One military family’s senior dog seems to have had a date with destiny, giving credence to animal lovers who find their pets through rescue and adoption and who say they did not find their companions, but their companions found them. This is the story of one such pet.
Archy had it made. He had been safely surrounded with love and care in the arms of a loving military family for 14 years.
As is the case with most military families, Archy’s family had moved frequently, including two moves overseas. The dog had been through it all, but last year when his family got orders to fly overseas yet again, Archy’s veterinarian clipped his wings.
Archy had reached the stage of life when a major relocation would not be in his best interest. Heartbroken, his family approached the Leavenworth County Humane Society (LCHS) to ask for their help. For two months before the family left the states, staff from the LCHS worked diligently to find the senior dog his new home. Shortly after his family shipped out, Archy was placed in another home. But it wasn’t to be. He missed the family he’d known and loved for 14 years. He didn’t adjust well to his new family, or the family to him. It seemed his days were numbered.
But the LCHS didn’t want to give up on this wonderful dog. A veterinarian confirmed that the only thing wrong with Archy was that he was deeply grieving his first family. He simply needed more time, and time is what the LCHS gave him. That’s when LCHS reached out to Jim and Lisa.
You see, weeks before, Jim had been going about his work day at Fort Leavenworth as a member of the National Guard. He has 25 years of service in the Army Reserve and the Guard and is now serving a tour of active duty with the Center for Army Leadership at Fort Leavenworth. When he saw a flyer about Archy, Jim was moved by the fact that Archy and his family had to part as a result of the family’s service to our country. He inquired about adopting the dog and was told he had found his second home. Jim told the staff to keep him in mind if anything changed.
Jim and Lisa already had a house full of furry love. With three dogs and two cats, including a 14 year-old dog, Buddy, they felt their family was complete. But then they got the call asking if they were interested in making good on their offer. LCHS informed the couple of Archy’s unhappy placement with the second family and his desperate situation.
Shortly thereafter, Archy and a LCHS staff person met Jim and Lisa at a nearby dog park. The visit went well. About a week later, the dog visited their home. Jim admits everyone was a bit anxious about how he would fit in with the menagerie, particularly the cats. They needn’t have worried.
“Archy lay down next to me,” Jim said. “He did very well. And the cats? Well, the cats were on the cabinets and everywhere, and he just regarded them as a source of amusement. He had no aggression. He did great.”
The shelter staff were pleased, and Jim and Lisa thought Archy would fit in well, but they all agreed to take it slow. No one wanted to break the dog’s heart again. After a few more home visits, the adoption began. Due to Jim’s military status, the shelter suggested Archy become their first Pets for Patriots adoption. Jim and Lisa contacted Pets for Patriots and started the process. And everything went beautifully.
In fact, Archy came with his own “dowry.” His first family had agreed to cover his medication for thyroid and arthritic conditions for life. LCHS helped with the discounted adoption fee. Pets for Patriots provided gift cards to help with the cost of pet food and other essentials, as well as ongoing discounted medical care through one of its veterinary partners, Lansing Veterinary Hospital in Lansing, Kansas. The deal was done; Archy was on his way home.
“It was wonderful to have all of the help from the family and Pets for Patriots, but we loved Archy, and we would have taken him regardless,” Jim says. In fact, he and Lisa have since donated to the LCHS in honor of their newest family member. “We didn’t want to take advantage of everyone’s generosity,” he says.
“And Archy is the sweetest, most gentle and loving dog. He follows us around the house. He’s so tolerant with the other dogs wanting to play with him. When I’m in the office, he always wants to be near me on the floor. He has fit in beautifully.”
Jim and Lisa are extremely active and run five or six days a week for several miles. Archy wanted to go as well, but conscious of his arthritis, Jim and Lisa developed a route that will allow him to accompany them for about one-quarter of a mile. Then he is dropped back at house, and Jim and Lisa finish the five-mile route with the other dogs. The regimen has served Archy well.
“The stiffness he had has completely disappeared,” Jim says. “He’s very active, not overweight and his health conditions are just not apparent. He’s very mobile.”
And Jim and Lisa had something else in common with Archy: service.
“What originally touched us about Archy was that the fact that he had served as well, traveling all over the world with a military family, but now he could not keep up that pace any longer. By taking him in, we would do a service to his first family,” Jim says. “They would never have chosen to part with him but because of their commitment to service, they had to. It’s a way we can support another military family, and it’s a win-win for all of us – especially Archy.”
Jim and Lisa keep in casual contact with Archy’s first family. They share photos and updates and continue to reassure them that he is in good hands.
“You can’t help but fall in love with him,” Jim says. “He has such a sweet and gentle soul. He’s a great addition to our family.”