When my kids were very young and just beginning to like reading I introduced them to my favorite comic book series, Archie. Veronica, Betty and Jughead quickly became familiar to our family. While others filled their kids’ Christmas stockings with toys, we filled ours with Archie digests. Instead of a decorative bin of magazines or other suitable reading material in our bathroom, we kept a basket of Archie comics.
So it stood to reason that when we adopted our kitten 17 years ago, we’d name him Archie.
Those of you who know us, know Archie, a handsome, champagne colored Persian cat with striking amber eyes. He sits regally atop the backs of couches or lies snoozing on your lap. At night he obediently walks into the laundry room, his room, and climbs into his bed. He comes to me even when I tweak his name, calling him Archibald, Barch, Baldy. He is the perfect pet.
Sadly, this past Thursday, Archie, the exquisite old guy with the sweet disposition, passed away in his sleep. After an emergency hospitalization and some tests, it is thought that he died of a brain event, like a stroke. We took him home from the hospital Wednesday and put him in his bed. He couldn’t walk or lift his head but we were happy he was home. During the night, Archie died.
Grieving for our pet is expected and understood. But it has occurred to me belatedly that losing Archie results in other losses as well. We’ll miss our vet, Karen Gates, for example, who has taken care of Archie for the past 17 years, and my cat, Ashes, before. And our groomer, Brian Gusz of Curbside Grooming, who has primped Archie since taking over his father’s business some 12 years ago. Both Dr. Gates and Brian, who make house calls, do so because angelic Archie wasn’t always so well behaved.
As an adolescent he hated being placed in the carrier, apparently sensing the visit was almost certainly ending at the veterinarian’s office. So we found a vet who came to the house. With Archie’s long, silky coat easily matting, he also needed to be groomed with the frequency of a dog. Nightmarish experiences were routine with groomers both onsite and ones who traveled to our house. One groomer actually quit on Archie in the middle of clipping him, by ringing my doorbell and saying he could do no more. I saw Archie looking at me from the window of the groomer’s truck, his paws on the ledge. Poor Archie. He looked like Simba after a night on the town.
After that, we tried everything; muzzling him, even having Dr. Gates sedate him, so he could be groomed. Finally, Brian came to the rescue. Instantaneously, Brian developed a bond with Archie, gone were the leather muzzle and any need for sedation. In fact, Archie went willingly into Brian’s arms.
I will miss Archie terribly. But I am grateful to have had him a part of my family’s life for so long – in pet years – and for the wonderful people he introduced us to.