Life With a Springer Spaniel – Study Supervisor

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It’s been a while since I wrote anything about my springer spaniel Murphy. Well, seeing as it is International Dog Day today, I think I will talk about the work that Murphy has done as my study supervisor!

Snuggle time in bed.

These last few weeks – last few months rather – have been a struggle. A great majority of my time was spent writing my final dissertation for my Master’s degree in Griffith College. I thought I knew what I was in for. By God, was I wrong. I did not anticipate the long evenings, the lack of sleep, the stress in making sure that every topic was covered, every word was spelt correctly, all the added extras were added. I’d go to bed at about midnight, get up at about six, trying to balance work and my final big project for graduating Griffith College with a Master’s. Put it simply, I was very stressed.

I was close to cracking, but thankfully, I didn’t. And that is down to Murphy.

My Support Buddy

In the last few weeks, before I was due to submit my dissertation, I returned to Monaghan. My parents were away to Lanzarote for the first time since the pandemic and I was minding Murphy. My sister works at Supervalu and her times vary so she couldn’t be around all the time. So I had to balance work, my dissertation and taking care of Murphy.

It was as if Murphy knew that I was stressed. He knew when I needed him. Sometimes, if I was working on my laptop, he’d just climb up beside me, put his head on my lap and settle for a snooze. Just his presence, eased my mind a little bit. His presence gave me a little bit of comfort.

In the early mornings, before I had to start work, Murphy and I would go out for long walks around Monaghan town. As soon as I said ‘Shall we go for a walk?’, he’d be down the stairs and at the back door, ready to be leashed up and go out.

I will say that the early morning walks with Murphy really helped my head. To be out in the crisp, clear air, at a time of the day, when the town was still quiet and only beginning to wake up was really good. It was a time when I could hear my thoughts more clearly and just relax even if it was just for a little while. Murphy was very good at distracting me, by pulling me down the paths and sniffing everything around him. He knew that my mind needed to be taken off the dissertation in the morning time at least!

Soaking up the early morning sunshine

But I will admit, there were times when I got so stressed that even poor Murphy got on my nerves. There was one incident, where I was working on the blasted dissertation in my bedroom. Murphy was sitting on my bed, as normal. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Murphy started barking loudly. I jumped at the unexpected noise and I just lost it. I had gotten into a good trail of thought and Murphy had inadvertently interrupted. He barked louder and I screamed at him. I yelled him ‘Shut up! Shut up! Just shut up Murphy!’

As my screaming subsided, I looked at Murphy in horror at what I’d done and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I had shouted at Murphy for something that was in a dog’s nature to do. I didn’t mean to yell at him. I was so stressed at having to finish this assignment, anything could have set me off.

It took a really long time for me to stop crying. I just howled and howled. My sister Shona, comforted me and said that Murphy knew that I didn’t mean it. As she said, Murphy came up and rubbed his head against my legs. This actually made me cry even harder. I just felt so bad. This is how much the stress had gotten to me.

Always keeping an eye on me.

Like I said, it took a while for the tears to dry. When I finally calmed down, I cuddled Murphy for a long time and told him I was sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. He allowed me to pamper him and hug him. I think that was his way of saying that he forgave me.

A couple of days later, I had finished and submitted my dissertation at long, long, long, last. I was so relieved to finally be finished. Once I knew that it had been submitted and sent off, I said the magic words to Murphy: ‘Shall we go for a walk?’ Within a few minutes, we were off!

I have to say that I’m so glad that I went back to Monaghan for the last couple of weeks that I needed to get my dissertation finished. Being with Murphy certainly helped me keep my sanity, most of the time anyway! If I didn’t have Murphy, I actually don’t think I’d be able to have finished my assignment on time. He is the best study support ever. I love him so much.

One of the many little signs of support from Murphy.

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Groomers and Growlies

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Aside from his given name, Murphy has a lot of other names. Baby Boy, Buckshot, Mammy’s Boy, Murph, Smurfy… you get the idea. But there is one name that I feel is the one that we should have given him when we got him:


Murphy wanting cuddles and attention!

