Meet Murphy!

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murphySometimes the Universe puts opportunities in front of us and it’s up to us to─first realize that the opportunity exists, and second─actually seize the moment and take advantage of what’s being offered.

This is something I managed to learn fairly early on, and it’s what I attribute my small amount of─success?─to.

I still grieve for Willow. We had a profound connection and I have felt a little empty without her. But I’m a dog person, a farmer, and a woman living alone, so I knew I would eventually be ready for another dog and I’d committed myself to the idea of rescuing a dog from the animal shelter. I’ve gotten 2 different dogs that way in the past, and more recently Jessie the barncat (who promptly disappeared into the surrounding forests), and Jules.

I like getting my animals from the shelter, partly because I know these animals have been through a lot to get there and are very much in need of a good home, but also because I know there animals are coming to me healthy, up-to-date on their shots and vaccinations, treated for fleas, and spayed or nuetered. And animal shelters depend upon those adoption fees to continue these valuable services, so it’s a meaningful contribution to me and worth every penny of the $180 adoption fees for dogs.

But with finances being what they are and winter upon me, it’s impossible for me to afford to adopt a dog at the current time.

black friday adoption eventAnd then last week the Universe responded by putting this in my newsfeed on facebook. A special Black Friday adoption even being held at the Franklin County Animal Shelter! My sister shared it with me, actually─she is as devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating animals as I am to pollinator conservation. And she knows how desperately I want and need a canine companion in my life right now. Zappos.com and Best Friends Animal Society sponsored the animal adoptions at locations across the country. Somehow the Universe─and my sister─conspired to bring this event close to home for me.

The Franklin County Animal Shelter listed all of their available dogs on their facebook page, and my sister and I had picked out 3 potential candidate, but there was 1 especially that I had my heart set on. A sweet young lab all of a year old, taken in as a stray, skinny and love-starved, with soft floppy ears and pleading brown eyes. They’d dubbed him “Bowie”.

And yet I still almost didn’t go! Can you believe that foolishness? But when I heard the chatter on facebook about people showing up at the shelter at eight in the morning just to get a number and then wait there til noon, I wasn’t so sure anymore. I managed to get a 4-day weekend due to Thanksgiving, and I have a long loooooooong list of chores that need to be done around the farm. How could I justify half a day away on the off-chance that I might get the dog that I wanted?

I’ve already admitted that I’ve been struggling a bit with living alone, and matters of the heart had me down so that I could not seem to get out of my own way. Friday dawned and I was morose and miserable, stubbornly sawing firewood by hand, and my sister messaged me, asking if I was going to go.

No. I was not.

It was nine in the morning and I sourly sat down for a coffee break. A friend of mine messaged me to chat and I let slip how lonely I was and how I needed a dog, and immediately she shared the link to the adoption event with me, urging me to go. I complained about all the people─I don’t do Black Friday─and about all the work I needed to get done. And she prodded and poked at me until I suddenly was spurred into action.

My heart was pounding. What if I’d already missed the opportunity? What if I was already too late? It was already almost nine-thirty, the Franklin County Animal Shelter happens to not be very far from Runamuk, so I grab my stuff, chucked it unceremoniously in the car, locked the house and sped off toward Farmington. I would never know if I was in-time or too-late if I didn’t at least go and give it a shot.

There were a number of cars already there in the parking lot when I arrived at the shelter. I went up to the door and was instructed to knock for my number; I was given an adoption application and the number 15. That wasn’t so bad; I hoped against hope to have a shot at the dog I wanted.

And so I sat in my Subaru and filled out the adoption application, finished the coffee that I’d dumped into a travel mug on my way out of the house, and then realized what a bad idea it was to be drinking coffee as the need to pee overwhelmed me. How had I not thought to use the bathroom before leaving the house?

I held it though. For 2 hours while I waited for the shelter to open. At about 11:30 folks began congregating at the front of the building and I managed to find a moment to ask the volunteer about using their facilities. I would have toughed it out, so committed to the cause was I, but it was such a relief to be able to focus my attention back on the task at hand, lol!

Miracle of miracles, I was among the first 20 people admitted into the shelter. The majority of those 20 were after kittens, and of the few that were after a dog, I was the one who made a beeline for “Bowie”, and I was the one who signed his adoption papers that day.

adopting murphyWe had our picture taken for the shelter’s facebook page, and I spoke with a reporter from the Franklin Journal (look! she mentions us in this article!), and then I loaded the young lab into the Subaru and drove him home to Runamuk.

I broke my rule for sci-fi themed names and have decided to call him “Jim Murphy” or “Muprhy” for short, after my patron saint, the man who is the reason for my being here on this farm, the late Jim Murphy who treasured this farm as much as I do.

murphy plays fetchMurphy and I spent the weekend getting to know each other. He is incredibly sweet natured and love-starved, eager to please and quick to listen. He’s done his business where he’s supposed to, rides well in the car, likes to play fetch, and wants to be by my side at all times. All of this suits me perfectly. I think this is the start of a fine relationship!

About Samantha Burns

Sam(antha) Burns is a farmer and beekeeper at the Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm in Maine. She has spent more than 20 years gardening and writing, has kept bees for more than a decade, and worked 4 years in the Call Center at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Sam uses methods of regenerative agriculture and bee-friendly farming on her 53-acre farm, and is a passionate advocate for wildlife conservation─especially pollinators. In her spare time she enjoys writing, and tormenting her 2 teenaged sons with her banjo-playing!

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