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A Tribute to Murphy

Can CH SHR Fawnhaven Mischief Maker Delphi SH Am/Can CD RN WC CGC Can JH/WCI aka Murphy aka all around Perfect Dog 3/14/02 – 1/1/17

My heart broke New Year’s Day 2017 as I said goodbye to my adored Murphy Moo and beloved brown boy, my sweet companion and faithful friend of nearly 15 years, who passed peacefully in my arms. I thought I would be more prepared for this loss because I did have such a long time with him and because he lived his life fully with gusto, but in reality it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to my grand old man that was such a presence in my life – he was fiercely loved to the moon and back and I cannot believe he is gone.

I want Murphy to be remembered for how he lived, because he had a zest for life and knew how to enjoy every moment, regardless of his age and physical limitations. These dogs give us all of themselves, unconditionally, and we owe it to them to do the right thing when it is time. I could not have loved a dog more and am thankful that he went knowing that I was there with him with Reilly waiting on the other side.

Reilly was my first Labrador and obedience dog, but Murphy was my first show dog and field dog. Together, they made me fall in love with this breed and are the heart of ReiMur. It was through Murphy that I met Barb and Don Ironside of Fawnhaven, who offered him to me on a co-ownership, introduced me to PSLRA and mentored me. It was through him and them that my involvement in the breed grew. Early on, they asked me if I would be interested in doing fieldwork with Murphy. I was a little hesitant, but once I saw how much drive and enthusiasm he had, I could not deny him. While he was enthusiastic in any endeavor, he LIVED for birds and that fostered my passion for the sport. He would shake on the line in anticipation. At my first JH test with him, he was so excited he took down the holding blind we were in, and if it hadn’t been for his tail (all I was quick enough to grab) he would have interrupted the test. He earned his SH title after finally settling down and waiting to be sent. My favorite moment was qualifying at the SH test at the 2007 LRC National – it was a tough test that very few teams passed, and he made me look good. He would have been a fun master dog if not for an injury; I did keep running training scenarios with him and entering him at events for fun because he loved it so much, and that was all that mattered to him – he was in it for the pure love of the sport and being out there with his mom. He was one of the finest working dogs I have ever had the privilege of knowing and I learned a lot from him. I was not sure I deserved him at the time as I likened it to just having learned to drive and being handed the keys to a Maserati. He ran the tests and I was just along for the ride.

Until I could no longer jump him due to his injury, he was also a wonderful obedience dog and I had a lot of fun with him – I was often told by judges how much they enjoyed having him in their ring and was followed out of facilities by exhibitors who told me how much they enjoyed watching him – he had a big personality and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Murphy was shown sporadically and earned his Canadian CH. He was slow to mature and I did not show him much in AKC but when I did, he tended to be quite proud of his tail and carried it a little high. This all settled down in later years, however, and he had a very successful veteran career, winning or placing in many Veteran and Veteran Sweeps classes at Specialties. One of my favorite moments was winning his Veteran Class of 1 at Puyallup but being one of 4 dogs pulled from a large class of specials for BOB under Pluis Davern. He did not win, but at 11 years old stood next to some nationally ranked dogs that day. I remember being so happy to see him out there having fun and getting attention. The cherry on top was when he won Best Veteran at PSLRA under David Hopkinson in 2012. And the critique from his wife Marion says it all:

“My notes say—real lab here—such a pleasing head and expression, total willingness to please, excels on bone, feet and in superb coat with good undercoat."

To me, Murphy was a testament to the breed and the epitome of everything people love about it: his temperament was unflappable, his desire to please and work ethic were everything one would want in a working breed, until the end he was robust and healthy, and he was the most loyal of companions. If he had a theme song it would have been Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” – he never had a bad day (or if he did, one would never have known) and taught me to appreciate the little things in life. He made me smile just by being there. I loved coming home and having this happy soul greet me at the door, curl up with me on the couch, or nudge me to the cookie jar for a treat – Murphy was a cookie monster who took treats as gently as a shark LOL. He could also be bull-headed – he was very amenable and good natured, but if he wanted to sniff another bush or walk another block, there was really no stopping him – even at nearly 15 he had determination and could pull me off of my feet. I will miss all of that and more. I will miss having him stare at me while I’m sleeping, willing me to get up. I will miss our early morning walks that slowed over time but became a favorite part of the day, just him and me. I will miss his ears, flapping in the wind as he returned with his bird or his urgent encouragement to throw the bumper just one more time. I will miss his warm body sleeping at my feet while I am on the computer. I will miss the continual thump thump thump of his tail and his sweet smiling face. I will even miss his bad breath and brown hair everywhere. But most of all I will miss his unbridled joy – he brought pure joy to everything he did and it filled my heart and enriched my life.

Thank you to Keith and Janice Anderson for breeding such a perfect dog – I will never forget the day I came and picked up my feisty red collar boy! And I will always be grateful to Barb and Don Ironside for sharing him with me and loving him too – I feel so lucky to have had the honor of having such a wonderful boy in my life. I believe all dogs are once-in-a-lifetime in their own way and Murphy certainly was in so many ways. He will live forever in my heart and will be remembered through all of my other dogs, who will carry his name as part of theirs in ReiMur. As a friend wrote me, “I truly believe that there is no better gift than the bond we share with our furry companions. We are so blessed to share our lives with these wonderful creatures, and even more blessed to hold them next to our hearts forever.” Godspeed sweet boy – I hope you are running free without pain, retrieving birds to your heart’s content and knowing that I could not have loved you more. Thank you for the ride – the privilege was all mine.

I Ask You Not To Mourn For Me (author unknown)

I ask you not to mourn for me,

For many long, sad days;

My tired body's gone to rest,

Kept warm by sun's soft rays.

I pray, don't long for me, my dear,

Our souls are bound with twine,

By love that knows no end in sight,

A hope, forever mine.

And finally, please do live your life,

My love surrounds your soul;

For when you cry those wretched tears,

Gold memories will take hold.

So think of me, my tearful friend,

Who loved me, loved me so,

My life with you was so complete,

It took God, to make me go.