SOUTH OGDEN — Anyone who believes that one dog can’t make a difference never met Murphy.
The former search and rescue-turned-pet therapy dog is missed by many. That’s because Murphy, a nearly 8-year-old golden-
doodle, died recently.
When owners noticed his eyes looking distant and his head hanging low, they rushed him to their veterinarian, but it was too late to reverse his twisted stomach condition, and the dog died.
“We put the announcement to all our employees,” said Linda Thomas, H2U Health and Wellness program coordinator at Ogden Regional Medical Center. “We’ve had an overwhelming response.”
Thomas described Murphy as having “such a good heart and beautiful, beautiful eyes” as well as always wanting to please all with whom he came into contact.
Murphy had been a therapy dog at the hospital since January.
“The benefits of pet therapy are amazing,” Thomas said. “Oftentimes, the dog will help (the patient) sleep and relieve the pain. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
And Thomas said a man once came out of a coma while Murphy was near.
“(Murphy and his owner) were concerned that he had passed,” Thomas said of a visit they made the following week after the man awoke. “But he’d been moved out of ICU and into a private room.”
Before Murphy offered his services for therapy, the large dog had led a full life in search and rescue.
Murphy and his owner, Paulette Bennett, were certified in 2006 to become a working team with American Search Dogs, based in Ogden.
For the next six years, Murphy participated in numerous searches in Idaho and Utah, looking for missing children, drowning victims, people lost in the wilderness and several searches for Susan Powell.
“One of his less-known adventures was finding a friend’s ball python that had been on the loose in their house for five days,” Bennett said.
In his role as a search dog, he was featured in numerous presentations, mostly teaching children how they could survive and be found if they were ever lost.
As a part of the presentation, Murphy would give an obedience demonstration, showing off with dog tricks and then find a hiding child by sniffing a dropped article of clothing and following the scent.
“He was always popular at these events, with children crowding around to have their pictures taken with him,” Bennett said. “Several thousand people have attended these presentations in school classes, assemblies, churches, special camps and parks in Idaho and as far south as Moab and Tropic.”
Murphy has been featured as a search dog in two published books, “Search Dogs and You” by Vickie King (Strategic Publishing Group, $13) and “Goldendoodles (Designer Dogs)” by Ruth Owen (the Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., $10.
Bennett said the dog’s unique breeding gave him his one-of-a-kind appearance.
His mother was a standard poodle and his father was a golden retriever.
“His size and looks had people constantly wanting to touch him and ask what he was — a common occurrence throughout his life,” Bennett said.
Through much of his service in both of his careers, Murphy worked alongside Bert, a 4-year-old golden retriever Bennett described as his best friend.
And this week at the hospital, workers … saw that Bert showed signs of sadness and missing his friend.
Bert’s owner, Vickie King, went to the hospital prepared with cards explaining why Murphy wasn’t there with his friend.
“(Bert) definitely noticed his friend was gone,” Thomas said. “Animals are aware of these things. … We’re just all trying to recover. I don’t know how you recover from that.”
And Bennett also expressed her grief at the loss of her pet.
“Murphy’s life was a life of service, and his family has been touched by the many messages of love and concern they have received since his passing,” she said. “His nose prints remain on our sliding glass door, as we cannot yet face wiping off that evidence of his very big, if too short life.”
She said Murphy was a beloved pet, confidant, clown, volunteer and best friend to her and her husband, Bill.