McKinnis: Archie's handoff to Oliver

Here’s a little change of pace right in the middle of Toyota AOY week. This is probably the largest bass fishing website in the world and I’m getting ready to talk about a dog. I should be able to do that though, because bass fishing and a dog have always been connected to me.

It’s about 4 a.m. in the morning and I’m going through another sleepless night. When the sun gets up I will look down on my bass fishing pond and see that my small, 8-foot long boat has been pulled up on the dock and has sat there for the past three weeks. Quite honestly, I may never use it again.

You see, weather permitting, I’m normally in that boat at some time every day, and there’s nothing my wiener dog Archie loves more than being with me on that pond. He’s either barking because I caught a bass, or barking because I have not caught a bass. Either way, he’s the happiest dog alive during those bass fishing trips.

If you know me, you’ve seen pictures of that bass fishing team and maybe even seen us on TV. Well, Arch was 15 years old last spring. A healthy 15, I might add. But at 15 you’re skating on thin ice and that was always on my mind.

So, a month ago my buddy fell and broke his hip. Of course he was too old to operate on, so they gave him some strong pain medication. He responded poorly to that and the wheels just seemed to come off overnight. 

Archie has been gone for three weeks now and every day since, I have at least one period where, damn it, I cry my eyes out. I’m having one now. Hang with me though, this is going to get better.

My business partner, Don Logan, who is such a wise man, called to talk to me about my situation and he ended the conversation with, “You know what you do to get over this, don’t you? You get a new buddy and start over again.” But that was the furthest thing from my mind. Like I said, I’m still thinking I may never use the pond boat again.

Pardon me for talking about my book, Bass Fishing, Brown Dogs & Curveballs, but I had a chapter called “Archie” that was full of details about his fabulous little life. The chapter ended with me saying I didn’t know what I would do without him. I just didn’t know.

Well, I finished the book last winter and had no idea I would have to answer that question so soon. And here I sit. Smart enough to know how to mend my broken heart, but not big enough to go get the job done.

So Angie Thompson, who’s sick of me being a big baby, suggests I go to Searcy, Arkansas, and meet Gretchen. Gretchen might have an answer for me. So that’s what I reluctantly did. After all, Searcy is kind of on the way from Little Rock to my home near Mountain Home. So what the heck. Might as well make Angie happy.

Like I said, things are going to get better, and these next pictures, that my daughter Shan took, are going to knock your socks off.

Hello ... my name is Gretchen.

As it turns out, Gretchen is a beautiful girl and is a little put off with me, knowing that I really didn’t want to meet her family. She was very proud of the nine members of that family, which included black, brown, and piebald miniature dachshunds. They were just a few weeks old, their eyes not open yet, and weighing about 6 ounces apiece.

When Gretchen heard my story she understood and thought she might have a solution. That’s when she introduced me to Oliver.

Oliver is already dreaming of bass fishing.

Oliver might not take Archie’s place, but he could take a handoff from Arch and continue to run the ball. I’ve had 30 years of dachshunds, and I’m sure I can handle 15 more.

On your right, light brown, that's Ollie.

So now I’m back home and the sun is coming up. I feel just as bad as I have for the past three weeks, and I should. Archie was that special. However, Gretchen says that by the end of October Oliver will be ready to officially move to the White River, so I have over a month to get that 8-foot pond boat cleaned up and ready to go.

Now, I had a different ending to this story, but before I turned it over to the Internet guys I found out something interesting. Something that made me scratch what previously closed this out. Instead, listen to this.

I said goodbye to Archie on a Monday evening. On the following Tuesday morning, Oliver was born and I just now found this out. I guess it’s no big deal, but it’s kind of ironic because that’s just a few hours between wiener dogs. Like someone had a plan.

Oh yeah, I know if you’re not a dog person you left this story 200 words ago.

But for me, I will never, ever forget Archie, and I will wait patiently for the end of October.