Archibald MacLeash (dba "Archie"): 1994-2011

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.


34 thoughts on “Words-Can’t-Express Wednesday: In Memoriam”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about Archie’s passing. I’m sure Clare must feel awful.

    You wrote a beautiful tribute to Archie. I know you’ll miss him very much too.

    1. Yes, Clare is devastated. It’s a tough time for all of us who knew the wonderful Archie but he’s at peace.

  2. So sorry to hear about Archie – but so nice to read your great tribute he sounded and definitely looked a wonderful little guy.

  3. My heart breaks for Clare.
    But clearly Archie will live on in those he has touched. Think about it Edie, you not just adopted Frankie, you made it easier for others to adopt and be successful at it by writing your book. You spread the message of responsible pet care and adoption everywhere you go. The ripples Archie created have spread so very far. Somewhere there is a dog leaving a shelter in the arms of a person who will love it and in their other hand is your book to show them how to deal with the weird stuff dogs do. None of which would have occurred without Archie to light that spark. Archie has effectively touched and changed lives of people he never even knew. As time goes on and the wound is less raw that will hopefully provide some comfort for Clare. Her dog literally left the world a better place.

    1. Clare will love this comment. *I* love this comment, though it got me weeping again. Thank you, Jenni. I never forget that you are my first “virtual-became-real” friend who sent me preserves — and tomatoes! — because of the mean comment of the woman who ran the farmer’s market. You’ve made your mark too.

  4. You’ve outdone yourself, Edie. I will save your tribute forever, and the profound comments it has inspired.

    HA! You bribed my son into kissing you! I bought Arch some very stinky stilton yesterday and he perked right up. Must have been because of his illicit memories of you.

  5. Woof! Woof! Archie had a long n great life. For sure there are many precious memories Archie will be remembered forever. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  6. I am always so excited when I get your emails and then I read this very sad news about Archie!!!!!!! He is such a cutie…look at those eyes! He lived 17 years because he loved you girls…Clare and Edie! And he probably even loved annoying Frankie! I can’t imagine how you both are feeling today and sadly there’s nothing I can say to make you feel better. Just know that there are many of us thinking about you and Archie today! I will face this one day and I will know that I’m not alone….

    Kiss Archie’s picture for me….or his favorite toy….and even though I know you are missing him, just know he is watching over you now Clare and he is missing you too!

    Shawna M :o(

    1. Aw, thanks, Shawna — your thoughts are much appreciated. Frankie was such a brat around Archie the last few times we all got together, but Archie took it in his stride, just flinching a little when Frankie was literally in his face, barking, but basically ignoring him. I don’t think Archie is watching over me and my little bratty dog, but I know he’s got Clare’s back with those soulful Archie eyes.

      1. Frankie, Frankie….well maybe Archie’s sticking his tongue out at Frankie then! Hahaha! Yes, he is definitely smiling down on Clare! I feel for her so much….I know you’ll read this Clare, hang in there!

        Shawna M

  7. I’m so glad that Archie was in the right place at the right time and touched so many lives in a warm and wonderful way.

    When it’s wine time, I’ll do a toast to Mr. Archie and his loving ways.

  8. What a beautiful tribute! I think the story about Archie and the cheese is a classic, and hopefully brings a small smile to Clare’s face. Our hearts go out to everyone who loved Archie and is missing him tonight!

  9. Seventeen is a good, long life and I’m glad that Clare and Archie had so many years together. Saying good-bye is never easy – I hope Clare’s happy memories bring her peace.

  10. The real imperfection of all dogs is that their lives are too short. I know when the time comes, I will be a complete and utter wreck. Clare has my condolences, and so do you– I know exactly how it feels to fall utterly in love with a best friend’s dog.

  11. Thank you all for your good wishes — they mean a lot to me and they mean a lot to Clare. That’s the great thing about this virtual community. Even if you didn’t know Archie — or Clare — you know what it’s like to lose a loved pet, or to contemplate it. The worst thing is to be among people who think you’re crazy to feel such pain for “just a dog.”

  12. Oh how sad!
    What a wonderful tribute Edie. Considering what Clare has been through the past few weeks, I cannot imagine saying goodbye so soon after finding him again. I am SO glad she could be with him when he passed. It was the way things should have been.
    I loved the cheese story. You sneaky thing! I hope it gave Clare a chuckle when she read it.
    My condolences Clare. I know hard it must be for you now.

    1. Ah, an observant reader. Yes, Mel, that was one of the things Clare and her friends were grateful for, that she found Archie and they could spend their last days together.

      Clare loved the cheese story too. And I know she’s very grateful for all the condolences — as am I on her behalf.

  13. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog! My deepest sympathies are with Clare. She is very lucky to have understanding friends, such as yourself, around her now.

    -Chandra at Daley’s Dog Years

    1. Thanks, Chandra. I know that having people around who understand what she’s going through helps Clare a lot.

  14. I knew of Archie’s recent grand adventure exploring the neighborhood and landing with a vet tech(how perfect!?), taking time away from home in stride…and when you told me he had died, for a moment the news did not compute. It was a shock, though it should not have been.

    I love the photo you show here – Archie could have had no other name! How wonderful that Clare had Archie for so many years – though it is never long enough. My heartfelt sympathies to Clare for all the painfully empty places around the house where Archie is no longer, and to you the Auntie Mame of secret delicious treats that Clare did not need to know about…

    1. Ha, I love the idea of my role as Auntie Mame to Archie! And yes, Clare and Archie had a wonderful long run together.

  15. He’s a beautiful boy – a scruffy puppy, my favorite. My very best to your friend. It’s so hard to lose them, but they live on in our hearts!

  16. It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. He looked like an absolute sweetheart. You wrote such a heartfelt tribute to this little guy. The story about the gorgonzola cheese is priceless. 17 years is a long life for a dog but it’s never long enough for us humans. My thoughts go out to Clare during this difficult time.

  17. I wanted to tell Clare just how sorry I am about her loss of Archie.

    This never gets any easier. Each time I lose one of my own dogs, I feel like a huge piece of me was taken with them.

    I absolutely love old dogs and Archie was a real cutie who most certainly had a wonderful life. I used to wonder why their time here with us was so short. I now understand why. Unfortunately, every dog doesn’t have a good home or an owner that cares about them like we do and for those dogs, longevity wouldn’t be a good thing.

    What an adorable old boy he was.

    Janie 😮

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