Calhoun's Cannons for April 11, 2015
He had no brakes. Full of wild enthusiasms, he ran at everything full tilt. Two speeds: Zero and Oh, No! Nothing in between. Bang his food dish and in a split second he would ramp himself up into panting Full Crazy. Pick up the leash and he was at the door, engine roaring. Nothing by halves.
He had no manners, either. And didn't speak or understand "Dog" very well, which made every social encounter with other dogs fraught with peril. His blundering approach to a new dog was to rush up into their face and bark or poke at them in a clueless attempt at engaging in play. Naturally, they reacted with a warning growl, but instead of backing off and minding his manners, he took that as a threat and moved in to bully them. Bad move, since Archie was, at heart, a big, clueless weenie and even though the new dog would put him in his place for his rudeness, he never learned. It was all Boo-Hoo, Poor Me. Wash, rinse, repeat.
And it was always wash, rinse, repeat with him because he had some kind of profound short term memory disorder. Alzheimer Dog, I used to call him. "Sit," I'd tell him. "Huh?" he'd reply. He wasn't dumb. In fact, he was a very smart dog. I suspect that his intense focus on the moment just erased every previous moment. For him there was no past, it was all just a series of disconnected Now's. Which made living with him exasperating. Training classes simply went in one ear and out the other. "Sit. Stay." "What? Oh, look, a squirrel!" Hopeless.
I stumbled on him at Animal Services some 15-plus years ago. He was a skinny, black-masked feral-looking brindle dog, a lurcher of dubious pedigree. A greyhound with somebody else's ears, I called him. As he grew older, the German Shepherd in him overtook the greyhound as he grew heavier and filled out. In most cases, a greyhound/shepherd mix can produce a great dog if you get the sweet gentle temperament of the greyhound and the smarts and inherent obedience of the Shepherd. Unfortunately, you can also end up with Archie, in which you get the worst of both of those breeds -- the world-erasing, laser-focus ("I can't hear you, La-La-La") of a greyhound on the hunt who has spotted and locked on his quarry, combined with the Nazi bully-boy herding temperament of the German Shepherd. In short, Archie was a pain in the butt who kept my eyes rolling for years. "ArchEEE! Jeeze!' became the metronomic music in the house.
No manners, no brakes, an unreliable temperament, stubborn and hard-headed. We had issues, he and I, but for all that he had a big soft heart and in all things meant well in his bungling fashion. And he lived a long, long time, a very strong, remarkably healthy dog. When his hind legs became too weak for walks, he was still up for a totter to the car for a ride to the dog park. And when that became too much to manage, with a little help in getting up, he'd still insist on carrying on as usual. It was a heart-breaking lesson in courage to see him single-mindedly shambling all the way to the back yard to do his business. It did not matter to him that his legs didn't work right. They worked well enough and he kept going forward because that was the only way. Until it wasn't and his body just got too weak and tired to go on. When that happened, he let me know it was time for him to go.
His ashes now join all the other ghost dogs in the garden where he once lazed in the sun, noodling and nosing around the lavender bushes, looking for lizards. I have no doubt his incorrigible spirit is somewhere, causing trouble. He was a bad dog.
And I loved him.