I love Murphy to bits but he is such a big coward. He always gets so unsettled about everything. Even when the postman comes in the morning, Murphy would jump and just start barking like crazy. He can never settle with people coming over, he always has to bark. Mum likes to think that he is protecting his territory. I think he’s just a big cowardy custard.

As you can see, Murphy’s fur had grown out a lot.

As he has grown up over the years, Murphy has calmed down a little somewhat, but there is one thing that I know that he will never change his mind over. The groomers.

Murphy HATES the groomers!

As businesses had been closed for such a long time, Murphy wasn’t able to go and get his fur clipped. By the end of May, he needed to go very badly. He was shedding all over the house, so much so that Mum had to get the sweeping brush out sometimes twice a day. It was also irritating him as well. Murphy always has a tendency to growl particularly during the evenings. Sometimes, if he has a sore eye, or if he’s tired and just wants to sleep. The way he growls is so adorable but we try our best not to annoy him too much. It isn’t fair on him.

Well over the last couple of months, Murphy began to growl even more. Mum suggested that the amount of fur that he had was irritating him and was making him itchy. The fact that his ears were becoming a bit of a problem as well. Murphy has beautiful long brown ears, that have little curls. But because his ears are so long, he has the tendency to get leaves and twigs tangled in them. Whenever anyone tries to get anything out, he growls. He really doesn’t like it when anyone messes with his ears!

So my mother managed to get Murphy an appointment a few weeks ago to get his hair cut and be all groomed. Murphy is so scared of everything, he always runs away whenever he sees any sharp scissors. Everytime he goes to the see the groomer, we have to put a muzzle on him, so he won’t bark or snap at anybody. And he hates the muzzle just as much as he hates the groomers! I always feel so bad when we put on the muzzle, he always pulls at it in a desperate attempt to get it off. While it is adorable, it still shows how much he hates anyone going near his face.

Whenever Mum drops him off, she has to sneak off quickly so Murphy doesn’t see her leaving him with the strange lady and her equipment. I remember Mum telling me how she felt the first time that she took Murphy to the groomers. Murphy looked at her with such a sad look in his eyes, that she was very nearly tempted to go back and cancel the appointment altogether.

It’s a bit funny though, whenever the groomer starts working on him, Murphy always seems to calm down. Maybe it’s because he realizes that whatever she is doing, she isn’t setting out to hurt him in any way. As a matter of fact, when she starts work on giving him a good wash, he actually seems to enjoy it!

It’s always so lovely to see the final appearance when the grooming’s all done. I am always in shock when looking at before and after pictures. Murphy always looks so different when he comes out. See for yourself!

Murphy before and after his ordeal at the groomers!

It’s always so good to see Murphy look so clean and cuddly after being at the groomers! The trimming of his hair makes him look much younger, almost like a puppy again. Whenever he sees Mum afterwards, he always greets her very happily for two reasons; one – the ordeal was over, and two – he was cute and cuddly again! (not that he wasn’t already!)

Now that he’s been groomed once more, Murphy is far less growly to any of us. He has reverted back to being the cuddly baby boy that he was before. Back to playing fetch in the garden, cuddles on the couch in the evening. Of course, I have no doubt that he will revert back to Grumpy Growler, the next time he has to go to the groomers!

Smiley Springer Spaniel!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Strange New Obsession

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From the date of my 23rd birthday, I began a new obsession; collecting Funko Pop Figurines. It’s mad; whenever I see a figurine from something I enjoy, I have to get it. While I try to be careful not to go too overboard with buying so many, I often couldn’t resist temptation! From Marvel, to Harry Potter, to Disney, to WWE, I have all sorts of Funko Pops!

Murphy’s curiosity for a Funko Pop (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Nothing particularly unusual about this took place, until about midway through the first lockdown in 2020. At the time, I had moved back to Monaghan with my family. The only places to shop in town were Tesco and SuperValu. One day, I was browsing through the aisles and saw Funko Pop figures based on the latest Pixar movie, Onward. I’d liked the movie, so I decided to buy one of them for the time being.

