Murphy’s Law – The Final Chapter

Murphy Patrick Harrigan O’Kammerer – June 2004 – May 13, 2019 


I have often pondered, over the past three years, one week and one day, the fact that “God” spelled in reverse is “dog”. If God is love, and I believe He is, then can it be said that “Love is dog”?  Today, you would have a hard time convincing me otherwise…From “The Max Factor – The Final Chapter

Today, you would still have a hard time convincing me otherwise…

I actually started this a week ago, the day Murphy died. The truth is that I had a hard time collecting my thoughts. I had and still have, a lot of them, seemingly scattered far and wide.

I spent hours collecting photos to include with this post. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of them.

I have started new paragraphs and new stories about Murphy, over and over.

Nothing seemed “enough” and at the same time, everything seemed “too much”.

So now I start over with a bit of a different perspective on what I want to say…

Over the past week, I have noticed a few things.

I have noticed that there is no dog prancing into the bedroom in the morning coming over to my side of the bed and standing with his front paws on the edge staring me in the face, letting me know it’s now day time and I am lazily lying under the warm covers.

I have noticed that his food bowl no longer seems to become empty before I finish filling it up with his favorite dog food. So I have stopped filling it.

I have noticed that there are no new clumps of hair on the furniture and carpet where he was just lying down.

I have noticed that his toys have not moved an inch.

I have noticed that he is not lying in wait at the sliding glass door in the dining room when I walk by on my way to the front door upon my arrival home.

I have noticed that he doesn’t follow along, keeping an eye on me through the windows to that door.

I have noticed that he isn’t there when I open the door.

I have noticed that I don’t wear him like an article of clothing when I go from one room to another, or from one side of the room to the other, inside the house.

I have noticed that he doesn’t excitedly follow me out the door when I leave the house.

I have noticed that he isn’t right there with me as I trim tree limbs, wack weeds, mow grass or feed the fish in the ponds.

I have noticed that his head isn’t resting on my thigh while I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between meal snacks.

I have noticed that he isn’t sitting, staring up at Judy as she fixes dinner.

I have noticed that the trash can under my desk is not dumped over when I come into my office.

I have noticed that he isn’t nudging me in an effort to follow him to the “anywhere he wants to go”.

I have noticed that he’s not in the back seat of my truck as I drive down the road toward adventures unknown.

I have noticed that there is no dog poop on the back lawn, where it’s not supposed to be in the first place but somehow manages to move there from where it was originally deposited  – you know, where it’s supposed to be.

I have noticed that he is not there as I walk along our normal route around the neighborhood.

I have noticed that there is no doggy grin anywhere in the house car or yard.

I have noticed that he is not lying on the floor next to my chair keeping watch as I type this…

I have also noticed that my heart is somewhat schizophrenic – It hurts from the loss, but it smiles from the memories…

He would have been fifteen years old next month, and we really thought he would make it. Although he had certainly slowed down a bit over the past year and his hearing was suspect, he was still alert, happy and able to get around well. He had passed his last checkup with above average test results (for his age).

And then, in the middle of the week before last, I noticed that he started not eating his breakfast until later in the morning. He was a bit more lethargic than usual. This became progressively worse into the weekend. He was drinking massive amounts of water. He stopped eating and started vomiting everything.

He stopped coming outside – he would come to the door with me and stop there.

We decided we would call the vet as soon as they opened on Monday morning.

I spent each night lying with him on the floor until the wee hours of the morning. Not letting him be alone, letting him know that I was there and that I love him.

Sunday night, he became disoriented, walking in circles. As he licked water from his bowl, he started licking the air.

We knew it was time…

Monday morning he could barely walk. I carried him to my truck, which I had prepared ahead of time with the blanket that he came to us with – his favorite blanket – spread across the back seat. I placed him there and put a bowl of water on the seat next to him.

I had to stop for gas on the way, and I took a picture of my best friend…


We arrived at the vet… I took one final picture…


I carried him into the office. The girls behind the desk asked “Murphy?”. I said “yes” and broke down, sobbing in front of several other pet owners. Fortunately, they had a room all ready for us and walked us to it.

I’m not going to get into all the play by play. Too hard.

The doctor diagnosed kidney failure. It struck me that I should have picked up on that because of my own kidney failure a few years ago.

He asked me if I wanted to be in the room. I said yes.

They took Murphy to another room to prepare him and brought him back. I held him, Stroking his head and back, talking with him, letting him know I love him…

The doctor proceeded as I held him. He checked him out and said, “he’s gone.” He said that he was glad that I stayed. Not a lot of people do that. I told him that I had made Murphy a promise that when the time came, I would not let him be alone, I would stay with him and be there making sure he knew he was loved…

I asked the doctor if it would be possible to go out the back door. I had already made the other pet owners uncomfortable enough for one day…

They led me out…

I think that the main trait of a dog is that of unconditional love. It certainly seemed to be true with Murphy and it was true for Max before him. Would that humans could all learn that…

I think that, maybe, there are two things that a person should aspire to in this life. The first is to be the man or woman that God made us to be. The second is to be the man or woman that your dog believes you to be.

