Today is a special day. A milestone. Exactly ten years ago today I adopted Murphy from a dog rescue centre. He was about 20 months old, nervous, slightly underweight and infested with fleas and ticks. It was a Saturday and I was looking for a small smooth haired dog, but as soon as I saw large shaggy Murphy (his original name) I knew I’d be taking him home with me.
The man who owned this small independent shelter, quite literally in the garden of his home, was concerned I wouldn’t be able to cope with Murphy. He was very strong (still is), hardly trained and had spent most of his young life roaming free across a housing estate and fending for himself, but I was willing to take on the challenge and I’ve never regretted that decision.
Murphy was a troubled dog ten years ago, and I had to learn how to help him. He was petrified of fireworks to the extent that I had to literally hug him until they stopped. I remember the first time he saw me taking the belt off my jeans to put them in the washing machine, he immediately cowered down in terror as if bracing himself for a violent beating. The same thing happened the first time I took him for a walk in the country and picked up a stick to throw, he cowered and wimpered, then ran away. Other incidents at home would send him into a disturbing flashback where he would dart for cover under a table and his wide eyes filled with blank fear as if he couldn’t see or hear me. It’s hard to believe now because everyone who knows him encounters a confident, happy, mischievous but above all loving dog.
I gave Murphy all the patience, care and love I could when he needed me, even though I wasn’t an ideal dog owner and had a lot to learn. I took him to dog (and owner) training classes, paid the bills when he tried to eat my car and collected him from the police station when he ran away. Gradually, he settled down, put his terrible past behind him and when I became a chronic pain patient he rewarded me by becoming my emotional assistance dog. Dogs, like humans, respond to love. He’s a treasure, as is my other younger rescue dog and today they’ve celebrated with a lunch of fat juicy cooked sausages.
Happy anniversary Murphy.