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Downtown Murphy Brown – A Natural

Murphy had her third visit with the Gabriel’s Angels kids last night. So proud of my baby girl.

A teen mom set her 10 month old baby boy in front of Murphy’s face on the floor. Murphy snuffled the little guy and gave him a quick little kiss and the baby started giggling and patting Murphy’s head. Within moments, he was in peals of baby laughter that came right from his very toes as Murph’ inspected where that crazy sound came from. He laughed so hard that he fell over backward into his mother’s hands. A second baby came out for mandatory mastiff toe-kissing, and then a toddler had to get his Murphy-hugs in and do a little brushing on her soft coat.

Great start to an even greater night. A couple of the kids had tough weeks with scary, stressful things happening in their lives and immediately asked for Murphy-time. They snuggled up to my big baby girl on the floor and told her about their fears and trials.

We talked about the core behaviors of affiliation and confidence, giving each child a turn at expressing what their most important affiliations were and what either made them confident or what they were confident about in their lives.

One teen sat apart from the rest, quietly writing in her journal the entire visit with her back to the group. I noted that she was the same one who helped her ailing father after a bathtub fall a few weeks ago.

With 15 minutes left, I let Murphy go where she “felt” on a loose leash. She targeted the quiet one and I followed her, noting tears pouring down the teen’s face. She had been crying so long that she had tracks of salty tears on her cheeks. Murphy got right up in her face and looked her straight in the eyes. The teen set the journal and pen aside, and Murphy began kissing her tears away. The girl slid to the floor with Murphy nuzzling her neck and then, to my surprise, my 180 pound mastiff turned and sat in the girl’s lap! I said, “Oh, no! Do you want me to move her? She must be crushing your legs!” The teen shook her head vehemently, threw her arms around Murphy’s chest and hugged her even tighter, burying her face in the purple vest and pouring out the pain. Finally, Murphy laid down across the girl’s lap, head resting on one knee and the rest of her long body sprawled across the carpet. The other teens stood back and literally admired what was happening. They “got it”. Murphy was taking her pain away, and they watched quietly as something very special took place in front of them. When Murphy stood, I asked, “Did she help?” and the girl responded with an assured nod and a huge smile.

At 8:00 on the nose, Murphy stood up and began her goodbyes to each of the children. Karen, Murphy and I walked out the door leaving a miracle behind.

Pam Gaber would have been proud.

Copyright Mary Watson 2015

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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Muddy Pawz

 

