Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Memories

Each morning I wake up and the first thought that pops into my head - before I'm even aware I'm awake - is that Finnegan is not downstairs waiting for me and a fresh wave of sadness washes over me.  

Each time I leave the house and then arrive back home my stomach does a little excited flip when I'm opening the door waiting for Finney to greet me until I realize that she isn't there.  

We don't need to take her for a walk, get the fun of giving her treats, have to make sure she has plenty of fresh water and that the couch cushions are uncluttered so she can make herself comfortable there.  

Day by day time moves on and it is getting a little easier.  I'm re-learning how to live in a house without a dog and I don't like it very much.  I still talk to her as if she is here and pretend she is in another room. I look at her photo a lot and it makes me smile.  We had a nice sunny day yesterday and I was sad that she wasn't here for me to take for a long walk - she would have loved the long walk that came along with sunny winter days.  

We have some home video of her chasing her beloved ball when she was a baby.  We watch it frequently and laugh - Julia especially loves the video.  It's nice to remember her energetic puppy days.  

I went through photos from the last few years to find Finnegan photos.  It's amazing just how much she was woven into the fabric of our family.  It reminded me of all the fun memories we made with her.
  • We took her to others' houses, for walks on Main Street, to the park, on errands, car trips to drop off or pick up the girls from school, on vacations.  
  • She chased balls, chewed toys, was front and center for many of Emma's at home therapy sessions.  
  • She would always lay on top of the many blankets Julia coated the floor with for her baby dolls.  When Julia realized Finney wasn't going to move off the blankets she gave in and covered her up like she did her baby dolls.  Julia also liked to pretend Finney was her customer at her beauty salon and Finn was more than happy to humor her as Julia combed her hair, painted her nails, dressed her up and "blew dried" her hair.
  • She hated when the smoke alarm went off, didn't mind flies outside but if they were in the house she often hid upstairs from them!, changed rooms whenever the vacuum was in use, barked indignantly if we went on a walk to the store without her, and did not like Schnauzer dogs.  
  • She had lots of quirks with the most notable being not liking to walk on various indoor surfaces - wood laminate being her most avoided flooring.  
  • Until recently she jumped in our bed each morning, happy to be up snuggling with us while we enjoyed the extra sleep it gave us.  The last few months she stopped going up the stairs, preferring to sleep the night away on the couches.  
I've felt Finnegan around me recently.  Little things - like a tennis ball rolling under my car - feel like a direct message from her to me that she is happy in heaven.  As Chris said, she will never have another "incomplete fetch" to drive her crazy.  Of course, he also said the tennis ball is from the next door neighbor's dog!  It probably is, but it never landed on our side before so I think it's Finn at work.  

The good memories are comforting.  They are helping us all move on while still honoring her memory.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Firecracker FINNEGAN Sheedy

July 4, 2002 - February 21, 2013

We called you 
Finney Ginney

But mostly we called you family.

Thanks for the best 10.5 years.  We wish it could have been more.
You brought more joy into our world than I ever thought possible.

We will never forget you.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. "
(Anatole France) 

My heart is broken today.  

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Flub

Today was a bit of a Valentine's flub.  It started out fine, but went awry somewhere along the way.  Here is a bit of the recap:

  • I drove Julia into school today and all was fine
  • Emma woke up as usual and was all smiles.  She even said an approximation of "hi" to the bus drivers when they picked her up.  They also were surprised to hear her say a pretty clear "hi" so it wasn't just me.  All seemed fine.
  • I headed off to a meeting in the office and after I was there about 15 min. and just starting to get into the topic my phone rang.  It was the nurse at Emma's school telling me she vomited during PT and was running a low grade fever of 99.1.  And everyone thought it was strange that she was crying when she got off the bus at school.  She never cries when it comes to the bus....unless it's that I'm picking her up instead of letting her take the bus home.  Off I went to pick her up at school - which is about a 45 min. drive from the office I was at.
  • When I arrived at school Emma all smiles.  She wanted to eat when she arrived home and was pretty upset I didn't have more than one brownie to give her from her party at school.  I was beginning to think she was faking it!  However, she did need lots of cuddles and so we watched a couple of Disney movies until Chris and Julia came home.
  •  Julia arrived home complaining of an ear ache and she decided she wasn't up to going to dance class.  We suspected an ear infection and planned to take her to the urgent care center after I got home from Finnegan's vet appointment.  Julia apparently cried a lot over the pain in her ear while I was at the vet so Chris decided to take her to the urgent care center.  When they were piling into the minivan, Julia said it didn't hurt anymore.  When I arrived home she was in great spirits and said her ear was only clogged.  We are waiting it out and see how she feels in the morning.  Both girls are off so if Julia's ear still hurts we'll either go to her dr. or to the urgent care center.  I have a feeling a good night's sleep with no set wake-up time might cure the ear problem.
  • Finnegan had a vet appointment because we are worried about her.  She lost 10 lbs. in the last couple of months and is not eating her food.  Most labs do have problems with weight but it's usually they weigh too much not too little!  We are worried it could be something serious since she does have a growth on her neck that is suspect.  The labs on it came back inconclusive in the Fall so we are worried her weight loss could be a bigger problem.  The vet didn't find anything definitive tonight.  He did take blood work and we should have the results tomorrow.  The X-ray looked good so it doesn't look like there is any cancer there (thank goodness!) and that gave me some peace of mind.  I'm hoping there isn't much of a problem with the blood work, either, in which case it would turn out to be a very expensive cost for finding out essentially nothing.  We're going to start feeding her some boiled chicken, rice and eggs and see if we can get some weight back on Finnegan.  It just isn't the same petting and cuddling her when you can feel every bone in her body ;-(  Poor Finnegan.  The good news is she is just as spunky and overall great dog as ever.
So, today if feels like we've had Emma, Julia and Finnegan all pulling the wool over our eyes.  And I don't have the fun Valentine's photos I planned to take today and we're ok with that.

