Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Epilogue: Finnegan, our Goonish boy (27/3/10 - 5/10/12)

An Irish Wolfhound takes over your house, your life and your heart.  They are huge in body, heart and personality, once they've adopted you they will follow you to the ends of the earth ignoring the rest of the world.
For an extortionate amount of money we 'rescued' Finnegan aged just over four months.  He had spent his early days in a concrete and wire compound being trained to the show ring but he was going to be too big - yes he really was that large.
This is him with his breeder aged 10 weeks.
 When we got him home he didn't know what the television was, why hair dryers made all that noise, why radios talked, and he never got over his fear of the snake (the cable) that followed the noisy blowy beast that sucked things up off the floor (the hoover), although The Mother Bean says he followed it around watching it intently to make sure it didn't attack her.  It took months to get him to accept the car although evenutally he would walk in as soon the tailgate was opened. With patience and lots of gentling he gradually grew used to life in a house.
Puppy hound on his bag in the sitting room.

And he loved 'his girls', Juno tried to teach him his manners but didn't really have the patience and was slightly worried about being knocked over so she did pull her punches; etiquette training fell to Maia who on more than one occasion came away with a mouthful of ruff.  Hebe just adored her big mate and together they would cause chaos, careering around the house and garden chasing each other, 'mulberry bushing' around the dining table as we're trying to eat until someone (usually us but occasionally one of them) would call a halt and Finn would lie flat out whilst Hebe would curl up and lean against his belly with his hips acting as a pillow.
Let sleeping dogs lie
We started to introduce him to the outside world which was even more scary. It took all of his first summer with us and into the autumn to get him used to cars, buses and motorbikes although he was always wary of them especially if a noisy one approached from behind. We would saunter up into the village and stand and talk with Kevin on the car park until Finn got fed up and lay down letting the vehicles pass him by without shying away every time one moved.
Everyone who saw him wanted to say hello but he would back off, we had to explain that he was only a baby and to approach him carefully never putting your hand over his head. Eventually he did learn to stand there and let people talk to him all the while looking at you with a "must I really" expression on his face.
He was a real mummy's boy and 'whiffled' up your face to say hello.  He loved having the office in the house and would greet everyone with a sniff, a waving tail and probably a soggy beard!  If the door was closed he would batter at it until he gained entry but after a quick head count and a check of the tops and recycling bin to see if there was anything worth stealing he would return to the house and his life of leisure - Finnegan was only ever a reluctant, occasional office hound although he did have to check every package that arrived.

Poor boy never really stood a chance, in hindsight we can see that his problems began when he was just over a year old when his skin broke out with pyoderma which we treated with Katie's herbs after an allergy test came back negative for everything except a slight sensitivity for rice. Then he ate the bottle top (which we now think might have been the first flare up in his guts).  He had a dodgy tum and would pick up whatever bug was going round, regularly got the 'splats' which he mostly did down the yard thank goodness, we went through several kilos of slippery elm and multiple jars of honey. He struggled whenever he'd had a good run, getting windy and more splats.

He didn't help himself being an inveterate thief, everything (and I mean everything) had to be above head height to be out of wolfhound range, all kitchen worktops cleared, nothing left on the table, even the mantlepiece in the sitting room was within range and, according to Finn, fair game.  He could smell a tissue in a pocket from across the room and became a really good pick pocket.  Ash trays were to be inspected and the contents to be snuffed across the room.  The office recycling bin was checked and any little shredding or post-it was carefully extracted before he skipped off to munch, giving himself away in the light, delicate skip out of the door!  The notice in the office kitchen read "Think Finnegan, Description of a Wolfhound: legs like a giraffe, the reach of a not so small elephant, the digestion of a race horse and the appetite of alley cat."  As if a long neck was not enough he had no clue where his feet were and as for his tail, well, it was light years away and would clear low table (or even dining tables) in one long sweep, Finnegan would turn round at the noise of the tea cups hitting the floor with an expression of "what did you do that for?" and then a keen eye for anything vaguely consumable (not necessarily edible). 
Upside down was a favourite sleeping position:
kangarooney hound


He found the outside world fascinating, if a little scary, and would spend hours watching out of the window barking at those turtles that walked by (people with rucksacks), waving his tail at friends (not that they could see it although he wasn't aware of that) and leaving great streaks of wolfhound tongue and nose prints. He bounced up to greet everyone at the door and promptly backed off when they spoke to him.  His house, garden and road were to be protected against all invaders and his people even more so with his great baying barks rattling the rafters, on a clear day when he was in conversation with dogs further down the road you could hear him when standing outside the post office.

 Hounds are well known for not being as bright as Labradors (well, who is? asks Hebe) and Finnegan must be the only dog to have been run over by a stationery car, read this chapter here.
But for all that he was not as green as he was Irish looking and was quite capable of working out how to get at the food, the scraps he wasn't allowed, how to nick Hebe's toys (and destroy them when no one was looking!).  If the kitchen water dish was empty or the contents not to his liking he would head off into the office kitchen for a drink, opening doors and nudging curtains aside to get there.  Some things fascinated him.  When he was a young hound in attempting to take a dropped ball back out of the water dish he discovered he could blow bubbles. After that, for quite a while, he would approach the dish as if he was going to drink but then pat the edge with a foot to make ripples and small waves which he would then bite before finally taking a deep breath and plunging his whole muzzle into the dish and blowing out of his nose making bubbles which if he blew hard enough would explode over the side of the dish to soak the floor.  If the bubbles weren't flooding the tiles enough for his liking he would deliberately tip up the dish with a foot.  However, he didn't like water, either puddles or rain.  He would stand on the back step under cover looking at the falling rain and turn with a "must I really go out there?" expression or if it was particularly heavy a "you must be kidding, I'm not going out there, no way, no how" before returning inside until finally his 10gallon bladder was too full even for him.  Upon his return he would dry himself off on the furniture, the girls, the floor, people anything but the nice warm towel which was waiting over for him the aga rail. 

Despite all that he was a typical wolfie - in other words bone idle!  He took over the four-seater sofa and claimed it as his.  It's ever so empty now.

Oh, it's such a hard life being a hound, it's exhausting!

Sleep well our foolish, goonish boy.

1 comment:

Icegurl said...

I shall make a post. You "did good" in loving/caring and giving your all to Finn. Even I, who never met him miss his goofy sweetness. geeezeee don't ya just love a big dog?