by viewing of strangers in shopping areas and making sure the pup was exposed to many different surfaces, noises, and human dress.

We’ve found that there really is no good substitute for direct experience and being handled by other people. Now that restrictions have eased, we have started bringing Angus out to anywhere dogs are accepted. While he had been going on mile-long walks twice a day and being exposed to the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, he hadn’t really been able to get close to other people. We’ve found that he is skittish with new people, but shows no signs of aggression or fear, just uncertainty and distrust. I think he will get over that.

Angus is the slowest maturing dog I’ve ever had. Three weeks ago, he lost his last baby tooth. He lifted his leg on a tree for the first time this week and has since forgotten how to do it. He’s been spooked by a dragonfly resting in the lawn of our backyard and also by a fish when he dipped his toes into a lake for the first time. Because of this slow maturation, I am hopeful that his window for socialization is expanded and he will eventually catch up with his social skills.

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Introvert and the Pandemic Puppy

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