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.
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.
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
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.
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.