Saying Goodbye

I've said goodbye to a few people over the last couple of years. Some of them were forever goodbyes, some just goodbye for a while and one was more good riddance than goodbye. But last night we said goodbye to my first dog and my first love, Archiebald 'Archie' McGee Bridgman.

We got Archie when I was about twelve years old. We’d been begging and pleading to get a dog for years and we ended up getting Archie off the back of a difficult time in all of our lives, I guess as a kind of reward for getting through it. I remember the day we got him, we drove out to a farm where there were two stables full of puppies - one brown haired and one black haired. 

At this point, there’s not much that sets them apart from each other, except their colouring and how they react to you. Archie was the best looking pup there and was friendly and adorable from the start. The thing about puppies though, is that their new little teeth and claws are insanely sharp. I was wearing a red tank top that day that died a death from excessive puncture wounds. 

When we got back from South Africa last year he was really sick and the vets told us he had Lymphoma. It seems ironic now that the thing that brought him to us was the same thing that took him away. I didn’t cry when we found out. I don’t generally cry about certain things straight away, in the same way I don’t get excited about things until they’re actually happening. I couldn’t find it in my heart to be truly sad until he was really gone. 

Archie has lived with us for twelve years in three different homes and has been there through some of the worst times in our lives. I have to be honest when I say that I didn’t realise just quite how acutely I would feel his loss. I am empty of tears. We went to the vets as a family, all six of us. It was the end of the day but we had to wait for a while as they were running late. 

We all cried. The only thing worse than feeling the pain of heartbreak is watching every single member of your family go through it too. We said goodbye, all teary, and the last time I saw him was as my sister’s boyfriend, James, carried him through, his little face turned round the corner. Archie was well-loved at our vets and I noticed that, behind the counter, even the receptionist was crying. 

The hardest part when we got home was realising that he was never coming back. His water bowl sits there alone and his beds, leads and his little golden name tag all lie around and nobody knows what to do with them. When I think of the things I will miss, I think of him always rushing to greet me at the door and always being the happiest to see me; I think of the way he used to scare himself by farting and then getting up and running away; I think of him always coming to lie next to my while I was watching TV and I think of him resting his little chin on my bed when he wanted attention. 

It’s so quiet.

In the end, we had twelve really great years and as the 1989 Don Bluth cartoon taught us, all dogs go to heaven. At least now he knows who’s a good boy. 

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