It's no secret that Murphy was old. He's graced this blog for over eleven years and he was two when he first came to live at the Lair. back in December of 2010. He was a different sort of Shepherd than those that came before him. He was strong-willed and stubborn due to a history of abuse and neglect and he marched to his own beat. I never really tamed him, but we became friends and we understood and respected each other.
His health had been going down for some time. Like Lagniappe before him, he suffered from Canine Degenerative Myleopathy, a disease that slowly eats away at the nerves in his spine. He managed well but he was getting slower and weaker over time, even as he compensated for his declining back legs with more muscular forelegs. His eyesight was going and his hearing was gone, but I was slow to notice because he took his cues from the other dogs, mainly Belle, when it came time to bark at someone.
When she left last month, his decline became increasingly apparent. I never posted it here; it was just between us. And he never stopped trying. Even as it got harder for him, he soldiered on through sheer willpower and orneriness. That dog didn't know what "quit" meant.
Still, the writing was on the wall. I could see it and he knew it. He spent more time close to me and he slept against me every night the last few weeks, something he's never done before. I promised him I'd get him home, and I prayed to God for just that: let me get him home one more time.
Well yesterday we made it home. He'd had a rough night the night before but he was still up and walking yesterday morning. He was awake and alert the whole drive home from Seguin, Texas. But when I pulled into the driveway, he couldn't get out of the car without my help. He struggled up the steps, crossed the threshold, and collapsed on the floor. His floor. He was home but this was as far as he was going. I knew it in an instant. This was serious.
The vet was closed already but the office manager is a personal friend. She came in minutes to help with him, and then she called the vet at home and got an order for meds, which she went back to the office to get. Other friends came and helped me get him back onto his bed, and we moved it to his spot by the window. He couldn't get up again, We both knew it.
Last night I slept next to him on the couch, his bed moved so that he was right below me. When he'd stir, I'd pet him and talk to him, and give him more pills. And this morning, when the vet opened, I loaded him up and took him in. It was hard, but he's been my friend for a long time, and I owed him this. I stayed with him until he was gone, gone at the hands of a vet staff who he knew and who knew and liked him. He was my friend.
Eleven years. Thirteen years old. And I'm sad that it's over but I thank God that He blessed me with this wonderful companion for so long. Right now I believe that he's with Belle again across that Rainbow Bridge. And with Lagniappe. And Oliver. And Brandon who came before them. My Pack. Waiting for me.
And until we're reunited again, Merida and I will still have each other. And you'll get Merida stories and pics. I promise.