Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Part 2 of I-don't-know-yet

We stayed to watch a little more of the rodeo, but it was clear that the puppy was afraid. She was afraid of the little string around her neck, afraid of the noise, afraid of the smells. She was even afraid of me. Fortunately, she was not afraid of the kids… I suppose she identified with them, and she trotted alongside them as we worked our way back to our car parked in a nearby field.
On the walk to the car, she would occasionally poke her nose into the rough stubble of weeds and grass in the “parking lot” and take a long intake of air. And it was clear that she would love to dig for whatever it was that smelled so good. Eventually we found our car and once again her fear returned. She did everything she could think of to escape before we loaded her in… thank goodness that the little baling twine collar and leash not only held but didn’t choke her. Once in the car she found the only place that she felt safe was sandwiched between the car seat back and my son’s back. He had just turned 6 and already had a soft spot for animals… both figuratively and literally in this case. As we left the fairgrounds, we could still hear the announcer at the rodeo arena introducing the barrel racing contestants, and following one of the rides he said “and if you were wanting to pick up one of John’s pups, you are too late, they’ve all been spoken for!”
We arrived at Grandma’s and unloaded the little sleepy kids and little pup. We knew better than to let her off the string yet and we encouraged her to walk into the house. It was clear that she had never seen stairs and never been inside a house. She wanted nothing more than to crawl under the car… a trait she continued to display most of her life when she got a little frightened. Through the years I often worried that her life would end under a car; fortunately that fear was never realized, yet she always saw it as some kind of refuge and more than once I had to get on hands and knees to insist that she came out. And more than a few times I had to scrub black axle grease off the top of her head and off the tips of her ears.
After a bowl of clean water and a dish of dog chow she seemed to settle in a little. Grandma was willing to let the little pup sleep indoors, or even in bed with us, but not so willing to allow the fleas that she brought with her. So, poor little pup had to endure a flea bath and later a powder on her first night with us. Looking back, it was a horrible beginning to a relationship. Thank goodness that she saw the kids as her refuge from this adult human who yanked her from her mother and everything she knew and then subjected her to multiple traumas.
By the next morning we were able to create a collar for her by punching a few new holes in one from Grandma’s collection. She bonded quickly and easily with the kids and I had no fear of her taking off, so they would take her out many times a day, and almost every time she made a little potty. People asked how we housebroke her so quickly, but the truth is she never needed to be-she came to us preferring to do her business in the grass.
Because we had no plans to get a dog, we obviously had no name either. We tried on names all day but nothing seemed to fit. The show “Murphy Brown” was popular at that time, and when it came on that evening, the kids called the dog “Murphy Black and White” and the name stuck. Though everyone assumed Murphy was a male, because we associated the name with Candace Bergman, it always seemed like a good girl’s name to us.
Murphy immediately bonded with both the kids and chased them through the grass and up the gravel roads of Grandma’s house. By Sunday afternoon, they were all tired, dusty, a little smelly, and two of them ready to head home. All but Murphy, who once again put on the breaks at the thought of going IN the car. But once in, she quickly established herself between David’s back and the seat back again and seemed content. I prayed that I would not have an accident with them like this, and we began the drive home.


  1. Our youngest pup likes to ride with his head between my back and the seat, so I can picture your little Murphy doing the same.

  2. I used to love that TV show!