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In the Marble

I went to lunch today with my best friend who suggested that I set aside an hour a day to write.  I have been encouraged by so many in the past year and especially in the past few months to just WRITE!  I’ll try to explain my writing as best I can, and as I explained it to my buddy. “Did someone point to a canvas and tell Van Gogh to paint A Starry Night?”  That was my first response to my best bud.  I followed with this little story. One day I was bumbling around Florence, Italy without a map (which is the very best way to bumble).  I would study about what I saw, of course, but in the moment, I just wanted to absorb every single brick, statue, street, smell the veal cooking, taste the wine and be amazed.  In my wandering, and because a creative mind might see things just a little differently, I noticed a long, very old building with a covered walkway.  The building itself was nothing spectacular.  The roof over the walkway was held up by a series of archways.  In the early afternoon light, these archways threw crescent-shaped shadows across the tile.  That’s what caught my eye.  Not the building, not the arches, but the beautiful design that the light played on the tile.  Had to get a picture…or many…now.  I quick-stepped to the arches and then through them onto the walkway, the shutter of my old Kodak clicking crazily, capturing shadows. As I stood there inhaling light and shadow, I noticed a small, rather inconspicuous sign next to a doorway.  Squint.  I stepped closer.  “Admission – 50 lire”.  Admission to what?  Who knew?  Thinking, “Okay, I’ll bite…”, I stepped inside, gave a thin, expressionless attendant behind a podium my fifty lire.  No pamphlet?  No brochure?  No headphones?  “Dove?” I asked her.  “Where?”  She stood there, stone-faced in her spiffy little red bellman’s jacket and pointed to my left.  (I get impatient when I don’t get anticipated information, and I was on the edge of cranky.)  I took approximately 20 grumpy steps when the room opened up and there before me was Michelangelo’s “David”.  My breath was sucked out of me with pure, unadulterated awe.  I had just bumbled into the famous Academia which houses some of the finest renaissance and pre-renaissance works of art in the world.  I had studied Michelangelo, written papers on his life and works, and I was acutely aware that the magnificent sculpture before me was created when the sculptor was 26 years old.  It has been written that he picked out his marble from the quarries in Carrara personally.  They (the infamous “they”) say that he could see David within the block of Carrara marble and “simply” took away whatever wasn’t the David. As an aside, I would like to note that I brought some Carrara marble home with me from that trip with the intent of sculpting it.  After all, it’s in my genes, right?  I ruined every chisel and sculpting tool I owned and couldn’t even scratch it.  It is very, VERY hard, which explains how it lasts for centuries, but how that 26 year-old genius put a dent in it, I will never understand.  I went to the town of Carrara in northern Italy and watched them cut and shape the slabs of marble for shipping.  They did it with water.  Sigh… I spent a good hour staring at the David.  I eventually remembered to breathe.  Every vein in every arm, finger, leg and throughout his body was revealed by the veins that ran through a giant, rough white block of Carrara marble.  It is nothing short of miraculous when you view the detail up close and personal. I finally broke free of the masterpiece, only to find another and yet another; On plaster, on canvas, on wood, gilt in purest gold, the Muses looking down on me from their giant canvas (bigger than any two walls of the room where I now sit), the Madonna and Child throughout the centuries by various artists and scribes, in every medium and at the very back of the Academia…Michelangelo’s unfinished works. Unfinished.  Unfinished?  Why?  An arm and a thigh jutting out of a block of Carrara, and part of a head.  Perfect in every way.  Why did he stop?  Did the Caesar call him away? (“Michelangelo, PAINT!”)  Did it just not come out the way he thought it would?  Did he go blind or die before he could finish? It was at this point of the telling of my “bumble” that my buddy asked me, “Did someone ask him to sculpt The David?” No.  He did it because it came to him.  Through divine providence or pure creative genius it appeared in his mind and in his soul.  He did it because he SAW it and then he HAD to make it real. I am no Michelangelo.  No one is.  But something in me understood that he saw it and HAD to do it because that’s how my writing comes to me; not because someone admires my work or tells me to do it.  It is simply there and I have to, or it isn’t.  It’s that simple. Those of you who know me well also know I’m a bit over a year into finding myself with four English Mastiffs.  You may read that again for confirmation.  Four.  One 210 pound therapy dog with a paw that I’ve nursed, one rescue who had a knee replacement and a tail amputation and two spankin’ new puppies who will also become therapy dogs.  I haven’t felt free to go into my cave as I am now, but I promise you this.  I see things hidden in the marble of my life and they WILL come out.  Thank you all for your patience.

 

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Dear Daddy:

We did pee an poo in da frunt an bak yahdz.  We did play berry hard an drank fresh bigdog wadder.  We did play summore an den Misser John came but he tuk a looooong tyme fore he kleent da poooull bekuz he needed lossa puppy bref an picherz furst.  We bited his eerbuds but he juss lafft.

Miss Emily comed ober wif Annabelly an her fren in a beeg strollur.  Miss Emily theenks we are soooooo soff!  We did pee summore an pood for her.

Den Misser John got dun wiff da pooul but he wunt leaf cuz he needed more puppy breff an more picherz…for a loooong tyme.

Mommy finks we played so hard dat we shud sleep but we ar in ower hows now an we are still playeen.

We wacht Nanny Nala an Beegg Bro Micah play, too.  It was mazeen!  Nanny Nala wuz bahkeen an Beeg Micah was jumpeen an dey wuz runneen an ebertheen!  We got a lil bit askaret.  Dey wuz bahkeen an groeleen an runneen in surklez, Daddy!  Nanny Nala wuz trine to play wif us, too but her feetz are reel beeg, an we sed uh-uh-no-way.

Now dey are resteen an Mommy is pikkeen up alla ower poo.  Dat is FUN!  We mayd LOTS!

We miss yoo, Daddy.  We are goeen to tayk a nap now.

Luv,

Pebbles an Murphy

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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Muddy Pawz, Uncategorized

 

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Giant Angel Lands at Girls Ranch

Micah

Micah

As I close the car door and snap on Micah’s purple Gabriel’s Angels vest, I notice the window blinds separate, revealing big brown eyes and hear, “Micah’s here!  Micah’s here!”   I smile.  Little Sammy bursts through the front door, diapered and bare-footed with his mom on his heels and runs to Micah with his arms outstretched.  Sammy is two years old and has spent over a year seeing Micah every two weeks like clockwork.  He can’t tell time, but his teen mommy says that he has been camping at the window all afternoon, waiting for Micah.  He reaches up and wraps his arms around my 200-pound therapy dog’s giant neck, gives him a huge hug, turns on a dime and runs to the house, announcing that Micah has arrived as only Sammy can.

