Thursday, May 28, 2009

Songs For Murphy

Regular readers know that our blog is inspired by, and dedicated to, the memory of Murphy Abigail Shuler (1993-2004), our wonderful miniature schnauzer who helped keep us more-or-less functional during the worst of our legal travails.

I never sit down to write a post without thinking of Murphy. Sometimes that makes me sad because we still miss her terribly. But mostly it makes me grateful for the 11 years we had her. And it almost always makes me smile, thinking about the funny things she did--and the goofy things she inspired us to do.

Take singing, for example. I couldn't carry a tune in a wheel barrel--and Mrs. Schnauzer isn't a whole lot better. Murphy seemed to take so much joy in simple things--a trip to the Sonic drive-in, a game of hide-and-seek. She even seemed to get a great kick out of us singing to her, no matter how off key we were. (Schnauzers are a forgiving audience, one of their many great traits.)

One of our first "Murphy songs" came when we noticed how much she loved to go for walks. Our neighborhood has five streets, and on a steamy Alabama summer day (think 95 degrees, with 85 percent humidity), "The Murph" was content to go up and down just our street. Then she would happily go back in the house and plop down next to one of the air conditioning vents.

But on a cold day, and especially on a wintry night, it was a different story. She would want to walk the entire neighborhood, and it wasn't unusual for us to take her on walks of two miles or more. And if it was major cold for Alabama--say, in the middle teens, with frost coming off every breath--we almost had to drag her back in the house.

Schnauzers are native to Germany, and this paragraph from an article about the history of the breed, probably explains why Murphy loved cold Alabama nights:

All Schnauzers had their origin in the neighboring kingdoms of Wurttemberg and Bavaria. These are agricultural sections where the raising of sheep, cattle, and other livestock has been a major occupation for years. Since railroads were not known, sheep and cattle had to be driven to market, which meant that dogs were necessary to help the shepherds.

Like most Americans, I'm somewhat geographically challenged. But I'm pretty sure Bavaria is a cold place, so I guess that explains why the Murph liked frosty weather in Alabama.

Anyway, on one cold night when we could barely keep up as Murphy scurried around the neighborhood, one of us said, "Murph, it's like you could walk 500 miles." That led us to include this classic '80s hit from The Proclaimers in our repertoire for the Girl:

Another song was inspired by the fact that Murphy always seemed to feel so darned good. She was like a female, canine version of Jack Lalanne. If she had been human, she would have been one of these people who can't wait to get out of bed so they can do jumping jacks and pushups and squat thrusts and junk like that. Murphy's zest for life prompted us to think of a classic from James Brown. The notion of a guy as white as me trying to channel the Godfather of Soul is absurd, I'll admit. But Murphy inspired us to try the impossible:

As Murphy became more and more central to our lives, we couldn't imagine not having her around. That made us think of a Bee Gees classic from the 1960s--although we altered the lyrics to "lonely days, lonely nights, where would I be without my schnauzer:"

Maybe our favorite "Murphy Song," appropriately enough, came from a band whose roots are firmly planted in Tuskegee, Alabama. It was inspired by the Girl's solid little build. We've read that some miniature schnauzers weigh in the 10- to 12-pound range. But that wasn't our girl. She was 18 to 20 pounds of solid muscle. "Murph, you're built like a brick s--thouse," one of us said one day. That prompted us to try our version of this Commodores classic: (On the video, notice future solo star Lionel Richie playing saxophone in the background. That's Walter Orange on lead vocals.)


Anonymous said...

Aw, that's so sweet

James Greek said...

500 miles wouldn't come out in the u.s until the movie "Benny and Joon came out in 1993.