Poway is mourning the recent loss of one very special canine that has left a hole in the heart of an entire community.
You may remember Murphy the Labradoodle, Poway’s most beloved park ranger.
The 15-year-old dog and his human partner patrolled neighborhood parks for the past decade.
“Murphy was a celebrity in Poway,” said Mayor Steve Vaus. “Murphy just had a presence about him and I think he struck everyone the same way and he is going to be missed.”
Murphy and his partner Doug Johnston started making the rounds through city parks together as Reserve Rangers more than 11 years ago. They frequently worked rain or shine, all seven days of the week, averaging more than 20 hours a week.
“I heard it was something like 1,200 hours a year, and that was over 12 years, so that’s like 144,000 hours,” Mayor Vaus commented on the amount of work Murphy and his partner put into keeping the Poway community safe. “That’s a lot of time, but the amount of smiles that came with all that time was worth it to everyone in Poway.”
Murphy was easily the most recognizable and approachable ranger in town.
Not your typical patrol K-9, Murphy was a former hospital comfort dog, a fluffy volunteer with an olive green military style vest and a smile that made him endearing even to people caught breaking the rules.
Over the years, Murphy sniffed out everything from marijuana bags to lost car keys.
Johnston told NBC 7 last September Murphy was trained to sniff out “anomalies in the park, so anything that’s not commonly in each park – he has a baseline scent for each park – he will be interested in taking me to.”
Johnston and Murphy’s work highlighted a unique way for the city to keep people safe through a program made up of more than 50 volunteer rangers who supplement five full-time staff rangers.
Murphy was 15 years old, which put him somewhere near the century mark in dog years.
“It’s one thing to be a celebrity and another to be loved the way Murphy truly was,” said Vaus, adding he was considering naming the next dog park built in Poway after Murphy.
Johnston told NBC 7 the loss of Murphy was more devastating to him than he ever imagined. He said he can’t possibly patrol Poway parks without his partner.
People in Poway can only hope Johnston finds a new partner to patrol the parks once again because right now the community is missing two friendly familiar faces.