A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The downside of love is loss.



We are dog people.

Nothing against cat people, but due to allergies of the Husbandly Unit, we are dog people.

When we got back from our vacation, our Murphy was sick. So we took him to the emergency clinic, then to the vet, then back to the emergency clinic so he could be monitored overnight, then back to the vet. Yesterday, although we had stabilized the immediate problem making Murphy sick, the ultrasounds showed all kinds of bad things, and rather than have him continue to suffer away from his family on the off chance that he might get better for a few days or weeks, we had to let him go.

He was the best baby-shower present I ever got.

He endured three babies pulling up on his fur onto tottering little fat legs, and bore without complaint ear pulls and tail pulls and sticky handfulls of fur entwined in starfish-shaped hands as he was loved almost to distraction. He endured being used as a pony with the dignity and regal bearing of Prince Philip, but with the warmth of a best friend.

When he was four months old, a strange man jumped the fence from our neighbor's yard into our yard, and I was home by myself with a newborn. He flew like an arrow to the door and when I opened it, all I saw a tan blur as he set the land-speed record for collies. I heard a yelp, and a "Holy Christ!" and as I went to get a softball bat, the next thing you know, our backyard was intruder free. He was very proud of himself that day.

Of course, when he chewed the living hell out of our deck and our brand new coffee table with his tiny puppy teeth, that was not so nice. Well, I thought it was funny, but the Husbandly Unit did not. I was afraid for awhile that the puppy would think "Yewsonofabitch" was his name. But we recovered, and, hey, wood can be sanded.

He proudly laid the remains of moles, birds, and rabbits at our feet. I was honored, because I know they would have been delicious and juicy and crunchy, but he generously chose to give them to us, instead. My three year old had a harder time with this, of course.

Once, when the kids were playing on the back deck, and technicians from the electric company invaded our backyard without so much as a howdedo, he and his brother Max and sister Shiny maneuvered those bozos back out of the yard with the precision of a marching band, but one with sharp teeth and loud barking-- kind of like the Stanford Marching Band. He never actually touched those two interloping strangers, but he let them know he would if they didn't move. When I walked out and saw my gate open and these strange men being alternately charged by two insistent collies, Redneck Number One said to me, "I ain't skeered," and I said, "You should be, Jack," because I think that Murphy would have done whatever needed to be done to protect those babies, although he was really the most gentle heart.

Once when two big men banged on my door late at night while my husband was out of town, he sounded meaner than a Rottweiler, and they practically broke their necks getting away.

Even later in life, when his frisbee-catching, ball-chasing days were a distant memory, and he could barely see and barely hear and sometimes needed a little help getting up in the morning, once he got going he would sashay around the yard: "Aren't I handsome? Aren't I smart? Aren't I a good boy?"

And he was. He was the prince of our house. Yesterday, as they said goodbye, my son said, "I love you Murphy. Have fun in heaven. Say hi to Grandpa and Max," and I believe that he is, right now.

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28 Comments:

At 6/27/07, 12:03 PM, Blogger ms. whatsit said...

Pets are family. At times they are better than their human counterparts. They are loyal, forgiving, attentive, patient and uplifting. It's no wonder we fall in love with them. I'm sorry about your loss.

 
At 6/27/07, 12:47 PM, Blogger ms-teacher said...

I am so sorry. We had to put down our family dog, Lucy, a few years ago. It was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make. My sister bought me this book in Lucy's memory.

Take care.

 
At 6/27/07, 2:24 PM, Blogger Jane Nicholls said...

My goodness! You write so well I have tears in my eyes. Sorry for your loss.

 
At 6/27/07, 4:57 PM, Blogger 100farmers said...

There's a lifetime of meaning and love in the phrase "good dog". I am so sorry for your loss.

 
At 6/27/07, 5:04 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Ms-teacher, I LOVE that book. We bought it after Max passed away, because my 4 year old just couldn't get an understanding of what had happened.

I think I'll go pull it off the kids' bookshelf now.....

100famers, he was a really GOOD DOG.

Thanks, Ms-whatsit and jane.

 
At 6/27/07, 6:02 PM, Blogger Sars said...

It has already been said better than I can say it, but I'm so sorry. Pets often epitomize the best parts of family - unconditional love, tons of great memories. I'm sorry.