Murphy wanting the Ian Lightfoot Funko Pop figurine. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

The next day, I had my new Funko Pop on my bedside table and I was tidying my room. The usual scratching on my door caught my attention and so I let Murphy in so he could lie on my bed. Or at least that’s what I thought he was going to do.

Instead, Murphy started sniffing around my bedside table. I didn’t know what he was looking for. All of a sudden, he leapt up and began pushing his nose against my Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) figurine. He knocked it over and tried to pick it up. I was shocked, I didn’t expect this to happen! When Murphy grabbed the figure and jumped onto my bed to chew it up, I immediately pulled it away. I tried to stow it away on a higher shelf but that made Murphy’s interest even worse. He did everything to try to jump up and grab it. He even started crying for it, which made me feel extremely guilty.

Murphy sampling his very own Ian Lightfoot Funko Pop. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

I was not about to allow Murphy to chew up poor Ian Lightfoot, so I did the only thing that I felt was the right thing to do. A few days after that incident, I went to Tesco with my mother and bought another one specially for Murphy! It solved two things – he had his figure to chew up and he would stop wanting mine!

As the days passed, Murphy worked his way around the figure. He started with its big blue head, then to its arms and finally the tiny feet. Because I was the one who bought him the figure, I had to be the one to clear up after him! I gathered up the remnants of poor Ian Lightfoot and brought him to his final resting place in the dustbin. Although he hasn’t had another Funko Pop obsession since then, if he’s good, I promised Murphy I’d buy him another one.

To this day, I still don’t know what caused Murphy to become so obsessed with that Funko Pop. It could have been the color (blue), or maybe this particular figure had a certain smell that Murphy liked and he wanted to check it out for himself.

Either that, or he just really likes Tom Holland!

Murphy taking a break from chewing up his Funko Pop. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Working Buddy

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Murphy having a nice snooze on my bed! (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

When the pandemic hit Ireland in March 2020, life went into stopmode. Up until the very last minute, I was kept working in the office. But when it was finally clear that non-essential workers had no choice but to work from home, I had to take everything I needed for work and leave the office. The day it was announced that Ireland was to go into long-term lockdown, I packed up as much of my belongings as I could and dragged my bags onto the bus back to Monaghan. I figured that if we were going to go into lockdown, I might as well be with my family.

It was nice to be sleeping in my own bed again and having home cooked meals made by my mum and dad. And of course, it was really good to wake up to a huge lump jumping on top of me, giving me kisses and settling down to sleep beside me in my bed! Murphy was very happy to have me home for the lockdown.

I was one of the lucky ones to still have a job during the lockdown. My job involves working online, working in customer service. There was online reports and virtual meetings involved from seven till four. I converted my bedroom into my little office, using my desk to work. My family were supportive and didn’t disturb me. With the exception of my dad on occasion, when he would come up to bring me some lunch, but that doesn’t count.

Murphy waiting for his walkies. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

When I say that my family didn’t disturb me, I mean my HUMAN family didn’t disturb me. Whenever I was typing away at my computer, there would be a scratching noise at my door. The scratching would be followed by whining. And when the whining started, I’d have to open my door and let the little disturbance come in. Murphy would come right in, jump up onto my bed and settle down for a snooze. He couldn’t settle until he was on my bed.

Everyday whenever I was working, it would be the same story. I’d settle down to work, I’d hear the scratch at my door and I’d let Murphy in so he would sleep on my bed. It got to the point where I couldn’t concentrate without knowing that he was were. He became my own little supervisor!

Every Thursday afternoon, I would have meetings with my work team. Originally I thought it was a good idea to have Murphy out of the room, during the hour-long meeting. But just before the meeting was to start, I heard the ususal whining and scratching at the door and I knew that I couldn’t be part of the meeting with that happening. So I had no choice but to let Murphy in and have him sit in the meetings!

