2001 - 2010
"Just call me Murph the Surf"
One of the newer members of our household is Murphy, a yellow Labrador Retriever who was born in August, 2001, and was raised to be a guide dog under Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. of San Rafael, California. I got to know him while he was still a puppy, because Anne, the person raising him (before he was sent to San Rafael for training), was the day supervisor at Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic in Hollywood, where I have been a volunteer since 1985. She would bring the dog in to the studios each day.
Martha met him in April, 2002, at the RFB&D booth at the L.A. Times Book Fair, and promptly fell in love with him. We asked Anne to keep us in mind if Murphy ever fell out of the program for some reason.
As it happens, in January, 2003, Anne advised my session of volunteer narrators that Murphy had, in fact, been dropped as a guide dog candidate because he was too distracted by other dogs. We renewed our statement of interest, and shortly thereafter Anne called to say that we could adopt him. We brought him home from the Southern California kennel location on February 7, 2003.
Having a big dog in the house is a bit of an adjustment after dealing with four small dogs (the two beagles and two cocker spaniels). So far, however, he is fitting in and getting along. I have concluded that he is really just a beagle who happens to weigh 82.6 pounds. He can actually wolf down his food faster than Shasta does -- which is saying something.
We decided to shoot an "All Murphy" photo. Here are Jill and Allan Murphy (Jill is my cousin), holding bottles of Murphy's Beer, with Murphy (the dog).
UPDATE November 6, 2010: Murphy has suddenly developed a significant problem with breathing. The vet is stumped, because his chest x-ray shows normal heart and lungs, the physical exam seems normal, and his lab work (blood and urine) is normal. Yet he clearly is panting, and the least effort wears him out. The fear is that he has some form of cancer that doesn't show up in any of these tests.
UPDATE November 8, 2010: Murphy died this morning at 8:30 AM. It appears that he was poisoned with warfarin, a rodenticide (rat poison). He put up a good fight but there was no hope, apparently, once the poison did its work and prevented his blood from clotting. We are completely baffled as to how he could have been exposed to the poison, and don't know whether it was accidental or deliberate.
We will miss Murphy terribly. He was healthy and still in his prime.
Geoffrey L. Bryan