Alice observes her husband of 40 years as he snores contentedly in his large lazy boy chair in front of the TV. This seemed to be a new habit that he has embraced starting when he was recovering from a ankle injury . He has not been golfing with his buddies for months even though there were many invitations to do so. There was always an excuse not to do anything that requires the least bit of energy. That was why Alice dragged him kicking and screaming to the doctors. The result was a stern lecture about getting out and walking.
Alice tried to convince Murphy to walk with her but he refused, instead he embraces the comfort of his favourite chair. Frustration filled Alice to the point that she confided in a friend . The friend came up with a simple solution, get a dog. She explained that you have to walk a dog, therefore you get exercise. Alice approached Murphy about getting dog and he was dead set against it.
“I’m not having a dog around here. I’d likely tip over the damned thing in the middle of the night and besides we can’t go anywhere if we have a dog to look after.” he argued.
“We don’t go anywhere, anyway,” Alice retorted.
“Do what you want but leave me out of it.” Murphy scowls from behind the newspaper. That was his last word on that subject.
A couple of month later Murphy joined Alice in the kitchen. She had just brought out a tray of cookies from the oven.” It must be the smell of warm cookies that got you out of that chair,” Alice remarked.
“Don’t be nasty, can I have a cookie?”
“Of course you can.”
“Are you starting to knit something”, Murphy asks. The surprised look on Alice’s face told him that “no” was about to be answered.
“What’s the white stuff in the basket? ” By now he was eating his cookie and leaning over the basket. Two big black eyes were looking back at him.
“It’s alive,” he shouts.
“Meet Molly, my dog and do not step on her. If you’re not going to walk with me, Molly will.”
Murphy had nothing but a grunt left to say. He headed for his chair with a hand full of cookies feeling a little put out.
“That sissy little floor mop better not get in my way. “was his last word on that subject.
Alice smiled as she could hear him quietly ranting about Molly in the next room.
Molly tried her best to break down Murphy’s attitude about her. She sat, just out of reach and stared at him . He would hide his face behind his news paper or his hand. She gave gentle barks to get his attention and he would ignore her. Alice brushed and snuggled with Molly which made Murphy jealous so he dislikes Molly all the more.
The summer drifted by and the relationship between Molly and Murphy did not improve. Alice and Molly continued their walks throughout the neighbourhood. Both of them found new friends. Alice to talk with and Molly to play with. Alice so wished Murphy would share this experience with her.
It was Thursday and Alice realized that she had booked a hair appointment and a checkup at the doctors in the same morning. Franticly she readies herself for the appointments and announced to Murphy that he had to take Molly out for a walk or Molly would relive herself in the house. As Alice exited the house she could hear Murphy call back that he didn’t care where she relieved herself. Alice imagined that her blood pressure would be high by the time she got to her check up.
An hour later Molly was turning circles in the living room and Murphy was ignoring her. She began to bark . At first gently then sharply with purpose. Finally Murphy resentfully got off his chair and grabbed the lead and harness from the hook by the door.
“All right you little mop, I’ll take you out back and no further. The last thing I want is someone to see me with you. ”
He put Molly on the kitchen table and tried to figure out how to put the harness on her body. Alright, alright, alright, he muttered as Molly would not stand still. Finally the harness was on, well sort of, he could not see how to attach the lead to the harness.” A knot will do”, he said.
Just as Murphy shut the front door Ben called out to him “Hey where’ve you been Murph. I thought you had died or something. ”
“I’m o.k. how are you?”
Before Murphy knew it he was walking down the path chatting and reuniting with a friend with Molly out in front. Her fur danced in the breeze as she pranced in front stopping every so often as required. They stopped at the gazebo where a sit- down felt good. This was more exercise than Murphy had had in months.
“Hi guys ” called Carl, “How ya doing Murphy nice to see you out and about.”
The conversation went on for a while until Carl wanted to know why Murphy had a lease without a dog on it.
Murphy said, ” this is Molly,” he looked down only to find that Molly was gone. He stood up in shock,” Alice is going to kill me if anything happens to Molly. She is Alice’s dog and I have to find her now.”
“Take it easy Murphy, we’ll help. What does your dog look like?”
“She looks like a mop, a white mop.”
The men fanned out calling Mollies name. Murphy called gently” Molly”.
Ben said “She will never hear you, holler it.” They covered three streets in the Shire and came back to Murphy’s home. Ben pointed to something that resembled a mop on Murphy veranda.
” Is that Molly?” There on the step was a mass of white fur with a little pink tongue hanging out. Her feet were dirty and there was a pine cone hanging from one ear.
“Molly, there you are.” Murphy could not hold back his relief of seeing Molly. He picked her up and gave her hugs and rubbed her head.
“I’ll see you later and I’ll call Carl to let him know Molly has been found.’ “Ben called back to Murphy, ‘´cute dog Murph.”´
Murphy would thank his friends later that night but right now Molly needed water and Murphy needed his chair.
The house was silent when Alice came in. The dog’s lead was on the hook but what on earth was going on with the attachment of the harness and clip. She could hear gentle snoring coming from the living room so she peeked in. Murphy was sound to sleep in his chair and lying across one lap was sleeping Molly with dirty feet and a pine cone hanging off one ear.
Alice turned slowly towards the kitchen. She fixed the dog’s lead the harness and hung them back up on the peg.
“I would love to know what happened. On second thought maybe it’s better that I don’t know.” Nothing was said when Murphy awoke but Alice could see that there had been a breakthrough in the relationship between man and dog. She decided not to intrude on their experience.
The change was unmistakable. Evening walks with Molly became the activity of the day. Murphy, Alice and Molly and their friends two and four legged ones met at the gazebo. Murphy, always with a supply of treats in his pocket. “I should of done this a long time ago,’ remarked Murphy.
Alice just smiled and rolled her eyes.
By Patricia Lawrence