An exhausted Murphy after a long, hard day at work! (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

The first meeting Murphy was a part of, he pushed his way onto my lap and he made his first appearance on the laptop camera. I remember my team leader seeing him (and me, trying to push him away!) and she stopped talking and went ‘Aw, so cute!’. Everyone stopped and said hello to my little man. Poor Murphy got a bit confused because he didn’t know where all the sound was coming from, but I was relieved to know that they didn’t mind having him as a part of the meetings. It actually got to the point where they wanted Murphy to join me at the meetings. One of my co-workers said to me that seeing my dog playing with me, was cheering them up during the problems with lockdown. That made me very proud of my dog.

At the end of my working shift, I would shut down my laptop and I would change into my tracksuit and runners. All I had to do was say to Murphy ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’. He’d go charging down the stairs and wait for me in the back hall to get leashed up and the two of us went on long walks along the canal walkway every evening. That was his reward for all his hard work helping me during my day!

I’m back to working in an office now because I’ve been deemed an essential worker and unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in the office (I did ask!). Murphy has been relieved from his duties as my supervisor. But he will always be the best working buddy I ever had!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – The Stubbornness with Socks

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Overtime, Murphy began to grow out of his obsession with shoes. He no longer sniffed around and tried to chew up slippers and heels. We were finally free to leave our shoes lying around once again! But we soon learned there is one that Murphy will forever be stubborn about giving up.


I think that my family owns about a hundred thousand socks and at least half of them do not have a pair. My socks have a tendency to get holes in the toes all the time. My dad and I share a problem of badly growing toenails which cause them to rip socks more easily. That means that nearly every day I go clothes shopping, I always end up getting at least two packs of socks!

But anyway, as our little man grew up, Murphy began to discover the fun of ripping up socks. I remember one day when I was in my bedroom doing something. Next thing I knew, I heard a ripping noise, I turned around and saw Murphy on the ground, one of my bed socks in his mouth and he was ripping it to shreds! He was very lucky that it was a very old pair!

No matter how careful we were, Murphy would always find at least one sock to tear apart. My father in particular, has a great tendency to leave his socks lying on the floor. Murphy always comes up to my parents’ bedroom for a morning cuddle. Whenever my mum gets ready for the day, Murphy will crawl under the bed and will always find a sock. And that leads to a bit of exercise – running around, chasing him and trying to get it back!

Murphy has always been so stubborn when it comes to socks. No matter how much we chase him, no matter how we try to pull it from him, it always end up with him going off to rip it up and then, someone has to go and get the dustpan and brush to gather up the remnants of what was once a sock.

There have been times as well when our little rascal has caught us off guard. There was a time when I was sorting out laundry and Murphy was lounging on my bed. The second he spotted one of my mother’s running socks, his mouth was on it! We had a very fun game of tug-of-war where I tried to get it off of him.

In the end, once again, I gave him and let Murphy have his fun. Mum was a sock short that night, but that’s another story!

Murphy will always be our cuddly little man, but from what I learned from that day, he will forever be a stubborn spaniel when it comes to socks!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Snout in the Snow

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I will never forget the Beast from the East of March 2018.

The last time I ever saw Ireland in heavy snow, was 2010, when I was in my Junior Cert and had to spend my time checking for assigned work online. That was not fun, I’m sure a lot of students agree with me on that!

At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to the upcoming storm. It was middle of my final year of college, my mind was focused on upcoming assignments, work, and exams. That Tuesday evening, I spent my afternoon at a dance class, when I saw the first signs of snow. Still, I ignored it, spending a couple of hours in the college library before returning to my house share for the night. Well, by morning, I couldn’t ignore it any longer when I woke up, looked out the window and saw the vast winter wonderland in front me. I was gobsmacked.

Walking through the Beast from the East. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

When it was confirmed that college was closed for the rest of the week, I packed my bags and was lucky to catch a bus back to Monaghan. If there was going to be a storm, I might as well endure it with my family.

Looking back on it, I knew I had made the right decision, because when I woke up the next morning, the snow had changed from a sheet to a blanket. I had to wear three layers of clothing because it was so cold! We had to stay inside and try and stay warm as much as possible. Nobody wanted to go outside.

