Sunday, February 17, 2013

Farewell To A Faithful Companion...

I have put off writing this post for almost 2 weeks now.  Tomorrow it will be 2 weeks since we sent Finchy to the Rainbow Bridge.  Last Monday, his ashes came home.  It's not that I didn't want to write a tribute to him, it's just that doing so marks an end to an era.

About a year after we got the Chili Dawg, we realized he needed a companion to play with.  We began looking at animal shelters, but couldn't find the "right" companion.  Then, a co-worker mentioned that she knew of someone who didn't want their Boxer anymore and just wanted someone to take him off their hands.  We drove up to meet the dog, with Chili Dawg.  They seemed to get along pretty well, & as a bonus, they were pretty close in age- only 6 months apart.  And so, in pretty much the same manner as our acquisition of the Chili Dawg, we acquired Finchy, 2 pure bred dogs, both unwanted by their original owners, and both given to us for free.

We came to realize, early on, that Finchy had not had an easy life in his first year and a half.  His ears had teeth marks in them, he had a case of worms, he was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks (he had been forced to live outside on a tieout- which for a Boxer with very little hair in IL, is not a good decision), and for the first year living with us, he was terrified of Ryan any time Ryan held a magazine or newspaper in his hand.  We tried to change his name, as the name Finch, didn't really appeal to us, but Finchy proved to be a stubborn dog and wouldn't come for any other name then Finch (or Finchy), and so we stuck with that name. 

Finchy was not the brightest Boxer.  Every spring, without fail, he would run into the screen door the first time it was there after the winter months were over.  We ended up having to replace the screen with pet screen, because he ended up going through it at one point.  He refused to learn the command, "lay down".  In order to get him to lay down, we had to say, "sit", and then "sit again".  Only then, would he lay down. 

He was the fastest dog I have ever met.  I refused to rollerblade with him, because I was afraid I would die.  Finchy didn't believe in pacing himself, like Chili Dawg would.  When we would take the dogs rollerblading, Finchy would take off like the devil was chasing him, and Ryan would get the ride of his life for the first half of the skate.  Then, Finchy would get tired, and Ryan would take the lead or end up carrying him home (yes, I am serious), while Chili and I finished it out- this is why it's good to pace yourself.  Finchy would chase a ball, squeaky toy, or frisbee until your arm gave out.  Then, he would bring it back to you until your other arm gave out, and he would still want to keep going.  He was the energizer bunny.

He was also the most sensitive dog that I have ever met.  He was a worrier.  He knew when Ryan was going out of town and would start to whine.  He knew when a thunderstorm was coming and would start to whine.  He was a worry-wart.  Whenever we left with Chili Dawg for the vet, he would whine and pace until we brought him home.  I think he knew Chili Dawg had cancer before we knew.

When Chili Dawg crossed the bridge, Finchy was lost.  He paced and he whined and he looked for his friend.  He turned gray fast.  I hadn't realized how quickly he turned gray until I looked at some pictures recently.  Finchy and Chili Dawg were like peanut butter and jelly.  You couldn't have one without the other.  They would lay with each other on the couch, or out in the yard, or on the floor.  It was hard for Finchy to move on without his brother.

When we got Buster, Finchy perked up a little bit.  He started to eat again and play again.  Some of the old spark came back, but Finchy was different.  Then, he got sick and the "c" word was mentioned.  I can't tell you how much I hate cancer.  Taking Finchy to the vet this last time and having him admitted for pancreatitis, Ryan asked me, "Do you think Finchy will come home this time?"  I wanted to be optimistic, but I wasn't.  When Ryan came home that Sunday after visiting hiim in the animal hospital, I saw it in his eyes too.  He knew Finchy wasn't coming home again, but we both wanted the last ditch blood test for Noah- who asked about him constantly. 

Monday night when we went to see Finchy for the last time.  He walked into the room and I could see it in his face.  His butt didn't even wiggle to see us (that's a signature Boxer move- sometimes called the jelly bean dance).  His nub of a tail moved just a bit.  He was panting heavily, because he hurt.  He couldn't figure out how to lay down, so Ryan helped him to lay down on the blanket they provided.  His legs were swollen and covered in strange bruises, and his abdomen was swollen.  We were told that they could send us to some specialists to figure out what was wrong with him, because they didn't know what else they could do.  Ryan and I didn't want to do that.  He was clearly telling us that he was hurting.  I told the vet that we wanted to end his pain, that it wasn't fair to let him suffer anymore.  We said our goodbyes to our special boy and then he was gone.  They let us stay with him as long as we wanted and then we went home. 

