Sunday, February 26, 2012

UPDATE: And Then Murphy Came Home

In January we brought home a new family member, and his name is Murphy.

It was the week we returned to work after traveling for the holidays (that blog post coming soon) and I was checking the pet adoption listings on a dozen different websites five times a day. We'd decided it was time to bring another dog into the family and I was anxious to have that presence in the house again. On Friday of that first week I came across an ad for this little black and white mess you see above, and I emailed the person immediately. Several emails and two days later, I was riding home with a puppy dog in my lap attempting to lick my face clean off. How's that for a long story short? 

Is this not the cutest little sleeping muppet you've ever seen?
Murphy is settling nicely into our family and learning the rules pretty quickly. He learned his new name after just two weeks, the smart little thing. He came to us as 'Toby,' after Toby Keith the country singer, but we weren't really feeling the name (though I had to appreciate that he was named after someone who shared my last name). We whittled a list of names down day by day, one that included nerdy literary names, regular people names, and completely random names. We almost named him Sprocket, after the muppet dog from Fraggle Rock, a beloved kids' show from the eighties. In the end Murphy seemed to fit, and Murphy it became. Now I can't imagine him with any other name.

A sharp little guy, he's learning Chris and me well. He picked up on our corrective noises right away (you know, when "Stop doing that" takes too much energy and brain power, so all that comes out is a sharp, nasal throat noise). He's an instant hit whenever we're out with him, which helps ease my anxiety about having a fairly untrained dog (therefore, impolite by German standards). The first time we took him to a restaurant he was given a new name by our server (Tony - it's an Italian place), a slice of ham by the bartender, and a respectable amount of attention by fellow diners. He may or may not be the unofficial mascot of the pub he frequents with me on Fridays, and I have witnessed the hardest of expressions spread into a wide grin and baby talk at the sight of him on the street. He has a way of making you feel like you are the most important person he's ever met, standing to get closer and leaning his back against your legs, providing his chest to be scratched, and gazing up at you with the evilest of puppy dog eyes. Given the chance he'll lick your face off, but at least his tongue is small and relatively dry. He drives me crazy when he doesn't listen, and I can practically hear his maniacal laugh when he runs from me, but he brings with him the kind of annoyance I miss, the kind of stress that comes with a dog. We'll be attending obedience classes together in time, but for now he's doing pretty great. If I'm being completely honest, we ended up with a pretty great dog.
Murphy and the "Stupid Rope"

He's just a year and a half old, so has boundless energy, but he can cuddle up like nobody's business on the couch. (He also enjoys standing on whatever part of your body is horizontal for a smooch, whether or not you're awake.) His most prized possession is a ratty rope toy and his incessant need for you to throw it - after you've wrestled it away from him - can be trying, especially when you can't ignore him for the cold, wet nose bopping you in the hand. He's a persistent thing, that's for sure.

It was kind of a strange transition adopting this little muppet from another family; even as we left their house with him I felt compelled to look to the former owner for direction. I wondered for a while if he thought we were just keeping him for his real family for a while, or if he missed them. He usually seems very focused on his own needs, whether that means food, going outside, or chasing his rope, and it at first made me wonder if he would ever bond with us. He's never acted depressed, so I've had no indication that he misses his old family. Does that mean he doesn't easily get attached? Will he miss us when we're away? When will he decide that we belong to him? Chris and I both adored him from the start, but for me it was a tentative love, one that seemed slow to warm, like he had to earn it. I know that sounds terrible, especially since I pretty much love every dog I see on the street immediately and have been pining for a dog of our own again, but I think that may be my grieving heart's way of moving on to loving a new dog after Heidi. I don't think it's guilt, but I'm not sure what else to call it.

The other day I was upset and I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he was being sweet to me because of it. He has freakish strength for his size and we often liken him to a little tank, so when he isn't hurtling himself at you, you notice. His ears flattened back against his head and his kisses came a little slower, a little gentler, and the attention felt more like comfort rather than the desire to eat my face. It's been a little under two months, and I think we're all finally starting to belong to one another in this house. 

As I type this, Murphy is sleeping on his outing pillow beneath the bench I'm sitting on, and he's hardly barked once as people have come in and out of the pub this afternoon. He's either exhausted from a day with Aunt Nancy, or he's getting comfortable with this new life and the places we go. If I'm being irritable, he's a stubborn little mess who drives me up the wall with his spastic excitement and taste for pens, paper, and socks. (He is the PERFECT writer's dog, huh?) But if I'm being reasonable, he's a great little guy who's brought some life, energy, and love in the shape of a furry muppet into our house. 

Our walk in the snow - he loves it.

When I looked through my files to find something to work on today, I came across a file called "aches." Reading it reminded me of how I was feeling just before Murphy came into our lives, and ended up prompting this post. I've pasted it in below to show how sometimes things just fall into place, whatever you want to call it when that happens.

I wrote this the day before I found Murphy.   


I’m listening to Kina Grannis. I love the honesty in her voice. It’s comforting.

I am sad, and I am struggling right now. I am lonely in a very particular kind of way and the ache in my chest is exhausting. It isn’t to say that I don’t have a wonderful partner who is my best friend and the only person I could spend so much time with without losing my mind; he’s fantastic. My heart longs for something to nurture, a little life to hold close and love until I run dry of it. My arms ache to wrap themselves around someone who needs me. When I let myself think about it too long, my insides ache to carry the growing life of the child I’m dying to have.

I am not in control of a very important part of my life, and that's difficult. It’s hard because I have no one to blame, no one to receive the anger I’m trying to rationalize away. He’s not ready; he’s done nothing wrong, he just isn’t ready yet, and I can’t hate him for that. So what do I do when I can’t manage my feelings, and can’t make plans or get excited because I have no idea when it will ever happen? I don’t know. I’m stuck.

I’m hoping that a little furry someone will come into my life and bring the love to my heart I lack and be the baby I need. I have so much love and nowhere to put it. So I’m sending this out into the world to be heard by someone who needs to be loved. Please come find me. 



Reading back over this post, it comes across way too critical. I think I had trouble allowing myself to love Murphy as mine because it was so recent that Heidi was mine in the same way, and I had a rough time with her death. Regardless, we have the best little dog on the planet, I have to say. He's smart, freaking adorable, the biggest cuddle monster ever, and also has the coolest personality. I challenge you to meet my dog and not love him to death and want to steal him. 

I choose to ignore that this is how all people who love their dogs feel, because THIS business is TRUE.

Thank you for your time. (A part of me worried that if I didn't amend this, Murphy would somehow learn to read, then somehow learn how to use computers, navigate the internet and find my blog, and then feel really bad like we weren't in love with him because I referred to him as 'impolite.' Or I just felt like I didn't sing his praises enough and had to fix it. Either way.)

I also realize, upon another read-over, that likening the love of a dog to that of a child might offend some people, and also the fact that I basically said, "Gimme a dog since I can't have a baby yet," and THAT'S not so rational or healthy, but it was how I was feeling at the time and I try not to censor what I choose to share here.

Alright. I'm done explaining now.

1 comment:

  1. i just love the photo of him all tuckered out. I am so happy for you a furry friend(as i loved calling my dog, my sidekick) is such a gift. so glad this little guy came into your life. his sweetest just jumps off the screen.