Epitaph for Murphy
Let’s be honest from the start. I never wanted him. When Jody at BRO first offered him to us I thought he was too old (six) and said so. A few weeks later Jody called again to say that a planned adoption for Murphy had fallen through and she urged us to look at him again; she still thought ours was the ideal home for him. I checked the web site again and found another reason to turn him down — he had no experience with cats and we had a 16-year-old tabby. Still, I decided to go look at him. That way I would be seen to be cooperative and would have actually looked at the dog before refusing him. I’m a reasonable man.
So, on a sunny Sunday in May Moira, Banba and I drove to Barrie to meet Murphy. There we would give him the once over, say thanks but no thanks, and return home. Nothing to it.
I parked the car, got out and started to the front door. The door opened and the biggest Boxer I had ever seen bounded down the steps and came trotting over to me. He was huge (105 pounds) and I’m not afraid to say I was more than a little intimidated to be invading this guy’s home turf. Of course, he turned out to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a real pussycat.
The five of us headed out to a park so Murphy could meet Banba. It was love at first sight for them. The dogs chased each other until Murphy collapsed in exhaustion; no way could he keep up with Banba. We told Brandi (foster-mum) that we would think about taking Murphy and, once in the car we started planning when we would pick him up. And so on May 22, 2003 Murphy came to stay with us and to enrich our lives.
As I said, I never wanted Murphy — until I met him.
Over almost four years our Mighty Murph brought us nothing but happiness and love. He was a very needy dog but we would be needy too if we were in our fourth home in such a short life. He craved love and attention and we were only too eager to provide both. We had to teach him the purpose of squeaky toys as he did not know what to do with them in the early days.
Our rescue dogs come with baggage of various stripes; some of it we learn up front, other things we deduce along the way. So, we knew from day one that Murphy had a thyroid condition that was being treated with Eltroxin. We noticed a little later that he favoured his left rear leg somewhat and we, and our vet, put that down to arthritis. The physical we can diagnose and treat quite readily, the psychological can be more difficult. One day Murphy treated himself to almost a kilo of chocolate chips. It’s a good thing he was such a big fella and could (almost) digest the chocolate. That night he suddenly bolted from the carpet to the tiled hallway where he vomited and, when we went to console him, he cowered and flinched at our approach. The dog was clearly accustomed to being chastised physically for things beyond his control. Murph had not been given the love and care he deserved in his earlier life. I like to think that we made up for that during his life with us.
Strangely, while Murphy and Banba were the best of pals, Murphy just did not like dogs in general. We solved this problem by keeping him away from other dogs, walking him at carefully selected times in a park not usually frequented by dogs.
Murphy quickly became our home’s guard dog. The doorbell brought him to the front door where he would stand on his hind legs and bark through the window to intimidate whoever had intruded on his territory. I never worried about Moira’s safety with Murphy on guard.
Having an Irish name, our Murph was quite the literary fellow. He loved books and was keen to sample whatever book we left around; he would devour them. We learned to put our reading material away, like good boys and girls should do.
Although we saw the writing on the wall as early as the fall of 2006, the end still came with an unseemly rush. Our vet came to our house to make things as easy as possible for Murphy and so Moira and I lay beside him in his favourite spot as he went on to wait for us in another place at another time. Separately Moira and I both considered saying “stop” that day and had either of us spoken our thoughts aloud, we would have stopped. In the end, we did what was best for our beloved Murphy.
I have never understood how animals sense stress in the home. His sister, Banba, always sleeps in the bed with us while Murphy slept on his cushions on the bedroom floor. The night before Murphy left us Banba did not come to our bed; instead she slept on the floor beside her brother. Who knows how Banba knew what was coming in the morning, but she did. Banba quit eating for three days after her brother left and took another two days of nibbling before her appetite returned.
In early summer Murphy’s ashes will be buried in a rock garden in our back yard, under the same rock as those other pets who have enriched our lives.
We thank Boxer Rescue for allowing us the great honour of loving, and being loved by, the Mighty Murph.
Dogs who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge
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