Archive for the ‘memories’ Category


He was born in Buhl, Idaho, on May 27, 2007. He died in his backyard in Oregon City, Oregon, on September 1, 2017. The dash between those dates contains a full life, a lot of heart, and many friendships.

He came to live with his family in August of 2007, when the Jarbidge country south of the Idaho border was going up in flames. The fire was known as the Murphy fire, for Murphy Hot Springs. Between the fire and the funny blaze on his forehead, Murphy had a crafted AKC registered name, but he was only known as Murphy or Murph. He also answered to “Dammit!” and “Stop it!”

Murphy was always the darling of his human father: they learned how to hunt upland game birds together, they hiked, they did trail work, they camped out. No dog has ever been as excited to see the orange shock collar than Murphy: it meant only one thing: an adventure somewhere! He loved to hunt Chukar in the Steens Mountains.

Murphy had a checkered history with his human mother, from the moment he rode home in her lap and ate her hairbrush. He ate her glasses in a show of affection one night. He didn’t understand hierarchy, and had to learn that he was Number 3, after Mom. Mom frequently referred to him as “Dammit!”, “Getoutoftheway!”, or “Stopit!” Murphy was always excited to see her, and could sometimes coax her to play “stick” with him, a sort of fetch game he made up himself (“Catch me if you can! combined with Okay, now you have to throw it!”).

In June of 2010, Murphy helped adopt his little brother, Harvey. They were instant packmates: Murphy, the Alpha, and Harvey, the lackadaisacal. They had few disagreements, and only one spat: gravy. When it came to gravy, Harvey was the Alpha and Murphy walked away with blood on his ears. Murphy tried his best to teach Harvey how to play, and even succeeded to a small degree. The week before Murphy came down ill, he tried to get Harvey to play, but the Harvemeister has lost all energy for such trivial pursuits.

It was expected that Harvey would be put down long before Murphy would. The sudden onset of congestive heart failure in Murphy stunned everyone. There were no classic warning signs: Harvey has the signs, but no enlarged heart and no arrythmia. Murphy went from a dog with an acute sense of humor to collapse within the span of seven days.

In his lifetime, Murphy made his first retrieve in the same spot he would later die.


He discovered snow, pools of water, and the freedom of the wide open spaces. His first emergency room trip was due to anaphylactic shock after running into a nest of yellowjackets while hiking: he forever held a grudge against all bees, wasps, and hornets. He loved beer, and would sing for it. He considered it an honor to sleep on top of someone, preferably a human (Harvey was something of a grouch about that). He ate tissues and paper towels, sticks in the yard, and probably something poisonous at least once. He was ever on guard against cats, rats, moles, gophers, crows, tweety-birds, people walking on the street past the house, and anyone not watching their plate of food at a camp-out. He loved to roll in smelly things, but he learned to draw the line at skunks – but only after the third bath in hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and tomato sauce.

He adored Charles (his human dad’s hiking buddy), Chrystal’s various boyfriends and eventual husband, his human grandchildren, and anyone’s crotch. Yes, sorry, that had to be said. he adored crotch-sniffing. That may be when his mom called him “STOPIT!”


In his youth, he joined Trail Advocates with his human dad. They spent hours with Charles, locating and documenting hundreds of old CCC trails, USFS trails, and Native American trails throughout the northern Cascades. Murphy was a better “bird dog” for finding trails than any human (possibly because he was lower to the ground and could go under rhododendrons). He will be sorely missed by his comrades.

He made his last trip to the Doggy ER on August 31st. The attending veterinarian gave him a choice: die now, or have an EKG in the morning to see how damaged his heart was. Murphy declined both, indicating his preference to die outside, in the open, with family. Murphy collapsed during the night, and his human dad spent the night with him in the same spot he once made his first retrieve.

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A wake was held on the morning of September first. Attending were: his human dad (Donald), his human mom (Jaci), his little brother (Harvey, who now outweighed him by ten pounds), and two rufous-sided hummingbirds. The hummingbirds were especially curious and close.