And I have to wonder, are they both the same? Maybe not, but I think they may be pretty close…

I thought I would finish with some happy memories…





bw Murph

Murphy jumping for j.jpg










Murphy’s Law: Episode 3: Poetry Dedicated To Murphy – Verse One

Hello again, Gentle Readers,

It’s time, once again, for another piece inspired by my canine (and best) friend Murphy Patrick Harrigan O’Kammerer. This time, we venture into the realm of Poetry and/or Music dedicated to Murphy. 

Those of you who are blessed with any sort of pet, especially a dog (or, even more especially, dogs) will immediately recognize the source of inspiration for today’s offering.

And, in tribute to Max, I have bestowed, upon The Murph, the title and rank of Doggy Woggy of The First Order… Sadly, he doesn’t know what an honor it is. But that makes him no less deserving…

And now, I begin…

Doggy Woggy Doo Doo

The Very William H. Kammerer, Jr., Esquire (not)

At the crack of dawn,

When the stars are gone,

Slingin’ Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day,

I go to the yard,

Lookin’ really hard,

For the Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

Sometimes I do wish,

I got a gold fish,

But that’s not the way out it did play,

But I’m glad he’s mine,

With me all the time,

Making Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

Fare thee well!

Fare thee well!

How I wish he could eat hay…

But I’ve got my scoop,

Picking up his poop,

Slingin’ Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

When he’s full of pep,

Gotta watch my step,

What the ground is covered with ain’t clay,

I won’t go bare foot,

Always wear my boots,

Slingin’ Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

Fare thee well!

Fare thee well!

Well he thinks I’m in the yard to play…

But I’ve got my scoop,

Picking up his poop,

Slingin’ Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

Slingin’ Doggy Woggy Doo Doo all the day!

Slingin’ Do-ggy Wo-ggy Doo-Doo-all-the-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much… Please… Please… No, really – you are too kind… Thank you… You are a great audience! Thank you…

Thank you so much…


Murphy’s Law: Episode 2 – The Bonding Experience

My name is Bond – Dog Bond…

Well, hello once again, gentle readers. It’s time for a short status update on the canine relationship in the Kammerer household…

I believe I will begin at 4:00 AM Monday morning, about 11 hours after Murphy Patrick Harrigan O’Kammerer first walked through the front door of his new palatial estate (our house). That’s because 4:00 AM is (apparently) shortly after the time that Judy departed the homestead on her way to the airport to catch a 5:35 AM flight to San Francisco for a conference. I say “apparently” because I have no recollection of her actually leaving.

I first noticed that she was missing when I heard, what sounded like, a wolf howling at the moon. Inside my house. At 4:00 AM. In the dark.

Had I not been asleep at the time, I would have been more clear headed and recorded it and then found a way to assign it to Judy’s alarm clock tone on her cell phone.

But I digress…

I got up, opened the bedroom door, walked down the hallway and followed the call of the wild until I happened across the source. When Murphy saw he, he immediately ceased verbal communication, sauntered over to me and demonstrated his joy at seeing me still present in the domicile.

Like a good dad, I squatted down in front of him and assured him that I was still there and had no plans to boogie in the near future.

(Later that night, I told Judy about it over the phone. She said “Howling?”.

I replied, “Yes. Like a wolf.”

“You mean like this,” and proceeded to loudly say the long drawn out word “Aaooooooooooooooo!”

“Yes, quite like that, actually. Although, if I was in a hotel room with people all around me, I would probably not do that particular imitation.”)

I led him back to his bed (The Murphy Bed), coaxed him into curling up on top of it, said goodnight and walked down the hallway to the bedroom. I decided to leave the door open in case he needed to hear me snoring or something, just to make sure I was still there… I drifted off to sleep.

A couple of hours later, I poured myself out of bed and headed toward the room with no telephone and the big hole in the chair. On the way, I noticed that I tripped over something quite fluffy, though not all that soft…

Now that we were both wide awake, I went out and fixed him breakfast. I think my culinary talents must be improving because he seemed to like the breakfast breakfast I assembled for him. But then, dog food isn’t that hard to cook, I guess…

After breakfast, we girded our loins for battle (I put on pants and he put on his leash) and went for another walk around part of the yard to which he had, as yet, not been introduced. We had a great time marking our trail (‘we’, meaning ‘he’). This is all in an effort to familiarize him with the boundaries of the place. Some day we are going to go out there without a leash, and I want him to know where he is while we’re hiking around or dragging fallen trees, etc.

After a productive morning of work, we spent lunch time exploring and getting familiar with the neighborhood, topped off with a trip to the store to get some milk and bread. I wanted to see how he would react to a ride in the back seat of the truck. And how he would react to stayingin the truck for five minutes while I rushed in, got the stuff and rushed out.

I’m happy to say that he did GREAT! When I got back, he was in the driver’s seat with one of his paws on the steering wheel and a big smile on his face! By the time I got the phone out to take a picture, his paw was back in place underneath him. Bummer… It would have made a GREAT picture…

We have been learning a lot about each other the past couple of days. He knows I work upstairs, and I go up and down several times a day. He’s not at the point where he’s figured out that when I go downstairs during the day, I will probably be back up in about 30 seconds, so he follows me every trip up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down…

I am pretty sure that he’ll get over that soon enough and start waiting to see if I’m coming back up/down shortly before he follows me.

