You may have heard, "Hail Archie"
Archie came into my life in July 2020 and physically left in August 2021, at the age of 19 months old.
During our time together, the world fell apart. But we kept each other on our feet - a tall order, considering coordination was never his strong point.
Archie was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia when I fost-dopted him, based on the presentation of his wobbly, thrashing, bobbing movements and subtle head shake. He couldn't take a step, sit, feed himself, or drink. He slept in a crib. He lived in padded walls. By this point at 6 months old, euthanasia had been recommended by at least two veterinarians.
But with practice, he developed new connections. We paced the yard for miles every day, rain, snow, or shine. And Archie eventually learned to walk... with his own unique gait. Looking wildly inebriated, yes, but haphazardly bounding with no wheelchair needed.
He flopped around a farm all morning. We took at-least-weekly hikes in piney woods together. He learned to love rides more than anything. Archie got to "dog" like the best of them.
Along the way, he brought curious humans a lot of joy with his pure enthusiasm for things he absolutely could not do well. What was... still all things. But that never stopped him. And so I never stopped either.
Archie kept me alive through Fall and Winter of 2020 after my dad died and I got stranded with my family of origin in Hellstaint Illinois. He was there every day during Spring and Summer 2021 as my head fell to pieces. He was a pain in the dick, seriously every moment of the day, but he was my only friend and comfort. And his antics never failed to crack my cold, protectively emotionless heart open.
We had each other, we had our walks, and we had our car rides. Somehow, we were still happy together.
Our time changed rapidly when his congenital brain deformations degraded his quality of life and threatened injury to everyone. After what looked to be seizure events, an MRI revealed that Archie had no cerebellum, moderately enlarged ventricles, and cerebral spinal fluid freely flowing in between.
Again, the vets wanted to put him to sleep. Instead, I gave Archie the best two weeks I could. We traveled to new, more climate-appropriate places. We stayed in cabins together. We took hours of rides every day, going nowhere in particular. We went swimming in roadside lakes. We ate cheeseburgers, ice cream, and McDonalds breakfast.
As long as he was up to it, we spent every moment together. But times were increasingly unpredictable.
And then the time came.
Out of funds, places to go, things to do, and ways to strap him any more firmly into the backseat for highway seizure events, Archie left this stupid spinning rock August 27th, 2021 in Madison Wisconsin. Life, again, changed forever. In the most bittersweetly positive and sour, scalding negative ways.
But I miss that idiot more than I ever thought possible. I never thought our time together would be so short, or, unfortunately, increasingly circumstantially shitty. Or full of soaring highs to be neutralized by crushing lows. But I know he taught me more in that single year than I can fully understand yet.
To be super lame, Archie was a teacher. A vessel of joy. The most unforgettable, adorable, destructive, inspiring mess you've ever seen. He meant something to everyone who met him, including a bunch of traumatized motherfuckers. Some of whom knew him from the very beginning. Archie was a sign of hope, resilience, and perseverance for us all.
I like to think he gets to run free now. With all his legs working at the right time, even.
I love you, Smelly.
Always Hail Archie.
Got an Archie of your own?
Cuz this isn't my first trip around the animal rehab OR tragic loss park. Let me know what you're dealing with. Buddies' lives matter.