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Golden Moments - Murphy's Story

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I have many  wonderful photos
of our beloved Bradenwood Matilda -
aka Murphy &  Missy Muffin.   She
passed away on September 24th 2002
and broke our hearts completely.
 
She too was a Golden Retriever, the mother
of Lachlan.  
 
Below is my personal favourite photo of Murphy
with her baby boy.  

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Our first Golden Retriever,  Bradenwood Matilda - aka Murphy, Missy Muffin brought us untold happiness in so many ways and taught both Neil and myself a few good lessons in life.    She was THE most gentle loving dog I have  ever had anything to do with, let alone have the joy of owning.    She was actually  Neil's dog - he bought her - chose her from the litter, took her to Dog School and trained her.    But I was her "Mum" and she was with me 24/7 for 8 years - I was only apart from Murphy when I had to go out - even then she often went with me. 

 

Obedience Training

 

She did very  well in the Obedience Show ring and her greatest prize, added to  many local Club firsts, was a First  in the Encouragement Class (a class above 4th grade at Local Club level), at the Victorian Obedience  Dog Club 60th Anniversary  Obedience Open  in 1997.   The ribbon was over 4 inches wide, with fringes and a lovely VODC medallion in the rosette on the end.   I had not been able to attend the Show that day, as I was  ill, and when Neil and Murphy returned with the ribbon and the crystal vase trophy,  that was the only medicine I needed.  Again a missed opportunity with the camera - just to take a photo of Neil's grin which was as wide as the door he came through.   

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Murphy was especially fond of all our cats - she
was very patient with them and protective of them.  
Goldens are known to be especially fond of
the feline species ... 
You have met Plum Blossom in "Pets Memories"
Here she is seeking the warmth of Murphy.  

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Little Oscar - he is either 
looking for  something here 
or just playing 'hidey face'.  
He might even be asleep. I can't recall.
 

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Monty and Timmy making themselves comfortable for the night.
 
Timmy was very fond of  "softening" on Murphy's coat before settling down and going to sleep - that is what he  is doing here.  
 
He now does it on Lachlan's  coat when he gets the chance.   Lachlan is not quite as patient as Murphy was - often moves himself to different sleeping arrangements.    Monty never bothers with all this bed making -  he just settles down and nods off.   

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The Puppies.

 

 

Just after that big show Murphy was mated with a  Champion Golden Retriever  - a big gentle giant.  We were  very careful to choose the right kind of mating for her, to produce strong healthy puppies.  9 weeks later, Murphy whelped 7 gorgeous little Goldens.   My Lachlan, one of them.

 

Neil had spent many many hours putting together a lovely big whelping box.  No dog would be able to resist it's comfort.    No ?  Murphy's "Obedience" went on vacation.   Try as we might we could not get her to get into that box  for more than 3 seconds at any time.   Took no notice when Mum got in and "went to sleep" in it !!!.   She would not adopt it as any form of home or bed.   Murphy had other ideas. 

 

Those ideas came to light on July 27th 1997.   She had refused all food for about 36 hours which was the first sign of imminent birth,  and we realised as she was pacing around the family room and kitchen, that this indeed was where she was going to have her babies.   So we got every

conceivable kind of sheet, tarpaulin, blanket and anything else that would cover things, out and spread them over the carpet and sofa.   The whelping box she continually passed by with great disdain.    She gave birth to two on the sofa, two in the kitchen standing up, and the other

three in various spots in the family room.  It was her first experience and it was OURS too.   But of course, she knew way more than we did about it all.   What a frantic night. 

 

The first pup born in the kitchen was another missed photo opportunity (like I had the time !!!).  Murphy is standing up, Neil is squatting behind her with both hands in the catcher's mitt position, so's the puppy wouldn't fall onto the harder floor.   That worked nicely - he caught the pup and all was well.    After each birth a puppy had to be given to Murphy to lick, and was put immediately onto a nipple.  We had the heater on high  as pups are extremely vulnerable to cold, and this was mid Winter.   It was like a sauna.   All that nervous energy from Neil and I, the constant moving about,  and the heat - boy I think I lost about 15 lbs weight in one night !!!!

 

 

 

A Pup in Trouble

 

Mid way through, a pup was obviously having trouble being delivered. 

