Murphy Goes the Extra Mile

Murphy Goes the Extra Mile

Hi Murphy, I’m happy that you’ve been and always will be in some way a part of my life. I had hoped that we could keep you around much longer and that I would never have to write these words. I’m missing you so much.

Mom and her husband Cliff had schnauzer named Prince for about four years. Mom was grieving after Prince died. Cliff suggested that they go and find another dog. They responded to an add in the local newspaper for a silver schnauzer. Mom told me that you didn’t seem to be very responsive to them during that initial visit and that she didn’t want to take you. But Cliff insisted so they brought you home with them. The papers they received at the time they brought you home said you were born on May 25th, 2005.

I first met you when I returned to Idaho to visit over the Christmas holidays. I remember sitting in the back seat of the Cadillac Escalade caressing your back and head. I was still missing Prince at that time and hadn’t yet formed an attachment to you, but that certainly didn’t take long. We grew attached to each other very quickly. There was this chemistry and I felt so connected to you and you to me.

You really liked to chew on things during your younger years. And you had amazingly strong teeth. Socks would often disappear only to be found in the back yard. You chewed the hand off of a doll that my grandmother had made. You even chewed all the heads off of the sprinkler system in the back yard.

I don’t know what they put in those doggie treats, but you were absolutely crazy about them. Mom used to bribe you with the treats to get you to come back inside the house so you would stop serenading the neighbors with your barking. You eventually learned to go in and out more frequently so that you could get more doggie treats. I would throw the doggie treats onto the bed at night and you would jump up there and devour them as your late-night snack before drifting off to sleep.

Mom and Cliff had a Yorkshire Terrier named Fergie that they brought up to Idaho with them when they moved from Texas. I enjoyed seeing you and Fergie running around together and playing tug of war, pulling on opposite ends of a piece of rope. Mom was later given a Silky Terrier named Betsy. You have always been a very sensitive dog. You grieved when Fergie and Cliff died. And you were later devastated when Betsy died.

Mom later took in a silver schnauzer named Sparky. You and Sparky were the best of friends. The first thing you would do when you were let out of your kennel in the mornings was to go to Sparky’s kennel. Wherever you went, Sparky went. And wherever Sparky went, you would go. I got so much enjoyment watching you and Sparky chasing each other around and getting into doggie wrestling matches. In some ways I feel that was the best time of your life.

I didn’t feel the emotional connection with Sparky and was sometimes annoyed with him because he would compete with you for my attention. But I was so happy to see that you had a doggie companion and that you truly loved each other.

Sparky wasn’t that much of a barker initially, but you soon taught him. You and Sparky would stand out in the backyard barking at the neighbors walking by. How dare they walk on your sidewalk! And then you would bark as though you were calling the neighbors to come back around.

I felt very saddened seeing you lose your best doggie friend when mom gave Sparky away. Mom is very sensitive to noise and the barking was driving her crazy. You never saw Sparky again. Another loss and you had no way of knowing why or what had happened. 

You were so strong willed and not one to be controlled. Mom threatened so many times to get rid of you. The thought of you being giving away was very upsetting to me. I was so afraid that I would never get to see you again. I knew that would hurt both you and me very much. I was also afraid not knowing how other people would treat you.

You made it quite a challenge and yet I did everything I possibly could to advocate on your behalf. I could have never forgiven had anything bad ever happened to you.

You would dance around in a state of anticipation whenever mom asked you if you wanted to take a ride in the car. I really enjoyed seeing you riding in the back seat, standing with your front paws on the arm rest and your face out the window with your hair blowing in the wind while checking out all of the people and scenery. And of course, you had to bark whenever you saw another dog.

Your absolute favorite part of the day was going for walks. You would also dance around in anticipation of your upcoming walk. And you would blast out of the house with excitement for your upcoming adventure. It was another walk through the subdivision and yet it was big adventure for you. And you were so strong for a dog of your size. With you pulling on the other end of the leash, I often felt as though it was you that was taking me for a walk.

