April 12, 2002 - June 19, 2021
Loving Adoptive Parents: Sherre Sachar – Austin, Texas
Loving Sponsors: Lara, Jason, Cammie and Cassie Bunting - Zanesville, OH
Lifetime Sponsor: Sharon Hayes - McCalla, AL
Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole by Heidi Krahn, Founder and Executive Director
Archie has been at CARE since the beginning of CARE. He, and his sister Allie, have been the grandma and grandpa of CARE for quite some years now. Archie has been the love of all our lives, always willing to give a big loud snuffle when approached. He loved his Allie, his food, his swimming pool, but most of all his people…and Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole.
Very few people knew about this special place, therefore an explanation is needed. As you may know, all of our big cats are locked up in a special lockdown area while their enclosure is being cleaned or enclosure maintenance is being performed. For Allie and Archie’s lockdown, there was a purposefully made “hole” in the fence that we used to control the mechanism which opened and closed the lockdown area…a space the couple had limited access to…it was about just as high as Archie’s chin and just about as round as his snout. This was Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole.
I figured out quickly that sweet Archie’s snout could *just* barely fit into the hole. Whenever he put his cute nose up to the fence-gap, there was no way he could open his mouth, so for a while, I would just scratch his nose before releasing him back into his main enclosure. It became a “thing” and all was good. One day I kissed him on the nose before I released him, and things became even more special. The years flew by…it became a cleaning day ritual. I would open his gate to release him from the lockdown and Archie would squeeze his long snout through the kissing hole and I would kiss him all over his black-speckled pink nose. This became one of my all-time favorite CARE practices. This became known as Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole.
Fast forward to today. Nineteen years have passed. Our sweet Archie has started to slow down. We built him special steps to get to high places he could no longer get to. We built him a house that would provide him with the amenities he deserved. We tried to make him as comfortable as possible knowing that this day was approaching. For the past several weeks, we could see Archie’s health was deteriorating. He has not been eating well or moving around much at all. He spent most of his days inside his airconditioned house. His sweet Allie never more than a few feet away from him. After 30 years of big cat caregiving, I know when a cat is ready to go…yet in the back of my mind there is always this sense of hope that Archie would be up and back to his normal self during one of our normal morning check-ins.
Three days ago, Archie wandered to the very back of the cave in his enclosure - behind vegetation growing at the mouth of the cave is where he stayed. Allie, laid just outside the cave. It was heartbreaking to see him purposefully avoid drinking water knowing he was probably feeling hot as the temperature rose above 100 degrees with the heat index. If he stayed in the cave, it would be difficult to dart him safely and without stress. Dr. Bill was coming and there was little we could do. The anxiety was mounting. Last night I went out to try one more time to get him to go to his house. It was a miracle. He came out of the cave and was laying by the fence. Derek and I were trying to lure him with food, snuffles, and love. Nothing was working. Derek went to the barn to try and find a toy we could use to maybe interest Archie enough to get up and follow us into his indoor house. I bent over to tell my sweet big boy that I loved him, and we will always be a part of one another. I thanked him for the beautiful times we had together and how much I wished we were standing at “Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole”.
He then struggled to stand. I was so excited because I thought he might follow me over to his house which stood only 70 feet away. Then I realized, as he looked into my eyes, he was not standing to go to his house, he was standing to say goodbye. He walked the long two steps to where I stood and he snuffled, as he had done thousands of times before, and then he pressed his black-speckled pink nose to the fence as hard as he could so I could give him one last kiss. It was not through the “Secret Kissing Hole” but surely it was the most important kiss that Archie and I ever shared. He snuffled again…I snuffled back…and he laid back down and went to sleep.
Goodnight sweet Archie. I will never forget our incredible moments at “Archie’s Secret Kissing Hole”
Archie has a wonderful personality. He is very laid back, which is a good thing, because his sister and enclosure-mate Allie likes being the boss! Their favorite things are getting toys and relaxing on their platforms.