Life is always changing, for everyone, all the time, but even more so for someone who lives with a neuromuscular condition. Throw in a crazy, active four year old daughter and life changes even more. Add in a husband who has a demanding work schedule and is all over the Tennessee Valley every week and life changes yet again.
A daughter who gains new abilities every week, a mother and a wife who fights to maintain her abilities every week but sometimes loses, and a daddy and a husband who struggles to keep up with it all.
Life is ever changing for us all. Responsibilities and needs shift. What once worked flawlessly seems to no longer work. Tough decisions have to be made in order to maintain stability and harmony within a family.
A little over two years ago we welcomed a new member into our family. He was big and hairy and full of love with an overwhelming desire to help. Murphy the Service Dog was the missing piece to our little family of three.
The four of us went on numerous adventures and always had the best time. Annabelle knew all about service dog etiquette and would quickly tell an approaching stranger that they could not pet Murphy as he was working and they were not on the service dog team.
Murphy and I went everywhere together. He was my faithful companion always willing to help. Together the two of us educated a large portion of individuals in the Chattanooga area about service dogs and service dog etiquette.
Murphy accompanied me to work everyday, to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga countless nights, and to just about every retail store in Chattanooga. Because of his time spent with me he could probably do my job at Island Cove Marina, he definitely earned a Masters in Accountancy from UTC, and he is hands down the best bargain shopper around.
While the last two years with Murphy have been amazing there have been numerous obstacles in several different areas of our ever changing life for our family of four to overcome. As a result of some of these obstacles I have been struggling with making a huge decision in my life. A decision that not only effects me but has a ripple effect to so many even beyond my little family. The looming question was....is having a service dog still the best decision for me? Does Murphy provide a benefit to my life?
These are questions I never imagined contemplating. Murphy was a family member to us and we imagined we would have him forever. Sadly, circumstances change and difficult decisions must be made as a result of those ever changing circumstances. After many discussions, much prayer, and countless tears I have decided the best thing for me and for Murphy is to return him to his first family and faithful trainers Ramona and Tim Nichols.
This decision was not made lightly. I spent a great amount of time trying to weigh out what would be best for everyone involved.
The older my daughter gets the more we are able to enjoy things one on one. She is much more self sufficient so my physical limitations aren't quite as hindering as they were when she was an infant and a toddler. Selfishly, I don't want to miss a moment of her life or any of the activities she chooses to participate in. Having my attention divided between her and Murphy has been very challenging at times.
The entire time Murphy and I worked together as a team I have struggled with whether or not I was truly deserving of him. I say that because all of the tasks he could perform for me I could still perform for myself but it was fabulous to have a break from doing some of them. I always felt guilty because maybe there was someone out there who could 'use' him more than me.
Murphy absolutely loves to work. Some days I would have to really remind myself to let him work for me and not just walk beside me keeping me in fabulous company. I know that in some ways I was depriving him of his life's work, to help and serve.
Murphy has been back at home with Ramona, Tim, and all his fur brothers for several weeks now. He has seamlessly fit right back into all his old routines. Murphy will get to decide his future over the next several months. He could become the next spokesdog for Georgia Canines for Independence or he could become a loving and faithful companion to some special someone in need. Regardless of what Murphy chooses for his future one thing is certain, he will be a blessing to everyone he comes in contact with.
I want to thank Ramona for being so patient and loving with me while I made this difficult decision. She took the time to reassure me that I needed to do what was best for me and that Murphy would thrive no matter where he was at. I will forever feel guilty because by giving Murphy back it seems as though I have let so many people down even though deep within my heart I know this is the best decision for everyone involved.
This little family of three gave a piece of our hearts to Murphy and I hope he carries these pieces with him no matter where he goes. We love you Murphy!!