We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.
― Irving Townsend
We lost our 12 year old chocolate Lab on Saturday. We were out of town, but Steph was home to bring him to the vet and be there with him. For those who may not know Murphy’s story, ten years ago, also in December, a dog appeared on our porch. He was wearing a collar, but had no tags. The BaldMan and I were attending a funeral, and when the girls called to tell us about him, I suggested they walk him around the neighborhood to see if he’d escaped from somewhere. No luck. I let him sleep on the porch on a blanket that night, as it wasn’t bitterly cold, but Sunday was turning colder. I didn’t want to bring him in the house and freak the cats, as I was sure someone had to be missing this very nice dog. So, Animal Control being closed for the weekend, we called the police. They sent a K-9 car to pick him up. After asking what would happen to him, the officer said he really didn’t know, but that Animal Control would get custody in the morning, and suggested we call then. The AC officer said they would keep him for 10 days, to see if he was claimed by an owner, and after that, as he was a well-behaved and good dog, he’d be available for adoption. We said we would take him. Ten days later, Murphy came home.
He was a good dog. He was housebroken, and knew some basic commands, and he was pretty good on leash, as well. It appeared that he was just dumped off somewhere, presumably because someone didn’t want him anymore. I never understood that. Oh, he had his quirks. It seemed he’d missed out on the Retriever part of the Labrador Retriever in his genetic background, because he never did enjoy that sort of thing. In fact, he didn’t really like to take toys in his mouth at all. He would play tug for a while, and sometimes run off with a ball or other toy, but he just wasn’t into the whole fetch thing. It was okay, because he was more than tolerant of the cats, including the one who absolutely loved him. Amber would follow him around, rub against him, jump up to head butt him, and he just let her. He would even let her sleep on his bed with him, provided he was there first and already asleep! He never bothered the chickens, and he has always been great with the grandkids. He was quiet, laid back, and just a very good dog.
As the years went on, he got more and more gray in his muzzle and paws. He slowed down. His hearing began to go, followed by his eyesight. He had significant arthritis in his hips and rear legs, and developed myelopathy, which meant he gradually lost most of the function in those rear legs. We got him a lift harness so we could help him get around. He was just getting old.
On Saturday, the BaldMan and I were in NY for a Christmas party with friends. Steph called to say that when she took him outside that morning, she noticed blood in his urine. So we had her take him to the emergency vet. They did bloodwork, and found depressed kidney and liver function, as well as anemia. The levels weren’t terrible, but they were not optimal. He was lethargic, and just wanted to sleep most of the time. We could have tried a few things: fluids, antibiotics, wait and see. But, the truth was, his quality of life was declining for a while, and I knew things were not going to get better. So we made the difficult decision to let him go. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but I know I would have been a mess if I were. I have to wonder if he didn’t choose to leave us when I wasn’t there, just for that reason.
So now, I have a Labrador sized hole in my heart, and I know I will tear up when I take down his crate and put his things away today. There will be another dog at some point, but not right away. I miss you, Murphy, and I will see you again at the Rainbow Bridge, because as he sings in the video below: “If he don’t make it to Heaven, I don’t want to go.”
RIP, Murphy, the best dog in the whole wide world (and I told him that every day!).