Our New Family Addition

Murphy & Kids

We have a new addition to our family.  That’s right… he was born on October 5th, 2012, and is growing like a weed.  He’s currently 14 pounds and doing very well.  He has about the same color hair as Brendan and Claire.  He has brown eyes and a pretty strong frame.  We named him Murphy Brown Reilly…  and he is our dog.  🙂


Sean and I were going back and forth for a while on whether or not we should get a dog for the kids.  We knew we always wanted one… it was just a matter of when and how.  After making a long pros and cons list, we decided now was the time, and the how, well… we will figure it out.  Murphy is a lot of work.  But we are beyond happy with this decision for the mere fact that he is not only teaching the kids how to take care of a pet, he’s giving them a chance to experience an unexplainable type of love that comes with having a pet.

Murphy & BrendanMurphy & Nolan

Murphy & ClaireMurphy & Boys

And after the kids go to bed, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t really enjoy this time with him.  We have a routine.  When it’s time to relax, I’ll grab my book, give Murphy a treat, and once he’s done with it, he’ll come over and cuddle with me.  Or if he’s feeling playful, he’ll go to Sean who will gladly rough house with him.

Murphy & Col

Murphy is our family pet, first and foremost.  He also comes with an added bonus though.  He is a mini golden doodle.  ½ golden retriever, ½ poodle.  He is the type of dog who has the potential to be a human’s guide/companion/helper dog.  While we want him to remain the family pet, we would still like to teach him to do certain things with Claire that we know he’s capable of.  In fact, it’s been recommended that we add a few goals to Claire’s therapy plan, which will require Murphy’s assistance.

One day as Claire’s speech therapy session was ending, Glenna (Claire’s speech therapist) asked how Murphy was doing.  I shot a video of he and Claire the day before and shared that with her.  As she was watching the video, I saw her face light up with happiness.  Below is the video… along with what came across her mind as she was viewing this.  (Thank you Glenna, for sharing your thoughts!)

From Glenna Greenwald:

“As a therapist sometimes I wonder if the skills worked on in therapy sessions ever generalize into other areas of children’s lives. It is something we all hope for but don’t always get to see. When Colleen said she had a great little video clip for me to see, I knew there was no doubt it would be cute. What I didn’t expect to see was that Claire was communicating with her new puppy.

I am sure that there are those who watch this clip and only see a darling little girl and a cute puppy. If that is the case for you, watch again; but this time with new eyes. Here’s why:

First of all, note that Claire starts off by using her single message button that says “Hi, watcha ‘doin?” and then bends close to him… Murphy gives her a little kiss.  They were communicating. Now just in case you happen to think that this was just a random action, she does it again. First, Claire presses the button on her toy to hear a song.  Then she goes back to the “Hi, watcha ‘doin?” button and again presses that, before giving Murphy a tap on his head (which is her way of showing affection to others).  When Claire starts to move away, she turns around and looks for Murphy while gesturing something like “come on”. Claire comes back to interact with Mom for a moment. Once Mom acknowledges Claire’s efforts, Claire waves “bye-bye” and goes in the other room with Murphy in tow.

What could be better than seeing just how much “buy-in” Claire has to the idea of communication? Because of her family and early intervention using augmentative communication methods, Claire naturally extends her efforts to the new puppy. Because of her communication experiences, Claire also assumes that her efforts will be recognized and understood.  And my guess is that Murphy will learn to listen to Claire with understanding from the heart!”

Murphy & ClaireMurphy & Claire

We’ve only had Murphy for about a month.  It’s pretty incredible to see already, what he’s done for our family…  well, maybe with the exception of how he’s already shown the kids how to escape from his playpen. 😉     -Colleen


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