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ZEBULON — A year and a half ago, Archie the German shepherd was a shy, lonely dog, terrified of life. Now he’s a towel-stealing goofball — who helps perform lifesaving research.
Archie, who lives in Zebulon, was named an Early Times 2021 All-American dog. He’s one of 10 canines in the nation to receive the honor.
When Christine Casavant’s family lost their dog, Zeke, to cancer, she reached out to Sarah Bridges at S’Brie’s German Shepherds in Wake Forest. Archie was Zeke’s nephew, and he was a lonely dog who needed a loving home.
Casavant recalled Bridges told her “He needs a home and if you don’t want a puppy, I want you to come see him.”
“We decided to take a chance on him, and it’s been great for all of us,” Casavant said. “He helped heal us, and we helped expand his world.”
Archie was scared and nervous, Casavant said, so she took him with her to the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine where she works in the dermatology lab. The staff and students were the perfect people to break him out of his shell and Archie soon became a favorite around the school, she said.
“A couple of the girls in the HR department would literally come running out every time I took Archie for walks and love on him and say he made their day,” Casavant said.
Archie now gives back to the vet school. He donates blood to be used for scientific studies and research projects.
While he doesn’t donate blood to other dogs yet, Archie has started the process and should be approved by 2021, Casavant hopes.
Casavant said there’s a long list of tests Archie needs to pass before he can be approved to donate blood.
“We were on our way to go through that when COVID hit, so they slowed that down a little bit because it involves a lot of people,” she said.
The College of Veterinary Medicine can’t complete a lot of client education right now, so Archie starred in a series of dermatology videos showing people how to give their pets medications and clean their ears, Casavant said.
“He comes from a long line of service,” she said. “His aunt was a great therapy dog for many years. ... Archie can tell when people are down in the dumps. He’ll walk over to them and sit on their feet and beg for them to scratch him.”
She added that people are sometimes intimidated by German shepherds, but most of them are big teddy bears.
In addition to charming people at the vet school, Archie is a huge hit with the cats and horses on the farm. He often herds them for his mom, even when she doesn’t ask him to.
“He really does try to be the best boy,” Casavant said. “Archie’s a big couch potato at heart. … He likes to watch sports. He used to watch a lot of (NFL) Red Zone. He likes to bark at hockey. He gets excited when the Hurricanes play.”
Archie’s favorite toys are towels, and he’ll steal them in a heartbeat, she added.
Casavant didn’t expect Archie to be selected when she sent his photo to Early Times All-American Dog social media search. But he beat out tens of thousands of others to become one of 10 winners.
“It’s been pretty fun,” Casavant said. “It’s taken on a life of its own. It’s fun being Archie’s mom through all this.”
In addition to being featured in a calendar, Archie can be seen on a billboard in Fayetteville. Casavant and Archie haven’t seen it yet, but she looks forward to taking a trip down there soon.
“It’s been unreal,” Casavant said. “We’ll get texts from people saying, ‘We just saw Archie on TV.’ He is completely unaffected by his fame; though, he did say he would be signing paw-tigraphs anytime for anyone who requests one.”
The All-American dogs contest was put on by Early Times, a brand of Kentucky whiskey owned by Sazerac.
The Early Times 2021 All-American Dogs calendar highlights dogs that embody unwavering companionship, the company says. Proceeds go to help K9s for Warriors, a nonprofit organization committed to training service dogs for veterans with needs resulting from post-9/11 military service.
Calendars will be available to buy at www.earlytimes.com/dogs.