I loved taking you for walks and would stay out as long as I could with you. You wanted to mark your territory by peeing on trees and rocks and whatever else there was to pee on. And then you would sniff all kinds of things along the way. I loved to see how excited you got whenever you saw the deer. You would be barking and jumping up into the air. I would often hold onto the leash and run along behind you as you chased the deer.

You especially loved the snow. And during the winter time, you would be running through the snow drifts and be throwing the snow up into the air with you head. And then we would be taking a towel to dry you off and clean your feet when you came back in.

We had so much fun playing. I would grab you by that little stub of a tail you had and spin you around. And then you would be turning around and be growling fiercely at me. I often chased you around the house. And I would sometimes get down on my hands and knees making like a dog. You would be playing chicken with me, running back and forth around the dining room table. And then at times you would run under the bed.

You were such a handsome dog. And you even looked forward to going to the groomer. You were easily scared at times and I did whatever I could to assure you that you were safe. But you also had a very gregarious quality about you and you truly loved people. Some of the neighbors were annoyed with your barking and yet most of them really liked and were happy to see you.

You may have not been too crazy about it, but I had always enjoyed giving you a bath. And yet you sure liked that clean feeling afterwards and would run circles all throughout the house. I eventually realized that bathing you was a lot easier when I sat on the edge of the tub.

I have primarily lived in New York City and then I also work in Boston part of the time. In the early years of your life, I was only returning to Idaho once a year. I would spend a lot of time playing with you during those visits. But after ten days, it was time for me to return to New York. Mom and Cliff told me that you would either mope or lay around the house feeling depressed for a week after I left. Sometimes you would lay on your mat staring into the fireplace for hours.

I missed you a lot too and felt sad to be away from you. I always kept a picture of you as the screen saver on my smartphone. And I often showed people your picture.

I so much looked forward to seeing you whenever I returned to Northern Idaho. There was always a sadness as the days passed, knowing that I would soon be returning to the East Coast. You too would get a sense as it came time for my departure. And you would be reaching out to me for more attention. Seeing suitcases became an emotional trigger for you. It was painful for me to see your little body trembling when you saw my suitcases and knew I was about to leave.

Leaving was always difficult. I always had to take you for another walk before heading to the airport. And I would be hugging you right up to the minute I walked out the door. 

You sometimes rode with us to the airport in Spokane. You knew I was leaving and were not happy about it. At one point, you were visibly upset when I got out of the car at the airport and tried to jump out. I wish so much that I could have taken you with me.

And there was another time when mom brought you to the airport when she came to pick me up. I remember walking up to the car and opening the hatch on the back end. And you were crying because you were so happy to see me.

It saddened me that I was far away for so much of your life and I didn’t have any way to explain to you my situation and the challenges I faced. I was just gone, and you had no way of knowing what was going on. I sometimes had mom hold the phone up to your ear so I could talk to you. I think in time you came to understand that I would show up for periods of time and then leave and then return again. 

I wanted to spend a lot more time with you there in northern Idaho, but that unfortunately didn’t work out the way you and I wanted. I didn’t have the connections with people or a car to get around. I would have definitely increased my time there and be spending a lot more time with you had that worked out.

The other challenge I faced was being around mom. Mom can be very generous and kind at times. She loves me as best she can in the way she knows how to. And yet much of our interaction consists of her spouting Fox News talking points. And then she’s constantly trying to change me to get me to be someone I’m not. The stress of tolerating that becomes unbearable before long.

My greatest regret is that of not having spent more time with you. I regret so much not having a home of my own where I could keep you. Living in New York City is difficult enough. The other concern is that there would be no one there to look after you when I’m out working long days or traveling for work. I now understand how so many parents from countries like India and Sri Lanka feel having to travel and live abroad for work so they can support their families. I can very much relate to all the feelings of missing out on so much of their children’s lives.