Actually, that’s a lie. The only person who wanted to go outside was Murphy.

Murphy had never seen snow before. When I went downstairs for breakfast, instead of sitting on the couch, Murphy would be standing by the window, watching the little white tufts falling from the sky, fascinated as to why the world was covered in white. He really wanted to go outside and explore this new wonder. Wanting to give my parents a break from taking him out, I wrapped up and went out with my dog.

Because the snow was so heavy, it was too dangerous for any cars to be about. This turned out to be an advantage for Murphy as there was no need for him to be leashed up to go out. For the first time in a long time, he was free to go about as he pleased.

I stood in my wellington boots, ankle-deep in snow, watching Murphy jump about in the snow. He sniffed around, oblivious to the cold air around us. I had to laugh as he ran about happily, making little pawprints behind him.

The two of us walked down the road from my house. It was strange to be taking Murphy out without a lead, and not to see any cars about. Despite the multiple layers I was wearing, it was freezing cold, so I had no intentions of staying out too long.

Murphy had other ideas.

He found himself sniffing around a nearby field, where cows would normally graze. Normally, he’s not allowed to go into that field, for fear of disturbing the cows, but thankfully on this day, they had been rounded up and taken away to shelter. So my little pup was happily sniffing the manure hiding under the white snow, when I called him to move on.

I decided to be mean, and play a little trick on him. Murphy loves playing fetch, especially with my father’s multiple golf balls. Whenever we take him outside to play, we always make sure to have at least five balls nearby so he could play with them. While Murphy walked down the road, I gathered up some snow and shaped it into a ball. I was going to see if Murphy could tell the difference between a golf ball and a snow ball.

I flung the snowball and he just took off after it. Being so used to hard little golf balls, Murphy was perplexed when this ball crumbled into a heap. His reaction was so funny, I couldn’t help laughing at his confusion. Yes, it was a little bit mean to him, but at least it made for an amusing Instagram video!

By that point, even Murphy had decided it was too cold to carry on, so the two of us headed back home. I was glad to get out of the cold; I was frozen to the point where I had nearly become a human ice-lolly! Still, it was worth it to let Murphy enjoy his first experience with snow. He really loved it.

Maybe that’s why whenever we take him out now, he looks up at the sky. I think he’s begging for the snow to come back again!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – The Wonders of Walkies

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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.

Life With a Springer Spaniel: Murphy’s First Love

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As Murphy grew from a puppy to a dog, we had to continue to adapt our lives around having a dog in the house. While in the past, my sister and I would leave jackets or hoodies hanging on chairs, or have books on the floor by our beds, we quickly learned to keep everything out of reach of Murphy’s sharp fangs. I learned the hard way one day, when I came downstairs to find that he had ripped up one of my books to shreds! Not only that, the little mongrel had gotten a hold of my brand new headphones and was in the process of chewing them up! I was not very happy having to sweep up papers and an empty book cover. Surprisingly my headphones still worked!

The first shoe that Murphy fell in love with and chewed up! (Credit: Seamus Gallagher)

It wasn’t too long before Murphy found love for the first time. It didn’t matter to him the size, the colour or the smell. He fell in love… with chewing up shoes!

I lost count on the amount of times that we would come downstairs to find Murphy in the process of tearing up a slipper, or a trainer. In my second year of college, I had a part-time job, waitressing in a Chinese restaurant. My uniform was a black shirt, black trousers and black plimsolls. The problem with the plimsolls was that they were cheap; they would only last a couple of months at the most, before the soles were worn down. I remember one time, when I had bought a new pair, but wore the old pair by mistake for my shift. When I came home, I left that pair in the back hall, because I was going to throw them out in the morning. Well…. Murphy beat me to it on that, when Dad came to me the next morning, to tell me that Murphy had torn them up! Ah well, at least they were an old pair….unlike my mum’s brand new high heels!

