Life With a Springer Spaniel – The Wonders of Walkies

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel

Now we had Murphy, we had no excuse not to get a bit of exercise!

My hometown of Monaghan has a canal walkway that spreads all across the town. Until Murphy came into our lives, we didn’t spend much of our time exploring these paths. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that we didn’t because until we got Murphy, we never noticed the simple natural beauty of the town. Our little Murphy gave us that opportunity to finally see it.

When Murphy was old enough to be attached to a lead, we began to take him out for long walks nearly every evening. It actually took us a while to find the right lead for him – we tried a detachable lead, a harness and finally we had a chain to go around his neck that we would attach the lead to. It was the only way that we could go out for a walk without having the fear that Murphy could break out of his restraints!

But when we got him all leashed up and began taking him out, things became easier. Mum and myself started together, moving all around the canal walkway. Our walks would last a long time because we soon learned that Murphy is very nosy. Anything that moved, anything that smelled good (for him anyway!), he would drag us off to whatever it was and spend his time sniffing. It took all of our strength to pull him away so we could continue with our walk.

When Murphy was old enough, we were able to take him to Glencolmkille, the little village in Donegal where my mother grew up and where my grandfather still lives. Murphy certainly brings a feeling a joy to my grandad, whenever we come to see him. In the beginning years, I would be studying in the dining room, while my dad would walk Murphy to the nearby beach about a mile away.

Putting the ‘spring’ in ‘springer spaniel!’ Credit: Seamus Gallagher
Murphy enjoying the scenic wonders of Glencolmkille. Credit: Seamus Gallagher

Murphy loves the beach. It was a place for him to be free from the leash and to just run about all over the place. He was never brave enough to enter too deeply into the sea, but he enjoyed a paddle around the waves. He enjoyed his trips to the beach… but Mum never enjoyed having to wash all of the sand out of his paws in the shower afterwards!

Around the end of my second year of college, my parents were arranging to go on their annual trip to Lanzarote. By this point in our lives, my sister and I had gotten fed up of going and we both elected to stay at home. Thankfully our parents understood – with myself being 20 at the time, and my sister being 16, they knew that it was no longer ‘cool’ to be seen going on holiday with your parents. So they agreed that we could stay home for the two weeks because of that – and also because it saved them from finding a kennel for Murphy!

So, for those two weeks, us girls were in charge of looking after our little brother. That involved feeding him, entertaining him, cleaning up after him and of course, taking him out for walks every day. I got into the habit of taking Murphy out early in the morning, when the town was quiet. (My sister was a little bit too lazy at the time to be trusted to get up early!)

While my parents were on holiday, I would get up at around seven in the morning, throw on my tracksuit and head downstairs to leash up Murphy. Everytime I opened the door, Murphy would thump his tail, happy to see someone in the morning. All I had to do was say to him: ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ Murphy sits up straight and cocks his head a little. He would jump from the couch and we would go out to the back hall to get ready to go out.

The two of us would walk down the path of the canal walkway. It was always so lovely, especially when the weather was calm and sunny. Rare for Ireland, I will say that!

As Murphy and I would trail along the paths, we would be able to escape the urban streets and settle into nature. It was always so peaceful, just the two of us. Occasionally, we would pass an early-morning jogger or another dog-walker, but mostly it was just Murphy and me.

Until Murphy came along, I didn’t know how much I would appreciate going for a walk. To explore the paths with my dog really helped my emotions and made me ask questions about my life. Taking a walk with my dog allowed me to clear my head and help me make decisions. It allowed me to look around, get inspiration for whatever I was creating in my head. As a writer, I always find inspiration in things around me. Say for example, a garden of statues – when it’s dark and the world is asleep, they come to life and dance. Or an old graveyard, no longer in use – spirits rise and cry out for freedom as they are trapped in the grounds. Even the old theatre where I used to perform in pantomimes, now shut down and replaced with a newer prestige theatre – it would be a place of refuge for the children and teenagers in the town.

As my mind created new fantasies, Murphy and I would end up wandering in a big wide circle around Monaghan town and we would always end up back at our house.

Then we would head back inside and have some breakfast.

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