He’s a mean, grouchy dog that was mistreated and mishandled and five years ago some part of me thought it was a good idea to adopt him, even though he snarled and growled at everything that moved.
Archie is a rescue dog. He was left for dead in a bad neighbourhood and following his rescue, he bounced from home to home because no one wanted to keep him. It’s easy to think: “How could someone do that to a poor dog?” but Archie looks a lot nicer than he is. He was cute, but he was incredibly standoffish to new people. He cowered away if you got close but if you tried to bridge the gap he’d show his teeth and snap. If you could get your hands near him, you had to keep them where he could see them and god forbid you got them anywhere near his back. He was defensive over everything, didn’t know what a treat was, had no idea what a toy was, and even though he was happier on a leash, everything had to be on his terms.
Like I said, he’s sort of a jerk.
This was not the sort of dog I wanted when I originally planned on adopting. I didn’t want to worry about a dog around my cousin’s children, I didn’t want to have to explain to visitors all my dog’s quirks. I wanted a companion, someone I could go on runs with, someone who would curl up with me in bed, and someone who would actually be happy to see me when I walked in the door.
This dog was a drag. This dog was a pain in the ass and he was going to be a lot of work but… as we spent our week of pre-adoption together, he crept forward and nudged his nose into my hand and it occurred to me that maybe this guy wasn’t really a jerk. Maybe this was a dog that desperately, desperately wanted to be loved but had never gotten a fair chance.
And I wasn’t going to be another person who let him down.
On the day I adopted him, the woman looked a little surprised I wanted to keep him. She warned me about all his triggers and I told her we’d be okay. When we got home, I got down on the floor with him, looked him in the eyes and promised I would never give him back. We were in this together and our home, the one we would have together, no matter who came in and out of our life, would be the last home he’d ever have.
And then we started to heal.
Archie learned what a treat was, and he learned how to sit and stand. He likes sleeping on the bed with me, and in winter he wakes me up so he can get under the covers. He won’t snap at me when I poke and prod at his eyes and ears, and the few times I do catch him off guard, I can see the moment when he’s halfway around to go after me when he realizes: “Oh, it’s you” and stops himself. He’s still nervous when he meets new people and everyone is highly suspicious to him, but he’s come a long, long way.
I’m really proud of him.
Two weeks ago, my grumpy buddy started to get sick. He was throwing up, wasn’t eating his food, and soon he wasn’t even keeping down water. I took him to the vet, who referred me to an emergency hospital, who took a scan of his stomach and said: “He needs his gallbladder removed… now.”
And then they whisked my buddy into surgery before I could say goodnight and all I could think was: “Please don’t think I am giving you back.”
That night the surgeon called and said the surgery was successful but Archie was really scared. He was really aggressive towards the staff and he was hard to manage. I asked if I could come see him, but he said it was too late for the night. The next morning he called again and said Archie was recovering well, but he wasn’t eating. None of the nurses could get near him if he wasn’t sedated and he was just standing in the corner of his cage, refusing to eat or lie down. He asked if I could come down, maybe try to get him to eat, and I told him I’d be right there.
When they were leading me back to see him, the nurse looked at me and said: “He hates me. I mean, he doesn’t seem to like anyone but he really hates me,” and I thought: Yeah. That’s kind of him in a nutshell.
They took me back to his cage, and I leaned down to see him huddled into a corner, tubes in his legs and nose, bandages on his legs, and a belly that had been split open and sewn together. It took a moment for him to notice me, painkillers making his eyes droopy, but when it clicked he looked… surprised.
He thought I wasn’t coming back.
I started crying.
We sat together for over an hour, me crouched down on the vet floor in high heels and all my nice work clothes, and I told him again I would never leave him behind because we were in this together, and that didn’t mean just when it was easy, or just when it was convenient, it meant I would sit there for as long as it took until he ate every piece of food that I hand fed him.
And he did, slowly, but surely, and I promised that we would be home soon.
My buddy is home recovering now. There have been some complications but he’s getting better. For three days he wouldn’t sleep unless I was on the floor next to him, but now he’s back up, wagging his tail, and slamming his cone-of-shame into every corner of the house. I look at him now and think… this is not the dog that I adopted. He isn’t scared like he used to be, he knows exactly what the word treat means, and his favourite toy in the world is a stuffed chicken that my boyfriend spent weeks searching for as a Christmas present for him. He still has some grouchy asshole-ish-ness to him, but that’s just him and I love him, even when he’s being a bit of a jerk.
He’s taught me a lot, about being patient with people, about being gentle when I can be and firm when I need to. Not everyone gets a fair shot in the beginning, but it’s never too late to change that. It’s okay to coddle people in some ways, if they need time or if they need just a little extra love, but it is never okay when someone lashes out or tries to do things to hurt you. He’s taught me a lot about being accountable, about being consistent, and about not taking shit when that’s all people (or he) wanted to give. The deal is that even when he was vicious towards me, I was never vicious back.
And that’s love.
I hope you can take that out in the world with you.
I know Archie will never be the dog that I dreamed of having, but that doesn’t matter because I love him just the same. We may not be able to go for runs together, but he loves to go for long walks where there are lots of things for him to sniff. He may never be good with children pulling on his tail or tugging at his ears, but loves to lie in bed and curl up right next to me.
I look at him now and think I’m grateful I didn’t get that dream dog, because together we’ve learned a lot, and we’ve changed a lot and I know it seems cliché, but I don’t think he was the only one who was rescued. He gave me purpose when I felt replaceable, he reminded me that maybe I don’t have everything, but there’s still a lot I can give. He taught me that you don’t have to be perfect to change someone’s life, and that love… love can do a lot.