I had long hoped to meet someone with whom I could form a relationship and eventually share a house or apartment. Aside from the relationship, I wanted there to be two of us to look after you. I made a tremendous effort and yet I could never form that kind of connection with a woman in New York City. Much of that has to do with the fear and guardedness I encountered that created so many unnecessary barriers. It also had a lot to do with the fact that I was on such a different wavelength and that I did not have that kind of resonance with anyone I met.

The only time I was able to connect with a woman on a deeply intimate level was during the times I spent in India and Sri Lanka. I basically had to travel to the other side of the planet to find people with whom I resonated, that could relate to and understand me and a place where I felt more at home. 

I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in order to do my work and have suffered in many ways. Not being in a position where I could have a home to keep you and come home to spend time with and care for you at the end of the day is the most painful of all those sacrifices.

I had spent years training with a Native American doctor or medicine man and practice the traditional healing methods I learned from him. A big part of my ongoing training involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food and water. I have been returning to the Wichita Mountains for many years now for the vision quest. That’s how we receive the gifts or power that enable us to facilitate the healing of others.

I used to stop over to work with people in Kansas City, Missouri after coming down from the mountain. Sharon, a woman suffering from bone marrow cancer had initially been given two to three years to live. She ended up living for twelve years. The individual sessions were a big part of the reason she lived so much longer. Sharon’s son and daughter-in-law moved out of town shortly thereafter. The friend that I had stayed with in Kansas City flaked on me. Having that additional work in Kansas City was helpful, but I was finally free to go. And that freed me up to spend more time in Idaho with you.

I continued to go on the vision quests in the spring and fall. I would stay in Oklahoma for two days afterwards and then catch a flight to Spokane. I especially love the time right after I come off the mountain. I feel as though I’m still in between worlds. I don’t really feel like being around people and yet I so much loved spending time with you.

My own life hasn’t been that easy. The greatest difficulty stems from the fact that most people in our modern-day world have such a limited understanding of this form of healing practice. I have long struggled to make it. What makes it so much worse is all the flakiness that I have to contend with on a daily basis. People sign up for classes and often don’t show up. Many seek out healing and then flake when the feelings and issues they have spent so much of their lives avoiding start making their way to the surface. I have often felt as though I’m in survival mode.

Things were in many ways easier for me up until 2008 when the economy crashed. Those first few years after the crash were incredibly difficult. I didn’t have much work and did not know how I was going to make it at times.

People were so much more consistent up until smartphones, social media and other technology became so readily available. I used to work with many of the same people for years. But smartphones and social media is creating a technologically induced attention deficit. People’s use of the internet is changing the neurostructure and biochemical makeup of the brain in such a way that it’s making it extraordinary difficult for them to do the deep level processing or even focus their attention for any significant length of time. I end up working four times harder to attract more people and to keep those I work with on track.

I have often been afraid to walk away from my practice for any length of time. I have to be there when people decide to show up for my classes. I then have to work that much harder to keep people focused, since many are no longer capable of doing so on their own.

Murphy, Your presence has been very healing for me. You have been an incredible source of love and nurturance for me. There have been times when it felt like you were my only real source of love and nurturance. I hope I have returned as much in the form of love and the caring I gave to you. I wanted you to feel that you are very much loved and cared for. We are both very connected to each other emotionally. What happens now that you have left your physical body?

In many ways, you were very much like a little two-year-old boy. And I always felt as though I was caring for a small child. There was also a part of me that wanted to have conversations with you in the way that I would open up to a close friend. And yet words didn’t have much meaning for you. What I did experience with you was this incredibly close empathetic emotional bond, unlike any other I have ever experienced.

There have always been health concerns, some of which may have been genetic. And some may have resulted from the abuses you suffered before we took you in and other stresses. The first real sign of trouble came at the beginning of October of 2016 when Mom called to tell me that your back legs weren’t working and that you couldn’t get up. She told me that she was considering taking you to the veterinary clinic to have you put down. I said to mom, “No …wait! I’m going to be back there in just a few weeks.”