I had practiced and practiced my techniques of recognition and revival  in the event of this  very thing happening.    I assisted his birth (I will spare you the details) and he finally arrived, minus the placenta - a dry birth.  A pup in serious trouble - not breathing and an abnormal colour.   To clear any mucus etc., I administered the first step which was to hold him in both hands and swing him downwards in an arc towards my feet, stopping abruptly when his nose pointed directly to the ground.  After about 4 times nothing appeared to be happening, so I took the next step which was to towel him briskly but gently with  a rough towel to emulate his mother's licking.   (All this while Murphy was busy dropping the 5th puppy in the kitchen)

 

Finally, when barely any response was obvious, I administered mouth to mouth resuscitation, blowing gently into his mouth and nostrils, knowing I had very little time left.   But that did it.   He began to  breath and open his mouth, his colour started to become normal (pink), and he moved slightly. 

 

And that, folks, was  Lachlan's start in life

Identifying Puppies

 

How did we know which pup was which ?   As all this was happening we wrote everything down, kept and counted the placenta's including the one's we permitted Murphy to dispose of herself, and thought we were really clever in using non toxic children's pens to put a tiny mark on each new born pup in a different  colour .... which of course was subsequently cleaned right off by Murphy.    But it wasn't hard to  know which pup had come into the world barely alive.   He was by far the smallest of all the pups.

 

Lachlan is now a strapping large Golden weighing in at 35 Kgs (77 lbs).  

 

The pups were weighed on a daily basis, and all weights were recorded.   The identification of the pups at about 3 weeks was by way of a tiny clip of their new growing hair taken from each pup at  different points on their bodies.  So the records read "Pup 1 - above tail" and so on.   Prior to this it was the non toxic pen spot just under the tip of each right ear, which needed to be refreshed every day. "Pup 1- red"  Murphy seemed to leave that alone in her cleaning of the puppies.  However  the clipped hair was by far the easiest way of identification and less work for me. 

 

  

 

Raising those Puppies

 

I had  'spoken' to Murphy in no uncertain terms that she WAS to use the box for herself and her puppies. The box and the new borns were moved into a small room - the larger heater turned way up, and she

of course followed them there.  The room temperature was monitored to remain at around 65 - 70 deg.F  And she did not leave that box again except for nature calls, initially. As they grew larger and started romping about in their box (it had a little door built into it for later use), she  left the box for longer periods of time.   She was a superb mother.   

 

The puppies grew at the rate of knots, and the introduction to solids was hilarious.   We spent a fortune on electricity, and a lot of money on the best of best we could offer in the way of milk when they were being weaned and only the very best of puppy food - mainly my own recipes.  A small  fortune was spent on special foods and 3 meals a day for Murphy and her milk production while she was feeding.  All expense worth every penny.   

 

Puppies have no manners - not a single one.   The introduction to solids was done one by one.  With  tiny saucers of soft food for each pup.   They stood in it, sat in it - walked it around the kitchen - threw it all over the place and had dirty faces and bums.   Then came the time that an introduction to the food was done all at once.   That was kind of a mistake.   They all walked their way through the tucker which was on a large tray -  each ate the other's food - a couple of pups didn't get any - the biggest pup bullied everyone else -  and the mess was unbelievable, but very funny looking back.   We compromised.   We gave them one tray to do with what they wanted (and then I cleaned up the mess) and the other meals were given individually.   One by one.   Out in the kitchen.    Their manners improved - slightly. Their weight increased  in leaps and bounds, so even the tray of food must have worked ok. 

 

New Homes for lucky Pups.

 

All the 6 other puppies had been sold and time came at around 12 weeks,  for puppies to leave.   Their innoculations had been done, registration completed, registered names recorded with the Victorian Canine Assocation, and pages of instructions typed to help the first time owners.    I cried with each departure, but Murphy 'knew' that all was well and didn't mind one bit.   Bitches don't miss their weaned pups.   A good lesson for  Mums who want to hang onto the coat tails of their  kids as they grow to adulthood and 'leave  home'.  

