My name is Carla Murray, and this is my story of how my two amazing dogs, Boot and Joshua, have helped me through some of the toughest times in my life.

One of the most inspiring stories for me started back in 1999, when I received a terrible phone call telling me that my husband of 23 years, and Battalion Fire Chief in Pomona, CA, was killed in the line of duty in an airplane accident in Gorman, CA.  He was en route to Sacramento, CA when they hit bad weather and were forced to land in Bakersfield, CA.  After waiting three hours for the weather to settle, he decided to fly back home, but hit bad weather and ended up crashing into a mountain side.  To make this tragedy even harder to bear I was restricted to a wheelchair due to a neck injury I had suffered earlier that year.  I was now faced with the difficult reality that I was going to have to manage without my husband, and the doctors had told me that I would never walk again, let alone work.

Enter into the story, Boot, my husband’s amazing Dalmatian.  Boot was like my husband’s shadow.  He loved us with such ferocity that it was incredible to see how much love could come out of that little body.  My favorite memory of Boot is when he would spend the days with my husband down at the fire hall, and even go out on call and ride on the ladder trucks!!  Now with my husband gone, and my struggle to walk, Boot focused all his love and attention on me.

Due to my loss, I became determined I would walk again, regardless of what my doctors had told me.  I searched for new medical opinions on my condition, and eventually found a neurosurgeon that told me, "Carla, I think I can get you out of that chair some of the time".  I was filled with joy!  He sent me to receive treatment at one of the best rehabilitation facilities in the state and it was not long that they had me in braces, using a long walking stick, and by golly, I learned to walk with them.  I used them for two years.  All the while, I still had my faithful dog Boot, pouring on me his sincere love.

After two years, I developed a knot in my heel and went to a bone specialist, and he told me I had to get out of the braces and back in my wheelchair or I would destroy the bones in my ankles.  I was so frustrated and angry; I refused to accept his decision.  I went straight home, threw my braces in the trash and started walking around solely using my walking stick. Was that humbling…I fell down a lot.  The scary part was that I had been told that if I fell and hit my head, my neck would break and I would die.  I continued to refuse their advice and with the emotional support of my family and Boot, I persisted.  Even though I fell, somehow I always fell on my bottom.  I think God was protecting me.  After several months, I gradually started walking without my stick.

Today, I walk really well, and am so inspired by my pets that I’m starting a part-time pet-sitting business. But, alas, after 14 years of devotion, I had to put down my faithful dog, Boot, because arthritis began to ravage his body.

Missing the companionship, I decided to get a yellow lab.  His name is Joshua and he is the light of my life.  We are totally bonded to each other, and he is my best friend.  I trained him both in a novice class and in an intermediate class, and he won first place in one event and second in another!  I walk him and play ball with him every day.  I even taught him how to fetch.  One of his favorite activities is swimming in the children’s pool I purchased for him and just plain loves water.

         I still miss my beloved husband of 23 yrs., but I'm content and happy now.  God has been good to me.  I have had two inspiring pets, so I am a lucky person.   

By Carla Murray, Murray’s Wet Nose Pet Sitting.    

July 6, 2007

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