I was at the Field’s Corner subway station in Dorchester, Massachusetts when mom gave me the news. I couldn’t stop crying as I rode the train to my appointment. I felt so hugely relieved when I spoke to mom later in the day and she told me that you appeared to have recovered and were back up and on your feet.

It really hit me then that I would lose you at some point. I started working on you late in the evenings at bed time. You would often get restless if I attempted to work on you while you were still awake, so I would wait for you to fall asleep.

There were times while I was working on you and you felt a jolt from the power flowing through me and would jump to the other side of the bed. You would then have this startled look on your face and be wondering what was going on. But you would usually fall asleep again after five or ten minutes and then I would then resume our work.

I could at times feel a lot of movement taking place in your body when I was working on you. And then you would be eliminating lots of additional waste and toxicity, having large bowel movements the next day.

I could see and feel a lot of changes taking place as a result of the work. You would regain much of your strength and youthfulness. And then you would become much so more lucid and energetic. One afternoon, you were out running with me. And another time we climbed way up Canfield Mountain.

You were in some ways very aloof or standoffish for much of your life. I think that had a lot to do with the abuse you had suffered from the people who kept you before mom and Cliff brought you home. You didn’t want anyone to get too close and didn’t like too much affection. Sometimes you would get up and walk away if I sat down next you on your dog mat or lay down next to you after coming in from a long flight. It saddened me at times because I’m the exact opposite and wanted to hug you as much as I could.

But those walls started coming down once I started working with you consistently. You would sit close and I could hug you more. Some nights you would be laying right next to me in the bed as I slept. Sometimes I would be sleeping on my left side as I often do, and you would be laying with your back right up against mine. I felt in many ways a greater sense of closeness with you.

You and mom gradually developed a greater attachment for one another. You loved the pieces of boiled egg and cheese that she fed you. Mom told me how you would even rest your front paws on the edge of the bed at night when she kneeled down to pray.

The healing sessions would build you up and then keep you going for months on end when I first began to work with you consistently in the fall of 2016. And that continued up until March of 2018. After that I could tell that it was taking a lot more work to keep you going. 

I could feel that the time of your passing was nearing in 2018. I made three additional trips to Idaho during the final year of your life to spend as much time I could with you. I could see that you were struggling when I flew back to Idaho in August. But you bounced back after I worked on you again. Mom even commented how much better you were doing while I was there. She didn’t know that I was treating you late every night before we went to sleep.

I was there with you again in early November after the vision quest and then returned six weeks later to see you during the Christmas – New Years holidays. And then I returned again three weeks later in January.

I was scheduled to return to Sri Lanka in February, but postponed that trip when mom told me that you were having a very difficult time. I felt sick about losing the four hundred dollars in changing the ticket. But as I look back now in hindsight, it was the best four hundred dollars I have ever spent in my life, because it gave us that additional time to be together before your passing.

A succession of snow storms had dumped about five feet of snow on Northern Idaho from late January until the end of February. Aside from the many hours I spent shoveling snow from the driveway and sidewalk. I dug a whole series of dog tunnels in the snow for you to move about in the back yard. And despite the fact that it was unusually cold and snowing much of that time, I managed to take you out for a walk once and often two and three times a day. And at those times when it was too cold to spend much time outside, I would be making sure you were getting your daily exercise by chasing you around the house.

It became even more of a struggle for you during those final weeks. Mom and I both had to feed you by hand at times. And you would sometimes jump off of the bed during the night and lay on the floor. I’m assuming that you felt more comfortable on the floor because of the respiratory issues that were making it difficult for you to breathe. I would fold up a blanket for me to lay on next to you on the floor, pull a comforter over me to keep warm and then caress your back or drift off to sleep with my hand laying across your body.

