The developing relationship between Pickett and Murphy reminds me a bit of The Old Man and the Boy, the remarkable stories of Robert Ruark about a young boy and his grandfather and their adventures together hunting and fishing in old North Carolina. While Pickett is not Murphy’s grandfather, they are in fact chronologically suited, as Pickett is nearing 63 using the hypothetical dog-year calculation and Murphy is somewhere around five.
Pickett is calm and forgiving in the face of the whirlwind that is Murphy. Murphy finds his greatest pleasure in leaping on and about Pickett, even though he is now no longer a puppy but an adolescent of considerable size. He is in fact as tall as Pickett, but still a gangly youth with boundless energy. He is constantly trying to engage Pickett, taunting him with a stick in his possession as if to say, “Look what I’ve got! Try and take it! Come on!” Meanwhile, you can almost see the quiet and knowing smile in Pickett’s demeanor as he lies down and ignores the leaping and spinning invitation.
While Pickett plays the part of the uninterested old man, when a dummy flies, there is still fire and desire in his belly, and the metamorphosis from lazy old dog to a rippling specimen of speed and muscled athlete is almost shocking. While Murphy may exude great energy, what he still lacks in his youth is great strength of body and character. Murphy is like the young boy who constantly learns the lessons of life from the old man in the woods and fields of rural North Carolina; Pickett is the all-knowing and powerful one, quietly teaching by example.