Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remembering the Schnauzer Who Inspired A Blog

Murphy as a puppy

Folks who follow Legal Schnauzer pretty closely might have noticed in recent days that we have a new header. You might say that the header is our "mission statement," a brief summary of what this blog is about.

We recently passed the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which many churches around the country celebrate with a "Blessing of the Animals" on or near October 4. Francis of Assisi was the patron saint of animals and the environment--and he is one of the most beloved religious figures in history.

It seemed appropriate that the idea to change our blog's header would come in early October. I've never been real pleased with the header we've used since the blog's inception in June 2007. Here is how it read:

Legal Schnauzer

One couple's encounter with corrupt judges, slimy lawyers, and incompetent prosecutors in Alabama. . . and how you can avoid being cheated by the vermin who make a mockery of our justice system.

That certainly is accurate. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have encountered "corrupt judges, slimy lawyers, and incompetent prosecutors" and they most definitely are "vermin" who "make a mockery of our justice system."

But there is nothing very hopeful about that header--nothing that indicates maybe we can do something about these problems and the people who cause them. Plus, it sort of makes me sound like a crank. (The fact that I am a crank is beside the point; I don't want to sound like one.)

Perhaps worst of all, the header provides no hint about why the blog is called what it's called. And I am convinced that the distinctive title is a major reason this blog has resonated with more people than I ever dreamed possible.

In fact, an individual who has been the subject of quite a few posts here recently told me, "You know, people ask me all the time about Legal Schnauzer. And I think that title is one reason. It seems to connect with people."

Needless to say, those words warmed my heart. That's because this blog never has been about the anger, frustration, and fear we've experienced at the hands of our broken justice system--although those certainly are key elements to the story. At the risk of becoming overly ethereal, Legal Schnauzer has been, for the missus and me, like a divine calling.

Murphy as a big girl
It really is inspired by Murphy Abigail Shuler, the miniature schnauzer who was a guiding light in our lives from the day we adopted her in March 1993 until her death on January 14, 2004. She was with us, literally, through the first four years of our trip through legal hell. She is with us, spiritually, today.

Our journey with Murphy started on a blustery day when we drove to a breeder's home in what might be called the "backwoods of the Black Belt," about 15 miles south of Selma, Alabama. That journey continues now, even though we no longer can rub on Murphy's "brick house" of a bod, or play hide and seek with her, or feel her sleeping between us at night.

Legal Schnauzer, in essence, says "a little dog shall lead them." And that's why I think our new header is a major improvement on the old one. Here it is:

The memory of a beloved pet inspires one couple's fight against injustice.

That's short and sweet--and it says exactly what I want it to say. Too bad it took more than four years for me to think of it.

We've written extensively about Murphy, and what she meant to us. Here are just a few of those posts:

Why Legal Schnauzer?

More on Murphy

A Hole In Our Hearts

Lessons From Our Pets

Once I figured out how to convert photo prints into digital images, readers could see pictures of "The Original Legal Schnauzer."

But there is something about Murphy I've never shared with readers--she was a television star. On October 5, 1997, Mrs. Schnauzer and I took Murphy to the Blessing of the Animals at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Homewood, Alabama.

Here is the blessing that the priest gave to Murphy, and the other animals, that day:

Bless O Lord, Murphy, that she may be a faithful companion and a blessing to those who love her.

Murphy lived those words to the fullest, and they still bring tears to my eyes.

After the service that day, we hung around to talk with several people, and rub a lot of furry heads. We were one of the last to leave, and as we were about to get in the car to head home, a crew from a local television station showed up.

The priest asked if we would help recreate Murphy's blessing for the TV cameras. We were happy to do that, of course, and so our girl was featured on the evening news. We've converted our videotape of the program to a digital format, so Murphy now can live on through YouTube.

You can check out the news report below. Murphy is the schnauzer being held by her mom at the beginning and end of the clip. Enjoy.


Redeye said...

"That's because this blog never has been about the anger, frustration, and fear we've experienced at the hands of our broken justice system--although those certainly are key elements to the story. At the risk of becoming overly ethereal, Legal Schnauzer has been, for the missus and me, like a divine calling."

I thank God for your divine calling and for Murphy.

Robby Scott Hill said...

I've kept her existence a secret for many years, but our family's miniature dachshund was born today in 2006, just a few months before I discovered this blog. She is vicious for her size & continues to inspire my struggle with the system. If all the people who have been trampled on by our government fought back like our dogs, the world would be a better place.

legalschnauzer said...

Well put, Rob. Murphy had a loving spirit, but she didn't suffer fools gladly. She wouldn't tolerate anyone screwing with her--or us. I guess that's a big reason I started this blog. I figured Murphy wouldn't put up with this crap, so we shouldn't either. Dogs certainly have more backbone than many humans, and they probably have a stronger sense of right and wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog is about injustice that started with two people you and your wife and rolled over in to other things that happened to others. By you posting what you do gives us the courage to take care of things that have come our way that is wrong. I have had a big injustice happen to me. I have the strength to fight it and a lot due to what I have read here. I realized after reading your entire blog from the beginning a few months ago. There is a lot of things that happen to people and they never say anything until they realize it has happened to someone else and they get the courage to fight it. I will admit sometimes I wish I had gotten one of the slimey lawyers you talk about to go after my situation. Maybe something would have been done. Murphy is precious. I know you miss your baby! I guess we all need to be like a dog in a fight.. grab it, bite it and hold on until it is over! I certain am about a situation I am going through. Right now I am gnarling my teeth!!!!!

legalschnauzer said...

To the Anonymous individual who sent a vile comment at 11:06 p.m. on 10/13:

I did not let your comment go through, but it is duly noted and will not be forgotten--especially since I know who you are, where you live, and where you work. Thanks for leaving a digital "paper trail" that is easy to follow--on this and other vile comments you've made.

You will be answering to me soon. And it won't be pleasant.

Jay Croft said...

The priest is the Rev. Bill King. He is now priest-in-charge of Trinity Episcopal Church, Clanton.

legalschnauzer said...


Thanks for sharing that info. He seemed like a really fine fellow. The whole event was very well done, with a nice mix of reverence and frivolity. We will always remember it.