Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It's been an emotional week here.  Our beloved dog, Finnegan, is only 10.5 years young.  She was losing weight and so we took her into the vet to have her checked out.  Our guess was that her teeth were not doing well since she wouldn't eat her large treats or hard food but would eat the small treats and canned wet dog food.  She had some tests and it was found she is in kidney failure.

Early days with Finnegan.  I took her to the local orchard for pumpkin picking.  Doesn't everyone?
After a lot of discussion we decided to treat her for the kidney failure.  The success rate for the treatment which consisted of 3 days in-patient with IV fluids was predicted to be high and could extend Finnegan's life by about 2 years.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a success for our girl.

The weekend Chris proposed.  I said Yes and Finnegan wholeheartedly agreed!
The doctors determined that her type of kidney failure is Lyme Nephritis and the short-term prognosis is extremely bleak for our Finney.  We checked her out of the hospital against medical advice (they wanted to euthanize her) and took her home to spoil her a bit.  When we checked her into the hospital for treatment she was ok - still eating a bit, but quite skinny.  She was still barking and taking walks but the walks were getting shorter and she was lagging behind a bit rather than walking as far ahead as her leash would allow.

Finnegan loves to be right in the center of the action.  This is from when Julia was a baby.
Something happened while in the hospital and she hit a marked decline - not the result we we were expecting.  We are not sure if Finnegan would have had the same decline if we never checked her into the hospital but it is certainly possible.  One thing we knew is that we had to take her home.  She was depressed and unhappy in the hospital and for a dog that has never been in a kennel a day in her life we didn't want her to think she was there because she did anything wrong.  We didn't want her to end her life that way at all.  We needed to bring her home.

All of us have used Finnegan as our pillow or recliner for years.  Thanks, Finn, for loving it as much as we do!

The vets weaned her off the IV fluid treatment and the plan was for Chris to pick her up around 6:30 Monday morning and have Finney home before the girls woke up.  But I couldn't sleep that night.  I was too worried about Finney and then Emma kept waking up and so I decided at 2am to just call the vet and see how Finnegan was doing.  They told me she could be taken home anytime so I went over and picked her up right then.  Can you tell I'm a bit nuts over this dog?  I didn't even think twice about heading out in the middle of the night just to get her home with us.  I figured she would start to heal a bit at home.

Younger years in the snow, ready to retrieve a ball as always!
Enjoying the snow we had about two weeks ago.

She was all happy when I picked her up to come home.  She did need a bit of help to get in the car and then took her time before she came inside wanting to smell everything on the front lawn first.  That made me smile.  She was OK getting up our front stairs and then laid down on the living room floor and set about cleaning herself.  Each breath she took had her whole body shaking.  It didn't make us feel good to see her like that.  She didn't eat but did take a bit of water.  We cuddled and kissed her most of the day.  We took a family walk and let Finnegan be our guide of where she wanted to go.  She didn't go far - just a couple of houses away in a few different directions.  Afterwards we came home and sat on the front lawn with her letting her watch all the neighborhood happenings.

Constant, Loyal companion.
Chris and I prepared ourselves to say our goodbyes to Finnegan today (Tuesday).  Then during the course of the day on Monday she took a turn for the better.  She ate a boiled chicken breast.  She walked around a bit more and stopped shaking with each breath.  She walked through Chris' legs for a tushy scratch - her most favorite thing in the world to do with people and only a few of us let her actually nestle in there ;-)  We gave her the meds she has and hooked her up to the IV fluids we had to give her at home.  I can't believe we are giving our dog IV fluids, but we did and we are.  I posted about Finnegan on Facebook and the outpouring of support was amazing.  People were thinking of and praying for Finnegan.  That is the only way I can understand her change for the better.

A ridiculously good sport!
Today (Tuesday) she is stable.  When I arrived home from Emma's PT, Finnegan was on the couch.  That is the first time she jumped up there since coming home.  It was good to see her there and she even stood up and banged her tail against the cushion in greeting to me before she laid back down again.  She didn't eat much but took a slice of ham and a scant bit of chicken today.  She barked when the mailman came - he always pushed a treat in the slot for her - but didn't bark at all for the two UPS deliveries we had today.  She greeted Chris and Julia when they arrived home from work/school and she walked between Chris' legs again.  He took her for a walk and she made it all the way around a block!  Right now we are giving her another dose of IV fluids.

Monday.  Right after the family walk.
My parents came to visit and see Finnegan and it was such a wonderful visit and kept my spirits up.  We are thrilled to have had a day and a half of some good time with Finnegan.  It will make saying goodbye easier for us.  She is such a loyal and loving dog and it will be so hard when it's her time to go.  For now we are considering her stable.  She doesn't seem to be in any pain and seems to enjoy quite a few things about her day.  We think her days are numbered and don't think we'll get some miracle to heal her but we are going to take it one day at a time.

Christmas morning.  Our family photo.
These extra couple of days with Finnegan are something I needed to the very core of my being.  We have been through a lot together She and I.  I got her while I was still single and she warmed my heart from the very beginning.  When Chris came along she adopted him as her human and we had our engagement photos taken with the three of us!  Then the girls came along and she did drop down a bit in her placement in the family but not much and never really got relegated to dog status.  Finney continued to accompany us on our many errands out and we even took her on vacations with us whenever we found hotels or houses willing to rent to us with a 90 lb. dog!  She has never been in a kennel and there have always been people willing to watch her if we needed it while we went away.  She is just the kind of dog that everyone wants to be around.

Finnegan put herself in the center of the Duck, Duck, Goose game at Julia's party only a couple of weeks ago.

It's been an emotional week.  We are taking it one day at a time now.  We will not let Finnegan suffer at all and once we think that will happen we will have to make a hard decision.  For now, it looks like we get another day to spend with the Best Dog Ever.  For that we are thankful.

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