It’s been a week since I lost my Murphy Dog. Murphy came into our lives 12 years ago through a Pittsburgh Gazette classifieds ad titled “Golden Retriever-Mix Puppies.” It lead my wife and I to a trailer on a dirt road outside of New Stanton, PA where Murphy was among 10 or so other puppies in a make-shift wire-fence pen. We chose Murphy from the other puppies because he was the sweetest.
Murphy lived his first 4 years in the great city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We took occasional evening walks at Frick Park and Homewood Cemetery near our home in Squirrel Hill, but once we got to Vermont Murphy and I rarely missed a daily walk together on one of the many South Burlington biking and park trails. Murphy lived to serve, but on his daily walks he could forget about our needs and enjoy himself. He certainly earned it, and I can take some comfort knowing he enjoyed literally thousands of walks in the forests of Vermont, and a dog can’t ask for a whole lot more in that department.
When Murphy wasn’t a running dog, he was a constant companion. He laid at my feet each day while I worked in my office, even stayed by my side while I was on the Nordic Track. When I would go downstairs, even for just a few minutes, Murphy would come along. He always dashed outside and leapt into the back of the Passport to join me when I ran an errand. He would lie on the couch each night as I read my RSS feeds and blog. Murphy was Everydog.
Murphy weighed nearly seventy-pounds until about a year ago when he started losing weight. We took him to a specialist who performed a sonogram and found a tumor growing in his liver. The tumor was benign but still lethal. It was so large that an operation would have been too traumatic for Murphy and had little chance of success. All I could do was cling to my illusions that Murphy would continue to be with me, tumor or no tumor. That was in November.
Then two weeks ago my wife and I were woken by a banging sound at the foot of our bed around 3:30 in the morning. I’ll never forget the way my wife said “Oh, Murphy” with so much pain in her voice as I scrambled to get to him. It seemed his internal system was breaking down and he was having some sort of seizure, stumbling around not knowing where he was or who he was. His eyes glazed over with what I worried was a sense of fear. I scooped him up in my arms (he weighed only 40 pounds at this point) and carried him downstairs and outside where he seemed to regain his sense of self-awareness walking around in a foot of fresh snow as we looked on.
Things returned to normal for a few more days until last Saturday morning when Murphy had another seizure and stumbled around for a few minutes not in control of himself. It was time for us to do what was best for Murphy. We called the vet and made an appointment for 11:20 AM the following Monday. Murphy and I took one short walk around the neighborhood that weekend, but otherwise we took it easy. On Monday morning I was able to lay with him for much of the morning on the carpet by the fireplace. I didn’t want 11:20 to come and of course had second thoughts. He didn’t seem to be in pain. One more day… We can wait until next week… But I had to remember that this was about what was best for Murphy, not me. My wife arrived from work for the appointment and the three of us stood together in the garage watching the snow for several minutes in silence.
Murphy was a good dog to the end, faithfully jumping out of the Passport with what little strength he had and into the doctor’s office without question. I was stroking his head while the doctor gave him the injection, and within a few seconds Murphy drifted off peacefully to sleep.
That’s Murphy’s story the best I can tell it to you. I didn’t know what I was going to say, but I knew I had to write about Murphy before I could move on and get back in the game. I’ve been in a funk since last Monday, not caring about a whole lot. I went to bed each night at 9:00 instead of the usual 1:00 or 2:00 AM. I physically ache at the loss of my constant companion. I miss my Murphy Dog.
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