Murphy and I went on a mini road trip in June of this year. Those of you who follow me on Instagram saw our journey. We ended up in Durango, Vail and Lake Tahoe over a period of about 2.5 weeks. Last summer’s road trip covered 25 states and took us seven weeks, as we touched both coasts and many spots in between. This year I felt like I needed to get away for a few reasons, yet looking back one of the most important reasons was to spend some extra quality time with Murph, at least that’s my perspective now as he battles some health issues. Funny how sometimes we don’t understand why we make decisions, or why we go through things, until later when we have a glimpse through a clear rear view mirror.
Any readers just joining might not know who Murphy is, so I’ll give you a quick recap before I get to the point of this short post. I was twenty years old and entertaining the idea of buying a dog for all the wrong reasons. First, puppies are cool and cute, which is why so many of us end up buying one before rationalizing the aftermath. Second, I was dating a girl at the time who seemed to give more attention to her dog than anything else in life; so I figure I’d just get my own dog. I kept the dog, not the girlfriend, thank goodness! Lastly, my dad told me not to buy Murphy, as any responsible father would advise their 20 year-old, yet this made my independent self even more willing to pull the trigger.
I’ve always found it peculiar how I ended up with a dachshund. I didn’t grow up with them or know anyone else that had one. I was in my apartment-living years as a 20 year-old junior in college, so a small-statured dog was a necessity. I still vividly remember the day I met Murph. I was simply window shopping at a mall pet store, having no real intention of making a purchase, and then I saw him. I don’t know how many people have laid eyes on a 12 week old dachshund before, but he was quite the character and an absolute stud. What happened next was our true beginning- I agreed to sit in one of those little rooms they put you in where they bring the puppy in to meet a potential new owner. I suppose this is the pet store’s version of test driving a car. I’ll never forget him, just a few pounds, crawling up my arm and onto my shoulder, tilting his head and looking at me as he seemingly thought to himself “this guy’s the one.” Murphy picked me more than I picked Murphy, I truly believe this. God’s plan was this dog being an achor in my life over what would end up being nearly two decades, I’m absolutely convinced.
Murph’s been with me over sixteen years. He’s been blessed with pretty good health throughout most of his life, thank God. He started having seizures last Thursday morning, which lasted minutes each time and seemed brutal on him, and hard to watch for me. Luckily, Britt’s friend Michelle is a vet tech and got us immediately in to see a veterinarian she trusted. He’s on some new medication and is certainly touch and go while his body attempts to acclimate to the new drug. He’s got a little tremor here and there, often when he’s dreaming or excited. He’s more vocal, hungrier than ever (which for him says a lot), and even had a couple of accidents in the house over the past few days. We’re monitoring him closely and are so appreciative of your prayers and messages of support on Instagram. This little guy is truly my best friend and we have a once in a lifetime bond that I’ll always be grateful for.
Back to Lake Tahoe. When we were there in June Britt actually flew in for a few days to visit. We developed a daily routine of walking Murphy to a little park area about a hundred yards away from our hotel room. He was able to run free of a leash and explore this large patch of grass beside a small stream that ran alongside the park. We enjoyed watching him roll in the grass, chase birds that were unquestionably taunting him, and jaunt aimlessly as he allowed his nose to navigate every step. He had a blast. We had a blast. I’ll always remember and refer to that little park as “Murph’s Park.”
We were at this hotel for 10 nights before we decided to head home. Toward the end of our trip Murph was in his usual grassy patch, with the leash in my hand as Britt and I played with him. Murphy did his normal routine of smelling, exploring and rolling in the grass. Suddenly though, he stopped and looked toward the path that ran alongside the creek, which led back to our room. He abruptly ran toward the path in full gear. Britt and I looked at each other simultaneously confused and impressed, as we laughed realizing we were going to have to scamper after the little guy. Sixteen years old and running with a burst of energy that I hadn’t witnessed in long time. Murphy was sprinting with no signs of slowing. Murphy was happy. Murphy was free. Perhaps this was Murphy’s last true run. Perhaps his spirit took over, at least that’s the only explanation I have for what we witnessed. Murphy’s body hasn’t moved like that in ages, he waddles mostly, he doesn’t run. That day though- that was his day, his moment, as he ran with passionate fury.
I’m certain after watching Murph take off running that something dwells within him. I’m sure many disagree, but I feel that dogs also have a spirit within their being. Their spirit can be suppressed or lifted throughout life, just like ours can. Murph cannot reason or rationalize his current health, yet he can probably sense something is wrong. I don’t quite understand how a bond like ours is possible without a spiritual element involved. I cannot express enough how magical those moments were, especially as I watch him deteriorate now. If I only knew then what I know today, as is the case with so many things in life, I would’ve soaked it up even more.
My plea to anyone reading this is to be present and open to those little moments that have a huge impact in life. I’ve written about these moments plenty, but we only get so many precious memories in life. Unfortunately we often don’t even recognize them until later. Soak this life up. Soak up love and time together with family, friends and significant others. Don’t hold back from doing something extraordinary, like taking months away from home to explore the country with your dog and a guitar. Life moves so quickly. I’m witnessing my Super Dog struggle today, but I’m so grateful we had such an incredible time on the road over the past two summers. You never know when the spiritual world will give you a glimpse of heaven, which is exactly what I saw when Murph took off running- no pain, just freedom and joy, within my dog, as we neared the end of our journey together. I can see him now, running free on the other side of life, where I hope to spend forever with him when we meet again.
Hug your pets. Thank God for them.