Archie my German Wire Haired Pinter in our Devonshire Quay Cottage

‘PAWPRINTS IN MY HEART’ – Simple Song to Archie (1999)

I couldn’t have done it without you, I couldn’t have stayed the course, You mean everything to me, you’ve been my guiding force, You’ve taught me so much, each and every day, You kept on showing me, that there is another way

‘Paw-prints in my heart, we will never be apart, Paw-prints in my heart, what a great place to start’   (chorus)

You’ve shown me how to love, to trust and open my heart, You’ve been my faithful friend, on whom I can depend, I’m safe in your protection, you push away my fears, I’m overwhelmed by your affection, and how you try to stop my tears

‘Paw-prints in my heart, we will never be apart, Paw-prints in my heart, what a great place to start’   (chorus)

I know you’re here to teach me, the things that really matter, To celebrate your spirit, you’re not here to impress or flatter, You inspire me with your teaching, are you sure you’re just a dog, I’m convinced you’re my guardian angel, come to release me from the fog

‘Paw-prints in my heart, we will never be apart, Paw-prints in my heart, what a great place to start’   (chorus)

Thank you my dear sweet Archie, for sharing so much with me, Words can’t express how I love you and how your healing has set me free

TRIBUTE (second section)

Archie always was such a noble dog with a huge charisma.   The kids were going to call him Colonel, because my son thought he resembled a Prussian General, he looked so wise and important, even as a puppy.  One of my dear friends said he was a very special dog with an amazing aura and that was a pretty accurate description. Another said he was the sort of unpredictable ‘bad’ guy,  most girls would always be attracted to, original and different, independent and in his own space.  Except that she thought it sweet, because he turned out to actually be the good guy with a pure heart of gold.  

Archie was quite a rare breed and in nine years, I only ever saw two people with another and one of those was in France.  He was pure Scorpio and a born healer. He had a huge personality with enormous passion yet he exuded a quietness and gentleness of spirit that gave him this sense of ‘presence’. It was almost as if he was an old soul, if that were really true for animals as well as humans.  You either hated him or loved him but you never failed to notice him.  The woman at the dog show was horrified and disapproving of him, when he had no respect and peed over her prized rosettes just before she was due to present them.  But heh,   he never cared much for those kind of formalities. Life was for living to the full. Zen like and in the moment and I learnt so much from him in this respect. 

He came to me when I was chronically ill, hardly able to walk and one woman in the village said with judgement, that it might be better for me to have a dog that was less in need of long walks.  What she really meant to say was that I should have some ‘crocked’ dog because I was half dead, but in reality Archie shone a light of what was possible.  He was amazing because he would do figures of eight running manically and wearing himself out, whilst we only travelled a short distance.  Over the years with his guidance, inspiration and loyalty, I learnt to stride out again and see life with new eyes.  With the daily discipline of our wonderful walks together, I was able to reconnect back to myself and to my deep love of nature. 

We spoke our own silent language and once a clairvoyant quite rightly said that one of my dogs talked to me.  Archie knew the days I couldn’t walk in the woods and he honoured me by chasing a tennis ball I would hit,  bringing it right back to my feet, so I didn’t have to move.  On those days, with the woods beckoning yards away, he never once ran off and caused me distress because he simply knew I couldn’t manage.  That’s when he taught me to trust again and I learnt how to really love from a place I had never dared to go to. 

At home often unable to move from my debilitating illness,  he  would jump up onto my lap and transmit his big energy through to my legs, until he knew I’d taken enough.  Years later, when I was in severe panic after a marriage separation, he would jump even higher and put his bottom on my heart to stop the palpitations.  He sensed energy from everyone around and would never let anyone in the house, if he felt they were unsafe for me. Sometimes, he went a bit too far with his protection of me, but I realised in his latter years,  that was the unspoken script I had given him and I needed to reclaim my own ability to protect myself, without expecting him as a dog to do it for me. He taught me a lot about boundaries and helped me to become leader of the pack, in my own power again.  Despite this, even when I was deeply emotional, if he felt my ex husband needed support during the end of our marriage, he would try to clamber up onto him,  to help him access his feelings and honour that he deeply mattered as well.  

I thought I wouldn’t survive his passing it was so painful. It was my first real experience of death and as I lost him, I went into blind panic at the shock of it all.  Overwhelmed by grief, I needed to share how much this incredible animal had done for me and how impossible it was to believe he was gone.   I was very blessed, as the vet who I had intuitively known was right for the occasion, was so compassionate and patient at every step, as were the men who came the next morning to take his body away for cremation. 

