Losing a friend

Written by Katy Nesbitt, The Observer December 18, 2013 11:38 am

I lost Finn last week. I thought you should know since all of my stories from now on will be from his past. There are so many stories in a nearly 15-year friendship.

He was diagnosed with cancer on Halloween. He hadn’t been eating normally and for a Lab that is a sure sign something’s wrong, but it took me a while to find the lump. Once I did I spent five minutes trying to decide whether or not to leave him alone. I called Crazy Dog Lady Lisa. She said she supported my decision to leave it alone. Five minutes later I called the vet and made an appointment. Crazy Dog Lady Lisa said she supported my decision.

Initial results didn’t indicate cancer, but the doc decided to go in and see what the lump was all about. It was obviously keeping Finn from enjoying his favorite pastime — inhaling kibble. Sure enough, it was cancerous and well attached. Doc could get some of it, but it was now a matter of time. We agreed not to go back in.

Finn did really well for about 10 days after the surgery. Then he lost his interest in food again. I got more antibiotics. Changed up from doggy aspirin to steroids to try and keep the swelling down, and was given a topical antibiotic to squeeze into his drain hole, but nothing could touch that infection.

I had a bag of old clothes to be turned to rag rugs, or some other form, sitting by the front door for the last six months. The half dozen long-sleeve T-shirts became bandages I wrapped around his neck to sop up the ooze from his tumor.

The last few days with Finn all of the animals and I camped out around the wood stove, huddling against below zero temperatures. I received an email from one of the vet techs who has treated Finn. She said she was thinking of me. I asked, where is it that your vet tech sends you an email over the weekend? Wallowa County.

I went to the vet so many times this fall I asked for a punch card for a free cup of coffee. The last time I walked in I was simply handed a Kleenex box.

A couple days after Finn was gone I got a call from the Enterprise Florist. I asked who the flowers were from. The florist said, Double Arrow Veterinary. I wept. The woman said, “I am so sorry.” She apparently knows Finnegan through the column.

Slowly I’ve let Finn’s human friends know of his passing. I’ve been blogging about his life. I read “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. And I’m drinking a lot of chamomile tea and going for walks with the Red Menace.

Charles Schulz said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” I know, I know. I miss my boy.