Sunday, November 06, 2011


Today I took Murphy to Harpers Ferry. And being a nice fall day, the place was packed to overflowing with visitors, a large percentage of which were families with kids.

Now Murphy, as readers may recall, has a history of abuse at the hands of kids, so he's not always the most tolerant of them. In fact, most of our outings here have resulted in at least one attempt by Murphy to snap at someone, usually young boys around 10-12 years old. The problem is enhanced of course by the fact that he's a beautiful dog that everyone wants to pet him, often without asking my permission first. And all goes well until the wrong person, identifiable only by Murphy, gets too close, at which point he lunges and snaps at them without warning. He's never connected with anyone yet, but that's mainly because I'm always watching him closely, ready to reef back on his leash and pinch collar as soon as he tries anything. Still, the last thing we need is a bite incident, so for a while I've refrained from bringing him out here.

But he's been doing well lately in every other venue I've taken him to, so I decided to give him another try at Harpers Ferry. To be honest, I thought that it wouldn't be crowded today because of the recent bad weather, but as it turned out, I was wrong and the place was packed. But since we were already there...

I'm pleased to report that Murphy was perfect today, with no displays of aggression of any kind. (Well ok, he didn't want to let the uniformed park ranger approach him while he was in the car, but that one I can excuse because he was protecting "his" car...and he did make nice with her once I took him out.)

We spent a couple of hours wandering around, and Murphy allowed anyone who wanted to pet him to do so, from tiny children to senior citizens, and this included several kids in the danger age. In fact, there wasn't the slightest hint of any fear or aggression on Murphy's part today despite the fact that he probably came into contact with more people than he has at any previous outing here. He even responded well during some off-leash training in a small fenced area and sat patiently on a restaurant deck as I drank a beer, both times while surrounded by other people. Can this really be the same dog who was trying to leap an 8-foot fence to kill me when I first saw him less than a year ago? Is this really the same dog that repeatedly turned on his foster handler and others whom he'd been adopted out to before I met him?

You've come a long way, Audie Murphy. And I'm proud of you.
I'se a good dog!

I can has ice cream!


  1. Congratulations to Murphy - and to you, too, for being the kind of Dad he so obviously needed. It's heartwarming to read of his progress. Please give him a pat for me.

    WV - conec - yes, I'd say you two have conec-ted!


  2. I am so glad for you guys. You've made a real believer out of me. Lu and I have talked. When Chrisi passes we'll be adopting (and a GSD if we can find the right one). Your love, patience and guidance have literally given Murphy a life he'd never have had if not for you.
    I hope you'll forgive me this:
    Lagniappe would be so happy and proud of you two.

  3. Very very good!

  4. Good on you for making a positive difference in him.

    Or maybe it was the ice cream...

  5. I'm happy for both of you. It's a good relationship.

  6. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Congratulations to you and Murphy

  7. Hell, *I* snap at 10 - 12 year-old-boys, so no big deal if Murphy does. . .

    I know, I know.

    My wife and I adopted a Doberman whose situation sounds almost identical to Murphy's. Three different foster homes couldn't handle him--he tried to bite all of them (he was not even a year and a half old at the time).

    Challenged me three times in the first two weeks when I got him home. He lost all three challenges, the third of which he lost in a huge, ugly, loud, profane fashion that left zero doubt who the alpha bad ass around here was.

    That was almost eight years ago. Today he is the neighborhood ambassador of goodwill for the breed, loves pretty much everyone, is now our only dog and only animal in the house and we can (and often do) take him anywhere and everywhere.

    Murph will be just fine. He's a German breed, after all, and they simply don't come any smarter or any better.

    Congrats on the progress.


  8. That's great news... Murphy is coming around and I know he's a good companion!

  9. Ice Cream reward FTW!!!

    Awesome job, Dude. I know how nervous tests like this can make you. Gunny's predecessor, Angus the Rottweiller, developed an unpredictable stranger reaction after a visit to the Vet once.

    Why a vet tech thought she could waltz in and cram a thermometer up a 100+ lb Rottweiller's B-Hole without even a "how do you do" has always baffled me. The experience made Angus a bit - distrustful.

    Good on you, and Murphy too!

  10. When I read how well Murphy had done with your nephew I knew he was making internal decisions as to young boys and trust of same. Rescue pets can be a rewarding challenge, I’m happy for the both of you.

  11. Murphy is a sweetheart, even when he's pitching a hissy fit.

    If I'd known you were going over that way I would have saved some gardening work over at St. Peter's for you from Saturday...:-)

  12. My dog, Blue, was dumped in a shelter due to his previous 'owner' not trusting him with little kids. H was a good guy, and I miss him terribly; I'm deeply happy that Murphy is confident enough now to tolerate a bit of malfeasance on the part of children without reaction snapping.

    Good Boy!

    Oh, and that photo is suitably dog-disgusting. Congrats.

  13. A good match for you both, IMO. .

  14. I love a happy ending! And, what Six said.

    Love, love, love the ice cream pic!

  15. amazing what lots of love and patience will accomplish.... if y'all are ever in Texas drop a line.