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Archive for the ‘mourning’ Category

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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.

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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!”

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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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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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Twelve years ago, June 17 fell on a Saturday and was the day before Father’s Day. I woke up on the hide-a-bed in my brother’s living room in Sparks, Nevada. The back ache I’d left home with was miraculously cured: who would have thought a bad mattress would work in lieu of a chiropractor? I was glad to be pain free physically: the day was going to be rough emotionally.

The reason I was in Reno was my mom’s health. She’d been hospitalized several times due to complication with emphysema, but this time my brother told me to come down. My dad was staying in a motel close to Washoe Medical Center.

We visited my mom off and on throughout the morning, making life changing decisions for (and with) her. She could no longer talk because of the damage done to her larynx by the oxygen tubes, but she was aware of everything – or as aware as someone who is heavily sedated on morphine can be. She kept pulling the oxygen tubes out and the nurses would replace them. She did not pull or tug at the morphine feed. Each of us: my dad, my brother, and myself, told the nurses to no longer replace the oxygen tube. We understood the look Mary Lou had in her eyes: she was tired of it all and angry that they kept replacing the tubes. My mom could be stubborn.

We had to take frequent breaks from the hospital because he couldn’t force himself to do a death watch. And that was what it was now: a death watch. Mom died on the 17th, peacefully. My dad didn’t take it so well. I’m not sure any of us took it well.

On Father’s Day, my brother, my dad and I went for a long drive. And laughed a lot. I managed to be the butt of a few family jokes that day, some of which will go down into the family history. I blogged about the Nevada Guys and “What’s the blue stuff?” on the 29th of April so I will not repeat that story. Later in the day, my brother got an emergency call and had to make a trip to Gerlach with lights. There was a semi roll-over and my bro, as a deputy, was on call. But he let my dad and I ride shotgun since neither one of us had ever been to Gerlach.

The drive up to the wreck was in the dark. We were excited about seeing Gerlach, but we nearly missed it for the black night. It snowed. It rained. It was clear. My brother played with his siren in the silence of the desert just for us. Our return was in the early morning. We never did really “see” the country around Gerlach and all we saw of the community were the night lights. It’s one of those “don’t-blink-you’ll-miss-it” places located on a flat two-lane highway over several low mountain passes. When I say “flat”, I mean the corners are flat and you don’t want to take them faster than the recommended speed because you’ll roll over. Which is what the poor truck driver did: took a corner too fast in the middle of the night and rolled his semi.

My mom would have appreciated the laughs we had that day. She loved word plays, palindromes, personal family jokes, and adventures in the middle of the night. Dad and I joked that we were really undercover cops from another jurisdiction learning how Nevada cops investigated.

This Father’s Day marks my brother’s retirement from law enforcement. My dad is still getting around and he still misses my mom. And the weather is about as nice today as it was then, except we’re not likely to get snow in Portland. Maybe on the mountain passes in Nevada they will today.

Well that wasn’t a terribly cheerful post, but it will have to do. If my mom was here, she’d insist I add something to make people laugh. She’d be really angry with me if I wrote “Don’t Smoke Cigarettes” somewhere in my blog because it was the only thing she and I ever argued about: her smoking habit. I’m not terribly afraid of her ghost. 🙂
DON’T SMOKE CIGARETTES. And if your dad smokes, make him quit.

Mary Lou & childrenMary Lou

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