Last night Anthony and I had to do our version of the unthinkable. Murphy had been sick for some time, but yesterday seemed to be the day she told us she had had enough. Thanks to Dr. Zubers, we were able to be with our girl as she peacefully passed into the big dog park in the sky. It was truly one of the worst experiences of our lives, and we've had our fair share of bad experiences. But it was always Murphy that would always lend her big soft head and floppy ears to comfort our sorrows. Her gentle eyes told us she understood. Even last night, I know she was telling us that it was ok.
I have a favorite book, Because of Winn-Dixie, that I read to my students almost every year. I warn the kids, "ok this is the part where I'm gonna cry, so just bear with me." At about the point where she thinks her dog, Winn-Dixie, goes missing, Opal recites her top ten things she wants to remember about her best friend. It always reminded me of all the things I loved about my best girl, too. By the end of the chapter, most of the kiddos would be with me in tears or near, because anyone with a dog just gets it.
So I knew one of these days I would be composing my own list for Murphy, and here I am. These are some of my favorite things I will forever hold in my heart.
- The way she would lift her paw onto your arm, as if holding your hand, when you would pet her.
- The way we used to wake up to Murphy's big head in our face when she could still jump up on our bed. She may not have had the best manners but she at least had enough decency to find a pillow to rest her head.
- Her inability to problem solve. When trying to sell our house, we set up an outdoor dog run that Lucy quickly figured her way out of. Even with the fence slight ajar after Lucy escaped into the back yard to romp and play, Murphy remained in the run, patiently waiting to be released through the gate.
- Her stealthy crop dusting skills. She was famous for begging, but even more so for sneaking food off the table. One Sunday, during half time of the Pats game, Murph scarfed down an entire meatball grinder as she passed by the coffee table. She didn't even stop. Total drive by sneak attack. Our friends are still laughing about that, and I am so grateful that even our friends could see the humor in every naughty thing Murphy did.
- Her eyes. Murphy was 100 times more trouble than Lucy. Murphy was naughty. Marley and Me naughty. She just got away with it more. All she had to do was look at you with those big sad hound dog eyes.
- Her bay. When Murphy was a puppy, trying to find her voice, she realized that she had more than just a bark. She could howl, too. Albeit not very good at it, she tried, and it was just the saddest doggie yodel you ever did hear. Barking at air was her favorite though. Almost forgot about that!
- Driving with her in the car, anywhere, even across the country. Sitting in the back seat, she would poke her head right up in between us as if to say "Hi guys. Almost there? Love you." Mostly though, she rested her big head over your left shoulder right underneath the seatbelt strap. "Love you." Yes, she spoke to us, we even had a dumb voice for her. I guess that's what you do when your dog is your first child, your best friend.
- Murphy at the dog park. Most dogs can't wait to get out and play with all their other dog pals, but not the Murph. People were her favorite friends.
- The way she let you snuggle with her. There was no other furry friend that was as soft or comforting as Murphy. No other dog, no stuffed animal, no blanket. You could bury your face in her velvet ears and squishy jowls and she would just lay there with you. Even when she had had enough, she never growled. Rather, she let out this hilarious "hmmmmmmm" that warned you she was annoyed.
- She loved Vincent. I wish she had more time with him. I wish he had more time with her. They were just starting to become best buds.
We had 10 wonderful years with Murphy. She came to us through a friend, and we were warned as she wagged her tail at us from the bed of the truck, "oh she's not too smart, you probably don't want her." That's when we knew. She needed us, and we wanted her. But as we soon learned, it was the other way around. We needed her. Murphy was unlike any other dog, and I fear there will never be another that will ever live up to her sweet way. Poor Lucy has always been in her shadow. She's sad, too, waiting for her buddy to come home. Things are going to be different now, and we appreciate everyone's kindness and condolences.