Posts Tagged ‘murphy’


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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I got sunburned. 020But I also got this whipped into shape for the summer, and the sunburn was worth it. No, not Murphy – I’ll never get Murphy “whipped into shape. He was just doing a trot by when I took a photo of the island. Handsome guy, Murphy, but it’s the flower bed I am proud of. It’s just about the last of the existing flower beds to get weeded and trimmed before I start on the new flower beds. It is also where I was working when I conveniently forgot that sunblock exists. OOPS.


There’s a story behind this corner. We have a brown rat that has taken up residence under the house. I hate rats. Brown rats are somewhat less obnoxious than Norway rats (in that brown rats are a native species), but they are still a pestilence. This particular rat had an escape hole dug into the corner of the yard here. I buried it today. We’ll see how long before the rat digs itself out. Next weekend, I buy hardware cloth and bury it in the corner.

I dug up my (fuschia vulcanica?)(rubra grandiflora?) trumpet fuschia. I can’t kill it, so why not? I’ve grown to hate it. The hummingbirds love it. If it survives this location, it can stay. It grows 3-4′ in height, is very woody, dies back every winter. I have to dead-head all the old wood stems. It takes up a minimum space of 3-4′ wide. We will see who wins: me or the bush.


I just had to take his portrait. He comes to the bird feeder by himself every evening. One lone, lonely, band-tailed pigeon.


My husband bought the squirrel feeder for me two years ago. I figured out how to hang it to the tree this year (I took apart an old hanging planter, used cup hooks on the feeder and the chain from the planter, plus an existing nail in our dying pine tree. Squirrel (and jays) love it.

013I redid the black-cap border with a bamboo trellis. This year’s berries will be on the vines pointing eastward (the green). I will train this year’s vines to grow onto the bamboo & next year’s berries will be harvested there. Black-caps are native berries and my go-to favorite for standing and eating by the hands-full. I will be a little piggy if the blossoms all turn to berries. YUM!


This just amazes me. This year, I purchased seeds and will expand the small spring patch of “poached-egg” flowers. Sadly, they are a spring-only plant and even the green dies back after the blooms fade. But: oh-my-gosh when they are blooming! Love, love, love! limnanthes douglasii010

Starflower. Trientalis borealis. It came as a surprise bonus plant with a maple my husband procured from the wild. This is the first year that it has bloomed in such profusion. I love native flowers.


When my mother died, my father dug up all of her irises. He had relegated them to a gravelled spot in the shade behind his motor home. He hated irises; my mother loved them. I inherited them via the US Mail. This is my favorite.


This is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. I can’t have a horse, but I still have my WARNING! sign. I paid a pretty penny for that sign. It guards my Russian sage. The chair provides a support for the sage (of sorts – the sage usually outgrows the chair by summer’s end. I have a love/hate relationship with the sage, but the bees love it and it isn’t too invasive. Like the fuschia, it dies completely back every year and I have to cut all the woody stems back completely before the new growth comes on.


Can you say WOW? These are my two favorite rhododendrons. The fuschia one is a bush I have another love/hate relationship with: it’s placed directly in front of our front door & the steps. It is too large for the location and covers up the house number. I end up hacking it back every 5 years or so. It is a relatively new rhodie, maybe 20-25 years old? Just very poorly placed, but a stunner when in bloom.


This rohododendron is as old as the house, I think. It’s 20′ tall, thick, healthy. The bumblebees – all of them, but especially the great big ones – love it. You can stand next to it when it is in bloom and all you can hear is the buzzing of bees. I hated rhodies in general until I met this bush/tree. This one changed my mind and heart.


My baby hostas! I planted them … four years ago? Five? This year, I placed the mushrooms strategically: I can put slug bait under the homemade mushrooms (two flower pots) and not worry about poisoning birds and other critters. The slugs buy into it and leave my hostas alone (mostly).


11 years ago, I planted a few day lilies in the grass out front. It’s city right-of-way, but not in danger of ever being paved. If you have a spot that you can’t really maintain but you need some color in… Daylilies. They are weeds. We keep these in line with the lawn mower. In return, they give us several weeks of summer blooms and a lot of low maintenance green.


If you read my last blog post, you know about my crow that thinks he’s a raccoon. We have named him “Bones.” Bones brings a chicken bone by nearly every day and drops it into the front birdbath. It soaks most of the day until it softens enough for Bones to break into it and peck out the marrow. In the evening, I wash everything out of the birdbath so other birds can use it. Bones apparently thinks the birdbath is his own self-serve diner.



Four years of neglect and my husband finally cleared the veggie garden space. We are going to have a garden again! He put a lot of sweat into this: blackberries and crabgrass had taken over. I’m surprised my rhubarb (center) survived! Very excited to have fresh veggies again.


So this is my next project. I have all the flower beds in shape & only need to do a touch-up weeding project in them over the summer. This bramble pile, haven of the brown rat, and scourge of our landscaping – this goes. That’s a pile of Himalayan blackberries, noxious nightshade, and invasive English ivy. There’s also a variegated holly stump under there. Maybe a rat nest. I don’t care: the welding gloves will come on and I hope to reduce this to a new flower bed by summer’s end.

Wish me luck. I’m getting old for this kind of radical gardening. I’m starting on it the next nice day we have.




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Two years ago, we acquired (for a hefty sum of money) this wild free spirit of a dog that terrorized my life. He was willfull, stubborn, dominant/aggressive (but not mean/aggressive), and disobedient. He was strong. He chewed on everything (including my glasses). He jumped up on people. He talked back.

One year ago, I wasn’t sure he would ever be a “good” dog, but he was showing some signs of improvement. He still had boundless energy and an insatiable hunger for anything left unguarded. He became an adept thief: store receipts, lottery tickets, hair bands, underwear, boots, tools, gloves… All of which he chewed on or ate.

He’s pooped a lot of paper.

This year, he had his testosterone clipped.

I noticed a difference immediately.

The whole dominant/aggressive act disappeared.

That’s all. He still chews, steals and talks back. But he doesn’t jump up on people (too much) and he doesn’t try to be Numero Uno. He has acquiesced to the Pack Order.

He knows where he stands.

“Help me. I have to share my sofa with little people. They won’t let me sniff little people’s bottoms. I am not allowed to chew on diapers. I have to let the little people pull my tail.”

He’s been so good. Zephan has taken to following Murphy around and popping him on the head, “No! No!” or pulling his tail.

Lately, there’s been a lot more of “No, Zephan, do not hit the doggie” than there has been “No! Murphy!”

Tonight, Zephan was sitting on the sofa watching “Sponge Bob” (who dreams up this stuff??) and Murphy climbed up there with his chew toy and curled up right next to the baby. Practically in the baby’s lap. His tail was in the baby’s lap. Talk about not learning.

“No, Zephan, do not pull the doggie’s tail!”

We moved Murphy to the other side of the sofa.

<sigh>. Quarantined to the far side of the sofa, what is a dog to do but look incredibly sad?

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