We have some changes this week!  We visit a group home under protective custody with abused, abandoned and at-risk children.  Normally we have about a dozen teen girls, give or take, a smattering of toddlers and a few infants, not counting the ones waiting to be born.  It’s not all teen moms.  We have had girls from “juvie”, some abused or self-abuse cases and occasionally an abandoned child.  This week one of the children has been released, one has turned 18 and has gone to live with a family member and we see three new faces and a brand new six-pound baby.

I introduce Micah to the new girls as Sammy pats the bag I’m carrying, asking for a brush.  Two of the girls are perched atop the back of the sofa like baby birds, eyes wide, staring at the behemoth that has entered the room.  As I explain the history of the breed, focusing on how the mastiff has protected their families and kept them safe for thousands of years, the girls relax a little.  “Safe” is something they crave. But they are NOT getting down or touching him!  “Keep that big dog away from me!”

Micah is already seeking out the infants who are scattered around the room in their car seats or carriers.  He’s kissing baby toes, and the toddlers are following him with their brushes.  The girls watch in amazement as the toddlers lie on top of the “gentle giant” and run their Matchbox trucks along his brindle stripes. Micah doesn’t move a muscle, even when a one-inch dump truck runs over his head and down his nose.

I pull the treats out and announce that we’re going to play “hide the treat”.  I give each of the girls a treat and have them hide it in their hand…toddlers included.  Micah goes to each child (Sammy FIRST!) and they hold out both fists and let Micah discover which hand contains the treat.  The “baby birds” slide down to the seat of the sofa and hold trembling fists out to “the big giant head”.  I show them by example how to hold their palms flat when he spots the right one.  I stand next to them and give Micah a treat first and coax them to respond.  The hand opens, Micah gently takes the tiny treat, barely brushing their palm with his lips, and they are amazed!  “Miss!  He’s so GENTLE!”  The free hand comes up as I encourage them to touch his satin-soft ear.  “Miss!  He’s so soft!”  Their body language changes and they unwind and slip to the floor as I hand them a brush and they begin their relationship with the biggest Gabriel’s Angel.

They have just overcome two huge barriers that are ingrained in their behavior patterns.  They have overcome fear and they have begun to trust.  Many of these children have lived in fear most of their lives.

I show them how I lay next to Micah on the floor at home, as if he’s a giant teddy bear.   One by one they take their turn cuddling their newfound friend.  One of the girls says, “Miss, I think Micah’s thirsty.  He’s panting.  May I give him some water, Miss?”  I thank her for being empathetic and noticing Micah’s discomfort.  She pours his bottled water into his bowl and she smiles as he tries to take it directly from the bottle.  She gets one of the towels that I carry and gently wipes his face when he’s finished.   I thank her for being so compassionate and loving to Micah.

I remind the children that dogs’ memories are often connected to their sense of smell, and they hold those memories all their lives.  I tell them if Micah sees them somewhere 5 years from now, he will recognize them as family.

Time’s up and Micah gets a hug from each of the children as we leave (each teen making SURE he gets their scent in his nose good and proper).  The mother of the newborn holds tiny infant up to Micah’s face so he will smell and remember her baby.

Once again I load my sleepy fur-baby in the back of my car, slide in next to him and hug him myself.  Good job, Micah!

Copyright 2013 by Mary Watson

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Angels Have Pawz, Muddy Pawz

 

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The Biggest Angel

Images of a Gentle Giant

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Muddy Pawz

 

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Good Morning, Majesty…

MajestyThe Micah.  We also address him as “Highness”.  190 pounds of entitlement in a sparkling brindle wrapping.  Bred from some of the finest lines known to the world of English Mastiffs…and he KNOWS it.  His collar is hand-crafted of a 6th Century Roman pattern with the words, “Cave Canem” hand-tooled in leather and adorned with hand-cast silver seals with King Arthur’s pendragon sigil to honor his legendary registered name of Indigo’s Arturius’ Cafall, CGC.  “Cave Canem” was taken from a Pompeian mosaic of a mastiff circa 79 AD and is Latin for “Beware the Dog”.  This is a ruse,  His Highness is 100 percent wuss, and the epitome of a gentle giant.

Highness is suspicious of dew on the lawn and chooses the high, dry spot in the corner for his relief.  Lord only knows what might be lurking in those droplets of dew.  His greatest fear is being attacked by the dreaded chihuahua.

