He was different from the beginning. In a litter of black puppies, he was the only cream one.
Mom swears up and down that she didn’t pick him out because he looked different than the others. I have my doubts. With black eyes on light fur, he looked like a baby seal. Who could resist?
He sure was cute, though.
His favorite toys were stuffed animals. Especially Beanie Baby ducks. He collected them. He loved them. He was of the belief that every stuffed duck on the planet belonged to him.
He would parade around the house with one in his mouth, and only put them down on something soft, like cushions or pillows or blankets or on piles of laundry. Especially piles of laundry.
If you moved one of his ducks, he would get so upset that he would start tearing up the house looking for it, all the while making a whining sound so high-pitched that Dad couldn’t even hear it. When he eventually found it, he would track down the person that moved it and bark at them. Like, “I know what you did.”
He was a standard poodle, so in dog terms he was supposed to be a genius; he only ever learned maybe four tricks: sit, down, shake, and speak. But “speak” barely counts: most of the time he would just flap his gums at you, snapping like a crocodile but making no sound.
He could hardly be called affectionate. He would follow you from room to room, but he would always be outside of arm’s reach.
He spent most of his time with his head on an armrest. This was his alone time. If you snuggled up next to him, he would growl, murmuring his disapproval. He never bit or anything, he would have just preferred that you sit on the other side of the couch, thanks.
We joked that he was a symbol for abusive relationships. While our younger dog couldn’t get enough of us to the point of aggravation, Murphy spent so much time ignoring us that if he gave us even the slightest bit of attention, we were grateful.
He died in his sleep last night. All signs are that he went peacefully. It came out of nowhere, as a few months ago his vet described him as “surprisingly healthy.”
He was part of the family. Like all family members, he was strange, wonderful, perplexing, frustrating, and beloved. He was proof that we are capable of loving even the strangest creatures. Even if you can never quite say why.
He was better than a good dog: he was an interesting dog.
And he will be missed.
This Thanksgiving, I never said that I was thankful for anything. Right now I’m thankful for Facebook, where I found most of these pictures.