I Swear My Dog Speaks English

Murphy, our Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler) mix, joined our family as a 10-week-old rescue. Within a week of bringing of her home, I promptly skipped the country for several days, leaving Jack to make the startling solo discovery that Murphy is part Velociraptor.

I distinctly remember calling Jack from my lodge in Kenya (long story), and hearing, “I don’t know about this dog, Kelley” and “I think we’ve made a mistake, here.”

Heelers are a herding breed, designed to nip at cattle to get them moving. “Nip,” is relative; as a puppy, Murphy was all teeth, all the time. We used frisbees as shields and purchased dollar-bin stuffed toys for her shredding amusement. Now two years old, her teeth come out on two occasions:

  • When she’s tired.
  • When she needs to poop.

At least once a day, Murphy receives a scolding, “MURPHY GRACE! PUT YOUR TEETH AWAY.” That rarely works, of course. What does work is this:

  • Me: “Hey, Murphy I have a question.”
  • Murphy: Tilts head to the side and waits.
  • Me: “Are you ready for bed?” or “Do you need to poop, or what?” 

If she’s tired, she trots down the hall and jumps up on my bed. If she needs to poop, she saunters to the front door. You can almost hear thinking, “For crying out loud, hoomans. Why do I have to use my teeth before you’ll pay attention to my needs?”

Occasionally, the Velociraptor takes awhile to settle down at bedtime. (She’s not unlike a challenging toddler, really.) In that case, the conversation goes like this:

  • Me: “Hey, sweet girl. Do you need some music?”
  • Murphy: Tilts head to the side and waits.
  • Me: Launches My Favorite Coffeehouse playlist on Spotify.
  • Murphy: Falls asleep.

I know you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. She also digs Mumford & Sons, and just tonight I introduced her to The Civil Wars. She seems to like them.

Murphy is the strangest dog I’ve had. She’s tragically aloof—the kind of dog who’ll move to the couch if you dare sit by her on the loveseat. She has a mean side-eye, something for which cattle dogs are widely recognized, as it turns out. If she’s frustrated or overwhelmed, she’ll scold you. She’s crazy smart but will do nothing without receiving a treat for it. This, I know, is a human problem, not a dog problem. She has me well-trained.

Aaaaand I just remembered I wrote about this dog a week ago. Well, at least you didn’t have to hear about my bathroom again. (Whoops.)

OK, Enough of That Nonsense

So, you guys: I have an explanation for why I’ve been sharing such embarrassing things on my blog for the past two days. I’m officially coming down with something, and, apparently, virus molecules (or whatever they are) have clogged my (already quite ineffective) Filter for Determining Appropriate Blog Topics.

I am mortified—mortified—by some of the things I’ve confessed. So I’m going to try to make up for it tonight by sharing some of my better qualities. This, I realize, is also called bragging. I think that’s only fair, since I’ve surely made you feel a whole lot better about yourself over the past 48 hours.

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What Have I Done?

OK, I seriously have so much work to do today, but I also have a commitment to myself to honor. So before I write something I’m getting paid to write, I’ll write this:

Holy hell, did I put into writing that I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in weeks… and then actually hit publish

I did, didn’t I? Well, then. You might as well know these things, too:

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Some Things I Pro’ly Ought Not Admit Publically

A couple of weeks ago, I made a commitment to start my day by writing something I’m not getting paid to write. I figure it’s the only way my book is ever going to happen. Plus, writing is good for my mental health.

And I could use more of that.

So far, my track record has been pretty miserable—but it’s better than it would’ve been had I not made that commitment. So I’m still counting it a win.

Now, here’s the bad news for the four of you who read my posts regularly: I’m having trouble coming up with any writing topics worth a damn, so that means—at least for a little while—you’ll  be subjected to Kelley-focused drivel. I know. Wheeeee. If we’re lucky, it won’t take long for me to get opinionated and loud-mouthed again about stuff that actually matters.

For now, though, you get this: Some confessions.

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On Workplace Culture

Murphy Grace, my nearly two-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix, is an early riser. Shortly before my 6 am alarm, she stirs and stretches—whimpering just loudly enough to get my attention. She’s polite that way, I guess. After a couple minutes of “I hear you, Murphy. Settle down. It’s too early,” I sigh, get up, feed her, and take her outside. And then? She goes back to sleep. For hours.

I’m self-employed, and my supervisor (me) is relatively hands-off; she doesn’t want to micromanage, you see. My HR department (also me) doesn’t offer much in the way of productivity incentives. My CEO (me again) seems unclear about our business goals and isn’t an especially good strategist anyway. And my only colleague—Murphy Grace—falls asleep at her desk every day.

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Nope

I went to church this weekend with the intention of “getting back to church.” And I left the service thinking, “Nope.”

Again. 

Nope has been my involuntary reaction toward church since July of 2015. Of the 220ish Sundays that’ve passed since I was last a church employee, I’ve attended maybe a dozen services. Each of those Sundays, I’ve gotten out of my car; taken a big, cleansing, courage-gathering breath; and tried. I pushed my cynicism aside. I put a muzzle on my critic. I read the “Welcome to…” message in the bulletin, and I smiled and shook hands at the “meet and greet” time. I assumed the people on stage were offering a sincere response, not a performance. I gave the pastor the benefit of the doubt.

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Let’s Play Dress-Up with Tarantulas

Raise your hand if you go all doe-eyed and goose-bumpy thinking about ideas like intentionality and mindfulness. 

OK, now raise your hand if your reality looks more like accidental and distracted and, well, Netflix.

Yeah, me too.

I just don’t do quiet and still and present and focused terribly well. I’m relatively organized—a plan-aheader—but that’s not the same as doing things on purpose. Also? Planning to do something is way different from doing it. 

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Day Plus 914

Many weeks ago, it occurred to me that—as far as my blog was concerned—my dad was still alive.

I rather liked it that way, so I’ve resisted sharing any updates. But it’s been nearly a year since he died (on Day Plus 597), and while I don’t buy any bullshit stories about grief having a time limit, I’ve decided it’s past time to start writing again.

I’m a bit out of practice, so in the interest of self-care (and actually hitting publish on something for a change), I’ll be taking the easy route with a list of randomness. Join me, will you?

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