When we first met Murray (formerly Lars) on the day we picked him up for adoption, we learned a few things: he was a Blue Boston that had been surrendered by a rural breeder who didn’t think he would sell because of his coloring; he relied on his little sister for protection but was slowly becoming braver every day; and he was tough enough to survive being kept outside in a kennel for both a hot Missouri summer and a cold Midwest winter.

Since we’ve had Murray for a year-and-a-half now, we’ve learned a few new things:

 He’s got more personality inside him than you’d think his stocky little body could contain (and, Thank God, that breeder had no idea what a great dog they gave up).
 He can be very independent when he feels safe (or simply insistent when he feels like it’s time to play regardless of whether we’re half-thru watching a movie and he was just sound asleep five seconds earlier).
 He can catch a Frisbee out of the air around three to four times out of 10 (but we’re working on improving those statistics) and will play fetch until he’s so tuckered out that he just lays down in the grass (still with the tennis ball in his mouth, mind you).
 He’s completely unaware of his own size (as evidenced by his tendency to constantly start wrestling matches with his ten-pound heavier “fur brother” and significantly larger dogs at daycare).
 He’s completely aware of his cuteness (as evidenced by his patient and manipulative begging for fruits, veggies or meat whenever we’re making dinner).

These are not things we learned about Murray overnight. These are things we earned the right to know by taking care of Murray, comforting Murray, feeding Murray, protecting Murray, playing with Murray, training Murray and loving Murray.

He’s still timid around strangers and takes awhile to warm up to them, but in the comfort of his home with just my wife and I (and fur brother Baxter), he shows us the side of himself that others rarely get to see:

Playful. Curious. Rambunctious. Loving. Goofy.

We sometimes lament the fact that whatever happened to him in his past doesn’t always allow him (yet!) to display these aspects of his big personality to others right away. At the same time, we cherish the truth that the home we’ve been able to provide for him has allowed him to share his true self with us.

Murray is why any dog we get in the future will be a rescue dog. There’s a joy hard to describe in bringing home an animal the world has been at best neglectful of, at worst cruel to – and helping that innocent spirit see that this world can also be warm and kind.

We couldn’t be more grateful to the Erin’s MidWest Animal ResQ for bringing Murray into our lives.