Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ode to the Murph Man

First time we met, I'm pretty sure I gagged. Yes. Gagged. You had the visage of a miniature lion-- all fluff and tattered mane, you only came up to my little girl knees--but somehow you carried a colossal smell. Some kind of awful potpourri of mud, grime, dead animal, trash, and dog breath. Pleasant, it was not.

We were outside, a whole group of us kids. Shooting basketball right outside the garage. The ball kept banging with a hollow, metallic rattle on the half-open doors. Still too little to play with the bigger cousins, I was sat on the sidelines, my back to the brick wall that contained my mama's camellia. The bricks warmed my back as I watched the older kids toss the ball back and forth. twump twump twump swoosh. They'd toss it to me occasionally, let me shoot--a desperate little leap full of flayed elbows and ponytail bounce.

That was the scene when you came bouncing up, your tongue lolling from a goofy grin mouth. I'm pretty sure that you said "hello folks" in your own puppy way.

We entertained you for a moment, expecting you to do like the other strays: pass by for a quick lap of water, only to disappear in the morning. But no. You plopped down on the edge of the driveway, eyes following the curve of our ball. If one of us turned and looked, you would grin and dash right for us, young enough to still do that eager, puppy bounce, front paws splayed. We had to cover our noses with the edge of our shirt to stand to pet you.

We gave it a good honest try-- hardening our hearts, trying to be tough, and resist the temptation of falling for your wet little nose and sleepy brown eyes.

Ha, yea right. You waggled your butt right into our hearts. You weren't passing through. You sniffed a cookout and found a family.

About a week later, after we properly bathed and trimmed and petted you to a  more presentable and less odorous state, we sat on the front porch. You perched between our knees, tongue out, going between us all for pets and smooches. My sister and I tossed a few names into the air. I can't even remember all of them. But I do remember this: someone suggested "Murphy" and you went gave a little mmmph of consent. You picked a house to stop at, you picked your name, you picked us.

There are so many more things I could say about you. Our failed efforts at fetch. Your ridiculous friendship with our cat. The baby bunny rescue. (Yes, that happened.) There's just not enough time to tell all the stories.

I'll miss you, little Murph. Your waggy butt, the jingle of your collar, your howly yawn, and your cold-nose kisses on my leg. Can't believe you're gone. But thank you for teaching me something: the blessing of a sweet innocent little life and pure, loyal love.

Good boy.

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