It is a truth universally acknowledged that Kjergaards love dogs. All dogs. We have multiple dog dictionary/encyclopedias and are remarkably adept at identifying different breeds. On Thanksgiving we watch the dog show instead of the football game. However, I think it’s safe to say that we are all devoted to Wheaten terriers, particularly our wheaten terriers.
Our first Wheaten was Padric Taffy. I think we were all just at the right age for a dog (12, 10, and 4). He was an amazing playmate, an excellent walker, renowned squirrel chaser, and stunning escape artist. I cried for weeks when we had to put him down when he was only 6. To make things worse, I was away at college and it was my first finals week. Luckily, C.S. Lewis makes a compelling case for dogs going to heaven.
Then came Murphy. I was pretty unsure about getting a puppy so soon after Paddy died, but I, of course, fell in love when I met him over spring break.
Murphy is a very special dog. He is not terribly doggy, which is probably why we like him so much. He prefers the finer things in life like cheese,naps on soft beds, and coffee runs (it’s his God-given right to go through the drive-through at Sbux with me). He does not like getting his feet wet, thank you very much, nor does he at all approve of recreational running. He has a sensitive stomach that gets upset by the slightest thing. When feeling ill, he often goes and grazes on one poor, leafy plant in the family room. Murphy is also very perceptive. He knows when you’re feeling sad or sick, and he is right there with you through the dark nights of the soul. I have never seen a dog make so much direct eye contact. He constantly wins these unspoken staring contests. Sadly, Murphy is afraid of many things including, but not limited to, towels wrapped around wet hair, blowing plastic bags, flowing fabric, bad dogs, and Guthrie’s cone.
Who is Guthrie? Well, Alison nagged/begged her way into getting another dog this summer. Guthrie entered our lives this past June. He was cuddly and fluffy for about one day. Since then he’s been a holy terror. Seriously, if I raise my eyebrows the wrong way, he will lunge at my face like a shark. He is a mutant dog with a wonky paw that doesn’t really hold him back. He had surgery on his paw a few weeks ago and has been wearing a cone ever since. True to form, the cone doesn’t bother him at all, but Murphy has taken on all the anxiety and shame that Guthrie ought to feel. Guthrie is also chubby. My mother would argue that you can still feels his ribs, but he outweighs Murphy, and lugging him up the stairs (cone prevents getting upstairs) has become quite the chore. Despite the paw and the chub, he is always happy and he loves everyone all the time.
So our dogs are complete opposites. Since Wheatens are Irish, I like to think of Murphy as kind of an Anglo-Irish dandy à la Oscar Wilde, whereas Guthrie is decidedly lower class. Guthrie swears like a sailor, shocking us with such depravity in one so young. Murphy is a little fearful and anxious about all things, whereas Guthrie wholeheartedly embraces everything in his path. Guthrie is the dog who ploughs through the sprinkler and runs with pieces of trash in his mouth. Murphy would rather die than be sprayed with the hose and will only eat pieces of cheese hand fed to him (although he does love his digestive biscuits).
I think the world is mostly divided into Guthries and Murphys. Some of us are naturally gregarious and fearless while others are a little more anxious and reserved. I had it all worked out in my mind how this was such a deep, philosophical thing, but I guess at the end of the day I felt like writing about the dogs. I consider myself a Murphy. My good friend Hannah is definitely a Guthrie. I like to think that we balance each other out. Here’s to hoping that Guthrie and Murphy can be half as good of friends. (Mostly Guthrie beats up on Murphy, trying to toughen him up, NFL locker room style, but I think deep down Murphy loves the little chubber. Guthrie of course loves him to pieces.)