I could see during those final months that you were really struggling to hold on. Mom had spoken of having you put down a number of times. I would book another plane reservation, fly back out to Idaho and start working on again you as soon as I returned. I’m so grateful that I took that additional time to be with you. Those times I shared with you are absolutely priceless. 

My heart ached seeing your legs starting to go out from under you during the later months. You were still walking okay, but your back legs would start to collapse at times when you were standing or sitting. And even more so when you weren’t feeling well. I started doing some research and found some supplements that appeared to be helping. Although it was sometimes a challenge to get you to take them.

You used to be able to run up and down the stairs. I started helping you go up the stairs later in the evening. As time went on, I took to carrying you up and down the stairs, as I didn’t want to take a risk of you falling and injuring yourself. I would sometimes hold you in my arms as though you were a small child, holding your head to my chest.

You too could sense that something was wrong in the later months. You felt very much afraid at times. You loved life and you really wanted to live. You would go to mom looking for some kind of reassurance that everything was going to be okay. Mom could sense your distress and felt helpless, not knowing of anything she could do to help you feel better.

There were times when you would follow me from one part of the house to another. I would stop to pet and hold you. I have so much work to do and would be working on various projects. And you would be standing there looking at me when I took a break to run to the bathroom. I started taking you up to my room to keep you near me while I was working. And I would be dividing my focus between you and the phone calls, film editing and writing I had to do. Even though you were sleeping at times, I so much liked having you nearby. 

I would be simultaneously rubbing your belly and back when we woke up in the morning. And I could tell from the look on your face that you really enjoyed those thigh massages I was giving you to help keep your back legs stronger.

Your organs and systems seemed to be shutting down in the latter months. I had spoken to mom on a Sunday in April a few days after I left Idaho and she was telling me that you had a very rough day on Saturday. I called again Monday to check in on you. She told me that you had suffered another seizure and that your chest was distended. She also said that you hadn’t drank any water that day or urinated.

Mom took you to the veterinary clinic late in the afternoon on Monday April 15th of 2019. Both of the veterinary physicians working in the clinic felt at that point said that you would not be able to recover or experience any quality of life. They then decided to put you down.

Some of the people I’ve worked with suffering from cancer were able to quickly tie up loose ends and pass gracefully to the other side. There was an obvious sense that it was time for them to go. Others have gone into remission. A number of the people I’ve worked with over the years that did not expect to live made a huge turn around and ended up living another five, ten or more years.

The human life span is so much longer than that of a dog. You were nearly fourteen when you passed. I had hoped that the work we were doing would have kept you around for much longer. I feel a tremendous sense of grief and loss with your passing. I spent a lot of time working on you but was happy to do so because I wanted to keep you around as long as possible. You weren’t around as long as I wanted you to be and yet I feel the work we did extended your life by at least a year and possibly eighteen months or longer.

I could tell that you were experiencing a much better quality of life while you were here. You showed signs of age and yet you were also in some ways very youthful. You had difficult days when you weren’t feeling well, but you also had good days where you seemed very much alive. And you were still running, jumping and playing right up to the end.

Maybe it was your time to go. But it saddens me so much knowing that you’re not going to be there when I come down from the mountain in the spring and fall. I know you were suffering towards the end and I hope you’re more comfortable now.

The neighbors are also missing you and have been emailing, calling and stopping by. Mom received two bosquets of flowers. Your schnauzer friend Daisy that you played with was also very upset on the night of your passing and wouldn’t let her mom and dad sleep. Somehow, she knew.

I never imagined that I could experience such a strong emotional bond and be so connected to a dog. I think of you often, wondering where you are and what you’re doing. I miss the walks with you, holding you and the feeling of your warm furry body. I miss looking into your beautiful dark round eyes. I miss feeling your comforting presence. I miss that adorable growl too. I never wanted to be separated from you.

I don’t know what’s on the other side. If there is an afterlife, I hope you’ll be there waiting for me at some point when I cross over.

© Copyright 2019 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved.

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