Fast forward to about 4:00 this morning…

Again, last night, I left the bedroom door open in case Murphy needed reassurance. I really slept well last night, but I woke up at about 4:00 with a feeling of pressure in my chest. That kinda spooked me until I put my hand there and found that it was Murphy’s head. He had hopped up on the bed in the night, curled up to me and slept with his head on my chest.

A couple of more walks today and another trip in the truck to go get the mail.

Tonight’s walk was the longest one since he’s been here. Maybe two miles round trip. At one point we came upon a covey of quail. (For those of you who don’t know what a ‘covey’ of quail is, it’s a group of quail. Like a ‘congress of baboons’ – yes, that’s what a group of baboons is really called – or a ‘noise of children’ – no, that’s not what a group of children is really called, but it is fun to think so.)

My right arm is now about 2 inches longer than my left…

I’m figuring out what English he knows.. So far, this is what I know he knows:





This way


Good dog

Good boy









I’m also figuring out to which English he best responds:


This way




All in all, I think we are bonding well…

On to Wednesday!

A Very Happy St. Patrick’s Day…

Fifteen days ago, we lost a beloved member of the family… It was, as most of you know – many from going through the same experience – even recently so, quite painful for both of f us.There has been a great big hole in our home, and in our hearts, since then.

That’s not what this post is about…

Today, we welcomed a new member into the family! We have filled in a big part of that hole, and Judy and I are happy to say that we traveled about 500 miles round trip this weekend and adopted another Brittany!

He is either 8 years and 8 months old, or he’s 5 years and 1 month old – we’re not sure. There is conflicting information on that. We hope to clear that up on Monday. Either way, he is a very sweet dog and he is lying down right beside my chair as I type.

We found him in a rescue home in Quincy CA. He had been there for about a month after the foster “parents” rescued him from a shelter where he had been for three weeks after being surrendered by his former owner.

We discovered that he has an interesting “name” history. Apparently, he has gone by the name “Dog” for most of his life. The folks who welcomed him into their home and loved him up over the last month thought he deserved a more imaginative name, so they renamed him “Dodger”. A much better name for a dog – it makes him more personal.

Long story short, Judy contacted Louise and Derrek (his foster parents) when she found Dodger online. After several traded emails and phone calls, we all agreed to a meeting in Yuba City this afternoon to make sure everybody agreed that this was a good idea. We met, and the decision was made…

Judy had been talking with her sister, Kathy, about it and Kathy mentioned that it’s often suggested that the new owners change the name, for some reason. This kinda fit into our situation…

You see, while the name “Dodger” was a massive upgrade from the name “Dog”, I, and most of my family are from San Francisco, where the word “Dodger” is not spoken in polite company. 

This, of course, presented a bit of a concern for us because, in other circumstances, it is a great name for a dog. For instance, if you live (or grew up) in Los Angeles, or Brooklyn, you couldn’t go wrong giving your dog that moniker. But my family either all lives in Northern CA, after being born here, or they live in San Diego where the name is held in nearly equal disfavor.

Another concern was that we didn’t want to hurt Louise and Derrek’s feelings because they came up with such a good name for a dog.

Concern number two was alleviated just as we were parting company this afternoon. Louise and I had just said goodbye when she said, “Oh! By the way, do you know how he got his name?”

She related the story to me and finished up with “So you can rename him to anything you want, if you like.”

I told her my relief and the reason for it. She asked if we were going to name him “Giant”.

“No, Judy ‘s a Padres fan,” I said. “We will think of something appropriately neutral.”

With the demise of concern number two, the demise of concern number one became reality…

We had about a four hour drive home and had a great time with Dodger. He’s a happy doggie…

On the way home, we were thinking of names left and right. None of them seemed to fit. About 90 minutes away from home, Judy saw a sign with the name “Kelly” on it. How about “Kelly”? After all, it IS St. Patrick’s Day.”

I almost involuntarily changed lanes.

“YOU ARE A GENIUS!,” said I… “But not Kelly – – – – HARRIGAN!”

“We could call him “Harry,” she replied.  “Or there’s ‘Patrick’,” she went on. After all, it’s St. Patrick’s Day.”

“We could call him ‘Paddy’,” I responded. “No, that doesn’t sound like a nick name for a dog. It’s a much better nick name for a hamburger.”

We went on like this for about three quarters of an hour. Then it hit me…

“Murphy,” I blurted out… “We can call him ‘Murphy…”

It was brilliant, I know… But we were still not quite satisfied. We liked all of them – Harrigan (because it was my Irish Grandparents’ name), Patrick (because it was his day, though we couldn’t see ourselves calling a dog Patrick, or any derivative of Patrick) and Murphy because it’s a great name for a dog…

The indecision was monumental… A single decision was not forthcoming…

So here’s what we decided to go with…

Say “Hello” to Murphy Patrick Harrigan O’Kammerer…


He even looks, Irish, doesn’t he? Actually, I think he looks like Carl Malden…