Volunteering with our local SPCA has certainly changed my life. At first we got involved because my wife wanted to foster pups, and I was reluctant to get too involved. Fast forward almost five years, I am president of the organization and my wife is vice. We have fostered at least ten or more pups, over 1000 kittens (yes, you read that right), three Guinea pigs and several bunnies. We keep busy. We built a room in our basement to allow pregnant stray cats to give birth to their kittens, Though the SPCA, we get the mom cats spayed, the kittens spayed or neutered, then find homes for them. Busy life.
A life like this is not without its highlights, and lows. I like to focus on the highlights. One such highlight is that of a dog named Archie.
One evening we got a call from a lady who needed to rehome her small dog. My wife and I also intake dogs for our SPCA. Small dogs adopt quickly, so I never said no. She lived alone in a remote community. Her husband had passed away suddenly last year, and now she is sick. She said she wasn’t strong enough to keep her little dog, whom she cherished.
My wife and I drove out to the community after work. It was still summer so it was still light when we got there. While my wife was busy with the paperwork involved in surrendering animals, I was focused on a rather large and very dirty dog tied out front of the home. He looked like a lab mix, but it was hard to tell because he had just finished rolling in mud. He had a giant log in his mouth, and his tail was wagging hard enough to take him off the ground. No doubt a friendly pooch.
“What’s the dog’s name?” I hollered. “Buddy” she said. “He is five, and we had him since he was a pup,” She added. She said Buddy was her husband’s hunting dog. Of course I wanted more information. “What you doing with him?” I asked. She said she found it hard to let him go, as he was a reminder of her late husband. Apparently Buddy and her husband did everything together, ride the skidoo, the ATV, hunt, walk on the beach; right up until the day he died. She was too weak and sick to do any of that stuff, so she left him tied outside. Buddy had a fine doghouse, lots of food and water provided, so he didn’t do without a lot, other than being walked, and living indoors.
“Why is he outside” I had to ask. “He finds it too hot in the house. We let him in during winter storms but he isn’t comfortable” she replied. Upon entering her home I could see why. She had a wood stove in the corner, and it was RED HOT! This was August, I can only imagine how hot it would have been during the winter months.
“Can I have him? Can I find him a home for you?” I asked. She said her late husband’s best friend wanted Buddy for hunting. “What will he do with the dog when he isn’t hunting?” I inquired.
She said he would tie Buddy outside. That didn’t seem right to me. I asked her to check with him, see if he really wants the dog, and when. She agreed. I called her once a week, asking how she was, and how Buddy was doing, until one Tuesday evening, she called me. She said she got her tests back, and she wasn’t doing well. She asked if I could take Buddy.
Myself and another volunteer made the trip to get Buddy. All the way out she questioned why I was so adamant on getting this dog, and rehoming him. I asked her to be patient; I said she would have no questions once she sees him.
We almost drove past the home, but she made a quick turn into a driveway. “That the dog? That Buddy?” she asked, as she nearly hopped from the vehicle before it even stopped. It was love at first sight, as it always is when we rescue animals.
Buddy was all cleaned up, still holding that damn bone, tail still wagging. The lady came out, and the three of us all went over to the dog. Although he was almost 85 pounds, he never jumped on us. He was so excited to have someone visit him, you could see it. I clicked a leash on his collar and he proceeded to drag me to the back of the car. He hopped right in, then peed on the speaker in my volunteer’s car. Great first impression.”Don’t forget the log, my husband made that for Buddy before he died. Buddy doesn’t go anywhere without it” She said.
After tears were shed, and conversations ended, we bid goodbye to Buddy’s owner. I asked her to stay in touch, let me know how she is doing. Then we were off. we worried he might eat the car, but once we started moving, he settled quickly.
Buddy was at our shelter for a few weeks, as we worked on his manners, and had him neutered. We were going to post him for adoption when one of my volunteers mentioned how the last few dogs we took in were all named ‘Buddy’. We decided we would rename him. One of my volunteers asked if she could pick a name. Bear in mind none of us knew the owner, I never even shared the name of the owner to my volunteers.
After three days, she came back with a name. She said she had searched out baby names, baby books, the Internet, friends, and she kept coming back to the same name. Archie. So we named him Archie. He responded to the name immediately, even better than he responded to Buddy.
We posted Archie for adoption, and received hundreds of applications. Everyone fell in love with his story, and with his picture. He is one handsome dog for sure.
That night I called the owner. I wanted her to know her dog was doing well, and that we had changed his name to Archie. She grew silent on the phone.
“Of all the names in the world.” She paused, “Why Archie?” She asked, a shudder in her voice.
She added, “My father died 21 years ago. His name was Archie” she said. I was dumbfounded. What a coincidence, or was it a coincidence? Was this meant to happen? Was it a sign?
She began to cry. She said it was beautiful how this happened and it may be a sign of good fortune. She said her daddy must be up there, smiling down on her, and on Archie.
We received hundreds of applications for Archie. We finally decided on adopting him to a young family from another town. The family consisted of a mom, dad, and four year old daughter. We set up a meeting between them and Archie. When Archie seen them he ran towards the husband and wife, past both of them, and to the feet of their four year old daughter. They have been close every since. Archie, or ‘Arte’ as she calls him, are always together, perfect fit. Archie only had one accident in the home, the first night, since that, he has been perfect. Archie is a family dog, a friend, but most of all he is a companion and protector for the little girl, always by her side; meant to be.
I keep in touch with the former owner, sharing pictures and stories of the latest adventures of Archie, and his new family. She says it is all that keeps her going those days. We are more than animal rescue, we rescue people too. Volunteering with the SPCA rescued me too.
Help us help the animals. Donate to your local humane society or SPCA. We do all this work for free, we spend all our available time saving the helpless, so they can become family members. If you would like to be involved, contact your local SPCA.