What was left of Carmel Gallagher’s brand new high heels! (Credit: Seamus Gallagher)

Ah the high heels. And my poor mother had only worn them once! She is a primary school teacher and she decided one day, to wear black high heels that she had bought online to work. In her own words, she had spent ‘an arm and two legs’ on these shoes.

Well, on that day, Mum had come home from work, her feet sore and tired from the day. As was typical, when she got home, she should take off her heels and go upstairs to put on her slippers. Normally, she would leave her shoes by the side of the couch. Or at least, she used to.

Honestly, I don’t know how long it took, but when Mum came downstairs to start dinner, she was met with a horrifying sight; her beautiful little puppy sinking his teeth into one of her brand new high heels! I’m thankful not to have been there, because my mother threw a fit!

At least my dad saw the funny side of it all and had to take a picture of the remnants of the shoe. In his eyes, Murphy had created a brand new brand of footwear:

Jimmy Chew!

In the end, Mum did get over the loss of her new shoes and forgave her little pup. But she was very careful to take off her shoes and place them somewhere that no dog could get their paws or teeth on them!

Getting exhausted and trying to catch a shoe thief! (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Now, Murphy has grown out of his love for chewing shoes, which is a good thing – I had gotten fed up of having to buy new lace-ups from Penneys all the time! That being said, he has never stopped chewing other things – but that’s a story for another time!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Settling In and Chewing Up

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Now that we finally had our beautiful puppy, it was time to learn how to adapt to having a dog in the house permanently.

Murphy on his first night in the house, aged 9 weeks. Credit: Carmel Gallagher

It wasn’t like we never had any experience with dogs – neighbours all around us had them. I was friends with a very friendly Welsh Corgi named Charlie. I called him my ‘Orange Friend’ because his red fur matched the color of my hair! He would come into our back garden and the two of us would play fetch all the time, and on occasion, he would come into the house and get some food. I was devastated when I learned that he had passed away from cancer a few years later.

I was thrilled when we got Murphy. Back when I first met him, he was so small, I could easily pick him up in both hands. As he was only a few weeks old at the time, we had to lay newspapers all over the floor until he was trained to go to the toilet outside! That was a long and slow process; we always had to keep an eye on wherever Murphy wandered off, just in case he decided to do his business in a corner! Sometimes we weren’t quick enough and we had to get out the plastic bags and the mop to clean up his mess. At least he made it up to us with some cuddles!

Murphy resting on the kitchen table! (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Furniture became another story. In the first few weeks, Murphy was obsessed with gnawing on the legs of the table. He was teething and liked the feeling of hard things, so we understood why he was doing it. As the weeks progressed, he moved from chewing on furniture to climbing on it!

I’ll never forget the day when my little sister came home after sitting her first Junior Cert exam. Being nice, I made her toasted sandwich. We went upstairs for a minute, and when we came back down, Murphy was up on the kitchen table, eating the sandwich! That was the day that we discovered that he had mastered the art of climbing onto chairs and tables! We always have to keep the chairs firmly close to the tables after that!

Of course, when Murphy mastered the art of climbing the stairs, that was when things became a real challenge! Our parents were always on at me and my sister to keep our bedroom doors closed, otherwise Murphy would go in and grab something and (more than likely) rip it to shreads. There were many times that we would forget and Murphy would find a way into our rooms and find something.

Ususally this wasn’t too bad, he would normally just find old socks or a slipper that lost its partner ages ago and we would just let him tear them up. They were of no use to us anymore!

But then one day, he found an old red teddy bear, that I’d won at a funfair years back. In all honesty, I’d forgotten about it until Murphy came trotting downstairs, bear in his mouth. Mum said to me that he just refused to unhand it so in the end, she let him have it. I didn’t mind too much, if Murphy liked it, he could have it.

Now, we expected him to rip it to shreds right away, but surprisingly he was slow. He would spend a few nights with it, sniffing it and having it by his side when he settled down to go to sleep on the chair. That’s another thing about Murphy, he never liked his dog’s basket. He only settled on the couch or on a chair. Maybe it was because that he was able to smell us humans off of it, I’m not sure.

