A short story about a dog called Archie
Chapter 1: The Day It All Changed
As I sit down at my laptop, not even a week has passed since that day. A day I have dreaded. A day that has left me wondering if I can run the brand that he inspired without him. A day where I am still struggling to reconcile with. The day I held the most beautiful soul in my arms while getting him settled one last time. I knew this day would come, but I was really ill prepared.
That whole morning is a blur and not just in the sense that it all happened so fast, in the sense that I can't recall it clearly. It was like the day happened before I knew it. Before I had a clear sense of anything, it was just a series of events unfolding before me and I could do nothing about it.
My world had been turned upside down, but that very same world kept spinning and time kept continuing to unfold, yet somehow it also felt like an eternity. I felt every single moment pass over me. It was like these moments all had a sharp clarity about them, like everything suddenly had more detail. I heard every bird sing, every rustle of the leaves blowing in the wind and the faint rumbling of traffic in the background. I had a million thoughts a minute, then moments where everything was still and quiet. I had every emotion you can think of slowly take over my internal world, griping me with such a force that, at moments, I felt helpless, broken and exhausted by an overwhelming sense of defeat.
I managed to pull myself out of my own head and looked at my dog. This beautiful, greying pup who was leaving me a world away from where he joined me. This dog had very much been my guiding light, the glue in my life, the reason Barc exists and if you really think about it, the very thing that in this very moment has brought us all together.
As I sat in my family home five minutes away from the vets, explicitly aware that my last hours with Archie are counting down, I found myself repeating the words ‘this isn't about you right now’ over and over in my head. I was telling myself to be present, sit as close to him as possible and comfort him in the unconditional manner as he had me for all these years. Don’t let these last moments be filled with sadness. Stick right by his side, your right-hand soul, your best friend, just smile, look him in his eyes and thank whoever is needed for sending him to you. For the nearly 10 years you have had the privilege of sharing a life with him.
I found and felt his love guide me through the next steps of the day with some form of grace. I found myself somehow having the strength to comfort my pregnant partner, whose lap he sat on during the drive to his final departure. I managed to find the words and spoke in a coherent but slightly short manner to the staff at the vet who were talking me through the process. I managed to briefly message the team back at work with what was going on and then, before I knew it, before I really got my head around anything at all, there I was, moments away from the end.
Don’t let these last moments be filled with sadness. Stick right by his side, your right-hand soul, your best friend, just smile, look him in his eyes and thank whoever is needed for sending him to you.
Now, in a room we have never been in in our 10 years of vet visits, I held my boy in my arms. This was the place I had felt most at home and now I was suddenly immersed in every memory and every moment in time we had shared. Time slowed down as they all wrapped around me, flooding me with a warm but saddening cocktail of love and heartbreak which, in turn, silenced everything else in the room. It felt like I was holding everything that made life great in my arms. My sanctuary from the world, my consistent source of love and joy, the one thing that could always pull me out of my own thinking and fill me with gratitude and ground me in the present moment with nothing but a squeaky tennis ball. What a gift, what is this amazing thing in my arms that has shaped my world, my guide and best friend. This part of nature has shined so brightly in my life. As he lay on the table, I stood over him, he had his head resting on my arms which is a place we have often been before, a place that really did feel like home.
I kissed his head gently as he nuzzled down into my arms and took a big sigh in. My breath started to escape me, that slow buildup of emotions inside that steals your ability to breath. My heart turned upside down. I also took a big breath in and repeated the words 'it's all going to be ok......I love you, I will see you again soon...... It's ok my boy, you’re ok now.’ I just repeated this to him over and over. My whispers were muffled and my voice was breaking simultaneously with my heart. As I tried to keep my composure a moment or two passed and then one of the most impactful relationships I have had came to an end. His body went limp and his head went heavy in my arms one last time. The hardest few months of our life had come to an end.
I was left in tears, the kind where you’re stood in shock, the kind where you look lost, where something inside has broken and no matter how hard you try to keep your composure your eyes do the talking for you. I took a step back from the table to turn towards a nurse standing behind me. I’d only met her a few times before today. This beautiful kind soul had reduced me to tears the day before when she approached me in the car park to see how I was doing. She told me how loved Archie was by the vets and, though it was sad that he had to come in, it made their day to see him.
As I looked at her through blurred vision, I could see tears also rolling down her face too. My heart warmed slightly as I took comfort in yesterday’s words. I was slightly glad that I wasn’t the only one in the room who could hardly see. It made me reflect on just how loved Archie was by so many people beyond myself.
I am sure we all say this, but he truly touched so many people and started me on this journey that I am now sharing with you. If I’m being honest with you, with all Archie and I have been through over the past decade, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, in this new world we created together. This world has enabled me to share this with you guys and a brand that will live on in his name.
Since starting Barc it seems the pet world has exploded, which to me is not a bad thing. All that says to me is there are clearly a lot of dog mad people like me. I think ‘good!’ there must be a million people out there who view dogs the exact same way I do, so I must be on the right path.
But as excited as I am about a world where dogs are the center of it, I put my dog down Thursday 1st April at 4:45pm. Archie sparked my heart and my mind. He started Barc with me, and he’s sharing it with us all now. In the running up to his passing we had been accepting of the fact he was coming up to 10, he was grey and slower than he used to be. Last year we agreed to change our logo to Archie, (I’ll explain the reason a little later) but the whole situation really did piss me off for months before the penny dropped and I realised it should have been him the whole time.
I had approached the conversation with the team in a light manner in the past, with things like: ‘what are we going to do when he isn't here one day?’ We discussed topics and ideas along these lines, but never anything concrete. We talked about trying to depict his life and our joint vision in a video. Maybe if things went to plan, we could have given him the world’s best last 24 hours, just something to show the world that Barc is his and his life meant everything to me. To try and get across the importance and impact he had on not just my life but many others around him.
I however really didn’t think about how fast that day would, or could, come around. Or about how under prepared I was and how I was so preoccupied with getting him better to even think of anything outside of that. I've since said to the team that this has all left me feeling like our brand has more heart than most that I know and now that he is not here, I can't not do something for him at work. I can't just swerve past the fact that the founding reason for Barc has passed away and not talk about it. I also can’t let Archie be just a lone lost Instagram post on a feed. So, what am I going to do? I settled on trying to task myself with writing his story. Which in turn is also Barc’s story and personally, I have always been interested in the why and how people do things. I like to know a little bit more about a brand before I buy into it. So here is a small insight into my why and how Barc came around.
This is 10 years’ worth of time, Barc London’s beginnings, Archie's life and most importantly, our story. Making this probably the longest ‘about me’ page ever written...
If you would like to read the rest of our story you can purchase our book here.