Monday, January 11, 2016

A Vermont Dog Story: Finally, Murphy After More Than A Year, Murphy Is Back Home

Murphy the dog is finally home in Vermont
after 559 dayson the lam. 
On June 29, 2014, Kirstin Campbell of Morristown was in a car crash in Stowe, Vermont

With her at the time of the crash was Murphy, her grandfather El Hamel's three-year old Golden Retreiver.

Murphy was totally freaked out by the crash. (Many, many dogs get freaked out in even minor car crashes.)

Right after the crash, Campbell opened the rear door of her car to check on Murphy, who bolted. Ran away, says the Stowe Reporter.

Murphy was on the lam ever since.

Until this weekend.

Murphy, after months and months of efforts by people in and around Stowe, he was finally recaptured and brought back to Campbell.

The long story of Murphy on the lam has been the talk of central Vermont for a year and a half. Many residents have been struggling to recapture him, but the wily Murphy always eluded people.

According to Seven Days, a weekly Vermont newspaper, professional dog catchers like Holly Mokrzeki of Granite State Recovery say that post-accident behavior like Murphy's is common.

"A lot of dogs will go into what we call survival feral-dog mode. Some of them will resort to that within 15 minutes of getting away from their owners. It's pretty amazing... You're calling 'Buster, Buster!' and he's not thinking, 'That's my owner; they're trying to help.' There's something in their brain that says "I need to keep moving; this is a predator trying to get me,'"  Mokrzecki told Seven Days.

People tried anyway. They left food out for him, set traps, followed him. No luck.

Murphy also managed to survive out in the wild, with dangerous animals such as coyotes and notoriously atrocious Vermont weather. He survived outdoors in one of the coldest winters in memory.

He was almost captured a year ago, when he tripped the wire on a trap set for him. But it was cold, and the trap door froze open, and Murphy was able to take off again.

Wilson Ring, a reporter with the Associated Press in Vermont, lives in the area. With help from professional dog catchers, he's set up traps for his yard, since he's seen Murphy in the area several times.

There were several close missed, but Ring never quite caught Murphy.

The plan was to place food, very gradually, closer and closer to the trap, until finally, he'd be caught.

There was one moment last winter that Ring decided not to set the trap. It was way, WAY below zero, and Ring was understandably afraid that Murphy would get caught in the trap, then die of exposure to the cold, since Murphy wouldn't have access to protection.

That night, Ring left the trap open a few minutes past 11 p.m. Murphy showed up near the trap at 11:20 p.m, or so, unnoticed, and that was another missed opportunity to get him.

Several nights later, Murphy got caught in the trap in Ring's yard, but gnawed his way out before anybody noticed him.

The efforts to capture Murphy continued through 2015. Finally, 559 days after he first ran off, Murphy was captured Saturday night in the humane trap behind Ring's house.

According to WCAX television, Murphy is doing fine and seems glad to finally be home.

Reports WCAX: 

"........hs owners say as soon as he got back to his house he made himself right at home. 'Pretty much exactly like he was. It was so amazing when he walked in the house las tnight. It was like a light bulb came on. Hey, I'm home! I know you people, and there's my toy,'" Hamel said.

Murphy will be checked out by a vet, but he seems fine. After a year and a half in the wild and the weather, I bet Murphy was happy he wasn't outside in a rare winter thunder and hail storm that swept through central Vermont Sunday night.

Given the Ring, who was so involved in the hunt for Murphy, is such a good writer and reporter, a lot of people think he ought to write a children's book about the dog's adventure.

I agree.

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