He was only a dog: a pug dog named Archie. But he was a member of our family for fourteen years.
I know he was only a dog, but he was so much more than that to us. He was Archie. The encyclopedia describes the pug as a “lot of dog in a little body. Affectionate, playful, and mischievous.” They got it right.
I don’t know if a dog can get a twinkle in his eye, but Archie did. Then I knew that mischief was afoot. We have chased around the table more than once when a certain four-footer grabbed a fallen napkin and ran, pieces flying.
I don’t know if all dogs can laugh, but Archie did. When he sat next to me on the Lazy-Boy, sometimes he would lean up so that I could tickle his tummy. I swear he would toss his head back, look me in the eye, and laugh outloud. He had a great sense of humor, that little guy.
You can go through a lot together in fourteen years. We had our puppy shots and stomach aches and ear infections. Later there came cataracts and arthritis. Dr. Steven Henry saw us through many a little episode. Archie didn’t always appreciate his bedside manner, although this vet is a gentle giant. One time, after an especially unpleasant shot and nail-trim, Archie got down from the table, whirled on Dr. Henry, and barked out a series of insults which might have withered a lesser man.
I don’t know if all dogs can dream, but Archie did. During many a lazy afternoon nap, his little back legs would jerk and quiver, and I knew that he was chasing rabbits through his imagination.
He was smart from the very beginning. Maybe it was because he had stayed with his mother Ivy for a little longer than most puppies stay with mom. I think she got him off to a good start. He knew all about proper bathroom habits and not chewing on chairs. He had an especially good ear, I think, for the English language. He lost his hearing in recent months, but before that he recognized most of the important words, like “snack, walk, cheese, treat” and “ice cream.” It seems absurd now, looking back, but my wife and I actually had to spell out words when we didn’t want him to know what we were talking about. Of course, he soon detected the sound of spelling and that tipped him off. I don’t know if all dogs can spell, but Archie did.
He always kept tabs on where I was. I was his buddy. I think it’s because he knew that I knew what he was thinking most of the time. When I heard his little footsteps coming down the hall, I knew he was looking for me.
I don’t know if all dogs know a lot, but Archie did. By the time he died, I think he had everything in the world figured out. He seemed content. He never complained about his stiffness, though it was painful for me to watch him struggle to get up or down. Deafness didn’t seem to phase him; he just used his sense of smell a little more. I know his eyes were clouded, but he could still make out a trespassing cat in the backyard or a “beef bite” treat in my hand.
It’s hard to be perfect, especially if you’re a dog, but Archie tried very hard to be good most of the time. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Once I touched the sore place over his eye and he instinctively snapped. Immediately he felt sorry and wanted to make up. I don’t know if all dogs feel remorse, but Archie did.
He was happy right up to the end. Just before he had his stroke, he was bouncing around the supper table, barking orders for a small bite of his favorite meal, roast pork. He died shortly after. I hope he had happy memories of that meal, our home, and his little life. I know we do. Gosh, the place is sure quiet now.
I don’t know if all dogs go to heaven. But Archie did.
Archie Pug...the best little dog