The Murray Big 10

What’s on your bucket list? I’ve always yearned to raise puppies, and almost a year ago, our family was lucky enough to experience a litter of 10 golden retriever bundles of joy.

What a difference a year makes! We kept the 10th puppy (whom we named Tess the 10th) and seven of the other puppies are with their forever families right here in town. The other two aren’t far away, and we get to see pictures of our babies on social media from time to time.

Looking back on the experience, I sometimes can’t believe that it really happened. To other dog breeders who have several litters a year, this might sound sappy, but the almost nine weeks that we had those “Murray Big 10” (as we affectionately called them) were a bit of heaven.

If you know me at all, you are aware of my almost obsessive compulsion to record everything on film for posterity. You wouldn’t believe how many pictures and videos I have of those darling puppies. As I have been feeling nostalgic and needing some of that puppy love, I have become lost in time flipping through adorable picture after adorable picture on my phone. And just like a mother who all of a sudden thinks she might want just one more, I find myself feeling the same. Except in this case, it’s puppies I’m craving instead of babies!

I wonder how Bella, the mother of the Murray Big 10, feels about my desire.

Picture 10 little faces looking up at you every morning, happy that you simply walked into the room. Picture sitting on the floor with 10 little fluff balls who want to crawl all over you so they are able to love you just a little bit more. Picture holding a newly born puppy against your chest so it can feel warmth and be calmed by hearing your heartbeat.

I’m really worse than a woman with baby fever. I feel puppy fever setting in again, and it’s a bit worrisome.

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For those of you who haven’t raised 10 puppies at once, let me just say that it’s a full-time job. After about six weeks, there is puppy poo to clean constantly, and with 10 puppies, it’s 10 times the amount. Just when you think you’re done cleaning, those full-tummied fluff balls start all over again.

It was important to me to have each puppy become accustomed to people. I pet them, held them, talked to them, sang to them…you name it. In fact, one person in our family even slept in a recliner in our family room (which became the puppy room) for the first two weeks of their lives. (I do sound like a crazy dog lady, and I suppose I am.)

Did all of my time and effort pay off? I’d like to think so. Each puppy was so full of personality and so very loving. I cried after each one went with their new family, although I couldn’t be more pleased with the amazing people who welcomed them into their homes.

I’m beyond happy that we decided to keep Tess in our family. I post pictures of the crazy things she does, and I’m delighted to discover that her brothers and sisters are doing similar things. It’s like staying in touch with your relatives from afar, but, dare I say it, sometimes even a little better. I still feel such ownership in those precious goldens who are about to turn one year old. I smile when I see pictures of the new families having fun with Tess’s siblings. My sadness for saying goodbye to nine sweet souls quickly turned into happiness for helping nine other families add a very special family member into their lives.

Happy First Birthday to Porkchop (Kooper), Fiona (Liberty), Mallory (Lady), Rizzo (Abbi), Pinky (Molly), Finn (Messi), Toby (Trice), Wookie (Maverick), Honey (Luna), and of course, Tess the 10th! Your mom, Bella, and your dad, Max, wish you so many more!

And hey, Forever Families, how about a little birthday celebration soon? I’ll take the pictures!

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Michelle Sprout Murray is a freelance writer who lives in Mason City with her family. She may be reached at queenmom@mchsi.com.


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