I’ve been sitting inside, at our kitchen table, all day today, finishing a project for work. Archie’s been lying next to me, curled up in his dog bed, the one he’s prodded and pawed into the perfect nest for a rescue poodle. My family never had a dog when I was growing up — or a cat either for that matter, just two goldfish in 1978 (they lived about six months) — so I am not prepared for the pleasure of having a small warm creature lying next to me, happy to be in my presence and not really needing anything right now.
You know what surprises me most about adding a dog to our family? That we all feel so compelled to make up little stories about his past. We don’t actually know anything about Archie’s past. He was found at an animal shelter by Big Dog Rescue in Petaluma and taken to their ranch until they could find someone for him. Nobody knows how he ended up in an animal shelter. But we have one story that we all think must explain his fall from grace. He’s a very cute, poodly dog, and someone must have at least been attracted to his sweet face and bought him. We don’t think those people loved him properly though. They didn’t neuter him until he was pretty old, or at least that’s the theory of a friend, a theory that explains why he barks at dogs who could eat him for a snack in about a second. And when we got him, he didn’t seem to be much of a walker, because he got a little tired after tearing around the block once. He mostly just likes to be at your feet. He is least happy when people aren’t with him. When we get back from going out anywhere, he runs up to us and then lies on his back, begging to have his stomach rubbed.
So, our theory is that he belonged to two little old people who got him as a Christmas gift from their children, and who didn’t walk him much, and figured their kids had dealt with the shots and the fixing thing. All they did was keep him around, and pet him while they watched television and dozed. And then they died, and their children took Archie to the pound because they just didn’t want to deal with a dog, especially not a needy dog (did I mention how he jumps up on us when he hasn’t seen us in a while and THEN does that roll on the back thing?)
And that’s when Archie entered the frightening nether world that no dog should be in, one of cages, and loneliness and other dogs everywhere and not many people. People are Archie’s anchor. Without them he is so unhappy. It breaks my heart to think that he was in that place for even a second. I think he dreams about it sometimes, shuddering and shaking a little bit. He’s such a needy dog, and he doesn’t seem quite connected to us somehow. Maybe he doesn’t trust people not to leave him. I can understand that completely.