My best friend Clare said a final farewell to her dog Archie yesterday. He was 17 and had been in decline for a while. He probably had a brain tumor, the vet said. It was time. He had a very good life and a good death, with Clare by his side.
But the end is not what I want to talk about. I’m here to celebrate a wonderful dog, the inspiration for…well, everything I’ve done that is dog related, starting with adopting Frankie.
Archie was the Platonic ideal of Dog: Friendly, frisky, sweet-natured, a little mischievous… Even people who claimed they didn’t like dogs loved Archie. Even Frankie loved Archie, in the beginning.
As well he should have. Archie was Clare’s first dog, and her life was made so much richer by him that I knew I wanted the same joy in my life.
It turned out to be confusing for me that Archie was such a perfect pup. I thought that was just what dogs were like — easy-going, fearless, fun — which did not prepare me for the decidedly different joys of Frankie the Shy.
If Archie had one imperfection, it was that he was not a kisser. Some people would find it a bonus that he kept his saliva to himself, but I’m a fan of face-licking doggie affection. Clare said it was not in his nature, that he would never kiss anyone.
I proved her wrong.
She left me alone with Archie for a few minutes during one visit to Santa Barbara and was shocked to come back into the room to find him surreptitiously giving me a quick nose lick.
I never revealed the truth: I had slipped him some of the cheese that Clare and I had been enjoying with our wine. Archie had been coveting it but had been sternly cautioned away. It was really good, expensive, stinky cheese. Gorgonzola, I think.
Sorry, Clare, for letting you think that I was a dog charmer all these years. Still, I’m glad that Archie kissed me once.
He was a very, very good boy.