THE BLOG

What a Great Dog Named Murphy Taught Me About Life and Labor Journalism

12/09/2010 09:45 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

With this column, I will now have written my 100th column for the Huffington Post. The first column I wrote for the Huffington Post was about one of the loves of my life -- beer -- in an article entitled "Union busting Ended My Love Affair with a Beer". So I thought it only appropriate to write about the other love of my life -- dogs. As most of my friends know I talk about dogs the way some men talk about women, I go out of my way to check out the dogs at the dog park, and even keep a portrait of a golden retriever above my desk to inspire me.

One dog in particular, Murphy has helped really inspired me. Murphy is a lovable fluffy brown flat coated retriever. He's a rambunctious dog who loves to be around people and is always in a good mood. Spending time with Murphy in the middle of the day provides a needed break from the day to day grind of being a reporter.

Writing about the labor movement has not been easy and at times incredibly depressing. We have a president who seems fundamentally indifferent and at times openly attacks organized labor. Even worse, we have a labor movement that is unwilling to challenge the White House through direct action in the ways that labor movement challenged FDR. Instead, the labor movement in the last election shoveled around $200 million of union members' money into a Democratic Party that has done very little for those same union members.

Worse, labor leaders often seem removed from their members and ineffective at organizing them. Take for instance if labor leaders in all U.S. unions capped their salaries at $150,000 a year, the labor movement could save $143 million a year. This free up vast amounts of money for organizing at a time when many unions are laying valuable organizers due to declining membership.

However when I raise these facts I've been told by labor leaders that my criticism of organized labor only help the efforts of union busters despite the fact that I've fought union busters and corporate CEOs. In short, trying to accurately report on the state of organized labor often wins you as many enemies about union bosses as it does with corporate bosses.

Taking Murphy for walks in the middle of the day though has provided me with much needed relaxation and perspective. Murphy legs jingle with joy as he runs along in the woods. He is excited about every person he meets -- sometimes a little too excited. He is happy just to be alive and out walking.

Murphy is always enthusiastic about life every single day and for this I am grateful. It's this sense of optimism about Murphy that seems to rub off on me. Despite all everything else happening in my life, Murphy seems to remind that life is good and full of possibilities. I still find writing about the labor movement uplifting because I believe it's still possible for the labor movement can still empower regular people to change their own lives.

Murphy lives to be around other people and make other people happy. He reminds me of why I got involved in labor journalism - people. It's for those workers that I endure the little pay, the constant writing and research till 3 in the morning, and the always harsh critics.

Murphy never seems to stop reminding me of what is in important in life. Dogs while seeming like simple creatures reminds us of so many important truths in life. They help us see through the haze of complexities that human create called depression to see that life is endless reservoir of potential happiness and that the people we have around us are all we need to achieve it. I am so thankful that I have Murphy as my buddy.