Angelo Surmelis is not only a former HGTV show host and interior designer, but also a successful furniture and home accessories designer. He’s also a self-confessed design geek and an all around nice, down-to-earth guy. His affordable line, angelo:HOME, is available just about everywhere from Overstock to Amazon to Bed, Bath & Beyond. This guy gets around, and by that I mean he’s a frequent traveler! LA and NYC-based, it’s hard for Angelo to have a dog, but find out how he makes it work. Meet Baxter, the coolest and perhaps most spoiled, design dog on the planet:
Nicknames? Monkey, Monk Jr., Little Man, Bax…
Breed? Border Terrier Mix
What?s ?The Scoop?? He ran away from his previous home on the 4th of July (a fireworks scare, most likely, because he is terrified by them every New Year’s Eve and 4th of July) and I stopped by the Pasadena Humane Society on July 5th. I already had the name “Baxter” in mind and sought out to find a dog that was fitting of the name… and well, Baxter was perfect. He sat in his cell, dejected, and presumably resigned to this being his fate — concrete and chain-linked fencing. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the place is an oasis on the dog pound scale, but nevertheless, it was a trap for him I’m sure. He wanted nothing to do with anyone. He was not friendly. Did not wag his tail. But, when I put my hand in the fence and called him over, he came… and rested his head in my hands. That was it. I was sold. This was Baxter. I immediately went into the office only to find that three other people were also vying for him, so I quickly asked how the process works – who gets him – and was told that whomever submits the application first will get first dibs at passing to the next level in the adoption process. So, I did what anyone would do. I half-assed filled out the contract, missing tons of vital information, and got my application stamped first!
Favorite Toy? He seldomly plays with toys, but on that rare occasion that I hear the squeak, it’s usually his “hamburger”: a small, I mean tiny, almost cat-toy sized plush squeaker toy made to look like a hamburger with all the fixings. It was a gift on holiday from my friend, author Jennifer Niven and her mother Penny – they are cat people – and well, Baxter is rather cat-like. So, they knew what to get him. I often say he’s a human who was raised around cats, trapped in a dog suit.
Favorite Food? Baxter is partial to Halo’s “Spot’s Stew” the Wholesome Chicken Recipe. But there is a twist. He likes to have a teaspoon of aged Pecorino Romano cheese – freshly grated – on top. Yes, he’s spoiled. And in addition, since he will quietly watch me and my dinner guests eat, he expects the same. He will come into my office around 9PM usually, tap me on my leg to follow him to his bowl where he will pretend to eat. Then, looking behind him (at me) to see if I’m watching, then he’ll eat.
Favorite place to sleep? This was a mistake… Since he was “fixed” the day I got him, I felt badly for his condition – pain, drugged up – so I allowed him to sleep on my bed. Well, as you can imagine, that was the end of it. He will sleep no where else. Oh and under the covers, not on top!
Pet Peeves? He hates to be alone and, with my traveling around the country nearly every week, this is a challenge. But, thankfully I have many great friends who keep him during the day in my LA office, and then stay with him in my home at night. It’s like clockwork for him and he loves the attention.
Best Trick? He can do all of the expected “tricks” from shaking your hand, sitting, laying… but it’s on his terms and only when he wants to do it (again, the cat training he must have received).
Gear? He loves his harness by Puppia. It was a great find when he accompanied me on a day trip to Santa Barbara many years ago. A great shop there had fantastic dog items and it fit him like a glove, much better than a collar. I feel badly for those pets that get dragged around by the neck… get a harness people!!!
If your dog were another animal what animal would that be? Well I would say a cat of course… but human really fits him best. I’ve never before met a dog who listened, thought, and then acted. He’s not just looking for the next treat (of course, those are welcome any time).
You’ve lived in NY and LA. Is Baxter more of an LA dog or a NYC dog and why/how? Unfortunately, he is LA based. I’ve toyed with the idea of bringing him to NYC, but with my schedule it’s hard. I’m always on the go. His extended family of loyal friends are all in LA. Plus, I’m certain he would not like the noise NYC offers. In LA he has a yard and a deck to lay out on (yes, the deck was specifically built just for him to be able to enjoy the sun).