Miss Murphy makes some observations


(Editor’s note: This week’s guest columnist is the Sutherland family dog, a 13-year-old English Shepherd who enjoys taking her turn at telling family stories from time to time.)

Good morning, Miss Murphy here. I have lots of catching up to do.

Last time I talked with you, I was feeling quite old and ratchedy. Then Miss Judie took me for a shampoo and a short haircut and I feel like a young pup again! Amazing what a trip to the beauty parlor can do.

Welcome back. Awhile back, Miss Judie and Master Cort went away. They were gone for many days and many nights. When they finally returned, they were as happy to see me as I was to see them!

I must say that Cort smelled of the inside of a veterinarian’s place of business, but I tried to overlook it.

Now it seems almost every day Miss Judie either takes him somewhere and returns with more veterinarian scent, or else a woman comes here to our home and asks Cort all kinds of questions and places this thing on his heart and says, “Take some deep breaths” and other bossy things like that.

Cort’s arm. There is now a strange thing in Master Cort’s arm that does not belong there. It seems to demand an awful lot of attention and I do not think my boy wants it to be there at all.

He has told me I must not bump it or he could get in trouble. I tell you, it smells like the nightmarish consequence of a trip to a veterinarian to me.

I want to know why my boy has to go through all of this. I want to know when he is ever going to want to just go outside and play again.

Not in the mood. He does not seem one bit interested in the fun things we used to do. I let him know that I was up for a bit of fun after I got home from the beauty parlor that fine day. He said, “Not now, Murphy, I’m not feeling so good.”

I have wondered why my boy is so tired, and I think I might know. He has filled himself up with those awful scents of the veterinarian’s place of business and it has filled him with fear. It has happened to the best of us.

So many questions. My job is to be faithful and strong. My job is not to ask questions, though there are days I just cannot help myself. I look at Miss Judie and ask, “Why are you taking my boy someplace that he does not want to go? Why don’t you just leave him be?”

He wants to sleep sometimes and she is telling him, “We have to go, we have no choice,” and she explains something about tests that Cort does not want to hear.

She makes him swallow lots of pills, and every day she hooks something up to that thing in Cort’s arm for a time.

There are days when I think my boy is doing better. There have even been times when he tells a joke and everybody in this old house laughs again.

Best of times. I love those times. It makes my tail wag and it makes me get up and stand close to my boy and inside I laugh right along with everybody. Ah, those are the very best of times.

I have been thinking that maybe Cort has become old like me. There are days I want only to rest. Mr. Doug will make me get up and leave my warm spot by the fireplace to make a quick trip outside in the bitter cold.

My legs don’t want to do it, and one day Mr. Doug so coldly said, “Murph, you are no spring chicken anymore, are you?” It hurt me so. It was far too close to the truth. I am a winter chicken, truth be told.

Maybe Cort went past everybody else in the family and he is the oldest now.

Or maybe he just needs a trip to the beauty parlor! I think I shall suggest that…


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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.