Guest Post: A Love Letter to Murphy
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I asked readers to write a love letter to their DINOS and picked a winning essay. Throughout February, I’ll be sharing all of the entries.
Here’s what Ingrid wrote:
A love letter to Murphy, My DINOS
I probably shouldn’t have adopted Murphy when I did, but I needed him – I just didn’t realize then how much I needed him.
I had just let go of my baby, Mickey, a 12 year old Border collie mix who had cancer. He was such a great dog. My mom had helped me raise Mickey. And then he and my mom both had cancer at the same time. After I lost him, I wanted her to see me happy with another dog, before she was gone too. At the time, I worked at the largest no-kill animal shelter in the world, so seeing adoptable dogs was a daily occurrence for me. My coworker, Tina, told me about a cute pup in the medical ward.
I went over with her and knew instantly what pup she was talking about. I saw Murphy and I was in love. He was about 4 months old and seemed submissive. Boy was that wrong. I brought Murphy into my life when my mom was in end-stage cancer, my sister had an elderly dog and cat, and my boyfriend of 15 years was also in and out of the hospital. I need to take care of someone who wasn’t going to die.
I found out quickly that Murphy was very fearful, especially of men. My boyfriend Tommy couldn’t even pet him. At first he was frustrated, like many people were, and would take it personally, like many people did. But soon Tommy let go of all of that, and he and Murphy had a nice relationship. It was short lived…Tommy passed away unexpectedly less than a year after I adopted Murphy and seven months after my mom passed away. My whole life change in what seemed to be an instant. I was alone…but I still had Murphy.
I had to adjust to being alone, living alone, and grieving the loss of my best friends. And during this time I don’t think I realized the extent of Murphy’s fearful-dominant behavior. I socialized him a lot as I took him to work every Friday. He was much better with dogs than people. He loved my co-worker’s dog, Autumn, and they still have an incredible relationship. I know one day I will find the right dog that will help Murphy the way Autumn did.
Six months after Tommy passed away, I lost my job as a web manager for the shelter. I was devastated. So here I was, me and Murph, trying to figure our way in the world. With Murphy not liking people and acting jerky with dogs he doesn’t know, it has been incredibly difficult. But I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world.
When I had to sleep alone for the first time in 15 years, there was Murphy, laying his head on the other pillow, looking lovingly at me and comforting me when I needed it. When I needed structure after losing my job, there was Murphy needed walks, playtime, meals. When there were days that I spoke to no other person, there was Murphy, listening intently with his head cocked and giving lots of kisses.
I celebrated any victory with him. When, after at least a year of playing with my neighbor’s two dogs, Murphy finally kissed my neighbor after she gave him some corned beef, we were both ecstatic! When he would let other people pet him, usually when they were sitting, or if he was nice to a strange dog while on out on a walk, I was beyond thrilled.
One day Tina and Murphy’s favorite girl Autumn came to visit with another friend Michelle. Murphy was always afraid of Michelle at work and barked at her all the time. But now in my house, with Tina and Autumn, both of who he adored, he was really friendly with Michelle, sitting next to her on the couch, standing on his head for a butt rub, I couldn’t believe my eyes and hold onto that picture when I get frustrated with Murphy. Because it makes me realize that it’s possible.
I had a trainer friend who I would ask about Murphy a lot. She would comfort me by telling me, “thank God you got him.” I knew what she meant. With me, Murphy was well-trained, loved and given boundaries. Had someone else adopted him, he would most likely been returned to the shelter for being too aggressive. I understood him, had the time and patience to train him, with agility too, and didn’t have kids, so living with me was the best place for him. This trainer friend also passed away, but things did get better, lest you think my life is a complete Greek tragedy.
Having Murphy is kind of like that cartoon where the construction worker finds the singing frog. And the frog never sings in front of anyone else. Murphy is my singing frog, with me he is affectionate, funny, smart, sweet, silly and adventurous. But few people ever see that.
When I was ready to date again, Murphy also played a huge role. Since he wasn’t too fond of men, it wasn’t easy. He was also quite the c**kblocker, as he was used to it being just me and him! His behavior turned out to be a blessing. When I met Sean, he wasn’t afraid of Murphy and he was really calm, (which is his usual aura) and Murphy really responded to him. He respected my feelings about Murphy and Murphy’s own fears about him and people in general. It was one of many traits that made me realize Sean is a keeper.
We live together now, and while Murphy still is fearful, he is excited when Sean comes home and lets him pet him on his chest, (over the head is still too scary). And he lays his head on Sean’s lap when he wants something. Like I said, I celebrate the little victories.
Murphy has taught me to be calm and live in the moment. I have to learn not to let how he was before, taint how he can be now and in the future. He also keeps me laughing all the time because he is so silly. When he wants something really bad, he pokes me. He steals my socks and slippers, but never ruins them, he just likes things that are soft and smelly. I no longer care what other people think about him or that he isn’t friendly with strange dogs on walks, because Murphy has taught me not to take things personally.
I just love my singing frog!!
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Murphy reminds me a lot of my youngest dog, Patience. She was a feral puppy that I finally got into my home when she was a little over a year old. She and I are close friends, but she is still not doing great with my boyfriend even though we have been together almost two years. Patience loves the dogs in my home, but she can display leash reactivity on walks, and I know she’s not comfortable with new people since she’s awkward about being touched. She’s my darling little “autistic” girl who likes to drag my pajamas out from under my pillow, jump on me unexpectedly, and try to get my old dogs to play with her. She makes me tear my hair out and makes me smile and laugh more than I would have thought possible. Patience is also a singing frog.
Sometimes a dog finds us just when they are needed most.