In the end though, I came downstairs one day, to find stuffing all over the floor and the red teddy bear reduced to a lifeless rag. That was the end of cuddly toys for Murphy for a long time! His feeling for stuffed toys would change (slightly) when he got older but that’s another story!

Murphy settling down to sleep with the red teddy that would end up destroyed some time later. (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Meeting my Furry Friend

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel
Murphy the Springer Spaniel Credit: Eidhne Gallagher

It’s the question that many children have asked their parents.

‘Can we have a puppy? Please, can we have a puppy?’

Sing-Along Songs with Pongo and Perdita Credit: Disney Wikia

Some lucky children get their wish granted. Other times, they are disappointed.

I was one of the kids who really wished for a dog. Growing up, I adored them. As a toddler, I would religiously watch a Disney Sing-Along-Songs video with the 101 Dalmatians theme. I was envious of any girl my age who would go home to a dog in their family. More than anything I wanted a dog. To be honest, it didn’t matter to me what breed it would be, I just wanted a furry friend of my own.

Growing up, I made do with stuffed animals. The old dalmatian cuddly toys that I played with are still sitting on top of my wardrobe at home. As I went from a child to a teenager, I gradually began to accept that my family would never get a dog. I decided that when the time was right and I was in the right place, I would get a dog of my own.

As it would turn out, I would get a dog far sooner than that.

It was the spring of 2015, and I was halfway through my first year of college at Dublin City University. I was messaging with my little sister and she was telling me that Mum and Dad had a surprise when I came home for the weekend. I thought nothing of it at the time; my mind was focused on my upcoming assignments, the lunch date I had with my friends and my classes later in the day. In all honesty, I assumed that the surprise was in relation to the annual family holiday to Lanzarote.

When I came home on Friday evening, I learned how mistaken I was.

I met my Mum off the bus same as normal. She asked me if I knew what the surprise was, but again, I just shrugged it off. We got home, and I went into the living room to meet my dad and sister.

What I saw made my heart stop.

Murphy, the weekend I first met him, at just 11 weeks old. Credit: Eidhne Gallagher

Rushing around the living room floor was a tiny springer spaniel puppy, yapping and digging his little claws into the furniture. My parents had gotten our family a puppy.

I really couldn’t believe it. After years of begging my mum and dad to get us a dog, they had finally gone and gotten this beautiful little boy. It was unbeliveable.

Murphy learning the concept of football. Credit: Eidhne Gallagher

It turned out, Mum had shown my Dad a post online about springer spaniel puppies that were for sale, nearby. She had jokingly said that we should get one. And my Dad? He readily agreed and next thing we knew, this little guy came home.

To pick him up and hold him for the first time was amazing. That whole evening, I spent my time cuddling him, stroking his little tummy and playing ball games with him. Quickly I learned that he had a great love for squeaky toys!

Now, please don’t get me wrong, he was by far from an angel. A bit of the time, we had to pull him away from the table because he had gotten into the habit of gnawing on the legs. As a puppy, that’s a normal thing, they’re still growing into their teeth, but we didn’t want too much damage down to the furniture!

The one thing that my family disagreed on at the time regarding the newest member was his name. What were we going to call him?

My parents came up with the ridiculous name of Glen. I was horrified. Now, I understand where they were coming from – my mother was from Glencolmkille, a beautiful, isolated part of County Donegal – but nobody in their right mind would name a dog Glen! After that name was rejected, the family had to think of a different name for this little guy. Finally, I thought of a name that fitted him perfectly.


The Donegal GAA captain is called Michael Murphy and my grandmother’s maiden name was Murphy, so something in me told me that this name was the right one for this puppy.

By unanimous vote, the family officially named our dog Murphy. He got his collar and name tag and was now a member of the family.

Six years on, Murphy has grown into a mischievious but very affectionate dog. He loves to go out for long walks, playing with his toys and having a snooze on my bed. He’s become a very loved and cared for member of our family and we cannot imagine life without him.

Living with a springer spaniel has its ups and downs – and here you will find out all about what to expect with a cheeky mutt like mine!