If you’ve read the book or seen the movie Marlie and Me you will be familiar with the antics of the hyperactive and totally over the top Labrador called Marley. He was such a handful and I felt that the only reason the author continued to share a life of destruction with this animal was because of the deep bond of love which existed between them.
Murphy, a Labrador-cross, is our latest furry family member and I’m convinced that he’s related to Marlie in some way. They could be distant cousins, they’re both yellow in colour and both have the same destructive nature.
When Murphy first joined us, he was a law unto himself. No matter how many times we scolded him for something, he would do the same thing once our backs were turned. He chews everything he can lay his yellow paws on. We’ve lost a number of our socks as he snatches them from the laundry basket and shreds them into tiny pieces. The other day I found my mint green dressing gown lying in a crumpled heap under the wash line. It was covered in brown paw marks with gaping holes instead of buttons. There was no sign of them, so no prizes for guessing where they ended up.
My gardener stopped me in the garden one day, poop-scoop in hand and frowning deeply “What type of dog is Murphy?” he asked. I looked at him puzzled and asked what he meant. “Well you should see all the strange things he eats, he’s not like any of the other dogs. When I go around with the poop-scoop I see bits of wood, plastic, rags all kinds of stuff - even bird seed. This bit of information led me to change from bird feeding tables to tree feeders, so bird seed is no longer part of his diet.
What can I say? He’s eaten my flower pots along with their plants, the cushions from the garden furniture, flower bulbs, tree seed pods, bamboo, firewood, my garden ornaments and the dog beds. I felt sorry for Tess when I saw her staring at the remaining fragments of her bed on the kitchen floor. So I spent a day making smart new beds for both of them. I used strong material and sewed the covers double, of course it made no difference, the corners are already in tatters.
I was so angry when I came home to find my beautiful garden Buddha statute – which usually sits peacefully in the lotus position beneath the trees – standing on its head in the middle of the lawn. I still can’t believe that he managed to carry it there.
Murphy is now just over a year old and he seems to be calming down. I've noticed some subtle changes in him, though he still chases the cat. Inca has no problem in leaving long scratches on his face or giving him a bloody nose, but he keeps going back for more.
He enjoys our fetch-the-rope sessions and now waits patiently until I give the “Ok now you can eat your food ”command at meal times. He also lies quietly when I do TTouch and Reiki on him these days. When he was younger he used to wriggle like an eel and wouldn’t allow me to put my hands on him or the body wrap. The body wrap, ear and mouth work really seem to help him to calm down.
Like Marley, we’ve also grown to love Murphy. What can you do, when he looks at you with those adoring yellow eyes and continues to offer you his unconditional love no matter what he’s done... you can only love him in return.