My Dog Murray & What He Taught Me

The phone call was the one I didn’t want to make. The tears started streaming down my face as I hung up the phone. I knew it was the right choice, as hard as it was. In an unexpected way, it was my gift to him, sparing him any chance of suffering. He deserved it. He was the best, a real trooper, a member of the family. Honestly, we all deserve the chance to not suffer in the end. I can’t do this for my closest friends or family members but I can do this for Murray. I try to not selfishly keep things going for my sake as hard as it is to say goodbye. The decision was gut-wrenching at times, doubting myself but trying to remember to put Murray first.

Over the last few years, I have been watching Murray turn into a senior dog and I have often wondered how different experience of life would be if I lived it as he did. What got me thinking was watching him age and watching how he handled it all, quite differently from how we might handle. What if we approached life and even aging a little more like dogs do?

Live in the Moment. Enjoy the Journey

Murray loved to just take in the world. He learned to open the car window on his own and take in the world.




Exercise is the key to good health and longer years

Walk, walk and then walk some more. Up until age 15, Murray walked every day. Twice a day. Long walks. 45 minutes was the average and if he wasn’t ready to go home he would put on the brakes and let you know. He was in great shape (and it didn’t hurt me either). He was muscular and strong.

From now on, every time we walk our favorite route we will think of Murray by our side.




Play and be social 

Murray loved to play. From early on he played daily with his best buddy Zeke. I remember them running through the yard together. Murray wasn’t that fast but he was agile. He would duck through the bushes in this way that he always won the race. When Zeke moved away, Murray became more sedentary and that just wouldn’t do so we brought home a new playmate for Murray. We introduced little Melby into the family and a new energy took over. At first, Murray like most big brothers was waiting for her to leave, go back to where she came from. Eventually, he realized that wasn’t going to happen and he began to let her grab his long ears in her mouth and he would drag her around. He let her know he was the boss at all times and she was ok with that. The two of them in tow is something I will miss.



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Have confidence in yourself, always

Murray was one of the dogs that never let his size or looks define him. He was 20 pounds but lived his life as if he was the biggest and strongest dog on the block. Once, he took down a Bernese mountain dog and dared any big dog to take him on. Nothing rattled him.



Don’t hold grudges. Move on.

Despite two major attacks by a neighborhood dog that injured Murray, he shook if off and moved on. For the record, I didn’t.

All those times I stepped on his foot, others pulled his tail or the times in recent months that I dropped him while carrying him outside, he would shake it off and wag his tail and show affection like nothing ever happened.

What would life be like if we could all forgive and move on, I wonder.


Murray had this sense when someone wasn’t feeling well. He was only a year old when my mother passed away. She never showed that much affection toward Murray but during her last days he lay next to her on her bed, with her. He did the same for everyone in our family when any of us were feeling sick. He was there. He gave us all comfort.


Love unconditionally

Murray loved his family and friends. He especially loved those people who were not dog people who would come into my home and keep their distance. The more they did that the more he would great them and wag his tail. He wanted to win everyone over.



Find a sunbeam, take a nap, wherever

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Age Gracefully 

What would we feel like if we didn’t count the years and let them define us?  Humans often get weighed down with the number. “I am this age and so I can’t do this or that.” Murray didn’t care because he didn’t know. He went full speed ahead. Not always the best idea especially when attempting inappropriate things, as Murray often did. He was convinced he could go down a flight of 13 stairs, which never went well. Attempting to climb the stairs could also be disasterous. But he didn’t let anything hold him back. He was amazing. He would fall in the most horrific way and as I stared down at the bottom of the stairs in shock. I watched him stand up, shake himself off and move on about his day. When we moved into Boston and Murray was losing his sight, he would regularly fall off  the sidewalk or walk straight into a light post (ok some of this is on me) and just shake it off. Every time. He was so resilient.

Sometimes, he accepted help and let us carry him up to bed, in his bed.



Life is better with a dog and with a family

Murray was with us for a long time, 16 1/2 years. We were so blessed to share so much of our lives with him and it is hard to remember a time without him. Our boys were 5 and 7 when we took Murray into our home. He was so little. They were so little.


Murray was with the boys through elementary, middle, high school and college.  He grew as we grew. We enjoyed having him in our lives so very much. He always put a smile on our faces, day after day. He was the boy, the man, our friend.

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My arms wrapped around him, I watched him take his last breath. He was at peace. Murray will always have a piece of my (our) heart.

About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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24 Responses to My Dog Murray & What He Taught Me

  1. Jonathan says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. My dog, Hector (15 y.o.), has many of Murray’s qualities.


  2. Beth Mullins says:

    You were able to put into words what I wasn’t able to about my Fitzie. Like you, it came down to me having to make the decision in February, and it was definitely one of the top three hardest things I have ever had to do. They just grab ahold of our hearts and never let go. Hugs to you Shari.


  3. Meg says:

    Words to live by, inspired by your dog. I love it.
    I am sorry for your loss but you gained so much with Murray in your life. Probably would not change a thing.
    Thank you for sharing.


  4. Susan Gruber says:

    What a wonderful tribute to Murray. I know how difficult it is to have to say goodbye to our furry family members. Sending you hugs and keep his memories close to your heart. XO


  5. Sam Butcher says:

    Nice piece Shari. Very fitting. As I tell myself when I lose a canine friend – dogs are not supposed to live as long as we do, and, when you are ready there will be another dog waiting to receive and return the love.


    • Shari says:

      Thanks Sam. We still have Melby who will be more than happy to receive double the love now. And there is always a chance of a new dog (if only I could convince that guy of mine)


  6. Kathleen Horvath says:

    So sorry for your loss and that of your family’s of Murray………..I dread the day I will lose my cat Nala or be faced with the decision to call my Vet. What lovely detailed tribute. Wishing you the very best this Holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shari says:

      Thanks Kathleen. Good to hear from you! Yes, it is hard, I have watched others go through it and all I can say is so many of us can relate and be a source of comfort. A Happy Holiday season to you too!


  7. Inga Finks says:

    You put into beautiful words everything that I felt when I had to put Zeke to rest. It was one of the most painful things I had to endure. He will always be in my heart. Getting the news about Murray made me so sad and teary. My fondest memories are of Zeke and Murray cavorting in your yard. They truly loved each other. Perhaps they will find each other on the other side of the rainbow.


  8. Paul Berman says:

    Murray was my friend.Whenever I visited in Marblehead he always greeted with a wonderful bark and a tail wag. If I stayed overnight,he would scratch on the door of my room to say good morning.Even recently he showed me his wagging tail and joined me for breakfast hoping to share in my meal even though he had lost most of his sight and hearing.It is hard to say goodbye to my friend and I will miss him!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. simonroma says:

    How sweet, thanks for sharing.


  10. Jennifer Allison says:

    This was a really nice tribute to Murray. Having just gone through this with Bozey only a few days before, I can relate to the sadness you feel. He was such a cute dog and giving him the dignity he deserved was the right decision. You were lucky to have each other.


  11. foxman2345 says:

    This was a really nice tribute to Murray. Having just gone through this with Bozey only a few days before, I know how sad it is. He was such a cute dog and deserved the dignity you gave him. You’ll always cherish the great memories of him. In this very big world, you were lucky to find each other. Jen


  12. simonroma says:

    Lovely sad story thanks!!


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