 

After the pups had gone, we had professional cleaners come in, as the puppies had access to one area of the house - and I won't describe exactly what did go on in that area.   I don't think I need to.   But I kept it pristine clean to the best of my ability while they were here.    To their last day here, each pup continued to harrass Murphy for milk, although they had been fully weaned.   So we devised a protective 'coat' for Murphy. (see photo below)

 
 
 
Below  :   Cute photo's of
Murphy, Puppies, and assorted Friends
If you want to see larger versions, please click
on the photo's.

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HUNGRY PUPPIES

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MURPHY'S ARMOUR

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PREFERRED COMPANY

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BEING A RETRIEVER

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TUG OF WAR - M & L

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WHISPERED SECRETS

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TROUBLE

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MMM ... TASTY !

Our Sadness

 

Murphy  was just over 8 years old when we lost her to a rare form of cancer for a dog,  soft tissue sarcoma which was located beneath the thoracic area of the spine and thus very difficult to get at for any reason.     Because the problem was outside our own Vet's area of clinical treatment we were referred to a surgeon - who by reputation was brilliant.   And indeed he  was.  

 

We were understandably in a great deal of shock over the discovery by way of x-ray which was not conclusive at all, and then by  Myelogram, of the cancer.   The cancer sort of 'hung' off the spinal cord in the most difficult area to access.    The surgeon asked if we would like to have a biopsy done - which sounded quite normal to us in our befuddled state, and he explained the procedure, which was complicated.    It involved spreading the ribs, deflating one lung and taking the biopsy and reinflating the lung.    It was Neil's decision and after we talked about it, decided yes.   It was diabolically expensive but that didn't matter.   We just wanted the best for our girl. 

 

Surgery

 

 

The surgery was performed very successfully and I believe that surgeon's reputation would have been increased a hundred fold because of it.   It was the rarest form of surgery for just a biopsy.  Just after the operation, before we picked her up, I remembered something - God alone knows why I didn't remember it sooner.    Maybe I simply wasn't meant to.   That was, that an open biopsy can sometimes exacerbate and increase the rapidity of cancer.   It was too late to have any second thoughts

at that time.   

 

I was particularly annoyed that the surgeon did not tell us of this possibility BEFORE the biopsy operation.    Annoyed ?   That hardly describes it.     He, being a scientist,  I believe saw the opportunity to perform this rare operation, for the betterment of understanding in surgery on dogs - that's the kindest thought I can have, and I will leave it at that. 

 

But I can say this.    That, given (God forbid), any exact same  situation  with Lachlan - NO SURGERY WILL EVER BE PEFORMED LIKE THAT AGAIN. 

 

Murphy was expected to live a lot longer than she did.   It was perportedly a very slow growing cancer - which I checked on in research, and that was so.    It also would not have given rise to pain.    The pain she suffered was the post op pain and discomfort - and I will leave that there too.  We had been warned by our own Vet and the Surgeon that when the time came, she would simply lose the function of her back legs, and thus her bodily functions  - there would be no pain as it would be paralysis - but that we shouldn't worry about that as it would be a fair while coming.      It was just two months.

 

And so she was gently put to sleep in our family room,  by a very upset Vet.     

 

We were grief stricken of course, and I, so much so that I was advised by our wonderful local Vet, to seek grief counselling for loss of pets - which I did.   It helped marginally, but my own tears knew no end -  daily, for long periods of time I wept.   Neil who dealt with his own grief in his own way, was most concerned for me.   I put several memorials for her on the Internet, along with a memorial for Zak and  others of my departed friends.

 

Then I made a Powerpoint show just after the 1st anniversary of her death.   It is called "Baby Murphy and Friends".    I think God must have said "you've had enough" - and led me to make that Powerpoint.

It took me back beyond the latter days of her life - to happy times - to fun and health.   And it served it's purpose.    The grief I had been battling with abated.   It has not altogether gone, but I can talk about it, write about it now, without  breaking down.   

 

 

Grief - a little advice :

 

 

To people who are grieving over the loss of a beloved pet I first say my sincerest condolences.  And secondly I would say - at some time get out those precious photographs, buy a special album - organise them into some order that makes sense to only you - and write small notes under them.   I can guarantee you it will help.  

 

Or write a story about your lost pet.   Sure, you will weep buckets before or even while doing these things, but it is of much help to do and can bring peace.   It did for me.    Only you will know when you have to do it though.   There is no time limit on grief.  

 

 

VALE   MURPHY

 

 

 

 

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