Murphy is mourned by many. The outpouring of love on Facebook, Instagram, and by email has been overwhelming for his family. The hummingbirds don’t know what to make of their new-found freedom at the feeders. Murphy’s hiking buddy, Charles, wept openly on the phone when he heard the news. Only Harvey seems unaffected by the loss, and that is possibly due to the fact that he is a dog and self-centered. He does know he hasn’t been challenged for a dog biscuit in three days and that noone has bugged him to try to play recently.

The Presleys have actively avoided being home for the weekend, so they didn’t have to face the empty house and quiet backyard. The crows tried to entice a fight with Harvey, but left disappointed. The honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps have gone on doing their thing, unaware of how close they came to annihilation during Murphy’s lifetime.

Guests may now enter the Presley home without a TSA-level crotch sniffing.

Murphy has been cremated and his ashes spread to whatever wind. The veterinarian who made the house call announced after doing a heart check, “There’s no one in there now” and “he’s off chasing chukar in the Steens now.” There’s no better epitaph than that.

Thank you to all who supported us during this time. We know Hurricane Harvey (so mis-named as Harvey is in no way a hurricane nor a storm) and the threat of wildfires, Hurricane Irma, and North Korea are considerably more than the loss of a dog. But a dog is everything. Anyone who has been privileged to be loved by a dog so loyal knows.

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
Dean Koontz

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
Will Rogers (actor, Connecticut Yankee [VHS]

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
Gilda Radner (comedienne)

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson (author, Treasure Island)

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88 year old Charles Fosterling was cleaning out some of his things. Maybe his wife passed away, or maybe he was getting ready to move into a retirement center or assisted living. Maybe, he was just reminiscing. He sorted through papers and old photos, and stumbled upon one of the house his parents built in 1930, when he was just a toddler.


“I wonder if it is still standing,” he mused.

“I would like to give this photo to whoever owns this house now,” he told his daughter. She agreed to entertain his idea, and they set off to see what they could see.


The dogs started barking out at the street, and begging to go into the house. Harvey’s tail wagged the way it does when he sees someone he wants to meet. Irritated with the pair of them, I let them in and followed them. Sure enough, there was a blue sedan parked out front, the passenger wheels on our little strip of greenway. A tall blond woman was walking up and down the street, holding a piece of paper in her hand, and staring at the house.

I went back out the back and met her by the driveway. Could I help her? I wondered if she was lost.

She held up the photograph and said, “My father is looking for the house he grew up in. He wants the owner to have this photo.” Then she added, “Would you like to meet him?”

I spent the next five minutes or so, sitting on the lawn beside the blue car, talking to Charles. His parents purchased the property from Mr. Charman, he said. They had to burn the scotch broom off the land, and they owned quite a large piece. What they owned then, is occupied by 8 homes now. They built the house and sided it with asbestos siding, which was popular in the 1930’s, and was inexpensive.

The land around was all forest, and Charman Street ended there by the house, continuing on as only a dirt track through the woods. This house was the only one up here at the time, according to his memory (the photo seems to show a house in the hack, perhaps on the next street over, as the Fosterlings owned everything over to that street. There was a maple tree out front.


I tried to take my photo from the same angle: the living room has an addition, otherwise, the house is still a basic Cape Cod Bungalow. The front door is in the same place, but the stairs turn to the side. The asbestos shakes are gone, replaced with wide siding planks.

Charles slept in the living room, and his parents had the back bedroom, one of two bedrooms. The second bedroom was up the stairs, and they were narrow, steep stairs. At some point in remodel, the stairs were taken out and resdesigned to code, creating a “Harry Potter” closet where the old stair case was. There’s a mended spot in the softwood floor under neath my desk in the studio: that is where the chimney came through. The fireplace or wood stove was in the center of the house.

