This is the story I told Henry this morning as we all said good-bye to our family dog. It made him feel a little better.
I was 19 when I first met Murphy-girl. I had always wanted a dog all to my own, and since I was an "adult", I figured I was ready.
I went to the Humane Society in Windsor. They explained to me all the rules and responsibilities. I signed the papers. Then, they led me to the loudest, barkingest room I'd ever heard.
There were probably 20 dogs in cages. Big dogs, little dogs, black dogs, white dogs. Near the end of the row sat a dog that looked like none I'd ever seen. A big grey beard, odd floppy ears, white neck, black and brown back, and white feet. She looked like someone had chopped up a bunch of dogs, pasted the parts together and said, "uh, here she is."
But, she was quiet. In a sea of barking, she sat pretty and looked at me. "Take me home, Dave. I've been waiting for you."
They let me take her out of the cage and meet her. She was wonderful. I buried my nose in the thick fur of her neck.
There was a 3-day waiting period to make sure I was serious. I was. I went back.
The dog they brought out for me looked like the same dog I'd picked out. But she jumped and thrashed and barked. One of the handlers waved at her and said, "Bye, Psycho!"
She was pretty crazy in the early days. But she always quieted down when it was just her and me. She was my best friend for the quiet and the crazy.
Together we've walked the shores of Lake Erie, along the St. John and Detroit Rivers. We climbed Fort Howe in Saint John hundreds of times. She helped me explore the tundra and sea ice in Iqaluit.
But I think her favourite walk was always at my folks place outside of Leamington. She'd beg for me to let her off the leash and I always did. She'd be to the fence row and back 3 times before I caught up to her. Then, we'd walk along a couple of tree lines to the creek.
When she was young, she didn't even look before she jumped in. She just ran full tilt and leaped into the cold, rushing waters.
In the last few years, she's become a "sleep runner". When she falls asleep, her legs start going. Sometimes, if she was really into it, she would chirp these tiny, happy barks.
"Go get it, Murph!" I would quietly encourage her. And rather than wake up, her dream chase would become more frantic.
I hope she's having that dream now.
Good girl, Murph. I'll love you forever.