For 14 years, we were the proud owners of a Black Lab named Casey.
I know a lot of people say they have the greatest dog, but for those who ever met Casey, they complimented us repeatedly on his demeanor, his overall attitude and his love of vanilla ice cream and peanut butter.
However, like everything else in this world, when it comes to aging, Father Time wins every battle and for Casey, his last breath came in 2018.
Not having a dog around felt weird and sad, because he was such an integral part of our lives for so long (maybe the only positive about not having a dog was going somewhere and not having to find a sitter or having to come back the same day) .
Anyway, within the last couple of months, the discussion about having another dog returned. For partial reasons, I leaned towards Black Lab. Black Lab was a favorite of other family members, but they preferred other breeds.
Getting a dog from a shelter was at the top of the list for everyone's wish list, however, and luckily, Michelle found a litter of Black Labs from an adoption shelter outside of the Twin Cities. We passed their tests, the dogs passed our tests (it was pretty much telling the girls we are getting a dog and it was a black lab).
So, off we went on Monday evening to welcome the newest member to our family. When we got there, the choice was between two girls and a boy. The weight difference between the two genders was startling even though they were all born on the same day, January 14.
The backstory on them was interesting. They came from Texas where they apparently weren't welcomed and didn't receive much attention. Our future dog wasn't a one-time deal. The agency coordinator explained, they focus on dogs in the southern states where overpopulation is so great. The target areas are shelters in the south or owner surrender dogs from families that can no longer care for them.
Once the animals are ready for adoption, they are transported to Minnesota using volunteer transporters.
After some hemming and hawing, we settled on the boy dog who was more than happy to come with us.
We put him in the kennel and got down on the highway and he started barking. Then, something bad happened, in at least my mind. I started comparing him to Casey.
I know I'm not the first dog owner to do it. But the memories of Casey started flooding my mind when he was a pup (or at least the ones I could remember). Casey never did this, will this dog do that? Will he chew? How will he handle the kennel? How much does he want to be around us?
Those questions had answers that could come later. We had a bigger question that need an immediate answer. What about a name?
What about Archie, it was suggested? Between the four of us, it wasn't universally loved, but not universally hated at the same time. It was a name we could grow to love, just like him. So Archie it was.
As I'm writing this on Wednesday afternoon, two days after having him in our lives, I forgot how much fun it was to worry about potty training, the noises a puppy makes when you put him in a kennel for the night, yelling 'No' at him or hitting his nose as he's getting into something he shouldn't or saying "Archie, I have to go to the bathroom, get out'.
Yet, when he's licking my face, seeing the smiles on everyone's face when he's playing with us or how he responds to when his name is called, makes you forgot about all those challenges and just makes you appreciate how much better life is when a dog is around.