Charles spent wonderful years here, exploring the woods and roaming the fields. He was happy to see the house is still standing, and to know that the people who live here now love this house. He doesn’t get around very well anymore. I would have invited him in, but I couldn’t handle the two big dogs and he wasn’t up to trying to walk to the door. He told me that his birthday is April 9, and he was born in 1928. He’ll be 89 next Sunday.

After they left, I scribbled down some notes, trying to remember the story. Charles lived here during a time when many homes sat empty due to the Great Depression. I know the next owner was Barney Schultz, and Barney made sausages in a building out back. Barney died in 2000. When we first moved in, one of Barney’s sons dropped by and told us that much. I believe Barney built the addition to the living room and the garage.

The house was then owned by a young couple who did some major remodeling, including the kitchen, windows, bathroom, laundry, and electric. They removed the chimney and altered the stairs, and opened the loft. We purchased the house from them when they faced some life changes and had to move.

It’s a wonderful old house, a peaceful old house, a house with a lot of fond memories of the people who have lived in it. The rhododendrons out front were planted by Barney, as were the multitudes of peonies. Lots were sold off over the decades, Charman Street pushed through, and Mr. Charman passed into the local history books. Only my neighbor to the north remembers Barney now. She’ll be 89 this year as well. She bought her land from Barney.

This house has seen so much, and it’s beginning to give me its secrets.

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I have been thinking about this all week: how to commemorate the 17th anniversary of my little sister’s passing. Then a friend commented on something relating to horror flicks: “I’ve basically been done with genre since ‘Night of the Lepus'” (Or something similar.)

I laughed. Out.Loud. “Night of the Lepus” was something I held over my sister. “Night of the Lepus” was EPIC. “Night of the Lepus” can never be replicated. It had a bit part in the movie, “The Matrix” (the children are watching it on t.v.).

“The Night of the Lepus” came to the drive-in theater out on the highway to McGill, Nevada, north of Ely. The year was summer 1973, even though the movie was released in 1972. We didn’t get first-run movies in Ely, Nevada, very often. I know the year because I had my driver’s license and my 1961 American Rambler four door sedan, and I took my sister and her friend to see the movie.

They got stoned before we left the house. I didn’t know that at the time, but on reflection, I know that. I was still rather innocent in 1973: cheap wine was my biggest sin, but my little sister had already experimented all over the board. Weed was cheap. She was often stoned.

The movie was epic. It was based on the 1964 book, “Year of the Angry Rabbit” by Russell Braddon. Some lab in the southwest of the United States tried to help some rancher in Arizona battle an invasion of jack rabbits by giving him a “special” poison. Jack rabbits, which are hares, ingested it. Then they disappeared into their burrows and all seemed well.

Less than two months later, it all fell apart when giant bunnies (rabbits, not hares, and domestic ones, to boot) dug their way to the surface. Only these adorable bunnies weren’t after their normal vegan diet: they wanted blood. Specifically, they wanted human blood. thousands of blood thirsty, adorable, domestic bunnies of gigantic proportions were loosed upon the earth. Think bunnies the size of wolves. Think bunnies with rodent teeth that slash human throats and leave victims bleeding out. Thousands upon thousands of giant black and white domestic bunnies of giant proportions flooded the Arizona desert.

Around the time the bunnies hopped their way into a drive-in picture show, hopping over cars and wreaking havoc, I realized my sister and her friend, Linda, were hiding under the dash in my car. The movie had freaked them out. Stoned, paranoid, and unable to discern the lack of reality in the movie, they were cowering under the dash in my old Rambler.

It is, perhaps, one of my very favorite memories of my sister. Cruel, yes. Hysterical, indubitably. Something to blackmail her with… FOREVER.

She never denied the movie scared her. She went on to love the horror genre, and raised her toddlers on movies I wouldn’t let my kids watch: “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the Thirteenth”. I never let her forget she hid under the dashboard when domestic bunnies hopped through the drive-in.

It was epic. It was sister-sister epic. And here’s the trailer for the movie.

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