September 16th 2004 10:01 pm
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Even though Murph wasn't with us long and we didn't have to opportunity to know him as a playful pup or even in "middle-aged" before his hearing and eyesight became so bad.. his passing still hurt my heart. He was such a good old fella, and the morning of his crossing over, I sat with pen and paper and wrote the following:
It's 8:00 in the morning and I'm sitting in the middle of the living room floor, blankets and pillows piled up, in the midst of three large dogs. Bernie, a 6 year old Border Collie. and AJ, 1 year old, usually a rambunctious Golden Retriever, but now subdued because he can sense my sadness. Surrounded by his "family", is old Murphy, a 15 year old Golden Retriever. We have been here all night, and Bernie and AJ have their "worried looks" , knowing that something is wrong. Murph needs to have me constantly touching him, so I have his head propped over my leg as I write this. He seems to have less pain if he feels my touch, and elevating his head makes it easier for him to breathe. We're waiting for our vet to arrive so Murph can make that gentle crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.
Tears are blurring the words, but writing this is helping me to cope with the inevitable. The other two dogs will be here next to Murph when he crosses over, because I feel that it is a closure of a sort for them. They will also watch as Murph is buried next to our beloved Nokie and Ruby.
Murph seems more relaxed now, with no pain, and he still raises his head every so often to nudge my arm. He has been such a good friend, never asking for anything other than food and a little assistance getting back into the house after a potty break. He never cared where he slept as long as it was someplace where he could be sure I was around. He's deaf and almost totally blind, but that didn't create any problems when he came to share our home three years ago. When we bought him here, he figured out the stairs with no problem and adapted immediately to his surroundings, and the other members of our canine family.
Our vet had contacted us and asked if we could take in a very old and abandoned dog. My first reaction, was "No", because we had three dogs , all large, but I agreed to go look at the old dog anyway. I was shocked when I saw him. He had lived in a loving home for about 8 years and when the owners had to move they couldn't take "Cody" as he was then called, with them. The neighbors said they would take Cody, and so he was given to them in trust that they would care for their long time friend.
The care only lasted for a very short while and Cody was allowed to roam the streets. He was picked up by the local police three times and was then taken to my veterinarian's hospital which is the "holding cell" for stray animals. It's a $25.00 fine in our small town to allow your pet to run loose, and the third time, the people told our vet to put the old dog down because they were tired of paying the fines.
When I walked into the grassy area at the back of my vet's office and saw Cody, I knew immediately that he was mine, even though I told the vet I would only take him for a trial weekend. Cody was not only skinny, he was pathetically malnourished, with sparse hair, multi-sores, tumors, cataracts, ears swollen three times their normal size from odious infections, and toe nails that curled into his foot pads. Cody greeted me with a "Golden smile", and a wagging tail, which, because there were so many bare patches of skin showing, I could see that even it was swollen and covered with sores.
I brought Cody home with me, thinking that he most likely had only a few months to live, but after a couple of weeks, his appearance changed for the better and I knew he was going to be part of our family for more than just a short while. I didn't feel comfortable calling him Cody, probably because I felt his last owners may have used that name abusively with him. Anyway, he looked like a Murphy to me, and because he was deaf, it really didn't matter what he was called, as long as he was treated with love and kindness.
The only problem that we have ever had with Murph, was after his coat grew back in luxuriously long, thick and silky. He blended right into the carpet, and I always warned people to watch out for my 100 pound "hairball" lying in the floor. People would laugh and say , "OK", but.. there were many, including myself, who tripped over Murph. He really did blend in with the carpet, and as big as he was, at times he was still hard to see.
Murph loved to be touched, food, and sleep, in that order. The only time he ever barked was when he needed to go outside, wanted a hand on his back while coming up the stairs, or as in the past few months, when he needed help in standing up. Sometimes his old legs would not cooperate so I would bend over him, slide my hands under his tummy and give a mighty heave to help him lift his rear quarters, then I'd steady him for a moment till his blood would get circulating, while I vigorously rubbed his rear legs. It seemed to me that his legs would be "asleep" from lying so long in one position, and he always seemed to enjoy his "wake-up mini-massage". He never , ever had any accidents in the house. He apparently had been well trained early in life, standing still for a bath, or not fussing in the least when the puppy was pulling on his tail while he was trying to get in his 40 winks, which lasted most of the day and night. When the puppy would try to steal his food, ol' Murph would just patiently keep on eating, while ignoring the young AJ. After Murph began to show his age, he would make it down the stairs into the yard okay, but would then bark to let me know he needed me to walk back up the stairs with him. Eventually, he reached a point where we let him know it was fine with us if he wanted to do his "business" on the deck, as we knew he wouldn't be with us much longer.
Unlike our other dogs, Murph never tried to lick our faces or hands, but yesterday evening was different. After he laid down in the middle of the floor and was there awhile, he gave a few low sounding yelps. I knew there was something wrong, because he was always such a quiet fella. I went over and began stroking his back and I felt the tension of his muscles relax. I stopped petting him and just sat on the floor watching him and he gave another yelp. I immediately began gently stroking his silky fur while asking God to take away Murph's pain, and again, the tension left his body. He raised his head, moved it towards my hand that I had been leaning on, gave my wrist two slow licks with his tongue, and then looked directly into my eyes. I don't now how much vision he had left, but he made a connection with my very soul, and I knew that he was telling me "Thank you". That's when I knew it was time for him to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, and he knew it also.
We slept the night together on the floor, all three dogs and myself, tangled up in pillows and blankets and comforting one another in our good bye to Murphy.
(I stopped writing this when our vet arrived. With gentleness and compassion, she inserted the needle into Murph's foreleg, we continued to pet him and talk to him and he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge so gracefully that I didn't even realize when he had made the crossing. Thank you , Dr. Sue Buxton, Sebastopol, CA, for giving an old dog the opportunity to live out his last three years in a loving home.)
The above is posted on Murph's Memorial page at : http://www.golden-rescue.org/allabout/memorials/murphy/index .htm
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