Murphy Thinks She Owns The Block
by Shawn Allen
With all ten pounds of her straining at the end of the leash, Murphy is convinced she’s pulling me down the sidewalk. Puffing and sneezing her excitement, she bounds along as if she were a puppy. You’d never know she just turned twenty years old at the end of last month.
She has her sniffing spots: the tree on the devil-strip, the telephone poles and the wall on the corner. Sometimes she comes across a new scent and stops, nose in the grass, joyously sniffing a bit of poo, a bread crust, or piece of trash. Otherwise she bounds along without a care.
That is, unless a stray human invades her space. You see, Murphy thinks she owns the entire route she travels. Any human but me is some sort of existential threat.
Understand, she is a Tibetan Spaniel and the litter runt — maybe eight inches tall and a bit over fifteen inches long. They were bred to be alarm dogs, barking at anything that moves. At the Buddhist temples they are used to alert the Tibetan Mastiffs; much larger dogs and the real threat.
Murphy, however, did not get that memo. She is the bravest little dog God put on this earth: I’ve watched her back down dogs many times her size. The truth is, she might be a danger to ankles everywhere if she had many teeth, which she no longer does.
None of this stops her from barking furiously at anyone that dares to cross her path. No one really takes her high-pitched, cartoonish barking seriously; it’s just too funny. Regardless, I pull her lead in close, because she has no clue how silly she looks and would snap her gums shut on any offered finger if I let her. Once the offending human moves on, she goes back to her explorations, satisfied in her superiority.
It only takes ten minutes of this — five out, five back — before I pick her up and carry her inside. I have to do this because she can’t go down the steps without tumbling down most of them. (My building is old and the stairs are steep.) Once inside she gets a drink and heads for the bedroom. Using the stack of boxes I have at the end of my low-profile bed, she jumps up and is quickly asleep, dreaming of how gangsta she is, and shit…
Shawn D. Allen.