I know the grief process is different for each person, but I'm pretty sure I'm lucking out this time. The burial, the support, and the memories have all kept me so positive through this traumatic and emotional experience.
Here's a bit of background before I continue: Murphy loved to dress up. I'm not one of those dog-owners that just says that, either. Maya HATES it.. Moses only likes it because you are giving him attention when you are dressing him. Murphy... he LOVED to be dressed up. And because of this, I loved to match him; it was something we kind of shared, I guess... or a way to bond more. I don't really know. We dressed up as jailbirds one year for Halloween, and lady bugs the next. And I borrowed a friend's banana costume to match his corgi-required getup. This last Halloween I was a guinea pig with the same coloring as he had, and he wore his business tie, and in costume I put on one of my boyfriend's ties. It was just something we shared. We moved to Camano Island, WA in December, and going from a residential house with a small-but-decent sized backyard... to almost 5 acres of half woods / half meadow / all fenced, he changed. He went from being a lazy pig [loved his snacks, and a smidge overweight due to this and his love for naps] to a PIG ON THE LOOSE! He actually RAN. Even just in the house... he ran and ran. Lost almost 2 pounds in the first couple months of living here. He was nowhere near Maya's speed, but he chased her and cut her off and actually explored on his own [normally he would be right next to my feet, plopping his butt down at every opportunity]. He loved the snow [and the island gets a LOT of it when it does snow], and he got to experience a heavy and unexpected one the day before his birthday. Anywho, we called him our "Island Dog" because his personality just CAME FULL FORCE the moment we arrived here. Not that he didn't have personality before, mind you... it was just a MILLION times the normal volume.
My boyfriend came home during his work day to comfort me and help take charge of the situation on Tuesday when I found Murphy. We said our goodbyes to him in private in the bedroom [so the other dogs wouldn't be all over the place], he wrapped him up in a blanket, and put him in a box in the garage until we figured out exactly what we were going to do. I was a wreck and couldn't make any decisions if I wanted to, other than the fact I wanted to keep his collar, have him buried with one of my favorite blankets, and have the site be in the back corner of our property, where the trees are filled out and beautiful. He went "back to work" -- aka out planning everything for the burial as a surprise. He came home and while I was inside with his sister, who drove almost an hour to comfort me, dug the hole with our backhoe, spent a little time outside, and then asked me if I had a 5x7 picture of Murphy. I printed one off and he went back outside. After a bit he told me it was time. We went out to the garage and he had purchased a blue waterproof tub for Murphy to be buried in. On the top he wrote:
Murphy "Piggo" Thompson
March 7, 2008 - April 3, 2012
Loyal snuggler and best friend. He was our Wiggo.
<3 We will miss you <3
I lost it when I saw that. After I calmed down he asked if I wanted to say goodbye one last time before we brought him out. He said he had a surprise if I did. Of course I did... I had to at least give him one more kiss. He opened up the top and inside was Murphy, wrapped in the special blanket, with a pillow, and wearing a Camano Island small kids sized sweatshirt. He said it was so that he and I could always match, and so he would always be comfortable and warm. I lost it again. It was so amazing that he thought of that; I don't know if it's weird to anyone else, but later on that night we went to the store and I got a matching one, so whenever I feel like being close to him, I just put it on [and it really does feel like he's right next to my chest, as he usually was]. We then took each end and walked over to where he was to be buried. I was concentrating on walking carefully, and I didn't see it until we got there. My boyfriend got two oil burning torches [almost "tiki" like], lit them, and in between had a tall holder with a picture frame in it, with the picture I had chosen and printed off. It was SO BEAUTIFUL. I can't describe to you guys how wonderful it was. We said a few things to Murphy... a few memories, how much we loved him and will miss him, and how much he meant to us. Then we lowered him in, I put in the first few clumps of dirt, and after a bit of crying and holding each other, we went inside [he would finish filling the hole later]. I don't think it could have been a more amazing experience, considering what was going on.
That night I had to do the first dinner with only two dishes, and we slept in the living room because it was the first night, and it would have been TOO DIFFERENT waking up as usual in the bedroom without him for the first morning. But we got a lot of firsts done... the dinner, the night, the morning, the breakfast, the 2am potty call [when I normally get up for work.. but am not going back until next Tuesday], the first walk to check the mail... and the first visit to the grave site with the babies. They sniffed around [mostly because there was dirt where there used to be grass] and I said a few more words to Murphy. A friend came over and we went and saw a movie. Distractions are what's getting me through it the most. I know it takes time, and you never get OVER it, you get THROUGH it... but if I sit and think for too long, the emotions just get to be too much at once. Talking does help too... but only in small increments for now. We spent the next night in the bedroom, to get another first out of the way. It was rough too, because Murphy was the one to wake up my boyfriend right before his alarm went off [his internal clock was to the "T"] with his nose in his face grunting "wake up and feeeeeed me!" grunts. That didn't happen, and he was pretty upset. Gotta get the firsts done though.
We planned out what to do with the site when we can: we are going to build a gazebo over where he is buried. It will be floor-less and have rocks over where he is at, with two benches [one on either side] to go and sit and visit or read. Being a gazebo, it will have a roof, but on the inside under the roof will be shelving for shadow boxes I am going to make [so far I only have a few ideas.. one being his banana costume and his tie with photos of all of his outfits, and another being his old collars, tags, and leash... I'm keeping his latest collar on my rear view mirror so he can watch over me wherever I go]. Behind the gazebo is the corner of the lot. There is a bit of space between where he is at and where the treeline is, so we will have a flower garden with a big rock [already on our property with a nice flat side] with Murphy's name in metal attached to it. We also decided that when we make a special gated entrance, we are going to call it Murphy Manor.
I spent all day today finding all of my photos of him.. from burnt discs filed away, to multiple cameras and SD cards, to cell phones, and the webcam. I didn't realize how many videos [not long ones, mind you] I had of the dogs and him. It is comforting to know that if I want to see him in action, that I can [I'm not an avid video-taker, so I'm just glad that there were quite a few taken]. And I went pretty camera-crazy with the dogs, especially him, and have SO MANY photos to print / collage / frame / canvas... it was nice to see all the things that he did, and all the smiles that he had.
Knowing how great of a life he had, and how happy he made everyone he came in contact with, makes me not angry. It IS unfair that he is gone and his candle burnt out so quickly, but I have no anger in my heart. I do wish I had known of the dangers that food bags can bring, and I will be spreading the word, but I know he lived a fulfilling life. I know he knew how MUCH I loved him, and I know how happy he was out here, finally becoming an Island Dog.
Thank you for your support and comfort; it really has been keeping me going. I log on almost every half hour to read comments on my blog post and on John's informative post / discussion. I didn't realize how often this happens, and wish that in my passings on this site that I would have seen and read the stories of Teddy and the others. But you better believe that I have a whole fleet of people spreading the word out here. If Teddy and Murphy and the others can save lives just by passing on the information, then their deaths aren't for nothing. Murphy truly was and is an angel; his warm heart and smile got me through EVERYTHING, and always will.