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How the Little Dog I Rescued Saved Me

I learned more about love and devotion from my battered little dog than anyone or anything else in my whole life.

Last week, I brought you , a dog who was going to be put to sleep because of aggression. Luckily for Murphy, a gentleman was there, and he saw something in Murphy's eyes. 

Years later, the gentleman needed Murphy as much as Murphy needed him the years before. The gentleman was nice enough to share the story of how he acquired Murphy, and how Murphy stood by his side during his time of need.

This is their story.

One fateful Christmas holiday weekend day, I was assisting with a tragic bird rescue at the . They busted a bird breeder and seized over a hundred parrots that had been starved, abused and stuffed into small cages with no perches, food or water. We spent hours cleaning, rehabilitating, feeding and caging these poor things and needed a break from all the stress.

It seemed like a good idea to take a quick tour of the rest of the facility and visit the other animals at the SPCA, and somehow we wandered into the dog area where dogs were parked in their cages. I never intended to get one. After all, I already had 26 rescued parrots at home to care for, and the thought of a dog barking or chasing them was unthinkable.

But there was this little brown and black mutt, cowering in his kennel, clearly terrified by the chaos of the dogs and the confinement of the little box which held him. A little paper tag listed his name as Murphy. I was told he is a mixed breed terrier with a touch of Schnauzer.

Something was really wrong with him, and when I ask one of the handlers, they said, "He’s a problem dog we had to take, and he’s aggressive, so don’t bother. We have him scheduled for euthanasia Tuesday when the vet gets back."

"Why is he so aggressive?" I asked.

"He’s one of the surviving dogs from the dog fighting ring we just busted," the handler said.

"Can you please find me a leash?" I asked. "I want to take him for a walk outside."

“OK," he answered, "but he may bite, and keep him away from the other dogs.”

"I know nothing about dogs, but somehow I’m willing to take my chances with him," I said.

How I Saved Murphy

The next thing I knew, I was sitting under a tree out on the SPCA grounds with this nervous little dog. I petted him and spoke quietly, and then we took a little walk.

"Wow, he sure is well mannered for a junkyard dog," I thought. "I wonder how he would handle things at home?"

The SPCA was kind enough to allow me to take him home that day with the understanding that I would bring him back Tuesday if I had any problems.

Murphy was already housebroken, understood simple commands, and only barked when provoked by the sight of vehicles or strangers near the house. Was he someone’s pet before he landed in the dog ring? We can only wonder, but shortly after adopting him we took him to the groomer to get cleaned up, and they trimmed his fur extra short so we could get a look at him and get a fresh start with a new coat. I was horrified at what I saw; numerous scars across his neck and shoulders, and visible teeth marks in the back of his head which exactly match the patter of a dog’s bite. Oh my god, I only wish Murphy and I could get our hands on the Michael Vick who did this to him.

Murphy turned out to be a wonderful house dog, and he quickly learned that the parrots were not to be disturbed. Even with the door open, he wouldn’t even walk out onto the patio where they lived, and when Jackie (my Congo African Grey) climbed down from her household perch to wander across the floor out to the kitchen, they both politely kept their distance. That was six years ago, and Murphy returned the favor by rescuing me three years ago.

How Murphy Saved Me

One spring morning, I visited my doctor to go over the results of some recent tests. The diagnosis was a serious form of cancer, which required all the usual hospitalizations, surgeries and treatments. Soon I found myself hooked up to a bunch of wires and tubes, wondering how and when life might end. 

Murphy was at my side and never left me alone. He lay next to or in my bed, brought me a toy to play with him or just sat quietly. I rubbed his tummy, and he curled up with me. For months, he stayed with me as my constant companion and often refused a walk or even food unless I went with him.

I learned more about love and devotion from my battered little dog than anyone or anything else in my whole life. Here was someone who loved me even more then he loved himself, and this gave me strength and hope when I really needed it more than all the medications I took.

So, who was saving who?

Months later, I recovered from my cancer treatments, and Murphy is still learning to manage dogs and strangers. Now he can walk by most dogs or people with no reaction, he can greet most people in a well mannered way, and he even has a best friend. Tiki is a dog rescued by my mother with the help of and now Murphy’s best friend. They spend a lot of time together, play and take long walks. Murphy is now about 10 years old and living a good life with his Daddy.

The feeling is mutual.

Please, I beg you, do not judge a dog by one action. Understand that a dog's breed or one action does not mean the dog is aggressive. Please give every animal a chance to show you love.

Would you like to give a dog a second chance? Visit Dunedin Doggie Rescue

Chris Sansbury April 02, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Wonderful story, Shelly. Thank you for bringing it to us.
Cecilia April 02, 2012 at 12:29 PM
WOW! How wonderful. Great story. I love a happy ending and I love the Dunedin Patch too. It is always hard to figure out who saved who, isn't it?
Aiyana Baida April 02, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I rescued my cats and I can't imagine life without them. It's a valid question where, in my opinion, both pet and owner win :)
Shelly Maslak April 13, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I know that my dogs rescue me on so many days!

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