He awakens at 6 a.m., having shoved Mommy onto the floor at 3 from his king bed and having lost the battle for territorial bed rights to Daddy, who clung, white-knuckled, to the edge of the mattress and pushed back with his backside.  As we sit bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived on the patio, Highness stumbles from bed, shuffles down the hall, through the living and dining area to the doggie door…and barks.  You see, he learned early on that the doggie door is actually a wormhole that leads to an alternate universe…never to be broached.  I put down my iPad, glance at my husband who is soaking his mustache in his coffee cup, teetering in his chair, eyes closed. I open the door for his Highness who drags himself to his raised bed and drops onto it with a “whumph”.  I know…I should have carried him.  Poor, furry child.  He is already fast asleep.

Having been gently awoken by singing birds and a slight breeze, he checks his view of Camelback Mountain, finds his spot in “poo corner” and returns to the doggy door.  Now it IS actually possible to cross back into the house from the outside, as the wormhole only goes one way…but only if the interior is well-lit, his staff is inside calling his name and a chilled organic carrot awaits him on the other side.  It’s really much easier to just stare at the damned thing and bark again.  “Yes, Highness.  Coming, Highness!”

Daddy leaves for work and Mommy prepares his breakfast of canned rabbit with organ meat, organic coconut oil, probiotics, digestive enzymes, dermal enzymes, chicken and chickpea grain-free kibble and three chewy glucosamine mini-bones, followed by a fresh 2-quart bowl of water.  When the last bite of kibble has vanished, Highness stands, staring at the vacant bowl as if someone took his popsicle away.  “Micah, would you like to “Hoover”?”  He takes a step back as Mommy moves his raised food stand over 18″,to the right, allowing him to “Hoover” any bits that may have dropped from his jowls onto the woven rug beneath.  In the event that his Highness returns to the bowl, staring at its shiny stainless bottom, one must ask, “Micah, do you need littlebitmore?”  He steps back again with anticipation as Mommy retrieves two more tablespoons of kibble, dropping them into said bowl one by one (so the plinking sound may be duly observed).  He returns to the bowl for his “dessert” and then raises his head in gratitude with three 14″ strings of drool hanging from his chops.  “Please, Mummy…dry my chin…if you would be so kind.”  I retrieve a sterilized white cotton towel from “the drool bucket”, dampen it with warm water and wash the kibble from his face, ears, shoulders, chest, paws, forelegs, the top of his head, his collar…and mop the floor.

His highness will now have “first nap” as he digests on the woven area rug by the open french doors with a gentle breeze drying his face.

His Majesty’s day has begun.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Muddy Pawz

 

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Casa de Muddy Pawz at 4:00 a.m.

  • If ya can’t shoot em…hug em.

    Wake up call from Micah – 3:38 a.m. (Mommy, I gotta poop and I can’t open the door.  See?  No thumbs.)

