The Transformation of Mean Man Murphy...and the whole neighborhood
Thanks to Ashley, tonight's #MemorialMonday post is a beautiful tribute to the many transformations that take place when a dog enters your life.
"In October of 2013, I first met Murphy. I was looking for my lost cat and going door to door to ask neighbors if they had seen her. Murphy lived across the street and was outside most of the time while his family was out. He would bark ferociously at any stranger. And as a stranger walking up to his house, I thought I would be in trouble if he got off that chain.
But that day changed my life.
I knew I wanted to be Murphy’s friend. Twice a day for a month or more I would go across the street and throw treats to him. Then I would throw treats and a tennis ball. Soon after that I was on his steps giving him chest rubs. He would look away as soon as I started and paw me every time I stopped. He knew he was the boss of me from the very beginning…and I was ok with that.
In the summer of 2014, Murphy’s brother had an accident and was in the ICU. His dad, Chip, asked if I could take Murphy at night so he could stay at the hospital. He gave me a key to their house, and I was happy to help my neighbors. Every night for a couple weeks I would not only let Murphy in, but we started going for walks. We would walk the entire neighborhood. Soon, I was going over there several times a day and we would walk during all my work breaks, after work, and usually an evening stroll under the stars. During these walks we chatted with neighbors that we would never have met otherwise. Murphy still wasn’t too friendly with strangers, but I was hopeful and saw progress.
Christmas Eve that same year, Troy and I were hosting family for dinner and presents. The guys were outside in the garage having cigarettes when along come Murphy and his pal, Molly, a beagle. I thought for sure there might be a bite or 2. But Murphy surprised me and was a perfect bearer of good tidings. He and Molly came right on in and went around introducing themselves. Troy’s dad, Clyde, took a liking to him right away. His dad was hard of hearing so having Murphy around was a welcome break from the craziness of a large family gathering and offered extra cuddles.
When Murphy’s dad was away for a year, I started bringing Murphy over to my house in the morning and taking him back in the evening. Saved me time from going back and forth and let us really get our walks in. When his dad got back, he let me know that Murphy now had a Murph mom (me!!!!) and I could keep up my routine 😊
By now, I was hosting happy hours for the neighbors and was asked to take over as coordinator of the neighborhood watch. I was having so much fun walking Murphy and bringing our neighbors together that we started a neighborhood cocktail crawl at the holidays.
Without Murphy I never would have talked to my neighbors. Not because I didn’t like them but because I was only out and about if I was jogging. You can’t stop and talk while jogging but while walking with your best friend… that’s a different story. We would talk to everyone. And I mean everyone. We were out and about so much that no one could escape us for long. Murphy LOVED little kids. They would come up and hug him around the neck and he loved it. He had become the neighborhood mascot.
One day while Murphy and I were on one of our jaunts we heard the craziest sound. We looked around and couldn’t place the sound. Later, on FB a neighbor mentions that another neighbor’s macaw had gotten out. The macaw’s owners were Italian and only the kids were fluent in English. I knocked on the door (sans Murphy) and asked about the bird. They let me know that they couldn’t get it back in. It had a huge cage and would likely come if we could set the cage near it. The downside was, they didn’t have a vehicle to transport the cage. Enter Murphy’s dad, Chip. Chip and I are now good buddies thanks to Murphy. Chip let me borrow his truck to transport the cage to Polk Street where the macaw was. It was a hot and humid mid-summer day in Bon Air - but we were able to get the bird and return it to its family.
Then Murphy and I found out about hiking trails nearby and would spend countless breaks taking short walks and longer ones in the evening along the creek. It was so serene. It felt like we were all alone in the middle of the woods. Water was babbling and birds were chirping. It was always magical. Once, we even found an antler. I never would have known about these places if it weren’t for Murphy. I would have never taken the time to just walk. On these walks, I never took my phone. I always wanted the chance to disconnect and just pay attention. During our walks we would also pick up litter. Over the course of several years, we must have picked up 25 large garbage bags full. Murphy was a big fan of making the world a better place.
As time passed, Murphy needed to take longer breaks and shorter walks. Then, we would just sit under the pear tree in the yard watching birds and deer. Murphy fancied himself part deer. He was the same size as a young deer and the same color. In his younger years, he would try and chase after them. He’d come back covered in mud from the creek in our backyard. Even covered in dark brown mud he was the most handsome pup.
Over the past several months, we had been going to Bon Air Animal Hospital almost weekly for acupuncture treatments to help with his legs. He loved going there so much. He had his routine and he reveled in the attention. He’d get so many treats and so much love from everyone. Once he had his needles in, Dr. Jones would turn off the lights and close the door. For the next 30 minutes we would lay on the floor (I was on a blanket right beside him). I’d play the Pandora acupuncture station or yacht rock. It was our time to disconnect and just lay in quiet. Best friends can do that. Silence isn’t scary when you really know someone.
On August 18, 2021, shortly after 5:30pm, Murphy left this life at one of his favorite places. With his friends and family at BAAH. As he passed, I sang one of our favorite songs in his ear. “Brandy, you’re a fine girl. What a good wife you would be.”
Over the past week, I have started doing the #Murphychallenge. I have decided to get back to all the walks that I used to take with him - to not just jog but find time to take it slow and meet the people around me. Over the course of the past several days I have logged at least 15,000 steps a day. It’s helped me process some of my grief and take comfort in the kind words of neighbors who are now friends.
My time with him was some of the happiest and relaxing times of my life. I never expected to love him so deeply. But he was like that. You just never knew what you would get. You think he’s only Mean Man Murphy upon first sight but really, he’s Murphy Moo, the pup who had the power to bring neighbors together and turn some of them into family."