Deep, wonderful doggie dreams forever: A tribute to Miss Murphy


(This week’s column is written by Miss Murphy, the family English Shepherd.)

There are some pictures of me I wish you could see.

There’s one of me, head held high, ears perked, a sparkle in my eye and spring in my step, my tail quite obviously wagging with sheer joy, watching over my children as they play on the swings in the back yard.

I’d like for you to see this one of me with my head tucked over top of the newest pup in the family, a glimmer of protectiveness as well as gentle restraint. Pups need a bit of both, you know.

Often in the family photographs, you will see me lying in the background, ever watchful but willing to be quiet about it. I have never had the need for showy ways.

I was born to be a herding dog, and I have done my job, taken pride in it, without the need for ribbons or trophies to prove that I have done everything I ever wanted to do, and that was to help raise the children, Master Cort and Miss Caroline.

I came here when Caroline was a newborn baby, and she is now 14. I think that makes me about 100 years old by now.

Now I am tired. I am weary to the bone. The cold weather has taken everything out of me, and there is just no spring in my step. Not even a glimmer of it, I must say.

I feel so sorry to admit that I slept right through Miss Caroline heading off to school the last couple of days. I realized it when she returned at the end of the day.

Oh, my. I felt so terribly worthless.

Dreaming. Sometimes when I sleep, I dream deep, wonderful dreams.

I dream of chasing groundhogs and a rabbit or two, something I haven’t done for an incredibly long time.

In these dreams, I am but a pup myself. I dream of rolling in wonderfully horrible smelly stuff. I dream of Miss Judie saying I must have a bath, and then in my dream I change the subject and I am running across the field again. Free as a bird!

I dream of the day that a very tiny Miss Caroline wandered into the corn field to retrieve a ball during a game she and her big brother were playing.

The next thing we knew, that little girl was whimpering with fear, as she had gotten too deep in to the field and couldn’t find her way out.

I heard Miss Judie’s frantic voice telling Caroline to just stop and wait. We both knew that little girl was just getting herself even more turned around and more scared.

I walked right in to the corn field and in no time I had found my little girl. I turned and offered her my tail, and I led her right back out of there and in to the backyard again.

She held on to my tail for all she was worth. Miss Judie was so very, very proud of me that day. I dried Caroline’s tears and she gave me a very big hug for such a tiny little girl.

Another rescue. Another time I pulled her away from the road by the seat of her pants! I had a job to do, and did it well.

I dream of playing catch in the yard with Master Cort. He is happy and strong and nothing bad has come his way. I watch his friends make up rules for a brand new game in the side yard and I offer to help. I am always glad to be the catcher.

These dreams, these pictures, that is what I want you to see. That is how I want you to remember me.

She’s gone. Miss Murphy finished her earthly journey Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, a day designed to hold much sorrow, in Miss Judie’s arms at home, Master Cort and his Spanky dog nearby to bid farewell.

In Memoriam, 1916, Henry Willett wrote: I miss the little wagging tail; I miss the plaintive, pleading wail; I miss the wistful, loving glance; I miss the circling welcome-dance.

Ah, he has gone from out of my life like some dear dream I knew. A man may own a hundred dogs, but one he loves, and true.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.