I was supported by a dear friend who was just amazing in how she held me with her quiet spirituality through those hours.  The next day with another dear friend, even with all the grace around me, it was agony to watch my devoted companion of all those years,  be taken away in a zipped up, green plastic bag, never to be seen again. I knew it was only the body and not his spirit and soul, as they would always live on but I’m human and loss is loss. Knowing I could never hold his big strong chest close to mine, look deep into his brown, all-knowing eyes or stroke his floppy and very silky ears was and is so hard to bear.  I  took some locks of his hair to keep for ever and I filmed him on a new dvd camera in his last hours but it’s still the end of that irreplaceable and very special, physical closeness.  The other two dogs seem strangely quiet and bereft as well which I guess is to be expected, as they were a well bonded trio.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,  to let him go back home, so he could leave behind his exhausted and ravaged body.  I knew it was time though, from the day a Magpie came to the kitchen door and tapped with his beak as if to call my boy home.  The magpie came every day for a week and as my sorrow and fears intensified, I knew he was losing his brave battle.  On the full moon, two days before he died, he spent hours staring vacantly outside, as if he was preparing to separate out from his earthly existence.  

So, this time  I made the courageous decision to help him over to the other side, because he was too noble a dog to suffer the way he was. It was especially hard because my daughter was abroad on a Gap Year and I so wanted her to see him once more before he lost the fight. It brought up terrible guilt that I was responsible for taking his life and re-triggered the loss of my first puppy by lethal injection, but my ex husband was strong and supportive, as he encouraged me to do what was best for our dog. 

Emma loved Archie so very much but maybe he knew on some level, that it would have devastated her to watch how he was after the stroke unable to balance and collapsing in those last weeks. He seemed to age almost overnight and couldn’t understand or grasp how suddenly his body couldn’t match his instinct to manically chase around the garden after a pheasant or passing tourist.   I needed the preparation time he gave me, to come to terms with the harsh reality facing me and then to grieve and cry my heart out for as long as it took.  Maybe that wasn’t what Emma needed and perhaps when she returns,  I can at least be a mother to her and help her with her grief and loss.     

For my son, it was less of a struggle to say goodbye and that is understandable because Archie always growled at him and they never had a chance to truly bond.  He was a risk as there was a testosterone battle with teenage boys which was a constant worry and restrictive for Edward.  There was some magic healing though, in the fact that my son stayed in his last few days and whilst he growled on his very last morning, as he was incapable of getting up, the previous days he had greeted Edward and showed him that it was only ever to do with the pecking order and never really personal.  

I know that Archie paid a high price for taking on board my emotions and absorbing what was going on for me and others in my family. He was always highly strung and unpredictable and that was part of his charm but at times he would become frenetic and very unsettled, as he tuned into what was happening for us ie during our final marriage separation.    Pets do this for us and so often we don’t realise what’s happening, blaming them for acting strange or depressed when it belongs to us.   It doesn’t matter to me if other people don’t believe me,  but I intuitively sensed that Archie came to me as my healing dog and I always had a strong almost fatalistic knowing from those early days, that he would leave when I was healed of M.E/Chronic Fatigue.   

Ironically in a way, I almost held back from getting well because we were like a married couple and I couldn’t face the future without him by my side.   He won’t be using his new pet passport for Italy and that’s hard, but maybe I’ll take some of his ashes with me when I finally go there to settle.  What I do know, is that I couldn’t have survived the 13 years of my long illness and a painful divorce without him, so now being strong in my on space, his timing to leave, as with everything else about him, was impeccable.  He was my greatest teacher as he taught me the meaning of the word sacred and how to really live life to the full, instead of just achieving or surviving it. 

When people in their ignorance talk of animals as lesser beings, I find myself feeling desperately sad that they don’t understand and recognise a deeper wisdom.  It really depends what world you inhabit, because when it comes to intuition, sensing, total acceptance and unconditional love, they are infinitely higher beings.  Also, as humans, we spend a lifetime competing with others and not accepting our beauty, where Archie knew without therapy, that he was a magnificent German Wire Haired Pointer and he never ever questioned it once.

Two days after his passing, instead of totally falling apart, and despite the aching grief and terrible emptiness,  I found myself with a small sense of  renewed  zest for life and focus, as if Archie transferred these qualities to me, as a final kindness.   I reached out to dear friends and received their love and support when I most needed it, instead of isolating and stoically pretending I was coping with the loss as I would have done before.   This alone is reconnecting me back to life and love which is a positive by-product of his leaving.  

I also began to think of how people often find a way to transform their personal tragedies into something special, that helps others who follow on behind.   That perhaps there is a need in all of us, to somehow find redemption and make a real difference.   What I do know, is that I owe it to my beautiful boy not to feel sorry for myself for too long, but to reclaim my power and give back to the world what I can. In other words, not to hold back anymore with excuses and self sabotage but to take action regardless of feeling that I lack confidence, direction or expertise.  Archie gave me so very much and the very least I can do, is to honour that amazing gift by saying yes to life, completely and utterly, as he did each and every day.  

This is my tribute to Archie for being my best friend, companion, protector, healer, teacher and soul-mate.  You can’t ask for a lot more than that from anyone.  Rest in peace darling and know that you were so very loved and missed by all of us and will remain in our hearts forever.