Life With a Springer Spaniel – Study Supervisor

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about my springer spaniel Murphy. Well, seeing as it is International Dog Day today, I think I will talk about the work that Murphy has done as my study supervisor!

Snuggle time in bed.

These last few weeks – last few months rather – have been a struggle. A great majority of my time was spent writing my final dissertation for my Master’s degree in Griffith College. I thought I knew what I was in for. By God, was I wrong. I did not anticipate the long evenings, the lack of sleep, the stress in making sure that every topic was covered, every word was spelt correctly, all the added extras were added. I’d go to bed at about midnight, get up at about six, trying to balance work and my final big project for graduating Griffith College with a Master’s. Put it simply, I was very stressed.

I was close to cracking, but thankfully, I didn’t. And that is down to Murphy.

My Support Buddy

In the last few weeks, before I was due to submit my dissertation, I returned to Monaghan. My parents were away to Lanzarote for the first time since the pandemic and I was minding Murphy. My sister works at Supervalu and her times vary so she couldn’t be around all the time. So I had to balance work, my dissertation and taking care of Murphy.

It was as if Murphy knew that I was stressed. He knew when I needed him. Sometimes, if I was working on my laptop, he’d just climb up beside me, put his head on my lap and settle for a snooze. Just his presence, eased my mind a little bit. His presence gave me a little bit of comfort.

In the early mornings, before I had to start work, Murphy and I would go out for long walks around Monaghan town. As soon as I said ‘Shall we go for a walk?’, he’d be down the stairs and at the back door, ready to be leashed up and go out.

I will say that the early morning walks with Murphy really helped my head. To be out in the crisp, clear air, at a time of the day, when the town was still quiet and only beginning to wake up was really good. It was a time when I could hear my thoughts more clearly and just relax even if it was just for a little while. Murphy was very good at distracting me, by pulling me down the paths and sniffing everything around him. He knew that my mind needed to be taken off the dissertation in the morning time at least!

Soaking up the early morning sunshine

But I will admit, there were times when I got so stressed that even poor Murphy got on my nerves. There was one incident, where I was working on the blasted dissertation in my bedroom. Murphy was sitting on my bed, as normal. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Murphy started barking loudly. I jumped at the unexpected noise and I just lost it. I had gotten into a good trail of thought and Murphy had inadvertently interrupted. He barked louder and I screamed at him. I yelled him ‘Shut up! Shut up! Just shut up Murphy!’

As my screaming subsided, I looked at Murphy in horror at what I’d done and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I had shouted at Murphy for something that was in a dog’s nature to do. I didn’t mean to yell at him. I was so stressed at having to finish this assignment, anything could have set me off.

It took a really long time for me to stop crying. I just howled and howled. My sister Shona, comforted me and said that Murphy knew that I didn’t mean it. As she said, Murphy came up and rubbed his head against my legs. This actually made me cry even harder. I just felt so bad. This is how much the stress had gotten to me.

Always keeping an eye on me.

Like I said, it took a while for the tears to dry. When I finally calmed down, I cuddled Murphy for a long time and told him I was sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. He allowed me to pamper him and hug him. I think that was his way of saying that he forgave me.

A couple of days later, I had finished and submitted my dissertation at long, long, long, last. I was so relieved to finally be finished. Once I knew that it had been submitted and sent off, I said the magic words to Murphy: ‘Shall we go for a walk?’ Within a few minutes, we were off!

I have to say that I’m so glad that I went back to Monaghan for the last couple of weeks that I needed to get my dissertation finished. Being with Murphy certainly helped me keep my sanity, most of the time anyway! If I didn’t have Murphy, I actually don’t think I’d be able to have finished my assignment on time. He is the best study support ever. I love him so much.

One of the many little signs of support from Murphy.

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Settling In and Chewing Up

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel

Now that we finally had our beautiful puppy, it was time to learn how to adapt to having a dog in the house permanently.

Murphy on his first night in the house, aged 9 weeks. Credit: Carmel Gallagher

It wasn’t like we never had any experience with dogs – neighbours all around us had them. I was friends with a very friendly Welsh Corgi named Charlie. I called him my ‘Orange Friend’ because his red fur matched the color of my hair! He would come into our back garden and the two of us would play fetch all the time, and on occasion, he would come into the house and get some food. I was devastated when I learned that he had passed away from cancer a few years later.

I was thrilled when we got Murphy. Back when I first met him, he was so small, I could easily pick him up in both hands. As he was only a few weeks old at the time, we had to lay newspapers all over the floor until he was trained to go to the toilet outside! That was a long and slow process; we always had to keep an eye on wherever Murphy wandered off, just in case he decided to do his business in a corner! Sometimes we weren’t quick enough and we had to get out the plastic bags and the mop to clean up his mess. At least he made it up to us with some cuddles!

Murphy resting on the kitchen table! (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Furniture became another story. In the first few weeks, Murphy was obsessed with gnawing on the legs of the table. He was teething and liked the feeling of hard things, so we understood why he was doing it. As the weeks progressed, he moved from chewing on furniture to climbing on it!

I’ll never forget the day when my little sister came home after sitting her first Junior Cert exam. Being nice, I made her toasted sandwich. We went upstairs for a minute, and when we came back down, Murphy was up on the kitchen table, eating the sandwich! That was the day that we discovered that he had mastered the art of climbing onto chairs and tables! We always have to keep the chairs firmly close to the tables after that!

Of course, when Murphy mastered the art of climbing the stairs, that was when things became a real challenge! Our parents were always on at me and my sister to keep our bedroom doors closed, otherwise Murphy would go in and grab something and (more than likely) rip it to shreads. There were many times that we would forget and Murphy would find a way into our rooms and find something.

Ususally this wasn’t too bad, he would normally just find old socks or a slipper that lost its partner ages ago and we would just let him tear them up. They were of no use to us anymore!

But then one day, he found an old red teddy bear, that I’d won at a funfair years back. In all honesty, I’d forgotten about it until Murphy came trotting downstairs, bear in his mouth. Mum said to me that he just refused to unhand it so in the end, she let him have it. I didn’t mind too much, if Murphy liked it, he could have it.

Now, we expected him to rip it to shreds right away, but surprisingly he was slow. He would spend a few nights with it, sniffing it and having it by his side when he settled down to go to sleep on the chair. That’s another thing about Murphy, he never liked his dog’s basket. He only settled on the couch or on a chair. Maybe it was because that he was able to smell us humans off of it, I’m not sure.

In the end though, I came downstairs one day, to find stuffing all over the floor and the red teddy bear reduced to a lifeless rag. That was the end of cuddly toys for Murphy for a long time! His feeling for stuffed toys would change (slightly) when he got older but that’s another story!

Murphy settling down to sleep with the red teddy that would end up destroyed some time later. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)