We had Chili Dawg for 8.5 of his 9.5 years, and we had Finchy for 9 of his 10 years.  I would like to think that Chili Dawg met him at the Rainbow Bridge and they are now back together again, the way they were meant to be.

Forever Running- 2009
Best Friends- 2011

December 2012

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Heart...

"Mom, I thought we were going to work on getting Buster to sleep in my bed every night?" Noah asked last night (Noah desperately wants Buster to sleep in his bed with him at night). 
"We are, buddy, but Buster is sad tonight, so we are just going to leave him alone tonight," I said. 
"Is it because Finchy isn't home?" 
"Yes.  He misses Finchy." 
"I miss Finchy too.  When is he going to come home from the animal hospital?" 
"Ummm.  Finchy is pretty sick.  I am not sure if he is going to come home from the animal hospital." 
"You mean he is going to go to Heaven and be with Jesus and Chili Dawg?" 
"Maybe.  We don't know yet." 
"But I want him to stay!  I LOVE HIM!" 
"Finchy is in a lot of pain, though.  It would be selfish of us to ask him to stay with us when he hurts so badly, don't you think?" 
"Well yeah, but it will hurt us if he has to go away." 
"I know, but sometimes doing the right thing is hard and hurts even though it's the right thing." 
"I feel like my heart is breaking into pieces." 
And then Noah began to sob, and when I say sob, I mean a mournful sob that pierced my heart and broke it into pieces.  He wrapped his arms around my neck and cried and cried, while Ryan and I held him and cried with him. 

Today we find out the results of the last ditch blood test and make our decision about Finchy.  If you have an opportunity, please pray for Noah- he could sure use it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


We got Finchy when he was just over a year old.  Chili Dawg was lonely and needed a brother.  We checked out various animal shelters looking for the perfect match for him, and then one of my co-workers said, "I know someone who is giving away a Boxer for free.  The family doesn't want him anymore and he has to live outside."  We checked him out, and he seemed like a good fit for Chili Dawg.  We tried to change his name, but Finchy didn't feel like learning a new name.

When you look at Finchy, the first thing you will see is that he is skinny.  No matter what we try to feed that boy, he won't gain weight.  When we first got him, he weighed in at 45 pounds.  Now, at 10 years old, he fluctuates between 52-55 pounds (average weight for a male Boxer is 60-70 pounds) and that's a big weight gain for him!  The next thing you will notice will be his face.  Most people get intimidated by his face, because Boxers look mean.  They have a smushed in face.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  Finchy is a lover, not a fighter, although, when we first had Noah, Finchy did protect him from the "evil vaccuum cleaner" by getting in between the 2 of them.  Boxers are good family dogs, and Finchy loves our kids.  He would protect them if he ever needed too, but he loves them very much.

Chili Dawg and Finchy were inseparable.  If one of them went to the vet, the other would sit by the door until the missing one came home.  Finchy is a worrier, and he would whine and whine while Chili Dawg was gone.  When Chili Dawg crossed the bridge, Finchy waited by the door for several days waiting for Chili to come home.  He even went and looked for him in the garage.  It took a while for him to fully realize that his "brother" was not coming home.  He began to lose weight, and since he was already under weight, this was not a good thing. 

Rescuing Buster was as much for Finchy as it was for me.  Buster brought new life into our house.  Finchy started eating again, playing again, doing his "wiggle dance" again.  It seemed like smooth sailing for a little while.  On Halloween, Finchy turned 10, and he was still going strong.  He could still outrun any dog in our neighborhood- that boy is f-a-s-t.  Then he came down with pancreatitis and he slowed down a little bit.  Over Christmas break, he slowed down some more. 

Yesterday, I took him to the vet's and I didn't come home with him.  He was admitted to the animal hospital, and Ryan and I are unsure if he is even going to come home this time.  Our boy has gotten older, and while he has been a faithful companion to our Chili Dawg and to us, it may be getting close to our turn to set him free from his pain, and I am not looking forward to that.  It's been almost a year and half since we sent Chili Dawg to the bridge, and I remember I said, "I don't know how long Finchy will make it without his brother, especially since they are so close in age". 

So why subject myself to the heartache of losing another dog to yet another cancer?  Here are a couple quotes that explain my reasoning...

 "God has not changed his mind about the animals. He has made provision for them. In truth, they really are his animals and not ours. They belong to the one who created them and gave them life. They are merely on loan to us, and as inconceivable as it may seem, God loves them more than you and I ever could."
-- dog quote by Gary Kurz, Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog
From Last Year's Monkey-Butt Calendar

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."