A Life in the Day of Archie

I cannot decide whether or not I am a dog lover.

This is the sort of problem that I have the inclination to mull over now that I work only part-time.



Here I am with my dog, apparently relaxing at home. Note the dog’s stare. Note how joyful I look. Note the shrivelled leafless plant in its pot.

By the way, I say “apparently”, because I mean “apparently”. As regular readers of this blog know, we were acquired by a whippet some four years ago. Archie is the successor to our much loved literary whippet, Hamish, who died at the ripe old age of fourteen. Hamish was easy going and laid back. Archie is different.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent us a cartoon about a dog called Archie. For copyright reasons, I will not reproduce it here, but it is simple to describe: A man is sitting on his chair, rather like the human above. Out of his mouth comes a speech bubble saying:

Now what do you want, Archie? I’ve smothered you with love and attention and affection and adoring hugs and kisses and strokes and cuddles and kisses all morning.. “

At his feet his dog is thinking through a thought bubble:

“It wasn’t enough”

This sums up well the relationship we have with Archie.

In this picture you can see it all. The soulful eyes, the pleading expression, the silent request “More, more, more” – the “more” could refer to food, games, ball throwing, walks, love; in fact, any of the many exhausting pleasures enjoyed by a dog.

Not all readers of this blog are dog lovers. I understand that. For many years I myself resisted being owned by a dog and, as I say, I am still not sure if I fall into the category of dog lover. This is partly because our dog’s day consists of a constant psychological war of attrition with his humans. Whippets rarely bark, so he uses a combination of the unnerving whippet stare, his compulsion to live to a strict routine and his unending state of canine adolescence to ensure that he has full control over his human servants.

This is his typical day.

Early morning: At the same hour each day, Archie expects to hear the rattle of breakfast dropping into his bowl. After he has eaten it and while his humans are trying to enjoy their own breakfast, Archie wanders around aimlessly, anticipating his morning walk, occasionally staring hard and reproachfully at his humans. If the walk is delayed slightly, he drops balls on the floor and squeaks his toys repetitively. If the walk is delayed excessively, he whimpers pathetically and stands in the hallway staring dismally at the front door.

Morning: Archie has a walk with one of his humans. This is an opportunity for him to sniff things, meet other dogs, disobey commands, scavenge detritus from the forest floor or pick up bits of stale sandwich and other carelessly dropped human food. If the sun is shining on his return home, he expects to find a bed laid out for him in the garden. If this is not done, he cultivates a mournful expression, stares hard and accusingly at his humans, whimpers or squeaks his toys repetitively once more.

Mid-morning: Archie greets the postman who, long since defeated by the whippet stare, drops a biscuit into his gaping jaw.

Afternoon: Archie must have another walk with one or both of his humans (see “Early Morning” above). On his return home he trots straight to the kitchen and stares mournfully at his bowl until the crunchy rattle of dog food announces the arrival of his tea. After he has eaten his tea, Archie joins his humans and stares reproachfully at them to ensure that they do not spend too long drinking their tea. This behaviour, with its accompanying whines and whimpers, is an indicator that it is time for his biscuit, followed by some ball throwing and a chew.

Evening: Archie takes his ease in one of his beds, practises his various mournful expressions, mulls over his day and contemplates ways in which he can continue to keep his humans on a tight rein, while disobeying their every command. Look again at that first photograph. Look at Archie’s stare. You should now be able to understand that we are only “apparently” relaxing.

Am I a dog lover? You decide.

About Eric Sinclair

Writer, stroke survivor, whippet owner, music lover, charity volunteer
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9 Responses to A Life in the Day of Archie

  1. Jan Healey says:

    Commiserations from another whippet slave. We completely understand the whippet stare….and the manipulative qualities. We have double the effect having two whippets. We are still sane….just!
    Jan Healey

  2. Kevin N. Power says:

    Eric, your experience with Archie is a mirror image of ours with our dog Ben! He’s two years old, 3/4 Yorkshire terrier and 1/4 border collie, which suggests a stool must have been needed for the great moment. Just like Archie, Ben can manage to get us all sloppy and loving at one moment, and the next we are consumed with inexplicable guilt as he assumes his I-am-a-poor orphan-dog-and-nobody-understands-my-inner turmoil-so please-take-me-for-a-walk-and-then-we-may-reconsider-your-incapacity-to -understand-my complexity look. He sleeps around. There is no bed, occupied or unoccupied, that he has not hopped on.He has studied us carefully and, though not equipped for human speech, has developed a series of barks, whines, whimpers and yowls that leave us in no doubt as to his needs and desires at any given moment. To sum up: the pup of eight weeks who took up residence in our handsome Victorian abode is now the bright-eyed master of the house, loved and slobbered over by us humans in the same manner that he slobbers over us, nibbling on or hands and licking moistly to show affection, gazing at us imploringly as we dine and causing us to break all our rules about not feeding him surreptitiouslyly from the table. And to think, Eric, that we were once jolly bachelors, tormenting the notorious Hosepipe John by means of Connie and the Knackwursts, ascending the Donnersberg and Remigiusberg in order to consume beverages such as Herrgottsacker at the summit; flitting from Weizenbier shop to Pizza restaurant and Baechle Weinstube, unknowing that fate would make us the servants of doe-eyed quadrupeds with natures that see more intricate and masterful than our supposedly human lives! I think we are -you and I – both dog lovers, seduced by four-legged little fellows in a subtle manner that makes the attraction between male and female humans appear ridiculously simple and primitive. As fellow victims of canine charms, our sympathies are 100% with you and Jo !”

  3. Kevin N. Power says:

    I note that my flying fingers caused mistakes in the text. Your flying eyes may have overlooked them, but your gimplet gaze may pick up on them at a second reading, which is why I have confessed in advance.

  4. Kevin N. Power says:

    gimplet? Surely that’s the sort of word Trump would write…

  5. Julie Turner says:

    Another sympathetic whippet owner. They have us totally under their paw. We do not need clocks as 3.30 for dinner is on his hard drive, as is 9.30pm for final snack before bed. We are led to bed in the correct order, me first, husband after. If this changes for some reason he is most distressed. Amazing creatures … love him to bits

    • Eric Sinclair says:

      Thank you Julie. Fully understand, although if you read my most recent post you will see that Archie and I had a bit of a collision recently. Like your blog.

      • Julie Turner says:

        Thanks Eric , yes I heard about your collision
        My worst dog related accident was when he ran into the back of my knees and floored me… Ouch. Learnt that when whippets run towards you hold your nerve and don’t side step!!

  6. Pingback: Wexit – or the subtlety of whippets | Man Dog Stroke

  7. Pingback: Self-isolation | Man Dog Stroke

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