Fourteen!

Fourteen was my favorite number until today. Fifteen will be for the next 12 months.

Today is Finn’s birthday. The dog-who-no-longer-shall-be-named-HotFudgeSundae (I know I know. I laugh every single time I type it) has turned 14 years old.

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The last year has been an eventful one for the guy — amplification of the gradual changes that began about 24 months ago. I am 99% sure that he cannot hear anything in the human voice range (there is still 1% of me that think it’s still selective hearing). His vision isn’t great in the dark. His peripheral vision is definitely impaired. He sleeps a very deep old dog sleep, and I often pat him awake for the last walk of the day. This is a dog whose ears prickled every time I uttered a word that started with the letter “W”, and made me think that border collies slept with their eyes open.

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With these signs of age has come an incredible change. Finn has relaxed. He thinks humans are….pretty awesome. And I think he is truly in a happy place.

My routine has evolved with the new version of Finn. Summer hikes are earlier to make sure we avoid heat, and I pick trails for water features and shade….instead of thinking about my caloric output to complete the hike. We take many rests, and we take in the surroundings. We are now meandering, smelling the flowers with Lucy, taking more photos, looking at rock formations. There are some places on our favorite hikes where I need to give him a bit of a boost, just a little to get to the top of the boulder. At the end of the hike, he is always beside me, still smiling — but as soon as I pick him up and put him in his crate — because he can no longer jump up into the back of my SUV — he takes a long drink of water and then he is out cold. And he snores like an old man, while Lucy looks on.

The cold is tough on him. I have amended my saying to “Real Dogs don’t wear clothes” to “Real Dogs don’t wear clothes….unless they are old and cold”. I am grateful for the fancypants coat that I had gotten for him a while ago (and he used to hate) because it keeps him a bit warmer and his limbs a little less achier as we roam the NYC streets in the winter.

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He is still a beautiful dog. Hair is shiny and silky…but his body underneath is lumpy and bumpy that get checked on a regular basis. He hasn’t greyed very much yet….but the white and the tan areas on his tri-colored body are…getting bigger somehow 🙂

Too many of his training contemporaries have passed on…the dogs that connected me to their humans. I can fill half a page with their names. I know too well that I should be cherishing every moment I have with Finn.

Finn is my best buddy. As I write this, he is laying across my feet, his favorite place when he senses that I may not be feeling too well. I reach down and pat him once in a while, and he glances up at me and I swear he is giving me a wink.

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Good, dog, Finn. And happy, happy birthday.

18 comments
  1. Trish said:

    Happiest of happy birthdays to Finn! I love that picture of him chilling out in front of the TV. Such immodesty!

  2. Samantha said:

    I don’t tear up over many things. This was one.
    Happy birthday, Finnfinn.

    • Oh Samsam. Go give your dogs big hugs. I had a tough time writing this one — I always think about Marianne reaching for the tissues when she’s reading my dog posts (and she does make me try to get her to tear up), but this one…was hard. He’s getting old!

  3. Melissa said:

    Reading this made me both smile and tear up. Finn just can’t be growing old… but I know he is, and I know the poignancy of these Old Dog Years. Your writing is beautiful and so well reflects the bond you have with your Finn. May this year be a healthy, happy one for both of you.

    • Thanks, Melissa. Give Rowan a scritch for me. My first class at Sarah’s was at a post next to you and Rowan!

  4. Lee said:

    Kei, was this supposed to be a crying story? It was for me. What a lucky guy Finn was to find you….. and the converse goes without saying. What a nice read this cold morning, reminding me to love – even more – my dogs every day.

    • Well, it was a cryfest when I wrote it! Give Bridey and Fargo hugs from us, and see you soon! Finn loves your farm the most.

  5. Donna Hanchett said:

    What a lovely tribute to your faithful furry friend! May he enjoy more happy birthdays by your side.

  6. Nancy said:

    Count me in on the crying and the smiling, too. I know what you mean about the deafness ( and selective hearing?). My 13 1/2 year old lab, Willow, is going through the same thing. Given Finn’s age, it sounds like he’s doing great – thanks to your great care. Willow and I wish Finn more happy and healthy birthdays.

  7. Kei, I teared up reading your beautiful tribute to your loving furry friend. I give more hugs more often, as I watch the white fur become more noticeable on Annie’s face.

    Happy 14th Birthday, Finn! Wishing you health and happiness as you enter your 15th year! Woof! Woof! from Annie and Mali in Texas!

  8. Mary Anne said:

    Happy Birthday, Finn…..hugs to you and Kei.

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