 
At 6/27/07, 8:36 PM, Blogger mrschili said...

My love to you in your time of loss. I don't belittle the loss of animals; they are members of our families and are sorely missed when they pass. I wish for you as much comfort as our sympathies can provide.

 
At 6/27/07, 10:30 PM, Blogger Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

We lost our elderly cat a few weeks ago and it still hurts. A beloved pet is a family member; you don't have to be a crazy cat-lady to love an innocent little animal.

Wait a while, and get another. Your precious pet can't be replaced, but the heart has many rooms.

My condolences.

 
At 6/28/07, 2:36 AM, Blogger Miss Profe said...

Pets are so very special. I am very sorry for your loss.

 
At 6/28/07, 8:04 AM, Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

That was a truly beautiful post. My heart goes out to you. Losing a member of your family, even if it's a dog or cat, is brutally hard. We all know they aren't "just pets".

I wish I could have seen the "marching band!"

 
At 6/28/07, 9:04 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

I am afraid that I will be facing this with our kitty that I've had for 17 years.
What a beautiful tribute to your dog. They feel like such a part of the family that it is truly loss when the do go.
I am so sorry for your loss.
Hula

 
At 6/28/07, 9:46 AM, Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Through your tribute to Murphy you've shown us your heart. Thank you.

 
At 6/28/07, 10:54 AM, Blogger Ms. Q said...

What a beautiful post for a loved one. My condolences.

 
At 6/28/07, 7:10 PM, Blogger Smithie said...

Condolenses....all I could write would only echo what has been said.

 
At 6/28/07, 10:49 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Thanks everyone. It has just been an awful week. I called him this morning for several seconds before I remembered. Our other collie had to have surgery the next day, and the youngest dog has no idea what is going on.

My heart is reeling.

 
At 6/29/07, 12:46 PM, Blogger graycie said...

My heart and thoughts are with you. You've written a beautiful tribute to a Good Dog.

 
At 6/29/07, 11:28 PM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

So sorry to hear about your Murphy. He sounds like he was more than a good dog.

 
At 6/30/07, 5:48 AM, Blogger MommyProf said...

Condolences to your whole family and Godspeed to Murphy.

 
At 7/1/07, 3:46 PM, Blogger Sawsee said...

Our 2 dogs are part of our family too.

Thank you for sharing!

 
At 7/1/07, 7:29 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

Very sorry for your loss.

What a beautifully written tribute.

 
At 7/1/07, 10:54 PM, Blogger kenju said...

Thanks to Mamacita for sending me here. I have had animals I felt strongly about too, and I share your pain at their loss. This is a beautiful memoir.

 
At 7/1/07, 11:05 PM, Blogger Angel said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved dog. What a lovely testament of your love for him--and his love for your family.

Our dog is 14, and this brought tears to my eyes, as we know our time together is getting shorter.

 
At 7/2/07, 12:44 AM, Blogger Madley said...

My deepest condolences... my Tyler was an oversized sheltie that looks a bit like Murphy. I hope they're both now having fun and romping around happy and free.

Wishing you peace at that difficult time, and thank you for your beautiful tribute.

 
At 7/2/07, 9:42 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Thanks, guys. Still trying to adjust. The other two dogs are still moping around the house, so why shouldn't I, as well?

You all have given me so much comfort.

 
At 7/2/07, 8:31 PM, Blogger Stephanie Davies said...

This is the first time I've visited your blog, I found it through Scheiss Weekly, which I found through Michele's. But as a fellow pet-lover, with 2 dogs of my own (one is part sheltie and looks a little like your beloved Murphy), I want to let you know that your post brought tears to my eyes.

My deepest sympathy for you, and sending you virtual {{{hugs}}} - it definitely was a "perfect post".

 
At 7/2/07, 11:32 PM, Blogger Margaret said...

Great post. Indeed, when we let ourselves care for anything or anyone, we have the potential to be hurt. I guess we have to take the sorrow with the joy.

 
At 7/3/07, 1:55 PM, Blogger Daisy said...

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful life. (((hugs))) to all of you.

 
At 7/5/07, 6:04 PM, Blogger EHT said...

Yes, I'm sure your father was there to meet Murphy and they are having a great time.

I feel your loss. Pets are family members. I had the same dog for many years growing up and I still think of her often.

 

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