Murphy had a knack for getting out and about – not to “run away,” but just to explore and visit. (We swear he knew how to open the gate.) He might have shown up and joined you while you were having coffee on your porch – or accompanied you on a walk. Maybe you invited him in for a while. He could hear students playing outside at the middle school (five blocks away) and, on several occasions, went down to play with them. Eventually, we would get a call from a teacher that went something like this, “Hi! I just wanted to tell you that PE is over and as much as the kids would love to take him to class, Murphy should go home now.”
Several youngsters – who found him while he was out wandering – implored their parents, “Can’t we keep him?” – but his name, address and phone number were on his collar and gracious friends, neighbors, teachers, strangers, the plumber and yes, even the Decorah police made sure he got back home. (We should have included ‘reward money’ in our weekly budget.)
Murphy was an excellent birddog – a natural hunter who seemed to be able to sense when pheasant season was approaching. He was also a clown and often attracted a crowd on Broadway when he did his jumping/twisting snow dog routine. He loved to “sing” (howl) whenever someone (regardless of talent) played the piano. More than one person remarked, “He must be the happiest dog in town!”
Over the years, many people asked what breed he was. He was a Red and White Irish Setter, and his markings are typical of what Irish Setters looked like centuries ago – before breeders began breeding exclusively for the red/liver color. Sometime in the mid-20th century, breeders in Ireland and the U.S. began breeding in reverse in order to recover the original coloring. (Red and White Irish Setters are now a separate breed.)
Murphy is survived by us – Dale and Susan Goodman – and our two adult sons Corey and Peder, and by all the friends and neighbors (and strangers) who got to know and love him. We are blessed to have shared nearly 14 years of this life with such a wonderful friend and companion.
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