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Murphy the Wonder Pup


            She was cute, with brown hair and brown eyes, and she was fun to be with.  She was playful, and shared my passion for food.  She was absolutely beautiful that day, when I first met her.

            I named her Murphy.


            Murphy is my dog.  She’s a purebred Neopolitan Street Mutt.  I say “purebred” because it should be a true breed.  There are hundreds of them on the streets of Naples, Italy, and they all look alike: either brown or black, with white chins and white hind toes, floppy ears and long tails.  Murphy, at least, has proven friendly and convivial.

            And stupid.

            Most people will tell you they have a stupid dog.  When I say it, it’s the truth.

            She either never learned or learned and then unlearned every trick in the book.  She knows what “sit” means, and she occasionally comes when called.  But that’s about it.

            She won’t fetch, won’t roll over, and won’t shake paws (she used to shake paws, but that was inexplicably forgotten).  But that, you might say, could be the fault of the trainer.  I’ll admit, nobody tried very hard to teach her such things.

            But then, there’s her masochistic nature.  She has arthritis in her hips.  She limps because of it.  Even so, she chases squirrels around the yard—squirrels that don’t exist.  She tries to climb trees to get at rodents that aren’t there.  Then, she comes in whimpering and dragging her rear end.

            She also has her “my leg itches, so I’ll eat it” mode.  She gnaws on her leg— literally puts it between her jaws and chews—then looks at me and whines as if asking, “Why does it hurt?”

            For all her thickheadedness, though, she can make good conversation, or at least listen to it.  I talk to her about everything; she always looks at me in an understanding way, then turns over and goes to sleep.  For some reason, I find that comforting…like maybe if she can sleep with all my problems, they must not be so bad after all.  I also appreciate the fact that she gets up from wherever she happened to be sleeping (or eating; those are her two favorite-ah, only- pastimes) when I walk in the front door. 

            Now, Murphy is 13 years old, getting grey, and turning senile.  She sleeps more than she used to, and seems to be both blind and deaf.  But she still listens to my troubles, still pays attention to my woes.  And she still greets me when I get home, even if she doesn’t want to shake paws.

            Stupid dog.


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Copyright ©1999 Adam Rutledge