I know the world can be an awful place. I know that sometimes it seems like there is more bad than good, and maybe it would be a lot easier to just protect yourself and say: “Screw you!” to the rest of the world but when that happens… I hope you think of Archie. I hope you think of the awkward, Yoda-eared dog who never knew what it was like to be loved… but still decided to give it a shot anyway.
I hope you remember that there is good in the world and that the first step to finding it… is to never stop believing in it.
Because it exists in you, and if you can’t find love in the world, you can put it out there, and I promise (I promise)… someday, something good is going to happen.
(Sometimes it just comes with four legs and a bad attitude ;) )
It’s snowing in Antarctica. The skies above the tundra are full of flakes, thick and white and hard to navigate. Scott’s got the best technology in the world literally in his hands and hums to himself as Thunderbird One slices through the clouds heading north. The first responder for International Rescue is at home in the sky and is quite relaxed when he checks in with his family.
“Base from Thunderbird One. I’m on my way back from Antarctica. Mission complete; no casualties except for the generators and two scientific studies. I’m bringing the broken generators back with me so Brains can take a look. A couple of the guys there suspected sabotage but I’m not so sure. There’s no one out here for miles.”
“FAB” the response comes back and Scott begins to hum again. He loves this time to himself to dissect his performance and calm down from the high a mission naturally brings. Thus the pilot is unprepared for the explosion that rocks his ‘Bird from nose cone to tail. Alarms shriek to late to be of any assistance whatsoever.
“This is Thunderbird One. Mayday, I’ve got engine failure!” Scott’s got time to put out an emergency call before a second explosion sends 'One careening out of control. Alarms blare and the display is stuttering red with damage reports from every section. Scott doesn’t understand what he’s reading as he wrestles with unresponsive levers. Thunderbird One is in an uncontrolled dive and rolls over because Scott can’t counter it.
“This is Thunderbird One, mayday!” he’s pulling levers and flicking dials but the explosion has damaged the electronics and there appears to be a cascading failure in his systems. Is the radio working? Scott tries to manually reboot it but shadows through the glass hatch distract him. Despite the snowstorm, he can see two – three planes overhead.
“Mayday, I’ve been shot down!” Scott prays his message makes it through to home and his brothers. They need to know the danger that awaits them. Scott focuses on the radio instead of saving himself because his brothers need to know. “Repeat, I’ve been shot down by hostile aircraft. Situation is danger-”
Thunderbird One slams into the great banks of snow that cover the tundra. The impact throws snow high into the air and the Bird carves out a great gouge as she slides for hundreds of feet. Eventually she comes to rest the right way up albeit her nose buried deep in a bank and smoke drifting from her engines.
The Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise flies free after being released from NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft over Rogers Dry Lakebed during the second of five free flights carried out at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, on January 1, 1977.
A tail cone over the main engine area of Enterprise smoothed out turbulent air flow during flight. It was removed on the two last free flights to accurately check approach and landing characteristics.
Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise flies free after being released from
NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over Rogers Dry Lakebed
during the second of five free flights carried out at the Dryden Flight
Research Center, Edwards, California, as part of the Shuttle program’s
Approach and Landing Tests (ALT). The tests were conducted to verify
orbiter aerodynamics and handling characteristics in preparation for
orbital flights with the Space Shuttle Columbia beginning in April 1981.
A tail cone over the main engine area of Enterprise smoothed out
turbulent air flow during flight. It was removed on the two last free
flights to accurately check approach and landing characteristics. A
series of test flights during which Enterprise was taken aloft atop the
SCA, but was not released, preceded the free flight tests. The Space
Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) program allowed pilots and
engineers to learn how the Space Shuttle and the modified Boeing 747
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) handled during low-speed flight and
landing. The Enterprise, a prototype of the Space Shuttles, and the SCA
were flown to conduct the approach and landing tests at the NASA Dryden
Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from February to October
1977. The first flight of the program consisted of the Space Shuttle
Enterprise attached to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. These flights were
to determine how well the two vehicles flew together. Five
“captive-inactive” flights were flown during this first phase in which
there was no crew in the Enterprise. The next series of captive flights
was flown with a flight crew of two on board the prototype Space
Shuttle. Only three such flights proved necessary. This led to the
free-flight test series. The free-flight phase of the ALT program
allowed pilots and engineers to learn how the Space Shuttle handled in
low-speed flight and landing attitudes. For these landings, the
Enterprise was flown by a crew of two after it was released from the top
of the SCA. The vehicle was released at altitudes ranging from 19,000
to 26,000 feet. The Enterprise had no propulsion system, but its first
four glides to the Rogers Dry Lake runway provided realistic, in-flight
simulations of how subsequent Space Shuttles would be flown at the end
of an orbital mission. The fifth approach and landing test, with the
Enterprise landing on the Edwards Air Force Base concrete runway,
revealed a problem with the Space Shuttle flight control system that
made it susceptible to Pilot-Induced Oscillation (PIO), a potentially
dangerous control problem during a landing. Further research using other
NASA aircraft, especially the F-8 Digital-Fly-By-Wire aircraft, led to
correction of the PIO problem before the first orbital flight. The
Enterprise’s last free-flight was October 26, 1977, after which it was
ferried to other NASA centers for ground-based flight simulations that
tested Space Shuttle systems and structure.