October 30, 1998 - February 6, 2015
Today my good friend Else said goodbye to her Very Old Dog and best friend, Archie. He would have been 17 this year, and lived with her for most of those 17 years.
Else adopted Archie from the Cowichan and District SPCA when he was just a young pup. He had been picked up for running loose and terrorizing his neighbourhood. He could have so easily become a Bad Boy Dog. Else took him to classes, did agility with him, helped him qualify as a Pet Therapy dog and accompanied him on his visits to seniors' facilities, hiked with him, played with him, and most of all loved him. And he was one of the most gentle, laid back, good-natured dogs I have ever met.
Archie was the first dog to welcome me to Crofton, two years before I moved here. Else and I knew each other online through the rescue network, and she persuaded me to come to the island to meet a dog at the shelter that she thought might be perfect for me. So in May 2007, my other dog Charley and I came for a visit to meet Toad (yes, he was perfect for me and I adopted him and renamed him Caleb), and Else and Archie invited Toad, Charley and I to join a group of friends on a hike at Swallowfield. My first picture of Archie - and of Toad - is one of the two of them together, swimming in the Chemainus River at what has become my favourite place to hike.
|Archie and Toad (aka Caleb)|
Archie was my kind of dog - great with dogs, dog-savvy cats, and people; active explorer outdoors; couch potato indoors. In fact, his visits to my house were always a source of laughter, as he would say hello, have a treat, and then trot into my bedroom where he felt no compunction whatsoever about jumping onto my bed for a nice long nap. If the weather was fine and Else and I sat outdoors, he headed for the hydrangea in the corner of the yard, where he enthusiastically dug himself a comfy hole in the dirt beneath it, and curled up for a snooze.
I never dig holes in Auntie Jean's garden!
On our many outings, Archie loved to run and swim and play and then would retreat a short distance to simply sit and watch. In fact, when I was searching for my photos of him for this blog, I had better luck searching with the words "watcher" than "Archie" - because that was how many photos were labelled: The Watcher.
Archie had the most beautiful old dog face, the softest eyes, the sweetest demeanor. In the last few days, we knew the end was very near as he stopped eating, became unable to get up, and then let Else know he was ready. Today I had the honour of accompanying Else on that final journey with Archie.
As I sat beside him on the floor of the van while Else went in to tell the vet we were there, I chatted to him about the old friends he would see at the Rainbow Bridge as I stroked his head. When my hand moved away to pull out a kleenex, his head followed it and he did exactly what he has done ever since I've known him - he shoved his nose under my hand and nodded his head up and down to say 'Pet me, please, don't stop now!'
Gently the vet carried him in, and gently, oh so gently, with Else stroking his head and me stroking his back, Archie slipped away.
But forever he is in our hearts. Forever and always.
Else, thank you for sharing Archie with me. May memories sustain you through this sad time.
Run free, Archie.
Love, Auntie Jean.