  • Rick usually sleeps til around 6, so I had to stay quiet and busy, so I putzed around trying to find clothes in the dark.  Can’t water because the hose valve is near enough to the bedroom window that it wakes him up if I turn it on.
  • 4:00 a.m. – What the heck.  May as well walk the dogs.  Both dogs ramming me to get their leash on and go first, so I bounced around between the two until I got Nala’s Gentle Leader on her mug.  Held Micah back with one foot in his chest til Nala got through the door, jumped out after her and quickly closed the door.  Took 2 steps and she saw Merriwether, one of our two cats and bolted after the poor ole geezer.  He dove under Rick’s car, and I nearly did a face-plant on the car door before I got “the princess” under control.  Meanwhile, Micah started howling by the door.  Quick-stepped back to the door, cracked it, patted Micah on the head and promised he’d be next.  Nala hot-stepped it down to 38th, up to Montecito and back again.  Dead dark..not a soul awake save me and the dogs…a good thing, since I later discovered I had my t-shirt on inside out…and backwards.
  • Home again.  Nala’s leash off.  Micah’s leash on.  Nala dove into her bowl for a drink (up to her eyeballs) and it sounded like fat kid doing a belly flop into her water bowl.  Splash-splash-gulp-gulp-splooosh!  Water everywhere.  She hit the doggie door.  Micah and I sprinted out the front door…right into Baggins’ face…kitty #2.  Baggins hissed at Micah and he simply gives the cat a confused look and cocked his big head.  Off we went.  Micah wanted to pee on every blade of grass that any other dog has peed on in the last 50 years.  Constantly pulling him off pee spots, we forged ahead.  Micah, stay close…stay close…good BOY!  (MORE PEE!)  Down to 38th, up to Montecito, over to 40th and back again.  Pee, pee, peeee!  And when we got home, I dropped the leash and he went right outside…and peed…of course.  Must have been saving it for days.
  • 5:20 and I wanted to brush my teeth in the worst way, so I tiptoed in and got my toothbrush and ran 4 drops of water over the toothpaste.  I stood outside by the barbecue and brushed my teeth, remembering that there’s an ingredient in toothpaste that’s harmful to dogs, so I spat in the garbage can and in the 1956 barbecue.  Tiptoed back in, grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, rinsed off my toothbrush in the kitchen sink.  Tripped over Micah in the dark in front of the bathroom door while attempting to put my toothbrush back and ran into the chair in front of my vanity…and heard Rick rustling.  I really didn’t want to flush, but dammit, I had to pee now after walking two piddling dogs!  Turned on the light and noticed the t-shirt tag at my throat.  (Aw geeze!) Turned it right-side out…and frontwards.
  • 5:45 and he’s officially making morning noises.  You know…those strange guy noises that men make when they wake up.  (Grumble, grumble, snort…)   I punched the button on the coffeemaker and went outside and turned on the hose.  There was enough light to see that my zucchini has sprouted.  Rick headed toward the patio door with his coffee and I quickly scooped two piles that magically appeared on the lawn since returning from the walk and it stunk like a barnyard.
  • I checked e-mail while Rick was in the shower, fed the cats and washed out the dogs dishes (there are 10 of them).  My husband always emerges from our room looking crisp and neat and tidy with a ray of sunshine glinting off his smile.  I usually have mascara under my eyes, eggbeater hair and dog spit dripping off one elbow.  He gave me a smooch (I don’t know why…I wouldn’t have kissed me!) as he tossed his badge on, grabbed his briefcase and hit the bricks.  The dogs immediately started body-slamming each other and acting foolish out back.  I grabbed the camera and caught some cute shots of mastiff war as the sun broke over Camelback Mountain.  I finished watering and inspecting my seedlings and, damn, it was warming up quick!  It wasn’t even 7:30 and I was already all sticky.
  • I DID get a bath.  Fed the dogs, picked up cat dishes, and at least 14 phone calls later with our vet, pet insurance, people insurance and various tech support people, I got back to my computer, answered some e-mails, checked Facebook and did my Lumosity lessons to keep my brain functioning at at least 30% capacity.
  • Printer wasn’t working, so spent 45 minutes on the phone with Tech Support to get it working again.  (Crawled under my desk twice for that…)  Fixed the printer, but the scanner died.  Picked up poop again.  Took off the damned bra. I did not pay $75 to have cardiovascular surgery via underwire.
  • Phone!  My prescription was ready!  Up to Tatum and Shea to pick it up and a quick stop at Whole Foods for laundry detergent and organic everything for the dogs.  Got home in time to wash dog dishes (yes…ten…really…) and feed dogs again.
  • Woopsie…PHONE!  Forms were ready at the vet.  Quick run to Dr. Bracken’s and home again.  It was now “Africa-HOT” and my hair is sticking to my forehead and neck!
  • Granddaughter Ashley called, just leaving from her latest ultrasound and it’s a BOY!  She’s just so excited; she’s about to pee her pants…but she’s pregnant…she has an excuse.  I don’t. Hit the door running, leap-frog two dogs…and peeee.
  • While on the phone, I noted that the dogs were milling around the back yard, and I had just ended my call when Micah decided to sample his “leavings”.  I bellowed.  One does not bellow at one’s beautiful dog…or even at one’s homely dog.  But I bellowed loud enough for our blessed puppy to patooey what was in his mouth approximately 6 feet into the lawn and belly-crawl into the house to his casa (kennel)…which is where one goes if one eats their leavings and gets busted in the act.  This was not the highlight of my day.
  • 15 minutes later, I let Mr. Pottymouth out of his casa on leash and marched him to the back yard hose where we cautiously, but thoroughly sprayed what leavings were left out of his mouth.  He refused to look at me for the rest of the day and actually turned his back on me.  The nerve.  The hand, shoe and deck sanitization process followed the oral lavage, and the dog smelled civilized again.  I, however, smelled like something between a gym bag and a dairy farm.
  • That lovely task behind me, it was time to start dinner, pick up dog poop, feed the cats, make the bed, for heaven’s sake, straighten the house and…there was Mr. Wonderful pulling in the driveway.
  • I looked like I’d been ridden hard and put away wet.  Never got my make-up on, hair in my eyes, standing in sweat, drool and dog food stained garb, I greeted my poor, hard-working husband with a frosty beverage and listened to his download of a hard day at the office.  He didn’t even have a wrinkle in his shirt.   I did not love him at that moment.
  • I simply smiled and  thanked God that he didn’t ask, “So…what did you do today?”  I would have simply cried into a slobber towel.
 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Muddy Pawz

 

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