My Best Friend... Murphy!

Some of you may have read my story about "My Best Friend... Dillon!" and how I found him at the shelter. This is a continuation of that story. If you would like to see the original, follow this link:
EP Link

I had had him for 2 1/2 years now, and when Dillon was six years old I knew it would be a good idea to get him a companion. Normally I head to the local shelters and rescue a dog, but Dillon was not too good with other dogs. His checkered past, trapped in a backyard with two other dogs, caused him to be a bit aggressive to other (larger) dogs. I wanted to get another Golden Retriever, and since he was OK with smaller dogs, I figured I would need to get a puppy that posed no threat to him.

Shortly after deciding to add another dog to the household, I was offered a puppy. Someone I worked with had a litter of Labrador Retrievers and if I wanted one I was welcome to it. I had asked if there were any Chocolates, and there were. One Male and one Female. I had wanted the Chocolate Lab because in my mind the color would make the best pictures with a darker Golden Retriever, and I picked the female for a better chance of my male dog getting along, so the decision was made and I claimed the puppy. I couldn't wait till Sunday when I went to pick it up.

Sunday arrived and after work I followed my coworker back to his house to claim my puppy. There was a litter of 12, and one had been placed, so 11 puppies remained. What a sight to see all of the adorable Lab puppies in a playpen, 10 of them climbing on top of each other to visit the visitor. And, in the group there was one dog minding its' own business paying no attention to me. My eyes were focused on this standoffish dog that, as luck would have it was the female chocolate.

I focused on the other ten, and couldn't help but notice one specific yellow dog that was climbing over the others — using puppy heads as stepping stones — to get to me. I scooped up this puppy to check it out, It was a boy, and I held him to my chest. As I held him he climbed into my Levi jacket and crawled into the inside pocket; poking his head out. With a puppy in my pocket I watched "my" chocolate dog. She was still laying in the center of the pen, nine dogs vying for my attention, and one in my pocket.

Well, the adage says that the dog picks you, and who am I to prove an adage wrong. Except for the gender and color this dog was exactly what I wanted, so I made the switch and took him home. My plan was to smuggle him inside and into the guest bedroom where I had already set up the dog crate. I was going to keep Dillon separated from the puppy for two days so he could get accustom to the scent; then I would introduce them. This is a common trick for introducing a new cat into a household, and I was going to test it on a dog.

My test failed miserably, and I wonder what I was thinking. Dillon knew there was a puppy before my key was in the lock. When I opened the door he stood on his back legs — balancing in place because jumping on people was not permitted — and poked his nose into my jacket. Dillon's tail wagged nonstop, the puppy wiggled around to get out, and I conceded.

I introduced the two, sat on the floor and petted Dillon as he "explored" the puppy. Dillon now had a baby brother. I took a solid hour until the two of them stopped the introductory sniffing and settled down, and without warning the puppy started to whimper. I tried food, water, potty and nothing seemed to work. These were cries of loneliness, since I took him from his large litter of brothers and sisters. Well, I tried everything! I held him to my chest to hear the heartbeat, put him back in my jacket pocket, wrapped a ticking clock in a soft towel. Nothing could stop the puppy from crying. I set him down to go search for a couple of stuffed animals, and when I returned to the living room the cries had stopped. Dillon was laying sideways on the floor with the puppy between his thighs. The puppy was sound asleep. All of my fears had dissolved.

