Over a Decade of Finn

I write about Aoife because she is as cute as a button and as entertaining as the Cirque du Soleil. I write about Enzo because he is epileptic and sharing my sorrow has helped to ease the burden of his affliction. I rarely write about Finn. Why is that? Because Finn is a mountain, solid and dependable. He is so easy… and due to that, I have sometimes taken him for granted.

chocolate labrador retriever

In my defense, he’s much like that good kid in class… Martin… What’s his last name again? You don’t remember instantly because he doesn’t stand out. He isn’t naughty, doesn’t require special services or treatment; he does his homework, raises his hand, lines up when asked, and is kind to others. He goes about his day and there’s truly nothing compelling or Earth shattering to say about him. Except…. except he’s the kid whose name you give to the sub when you’re out sick, because you know he’s solid and dependable and you can count on him.

Finn has always been my nighttime side-kick. Whenever I’ve had to get up to tend a sick daughter, a sick foster dog, or anyone who was feeling ill, Finn would get up as well. He’d accompany me on my rounds, silent and unassuming, his presence that mountain you can count on to be there. There were many nights when Bess’s medications made her nauseous and she would be sick, often several times. Finn would still rise, each and every time with me, down the stairs to gather the items needed, then back up the stairs to clean her up and make her comfortable.

Finn had a sister named Teale. She belonged to my dear friend, and that’s actually how I came to have Finn, through her. Teale is gone now, taken in a tragic fire that raged through the kennel where she was being boarded. My husband texted me from his work, where he’d seen the fire on the news. Wasn’t that where Teale, Treacle, and Ringo were being boarded while my friends attended their daughter’s graduation from college? Yes. No, no, no! Profound shock. Numbness. All three dogs taken from them in one horrific accident. I know how shattered I was on that day in 2011; I can only imagine how it must have been for them.

When they returned, I debated on whether or not I should bring Finn along for the visit- would seeing him cause my friend even more pain? But he had always accompanied me to Auntie Donna’s house. He loved her almost as much as he loved me- jumping up joyfully each and every time he saw her, much to my chagrin and her delight. Wondering if I was doing the right thing– I grabbed his leash. Specific details are hazy, but what stands out, what I remember with such clarity is Finn, standing rock solid steady beside me when Donna opened the door, not a muscle moved as though to jump. Then later, Finn laying beside her, on the floor, his full length up against her, his magnificent chocolate head on her lap while she wept, giving all the comfort and love he had to give with his warm, gentle presence.

When Enzo was 16 months old, we were sure he had torn his cranial cruciate ligament falling heavily on a snowy, slippery walk. After an emergency call to the vet, we knew we were in for a long night. Although dosed with some of Bess’s pain killers per the veterinarian’s advice, he was still profoundly uncomfortable, refusing to rise from his bed. But at 12:30 am he needed to go out, and was whining in distress. It was Finn who aided him. He came up right next to Enzo, stood for a moment and then began walking slowly towards the door. Enzo hesitated, then rose to follow. I held my breath as I opened the door. Finn waited on the deck, then when Enzo was once again by his side, they walked together, Finn leading just a bit, on down the path, Enzo limping unsteadily beside him. Finn veered off the path, peed and then went back to stand next to Enzo. Enzo hesitated, looked longingly towards the spot where Finn had peed, then slowly, carefully, made his way out there and relieved himself. The two boys walked back to the house together, while I watched in silent awe and gratitude.

Time is beginning to erode my mountain. His hind legs betray him on occasion; he frequently requires assistance not only climbing the stairs, but coming down them as well. He naps often, and deeply. He still rejoices in our walks, but tends toward meandering by my side, no longer cavorting and running with the other two, who easily cover twice the ground we do. He’s my Chocolate Boy, my Sausage Clown and he is deeply loved. Entering his thirteenth year with me, I no longer take him for granted. I cherish and enjoy this wonderful, steady, reliable dog. It’s a gift to share your life with a senior dog. And my gift is Finn. Thanks buddy; I love you.