Parenting Seminars

Friday, July 8, 2011

Murphy July 1998-July 2011

I picked him up when he was 5 months old, one day before he was scheduled to be euthanized.  He had been abused in his first few months and that mistreatment had a lingering effect.  He needed attention and training to learn to trust someone.  He fiercely refused a crate and became horribly depressed when tied up in the yard.  He wouldn't allow anyone, but especially men to pet him on the head.

I had been in Seattle just 16 months, had just moved into my 3rd place and was without a car.  Murphy and I traveled on foot or on the metro buses.  We spent our morning walks doing training at the neighborhood playground, rode the bus to the grocery store for dog food and took a rental car to the mountains on the weekends.  We hiked, camped and explored all around the Puget Sound together, just the two of us.
In 2002, he made a long circular trek with me when we flew back home for...shall we call it...a reboot?  6 months later, Murphy and I loaded up a mini-van and drove all the way back to Seattle.  We lived in several more houses until finding Rodney and Jack, his dog in 2004.  They had to go through their own process of establishing trust.  It was not easy for either of them.  But eventually, everyone settled into a routine and expectations of each other.

We were worried about how he would accept a new baby into the house.  So with lots of routines and clear limits, Murphy handled this change beautifully and felt comfortable with Lucy.  He became her companion as well.  He has continued to move through the days with a quiet connection to each of us.  Never trying to take over the energy of the room but always being there.  At bed time, in a very tiny bedroom, while two adults and two children are moving about trying to get pj's on, Murphy always slid in and curled up in the corner where he could.  He was 90lbs so its not like he can hide under a chair.

He has been at my side through a lot and I know that I never treated him with as much love as he showed me.  He would settle in at my bedside when I was sick and not leave until I got up, even if that was for days.  He came to me when I was crying, whenever I was on the floor with the girls, and of course when I was cooking. He was willing to go anywhere.
In the past 2 months we have watched and cared for him as he quickly began his journey to the end.  It has been very challenging.  To watch someone you love so dearly, begin deteriorating before your eyes is so painful.  When Jack passed, it was clear that he had dementia and was really not aware of his surroundings.  And then he had a stroke so the moment was clear.  Murphy was just slowly becoming less mobile, eating less, not connecting, sleeping outside and growing gigantic tumors.  As we got closer to the move, and after one trip camping with the grandparents, it was clear.  He wasn't going to make the move.  No matter what I did with meds, comfort, etc.

Yesterday, Rodney, Lucy and I took him to the vet to say goodbye.  We sat with him during the procedure.  We cried and told him how much we loved him.  I thanked him for being my friend and companion.  Being the only soul besides my family that I have known for so long.  For showing me how important trust is and how important it is to be reliable and responsible.  How caring for someone else makes me a better person.  And how to accept and honor the whole being, all of the complexity and even sometimes the things that are hard to accept.  Because the love you get when you love fully, is remarkable and will remain forever.

Lucy moved through the emotions just as we did.  From remembering, to laughing, to crying and back again.  She watched his breathing as we described the procedure.  I wanted her to know that going to sleep is  not what made Murphy die.  And he just doesn't "go away".  She had the choice to come to the vet and the choice to leave with Daddy at any point.  But she wanted to stay.  And when the medicine was given to take his life and he stopped breathing, she said, "but he's still here."  Oh...yeah...his body doesn't just disappear.

This is what we told her.  His soul, the living, loving part of himself goes to heaven and his body stays here.  It gets buried and turns to dirt and feeds the plants and trees.  Just like our compost that we make.  She then began giggling to herself and said, "wouldn't it be funny if there was a Murphy tree where we could pick little Murphys?"  We all began laughing and again she showed us how to move gracefully between emotions.  Nothing wrong, nothing inappropriate.  Every one perfect. 
Loss is hard.  I keep expecting to step over him, walk around him in a doorway and we had to clean up all food off the floor after dinner last night.   I checked his water bowl before going to bed last night and felt the urge to go outside to find him.  This will take a while to move out of the routine.  But the routine keeps memories really clear too.  Although I'm ready to remember his vitality, his quirkiness, his deep connection to me in those expressive eyes.  There will be another dog someday.  Living without animals is just not an option for this family and a dog especially.  But now it is time to transition, to settle, to create stability for all the rest of the members of the family.  And we are blessed to be moving to a house with 2 dogs.  So we'll get our canine love that way.  And loving them does not take away from our love of Murphy, just keeps the memories strong.


Chessa said...

Oh Gretchen, my heart is breaking for you guys! Without question, it was the only compassionate choice. But it really doesn't make it any easier. Hoping your next big transition is peaceful. Hugs!

michele miritello said...

So sorry Gretchen. Hugs to you guys