Archie was not the sweetest of dogs. He hated everything, except meal times.
He’d bite the hand that fed him, constantly. He’d snarl at people when they came through the gate and smirk when they left.
There were a couple of people he liked: the lawnmower guy, for one. Maybe his liking was more a snigger when the bones he’d strategically buried in the long grass broke the mower blades.
He liked me, once or twice, when he forgot to hate me for being such a bad foster mum.
It’s wise not to expect a lot from rescue dogs. You might not know where they’ve been, but you can bet it wasn’t good. They’re usually scared and use aggression to keep their distance – or their teeth to make the point more sharply.
Archie was one of the hardest foster dogs. On the rare occasion he forgot that all humans were horrible, he’d lick me on the nose – although that was rare because I was mostly too frightened to put my face anywhere near his.
Sometimes he’d also forget to hate me when I came home from work. Mickey The Perfect would race to the gate, running around in circles at my/dinner’s imminent arrival. Archie would race out following him, barking in that charming falsetto of his that only other dogs – and people in outer space – could hear. I’d open the gate, Mickey would leap six feet into the air, not bad for a chihuahua, while Archie would bite my feet every time I moved them which proved tricky trying to get into the house.
I’d feed them before I did anything else and only sit to watch Archie vacuum up his organic chicken with freshly cooked veggies. He’d stare at me over his empty bowl as if I were the cruel fellow in that Oliver movie who never gave him ”more”.
You could tell Archie hated going to sleep. He loved to stare at me with dogged loathing, trying so hard to keep those beady little eyes open in case he missed an opportunity to latch on to another piece of my skin.
Before bed, I’d let them out to empty. Archie would go out, sniff at everything for forever, longer in wintertime, and then waddle back inside. Once he reckoned I was asleep, he would wee on whatever clothes were left on the floor.
Last week, I came home to find Archie lying outside the house, crying. I immediately thought snakebite because we’d had so many browns around this summer.
I knew he was bad when he let me pick him up, put him in his basket and into the back of the car to race to the vet. He made the sort of guttural sound that I never want to hear again.
I’d rung the vet when I first saw Archie and she was waiting for us at the door. She took him inside as I paced around the waiting room. When she called me out the back to where he was lying on one of those cold silver tables, I was pretty sure I knew what was going on.
When I looked at his face, I knew for sure.
As I patted his head, I noticed his tongue was blue in parts. The vet reckoned he’d had a seizure earlier in the day. His heart was racing, he was bleeding in places he shouldn’t have been and was as listless as a rag.
I knew. Just one look at his face told me. He’d had enough.
A week or so later I got a call from the vet. I’d had Archie cremated and his ashes were ready to pick up. He probably would have liked them scattered near the fridge – his favourite spot, but I’ve settled for near the rose bush he tried repeatedly to dig up/relieve himself on.
He’d have almost liked that.
RIP little man. Loved.