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A Tear For Argos & Ivar

Emil Doepler, Heimdall an der Himmelsbrücke, 1905.

1,641 words

As I have gotten older, certain events always seem to bring up specific memories and thoughts. This last week, I have struggled to fall asleep as I kept thinking about Homer’s Odyssey. The scene in question is when Odysseus returns home in disguise, only to see his once-esteemed dog Argos close to death after being neglected by his servants while Odysseus was away. Argos immediately recognized his owner when no one else did. Odysseus wanted to embrace and tend to his dying dog, but doing so would have given up his identity. With feelings of regret and a tear running down his face, Odysseus walked away from his dog as Argos passed away, knowing that his dog stayed alive just long enough to see his owner one last time.

I’ve been on my own odyssey these past few weeks in Europe. I’ve attended nationalist events and independence marches in two Baltic countries. I’ve also supported my good friend in the Balkans with his political campaign, making a viral video that got featured in the local news. Yet as much fun and excitement that I had spending time with my friends and supporting their events, I often thought of Ivar, the French Bulldog I rescued from the pound 13 years ago. I knew that he was well into the twilight of his years, and I made it a personal goal to spend as much time with him once I returned home from all my scheduled events.

Yet one thing you quickly learn as a dissident is that not everything goes to plan. Ivar got a stroke last weekend. My mom took him to the vet, but there wasn’t much they could do for him. Ivar became immobile, so my mom made the difficult decision to put him down so he wouldn’t have to deal with the pain. As they administered the anesthetic, my mom held Ivar in her arms. She said his whimpering stopped and he had a smile on his face right before he passed away.

Life seemed so much simpler just two months ago before the spread of the current coronavirus. But when I think about my life when I rescued Ivar, it seems like a lifetime ago in a completely different world. I was in my early 20s and was in a serious relationship with a woman who also enjoyed heavy metal, video games, and fantasy books. I thought of her as a woman I could potentially spend the rest of my life with, and we often talked about marriage and having children. Since we were already living together, we decided that we would adopt a dog, being that we both knew couples who did that before getting married.

After researching dog breeds that would be suitable for apartment living, we went to the local dog pound and searched for a dog that would connect with both of us. There were many dogs that we wanted to rescue, but the problem was that most apartment complexes have extensive breed and weight restrictions. After a few visits, we got a call from the pound that a woman had to give up her small dog as her daughter became allergic to it. We immediately drove down to the pound to meet this French Bulldog mix. My first thought was that he looked like an Ewok. I squatted down to pet him but he literally jumped into my arms and started licking my face. I knew right then and there that he would be our dog. As we drove home, my girlfriend and I were both petting him and trying to decide on a name. Since we were listening to the Viking metal band Enslaved in the car, I came up with the name Ivar, after the band’s guitarist Ivar Bjørnson.

It is said that French Bulldogs are as stubborn as they are cute. Ivar wasn’t very stubborn, but he loved food and loved following us around. He was like our shadow. He would howl and cry when one of us left for work. Ivar also loved car rides. We would take him everywhere, particularly on long car rides out of state. I think Ivar and all our dogs have visited more states in the US than most Americans.

Due to life changes and different career paths, my girlfriend and I eventually broke up. Neither of us wanted to give Ivar up, so we decided on a compromise where we would give Ivar to my mom so that both of us could visit him when we wanted. During that time, Ivar really bonded with my mom, so he eventually became my mom’s dog. My ex-girlfriend moved on with her life, and I got to spend more time with Ivar every time I visited my mom.

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Ivar would eventually outlive two other dogs that I rescued after him. He would also outlive all of my relationships and careers. In this regard, I think about the decisions and choices I have made in my life. I often think about what life would be like if instead of rescuing Ivar, I had married one of my ex-girlfriends, had children, and stayed at one of my previous companies or positions. Instead of rescuing and owning dogs, should I have put my time, effort, and resources into having a wife and children?

I’m going to be completely honest, even if it makes me sound like a loser or a hypocrite. My answer is “no!” In retrospect, I honestly didn’t want a wife and kids when I was younger. I wasn’t financially or mentally ready to be married or have kids.  After a few long-term relationships, I spent a large amount of time in my 20’s simply preferring dogs as my main companions. More importantly, rescuing Ivar and my other dogs has given me one of the most valuable things in life. That being the relationship a man has to his best friend. His dog.

Frederick II of Prussia was one of the first people attributed to stating that the canine species is man’s best friend. He was referring to his Italian Greyhound. Voltaire, who also had a long and tumultuous friendship with Frederick II, wrote in his Dictionnaire Philosophique that a dog is “the best friend a man can have.” While less famous but equally important to me, my grandmother often reminded me that women, friends, and family come and go, but your dog will always stand by your side.

Obviously, I would like to see all white men get married and have white children. Our future as a race literally depends on it. But let’s face it. We are all products and prisoners of our time. Not all of our guys are going to find female partners. Even throughout history, not every white man was able to reproduce. As much as Varg Vikernes has been an influence on me with his music, writings, and rants, not all of our guys are going to be able to live off the grid in the countryside with a based wife and seven children. But I’m working on it.

In my previous article, I stressed the importance of having male friendships and guy talk. But whether or not you can find like-minded guys in your area, I highly recommend looking into adopting a dog if your living situation allows it. There are a lot of great dogs that could use a good home and your friendship with that dog could be one of the best experiences of your life. I realize that having a dog is a big commitment that sadly, isn’t always compatible with modern life. And while I’m not trying to make a false dichotomy between having a dog and having a family, having a dog does require a lot of time, effort, and resources that make balancing a career or family with a dog very challenging.

Joni Mitchell and the 80s hair-metal band Cinderella (who I’ve seen twice in concert) both have songs that remind me about one of life’s hardest lessons: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till its gone.” One of my biggest regrets in life has been not spending more time with my dogs. Instead of spending countless hours surfing the internet and watching YouTube videos, I should have spent more time with Ivar. I wish I could have taken him for more walks when he was younger. I wish I could have taken him for more car rides when he was older. I wish I could have held him in my arms as he passed away so my mom didn’t have to. Yet we cannot turn back the sands of time. I cherish the memories and times I spent with all my dogs, and I will do my best to learn from my mistakes and not take for granted the time I spend with any rescue dogs I have in the future.

In Norse mythology, the Bifrost is a bridge that links Midgard to Asgard, the home of the gods. Starting in the 1990s, various grief counselors and dog rescue groups used this analogy to create the concept of the Rainbow Bridge: an afterlife for our pets where they would play and be happy while waiting for their owners to join them in the afterlife. As a white man of European ancestral faith, I hope that when my time comes, I will be able to cross the Bifrost and Rainbow Bridge to once again hug Bonnie, Pokey, Freyja, Silje and Ivar. Until then, I hope all of you find success on your own odyssey towards creating friendships, families, and dog-friendly communities. My journey continues with happy memories that bring both a smile to my face and a tear in my eye. For Argos and Ivar.