Saturday, April 23, 2011

Murphy Writes His First Blog

It began with the camping trip that Papi and I took a few weeks ago. I decided to impersonate a “good” dog just enough that Papi let his guard down. I no longer had to be tied up or held with the white knuckled grip Papi has used all my life.

Freedom at last…

I really wondered like Papi did “what could I do with this new freedom”? However, I think we were looking at it in two different ways. Papi was thinking Murph has cancer, a low energy level, has blood, snot coming from his nose and/or eye… where is he going to go and how fast can he move that I can’t catch him? I on the other hand have been thinking when am I going to bust my move?

Last night, while camping with the “family” I was dozing off by that little puppy Dash when out of the corner of my eye I saw the most regal dog walk by. Her long auburn hair was flowing in the wind as she tossed her head from side to side. I caught a whiff of her scent as she walked by again. I even heard Papi comment on her beauty. Mommy G said something about an Irish Setter. I began thinking French meets Irish… love at long last.

I waited and waited. Finally, Papi began showing Mommy G how to cook outdoors (like she’s gonna do that since she doesn’t even cook indoors). Mommy is listening to him like she may actually try this some time. I continue to wait… once Papi puts the fish on the grill and is focused on cooking I slowly begin to rise. Once up I notice no one is watching so I tip toe out of our camp site unnoticed. Once I hit the road I pick up the scent of that beautiful creature and off I go. I am busting my move!

I made it all the way to her campsite before her owners heard Papi and Mommy G calling my name. They remembered walking past us (I hope that beautiful creature remembered too). I was busted! Papi made me get in the truck with Mommy and he walked back to camp. Mommy told me I was bad, but she understood that I just had to see that beautiful creature again.

Papi called me all kinds of not so nice names and tied me to the pole with Dash. I wonder how long it will be before I fool Papi again?

Murphy (not Mostly Murphy, but All Murphy and then Some)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Murphy Canvases are Ready


And they look amazing...

These are limited edition canvases of three different photographs taken from our walk. Each are printed on canvas, signed and numbered by me with Murphy's pawprint. They come in 8x10 and 11x14 sizes and originally I was going to ship them out as just the canvas until I saw them framed. Absolutely stunning so I decided to have each of them framed as well. The frame nearby is a rustic walnut wood that matches the fencing in the background.

The three photos are:

McKewn TN (pictured above). This photo was taken while resting at a farm lined with Bradford Pear trees in November 2008

Tent (pictured above): Perfectly captures the three knuckleheads waking up after a night sleeping on the banks of the Youghiogheny River

Fuzzybutts (pictured above): In step and in stride this photograph epitomizes our cross country walk for cancer as we headed to the C&O towpath outside Hancock MD

The pricing for 8x10 is $100 and $125 for the 11x14 that includes shipping.

If you ordered yours awhile ago - thank you so much for being patient. They'll be arriving soon.

To purchase a limited edition canvas, click Here

If you have any questions, contact

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coeur de Lion

Prince Geoffrey: My, you chivalric fool... as if the way one fell down mattered.

Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.

From The Lion in Winter

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quality of Life

I'm not entirely certain why I'm posting a sequal to my blog 'Mostly Murphy'. Maybe it's such a visceral issue and one of severe importance that just deserves it.

I doubt I'll shed new light on it for you but some of the responses I've received have caused me to further contemplate.

So I went to the park to ask questions and seek answers I had shelved five years ago when I was first confronted with the issue of euthanization with my dog, Malcolm.

There are people much smarter than me who have tried to quantify quality of life - the Tripawds folks posted a link to an article in the comments section of the previous post that's probably worth looking into though I haven't read it yet.

The two times I came close to euthanizing him this past week were based on 'criteria' like significant debilitation in hind legs, reduction of appetite, and neuralgia from nerve damage. Taken together, it's no stretch I was ready to let him go.

But I didn't because on one of our daily outings - last Thursday - he led me into the woods at Overton Park on his own. And then Sunday he surprised me again.

You see, in a big way I was looking at his symptoms to dictate my decisions. We know even the most advanced diagnostics or keen clinical evaluations cannot communicate the will and desire to live.

Yes I pray for guidance daily and I listen to Murphy as best I think I can but even the generally accepted 'He'll tell you when he's ready' just isn't enough for a father like me.

Honestly can you really tell the distinction between when your dog has tummy upset and malaise from mismedication and infection versus cachexia from cancer? And before you answer that - would you bet their life on it? When you're dealing with cancer there is a complexity and cascade of symptoms that makes a definitive assessment next to impossible.

Throw in the maelstrom of emotions all of us go through and that further complicates decisions. So when I was able to finally reduce the question of quality of life down to two simple words, 'Mostly Murphy', trust me I wasn't trying to be cutesy or soundbitey.

So long as most of the personality traits I've come to know and love as his dad continue to shine through, I cannot take his life. That supposes of course he's able to eat, is ambulatory, and has normal body functions but that assumption can be made for most of the pet parents I know.

What I have reevaluated through all of this though is the conversation we're having which should be about euthanizing too early NOT about suffering. Pain doesn't go with you when you pass so holding on a couple of more days just to be sure is not unusually or unnecessarily cruel.

I'm grateful I didn't let Murphy go yet because he still has so much love in him and quite a lot of pep in his step. In fact, I am taking him to Kentucky this weekend to see some dear friends of ours and I think a road trip can do us some good.

To misquote the late great Davy Crockett, former Senator from Tennessee, "Cancer may go to hell... We're going to Bowling Green".

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mostly Murphy

This will be my most difficult & perhaps controversial blog but it's a topic that needs to be discussed, debated, cried over, cursed about and maybe even one that we all need an ass-kicking for.

Murphy should be dead by now.

I've come close to euthanizing him twice. But each time he's rebounded and I thought better of it.

True, he's dying. No doubt about that. The tumor has overtaken his left eye and he's tired from the 10 month battle.

But how do we establish a criteria for quality of life?

I've finally realized that it's - is Murphy mostly Murphy?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1 Stone

It's not likely Murphy will survive the week

'His candle hath burned at both ends.
It may not last night.
But oh our foes and ah our friends.
It hath cast a lovely light.'

variation of one of my favorite poems by edna st vincent millay