Here's to good health for all!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Julia writing her Valentine's cards this week, Emma this morning before leaving the house, Finnegan at the vet

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Messy Mealtimes

I'm finding life messy lately.  I mean, take a look at the aftermath from tonight's dinner:

As you can likely tell from this photo, most of the mess is from Emma.  The good news is that she is not happy unless she gets her hands on her spoon to feed herself.  The bad news is the dog doesn't like to walk on the kitchen floor so clean-up duty falls to us.

Emma can't really feed herself so we help guide her spoon to her food, scoop the food and then help her guide the spoon to her mouth.  She has a certain spoon that she loves to eat with - it's the pink one on the floor near the empty bag that held the Valentine's tattoos that she is giving to her friends (mealtime bonus:  Emma will clear the table of anything in front of her in 2 seconds flat if we don't do it before her).  The spoon is made by Sassy and we have ONLY ONE.  We had one for a long time before Emma decided she liked it and would only eat from that ONE spoon without crying.  I decided this would not do - we must get a spare.  And so just when I let myself think we need a spare Murphy's Law kicked in and we LOST the one we had.  I'm thinking we must have left it behind at a party over the Christmas holidays.

Emma humored us by eating off her Z-vibe soft spoon a bit but she wasn't too happy with it.  I scoured local stores and the internet to get a spare thinking it would not be a problem.  Turns out this little spoon that I originally purchased at Target is an endangered species.  I finally found one at a Toy Train store (?????) and paid a small fortune to purchase their very last one and have it shipped to us.  If anyone sees a Sassy spoon with two spoon sides and the guards at each end which prevent Emma from putting the spoon too far into her mouth and choking herself by mistake - I think these guards are the main attraction Emma has to this spoon - please pick it up and send it to me and I'll reimburse you for the cost.

I wish I could say this photo is an exception to most of our mealtimes, but it's not.  Progress with feeding is messy business.  Really messy.  Especially when Daddy is helping Emma eat, which is not the case in the above photo.

We are making progress in feeding.  And I'll trade the clean house award for my child progressing on eating any day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Catching Up

We've been really busy the past couple of months.  At the end of the holidays Chris came down with the flu and was sick in bed for days, Julia kept spiking a fever after we kept thinking she was getting better, Emma had a cold and I was busy trying to stay well and keep the house running.  Let's just say that for that week I really missed our old fenced in yard for Finnegan and now understand why single Moms might not want to add a pet to an already incredibly exhausting workload!

Julia celebrated her birthday in early January (I'm putting the finishing touches on her annual birthday video this week) and was mostly sick on her big day.  Poor girl!  Chris managed to reappear from the bedroom long enough to say Happy Birthday to her and see her open her gifts.  She felt a bit better by late morning so me and the girls went to Build-a-Bear where she "made" her new buddy Scarlett but that was about all she was up for at the mall - she turned down my offer to buy her a present in the Disney store and eat ice cream at Friendly's so I knew she wasn't feeling well at all!  

January was a busy month.  Julia competed in an Irish Dance competition and had a lot of fun and won a couple of medals.  We celebrated her birthday at school with her classroom Birthday Circle - a unique tradition her school has where everyone sits in a circle and focuses on the birthday person and everyone in the circle takes a turn sharing what they think is really special about the birthday person!  Julia picked a day to celebrate her Birthday Circle that both Emma and I could attend because "Emma didn't come last year and I want her there."  Chris was able to join us in the classroom so Julia had her whole family there to share her special Birthday Circle!  This year we video taped it and think she'll really enjoy having that video when she gets older.  Afterwards we joined her and her friends for lunch and then she shared homemade cupcakes with her classmates.  It was a very special day for her and for us.

I went away for a ladies weekend retreat with a few good friends and it was wonderful to reconnect with myself a bit.  I love my role as Mommy and Wife, but it sure was nice to have time to focus on just me for a couple of days.  The fact that I was at a hotel on the beach with wonderful friends and an agenda that included some very inspiring speakers made me feel my time away was very well spent.  Thanks so much to Chris for encouraging me to take that time for myself!

Chris caught a couple of basketball games but I'm not sure he saw as many football games on tv as he would like - we'll have to figure out a better routine for him to watch more of his sports teams for the Fall lineup.  And, I'd love for him to go on a guys weekend but it seems like they guys aren't as good at planning a weekend away as the girls!

Emma had surgery on her adductors and hamstrings.  I'm happy to say Emma recovered her spirits within a couple of days of her surgery.  The day of surgery and the day after were rough on all of us but Emma bounced back quicker than we expected.  She was off most of her pain meds and vallium within a few days rather than weeks and has been slowly regaining her stamina.  She slept a lot the first week but was able to head back to school the second week!  She has a busy schedule of PT 3x's/week for about 6 weeks post-surgery in addition to school and she is handling it in true Emma fashion - with a smile.

Life is busy but oh so good!