FRANKLIN TWP. — Murphy’s skill of opening closed doors landed the 5-year-old canine in a dangerous situation on Valentine’s Day.
After his owner, Dallas resident Louis Czaja, left for work at 10 a.m. Sunday, Murphy applied his knowledge and began opening doors in his home, starting with an upstairs room.
Eventually, the Vizsla found his way out of the home on Michael Drive in Dallas and explored the neighborhood.
“Murphy has learned to open the latch door knobs (French door knobs),” Czaja said. “I must have forgotten to close the garage door.”
Temperatures Sunday hovered between the single digits and teens, creating a life-threatening situation for the pooch.
Miguel Rivera found Murphy in the yard of his Park Street home in Dallas early Sunday afternoon.
“I brought my dogs outside. They were overly curious about something I could not see,” Rivera said.
When he returned his dogs to his home, he saw Murphy come around the corner of the yard.
“I tried to call him over, but he did not come,” he said.
Rivera started a game where he turned his back to the dog, then turned and faced him.
“The dog turned his back to me and then turned and looked at me,” Rivera said.
Rivera repeated the behavior while slowly walking toward Murphy. Gradually, the distance between Murphy and Rivera lessened.
“He (Murphy) came and sat down by me and let me pet him,” Rivera said.
Judging from the dog’s appearance, Rivera determined the canine had been “exposed to the elements” for a while but was also someone’s pet. He took Murphy inside.
“I offered him (Murphy) food and water, but he would not take it,” Rivera said. “The dog seemed very well behaved, smart and well-mannered.”
Rivera’s wife, Desalle, suggested taking the dog to Blue Chip Farms Animal Rescue on Lockville Road in Franklin Township.
“I plugged in the address to my GPS and the dog jumped into my car,” he said.
Marge Bart, owner of the no-kill shelter, could tell Murphy was someone’s pet.
“He was neutered and well cared for,” she said.
But the dog did not have a collar and was not micro-chipped, which made finding his owner a challenge.
Bart and her staff of volunteers posted a photo of Murphy on Facebook.
“We have a 90 percent rate of reuniting owners with their pets,” Bart said. “Social media is a big part of that.”
When Czaja returned home about 6 p.m., he was heartbroken to see Murphy was gone.
“I went into a panic,” he said. “I called everyone I knew.”
After two and a half hours of searching for Murphy, Czaja heeded the advice of a friend and contacted Blue Chip.
“I did not anticipate anyone would answer the phone,” Czaja said. “I was surprised when someone answered.”
Bart had Czaja describe his dog in detail, including Murphy’s age, personality traits and identifying marks. Once she confirmed Czaja was the owner, Bart made arrangements for Murphy to go home Monday.
Murphy greeted his owner with a wagging tail.
Czaja learned to keep Murphy’s collar and tags on him, even when the dog is in the house. Also, he will “make certain the garage door is closed and locked.”
Czaja and Rivera had not met prior to this incident, but Czaja is “very thankful” Rivera took the time to help Murphy.
“I can’t express in words how appreciative I am,” Czaja said.