The pleading, begging, and badgering was unrelenting. Our daughter Olivia wanted a dog, and she used all of her oratorical skills to make it a reality. Like many Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, we decided the time was right to welcome a new addition to our family, and bring Livy’s dream to fruition.
We wanted to rescue a shelter dog. The young lady at the Humane Society was knowledgeable and seemed very passionate about ensuring the adoption was the right fit for us and the dog. However, had I looked carefully, I would have noticed she had the same smile as a used car salesman who once sold my Dad an Oldsmobile. I can still see him standing in an ill-fitted, green- checkered sport coat, with the words, “It’s a one-owner, low-mileage beauty. A little old lady drove it to the store once a week,” floating past a gap-toothed, tobacco- stained grin. We left the Human Society with an appointment to meet a low-mileage, maintenance-free wonder dog named “Fury” the following day.
We were waiting in the parking lot when they pulled up with “Fury”. It was an ominous sign when he slipped off his leash and ran with wild abandon across the parking lot, and toward the dog pen, howling the entire way. He was unusual looking. He had two different colored eyes, one blue and one brown, with a tail that looked like a brown pipe cleaner, curled and bobbing in the air. He liked to play tug of war and growled as Liv played with him. The lady assured us that he was great with kids and cats, volunteered at a local soup kitchen, and knitted socks for the homeless in his free time. In short, he was the Mother Teresa of dogs and was going to be an easy first adoption. (All that was missing was an ill-fitting sport coat.)
We renamed him Murphy Jack, and he was anything but easy. He growled when you got too close to his food bowl, and snapped at you when he got sleepy. He tugged on walks, and almost broke the leash lunging at other dogs. We sought help from a doggy daycare. They refused to work with him and recommended a local trainer. The trainer refused to work with him, recommending an aggressive dog specialist in Connecticut. I’m not kidding. We Zoomed with the East Coast dog trainer. We prayed, consulted our parish priest, and met with a shaman and a medicine man. We went through bags and bags of treats. We were ready to give up when slowly, something began to happen. Murph started to act like a semi-normal dog.
The walks became less tedious, and he snapped less often, becoming more affectionate. We found a place that would board him when we went on vacation, and he started attending play care twice a week. He’s slowly learned how to behave around other dogs and pee with his leg in the air. He developed an affinity for sticks.
When I get home from work, Murph greets me like I’ve been gone for a year. He jumps up and down, licks my face, and wags his tail with gusto. We play fetch, tug of war, and take walks. He rides to Starbucks with me. I get an Americano and he gets a “pup cup”. On Sunday evenings we watch “Swamp People” together. I’m not sure why, we just do.
Harry S. Truman is credited with saying, “If you want a friend in this business, get a dog.” Harry, I couldn’t agree more. It hasn’t been easy, but Murph has turned into a great friend. He wasn’t the dog we asked for, but we are the family he needed. Welcome home, buddy.