I must confess that in the first week I had him I had feeling of regret that he wasn't a Chocolate Lab. Looking back now I chuckle at that. Who could have known that that puppy would grow up to be the best companion one could ever dream of. Also, after a week of having him I still had no name for him. Since Dillon was actually "Marshall Matt Dillon" I had planned on following the western theme. I was contemplating calling the female dog "Miss Kitty", but there was no way that would work for this male. All the other dogs would tease him. I was stuck, with no ideas. It wasn't until we went for a walk that things clicked. Dillon was on his leash, leading the pack three feet in front of me. The puppy was centered under Dillon's belly walking in the shadowed protection of his big brother, and I followed behind at their pace. We came across Christina. You may remember her from the first story, and how she helped get Dillon back to healthy eating. Well we chatted, an I mentioned I was stuck for a name. She started rambling off every dog-name she could think of, and somewhere at about number 30 was "Murphy". STOP! Murphy... it was perfect. It brought to mind the Irish police officer that walked the streets of Brooklyn. A tough cop but with a heart of gold. That was perfect, and over the past week that was the exact personality this puppy was displaying. I dub thee Murphy.

Confession number two: I never trained Murphy to do anything. Dillon saw to all of that, and since I had spent a good amount of time teaching Dillon all of the obedience and tricks I could think of, there was plenty for him to pass down to the next generation. Sit, Lay down, Come, Stay, and the other basics were quickly learned via osmosis. For certain things Dillon was much more direct. One example that floored me when I saw it was the rule of the front door. Dillon knew not to go outside without permission. If the door was open he would stand or lay at the threshold, but would not exit. Murphy would see an open door and dart out. Dillon stood up and walked outside a few steps to retrieve his brother. He would either carry him by the neck or herd him back inside. Then he would let out a little soft growl to let Murphy know he was wrong.

Yes, I was a little lazy in the training of Murphy, but I could never have done half the job Dillon did. Murphy grew into a beautiful adult dog. He and Dillon were inseparable, always side-by-side. There was never any jealousy between them, and that makes everything so much easier. They shared food and water bowls, often with both snouts eating or drinking at the same time. If I was petting one, the other knew he was next and waited patiently. They did everything together, including hiking in the mountains and desert, swimming at Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, the Colorado River, the Pacific Ocean and in any swimming pool they could find. On walks they marched side-by-side like soldiers in perfect step, all the while with Murphy accepting Dillon was the Alpha dog.

About the time Dillon was to turn 15 and Murphy was nine I had noticed a shift in power. Dillon had turned over the reins and allowed Murphy to become the Alpha. Murphy guarded him and myself just like Dillon had done for so many years.

When Murphy was 10 years old Dillon had passed away, and Murphy took it much better than I did. I came home from work to find Murphy standing over Dillon's body, in full guard position. On occasion I would borrow a neighbor's dog to walk so I could replicate the *********. I can't say if this made the transition easier for Murphy, but it did do wonders for me.

Bringing us to today, Murphy is by my side as I type this story. Nothing surprising there, since he is always by my side. He will turn 13 in a couple weeks, and I am planning party hats and a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. Dogs can't have chocolate. As for the party hat, well, I can't resist. Much like the bunny ears at Easter and antlers at Christmas, Murphy knows these make me happy and he will wear them without a fuss.

Murphy is 75 pounds of love and loyalty, so eager to please and a little unaware of just how much he does please me and how much joy he has brought to my life. We have been together for better than 12 1/2 years now and know each other so well that we can anticipate each others' moves.

Something interesting about him is what he learned by accident. Without realizing it, over the years when I gave him a command I made a hand gesture. Whenever I told him to "sit" I would point at his butt. Now, in addition to listening to whatever I say, Murphy responds perfectly to sign language. Stay, Come and lay down have also had hand signals associated with the verbal commands.

Murphy is the dog that every child can approach and hug. As gentle as a stuffed toy, and every bit as soft and cuddled. He is my pillow when I sleep, and my foot warmer when I watch TV. He guards the house and even washes the dishes after dinner — in his own way, by licking them clean.

He has a pink bunny-nose, can catch a ball better than any MLB shortstop and can spot another dog on the television. I guess what I'm saying is that he is a lot like Dillon, but with his own personality, and I wouldn't want him any other way. Not even in chocolate.

(Pictures of Murphy have been added to my album "My Best Friends" available for all to see. Please feel free to comment.)
wetdog777 wetdog777
51-55, M
Dec 6, 2012