Born on September 11, 2008, Murphy came into our lives eight weeks later, a small bundle of golden fur. It was just a few weeks before my son Liam was turning two and winter would soon be upon us. I couldn’t think of a worse time to bring a puppy into our household but my husband was certain every boy needs a dog. He surprised us on a crisp fall day by dropping by a farm to take a look at a new litter of Golden Retrievers and my heart was won over.
If you have ever had a puppy in your life, you know the early days are never easy and I think that’s why puppies are so cute. You have to look past their bad behavior and into those chocolate brown puppy eyes that shine out only love. Succumb to their wet kisses and love bites. There are the training mishaps and the middle of the night wakings, the baby gates and chewed furniture. With a toddler and a puppy, I was pretty sure I was no longer in charge of the house or my life.
Six months later, everyone told me he’d calm down once he’d been neutered but that wasn’t the case. I enrolled him in training and brought him to play groups. Sent him to puppy daycare for socialization. Walked him until he was bone tired. It was also about the six month mark that I left a job that was causing me stress and anxiety and Murphy was my balm. He was thrilled to have me home and because it was almost summer, it meant more walks and playtime and treats.
We had many adventures over the summer visiting nearby parks and bike paths. Making new dog friends everywhere because Murphy has never met one he doesn’t want to know better. Our walks were more like jagged little rambles from one dog to the next as we greeted all who passed us by. And they loved Murphy too. He is our people greeter, a host of hosts that would never let a person pass our door without a gregarious, excited welcome, greeting everyone as if they were the most important person in the world.
Time has slipped past us as if in a time-lapse dream and last night I Googled the life expectancy of a Golden Retriever because there is no denying he has slowed down significantly since the beginning of the summer and the indoor potty accidents have increased in the past few weeks. I was startled to read their life span is typically 10 to 12 years and here we are right there. Almost 11 years. Last night he couldn’t get up to go out, his hips have nearly quit on him, and even with our help he was unable to get on his feet. I sunk down to the floor and cried into his golden fur because he is still just my puppy, my friend. I’m not ready for this.