C2 and I have been married for 15 years and for 11 of those years, we have been blessed to share our life with a dog. Not just any dog, but a very special yellow Labrador who has contributed to the quality of our lives with her unconditional love, unfettered acceptance, and pure joy in ways that I cannot even begin to articulate. Murphy is a constant. She is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives; a continual background presence that we would be lost without.
Today she turned 11, getting up there in dog years, and as every day with her at this point is a gift, we celebrated with a cake that she could eat (vanilla almond with a cherry sauce center), sang her happy birthday and smothered her with hugs and kisses. Ya ya, I can hear the groans and the "oh puhlease's" being uttered. Whatever! You have missed something very special in life if you have missed sharing your love with a dog.
Murphy was born in Kingston, Ontario and we had her flown to us in Calgary when she was 8 weeks old; we were smitten and imprinted on each other instantly. From then on, she was our constant companion, accompanying us everywhere, and slept pressed against one of us every night; a comforting presence.
In her youth, she mountain-biked with us enthusiastically, though I could have fallen off a cliff in her haste to stay close to C2's wheel. We eventually had to stop biking with her when her knees began to wear and tear. To this day, she is a fantastic hiker and rambler, rarely tiring, and approaching every climb with the enthusiasm and vigour of a puppy; her heart full as long as she can keep an eye on all of us.
She vacations with us, provided we don't have to take an airplane, and has travelled happily from Geneva to Genoa, Lago Maggiore to Levanto, Lugano to Locarno, Burgundy to Provence, and throughout the Haute-Savoie. She loves ski holidays and chasing J up and down the tobogganing hill adjacent to our chalet. When we do fly, she is back in the loving care of her godparents, Marc and Nathalie who cared for her with such love when we business-travelled for years in Calgary.
Perhaps nothing has endeared her more to us than the relationship between her and J. He adores her and as an only child has depended on her for companionship, comfort, and security for all of his 6 years. The summer J was a newborn, the three of us walked to Annie's restaurant in Fish Creek Park religiously everyday. We would share a blueberry muffin and listen to the prairie dogs squeak at her. I have wonderful memories of that first summer.
She has taken ear-pulling, tail-pulling, toddler squeezing, teasing, and chasing with good humour and great patience. She has helped to teach J empathy and a love of animals. He is the first one to throw his arms around her during thunderstorms, and to throw a tennis ball for her outside.
I wouldn't trade all of the vacuuming, inevitable blond hair on my black clothes, muddy paw prints on my white floor, sock stealing, or poop-picking-up for a dog-free household for anything in the world. She has made our lives richer and our hearts bigger.