He was one of the saddest, most shut-down dogs we'd ever met...

When we think of a Golden Retriever, we can't help but smile.

Picturing a fluffy ball of sunshine running through the grass, their large smile beaming with love as they rush toward their person. They are generally outgoing, eager to please, and full of joy for the world around them. However, when 4-year-old Murphy came into our care in June, it was like a deep, dark shadow had blocked out all his sunshine.

You see, up until just before he arrived in our care, Murphy's whole world had been confined to the small, oppressive boundaries of a cage within a breeding facility. Until the day of his rescue, Murphy had never seen the outside world. Never played with toys. Never played with another dog, let alone a human being. Within his tiny cage, scared, alone and facing unimaginable trauma, Murphy would simply pace.

Around and around.

All day. Every day.

A young couple had adopted Murphy after his rescue. They had big dreams of giving this gorgeous boy the happy life full of love he deserved, and had purchased him everything he could ever want. However, they were unprepared for just how severe Murphy's anxiety would be. His life in the breeding facility had deeply affected him, and Murphy was not adapting well to the big new world. It wasn't long before the couple realised that Murphy would need far more support than they could provide. With broken hearts, they decided to surrender Murphy into our care here at SCAR. And so, Murphy's long journey of rehabilitation would begin…

While Murphy was eager for pats (pending he felt safe, and you were very quiet), he was one of the saddest, most shut-down dogs we've ever met. "He would just sit and stare." Said Karen, SCAR's receptionist. "He wouldn't move or acknowledge anything or anyone."

Watching Murphy interact with the world around him in such uncontrollable fear was heartbreaking.

We knew Murphy would need a patient, loving foster home to help him come out of his shell. And so, armed with the advice of our Senior Animal Trainer, Liam, and the aid of some medication to help with Murphy's severe anxiety, foster carer Erin and her family took Murphy into their care. Here, Murphy would have plenty of time to find his feet, surrounded by all the love and support he needed. But it wouldn't be easy, and it wouldn't be fast.

For the first few days, Murphy refused to leave his crate. He refused to eat or drink.

Erin had to cook him some bone broth to entice him to try. If taken outside to toilet, Murphy was visibly overwhelmed by his surroundings – head lowered, tail between his legs – and then he would begin to pace.

Around and around.

Desperate to head back to his little den of safety inside.

It would be weeks before Erin could coax Murphy out of his shell enough to enjoy lying on a soft blanket just outside his crate. Another few weeks until he was happy to go to the toilet just outside the backdoor.

For now, Murphy's life was a series of tentative steps forward, followed by many bounds backwards – and that was okay because Erin and our team were right there to guide him.

As Murphy explored all he'd missed out on for four years at his own pace, Erin watched him and celebrated his tiny victories (like a slight wag of the tail when he saw Erin's dog, Tory playing), and she'd help him when he stumbled.

"He didn't seem to like the dark at all." Said Erin. "During the day, he was starting to

become quite happy just pottering about the garden, but once it started

getting dark, he would barrel into his crate, cowering in fear."

So, Erin would sit with Murphy for hours on his blanket, his big head in her lap, tenderly running her hand through his fur and whispering soft words of love. Soon, Murphy would crawl out of his crate towards Erin and give her a gentle headbutt – a silent request for the gentle love he'd never really known but so desperately begun to adore.

Each day, as Murphy slowly gained more confidence, Erin discovered something new about Murphy. From his 'Floor is Lava' fear of the tiles to his love for lying in a particular spot in the garden. Erin watched as the clouds began to clear over Murphy and a bit of the sunshine hidden underneath finally began to shine through! Murphy would play with Tory in the garden. Would boop Erin's cat on the head happily as she wound around his legs of a night. He would lounge on his blankie and enjoy cuddles with Erin and her partner.

It was an absolute joy to watch.

But the best part was always seeing the unbridled joy on Murphy's face whenever he encountered a soft toy! Can you imagine living four years as a dog and never experiencing toys? When Murphy first began finding his feet, he stumbled across a stuffed Beluga whale toy of Tory's. Murphy looked at it. He puzzled over it. He nuzzled it with his nose. And it was like a sudden understanding came over him. He snatched the Beluga whale into his mouth and took it into his crate, claiming it as his own.

Over the next few weeks, what began as tentative mouthing quickly turned into Murphy delightedly throwing the whale up in the air and catching it with absolute abandon! The toy became known as Murphy's Emotional Support Beluga Whale, and we think it also played a vital role in helping Murphy come out of his shell.

With his confidence exceeding everyone's expectations, it was time for this special boy to find his people.

Enter Fiona and her family. They were looking for their newest family member when they saw Murphy's profile online. They were a fantastic fit for our special boy, so after saying goodbye to his foster family, who had helped him through so much, Murphy spent a trial week in his new home. During his first night, Murphy sat quietly on the couch while Fiona and her daughter played soft, calming music and soothed him to sleep. After just one night, Fiona and her family had already decided that Murphy wasn't going anywhere!

It's been several months since then, and Murphy has been officially adopted into the family where the dog that came to us, scared of the wind and having only known a tiny life inside a pen, is now almost unrecognisable!

Murphy greets his family as well as each day with a happy waggly tail and a toy in his mouth. He spends his days outside, exploring every inch of the ¼-acre block he now calls home.

Murphy has learned many new things with his new family.

He knows he loves rolling in mud. That cuddles help when he's feeling stressed. He is obsessed with water, and throwing his soft toys in the air will always be an obsession.

But mostly, this beautiful dog has learned the joys of just being a dog. The thrill that comes with getting the zoomies after a splash in a puddle. The happiness of having someone to play with and plonk down beside after a long day. The joys of endlessly running. Chasing your human or a ball. Just for fun.

Around and around.

"Murphy is honestly such a special boy, and we are so smitten with him." Says Fiona.

"We know he still has a long way to go, but it's nice to see him come out of his shell and

witness the funny, happy personality shining through.

We have to thank Erin. She is an amazing foster mum and did a great job with him.

He was fortunate to have her, and we feel so lucky to have him.

Our beautiful Murphy Man."

Murphy's story is why we do what we do here at SCAR.

To make a true difference.

For both pets and their people.

To give them a second chance, or a third, or a fourth…

To be their safe place.

Watch Murphy's Transformation Here:

We couldn't have asked for a better resolution for Murphy, who is finally free to enjoy life instead of just endure it.

But sadly, while Murphy's story is unique to him, his behavioural disadvantages and emotional scars are not.

Unfortunately, we see many dogs, like Murphy, who have been through similar trauma. Whose sunshine is hidden under a cloud of sadness just begging to gleam through if only someone would give them a second chance.

By donating to SCAR today, you can ensure that we are always able to help provide the services required to assist and rehabilitate animals like Murphy. From providing medical and behavioural care, as well as everything our fantastic foster carers need to ensure these animals can get back on their feet.


With your help, we can transform the lives of animals’ like Murphy today.

All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.