Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saying goodbye is never easy...

Saying goodbye to my beautiful boy.

My heart has been broken into a million pieces. Yesterday started out like any other. I left the house just after 8am. Julien was getting dressed for school and I gave Finn his medication. Finn had had a great day on Thursday. He was almost back to his old self. He was happy, eating, and running in the back yard. When I left yesterday morning, he looked fine. by 11am, my husband texted me and said Finn did not look well. He was just standing in the back yard staring into space and his stomach was heaving in and out.

This has happened before, so I said we should wait it out for a couple of hours to see how he is then. He called me just after 1pm to tell me that Finn was now lying down and unresponsive. I was on my way home, so I told him to call the vet and let them know that we were bringing Finn back. When I got home, Finn was in the back yard and unable to stand on his own or walk. My husband carried him to the car and we headed off to the vet in two cars because one of us would have to pick up Julien from school.

What we thought was a severe intestinal infection, actually turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. I have been down this road before. Our last dog Elsa, had mast cell tumors. This was pre-Julien and we did all kinds of heroic things to keep her alive. And I know we did that because we couldn't let go of her. I swore I would never do that to another animal I loved.

The vet explained to us that Finn's cancer would spread to his brain very quickly and I think it was already doing that. During the week, he would do strange things (ie: face a wall and stare at it for a long time, walk around in circles). He was definitely not himself. He had internal bleeding and when he was down and incapacitated, that's when the bleeding was happening. When he was up and looking normal again, the bleeding would stop on it's own momentarily.

The vet said that we could take Finn to the Oakville animal hospital and have him ultra-sounded and have surgery performed, but even with intervention, we would not be buying him a lot of time. And he was in pain, a lot of pain. My husband and I decided it was in Finn's best interest to say goodbye to him. Julien was still in school, and I felt it was important to give him the option of coming to see Finn again if he wanted to.

I was so scared driving to the school to get Julien. This would be his first death experience. Although my husband was on the fence about this decision, I knew that we needed to give Julien the opportunity to say goodbye. Finn's been in his life since birth. When I told Julien that Finn was very sick and not coming home again, he started to laugh. He asked me if I was joking. I told him I would not joke about something like this. I started to cry and he burst into tears.  I asked if he wanted to go see Finn so he could say goodbye to him and he said he did. All the way to the vet's he kept asking me if I was kidding him. When we pulled into the parking lot, he said, "mommy I am going to be a brave boy for Finn".

The plan was that Julien would say goodbye to Finn and I would take him out of the room while my husband stayed with Finn when he went to sleep. When it was time to leave, Julien begged to stay. So we decided to let him. I'm glad we made that decision because Finn's passing was so peaceful and Julien won't have questions about what happened when he went to sleep. We are having Finn's ashes returned to us and I will spread some along my favorite running trail. It was also Finn's favorite place to walk. That way, when I'm there, I'll know he is close to me.

My house is quiet right now. Everyone's asleep. Whenever I'm on the computer, Finn would normally be sitting at my feet. It's incredible how much animals touch our lives. I have a brand new emptiness in my heart that will be filled with his memories. My beautiful boy would have been 8 this January. He was still way too young to die. He loved life and he loved us. He was an exceptional friend and a very good boy. Finn, we love you, and we will miss you. You brought lots of happiness to our family and you will live on forever in my heart.

Finn this past summer. Loving life.


  1. Oh Leigh, I am so sorry to hear about Finn. I don't have a pet but I know from friends how much they become a part of the family. Julien is a very brave boy. Take care

  2. My heart goes out to you. I have been there and it is never easy. It is a bond that you share that is hard for others to understand unless you are a dog owner. The pain and suffering are over for your beloved. You gave your dog a great life...

  3. So sorry about your loss. It is hard and not easy.

  4. Heart wrenching :( I'm
    So sorry for your loss. I she'd some tears here for you and Finn. You did the right and hard thing. <3

  5. Leigh I know just what pain you feel, I had to put my 9 yr old cat to sleep on Wednesday he was diabetic, he went to sleep in my arms, such a loss. he was my favorite although I have 2 more, he was the one that let me know it was time for bed and a snuggle. then move to the bottom of the bed once I settled in, almost like the guard of the night.

  6. I'm feeling your pain. We lost our beloved Coby to lymphoma just five months ago. He was only eight, much too young to lose him as well. Unfortunately cancer in dogs is on the rise. Letting go is so very hard, but we knew whatever we did would only buy a small amount of time, and it wouldn't be quality time. They bring such joy to our lives and I miss him dearly. Hugs to you and your family in this difficult time.

  7. I'm so very sorry for your loss :(

  8. How lucky was Finn to have such a good quality life with a family that loved and cared for him! I'm in a part of the world where dogs are loathed and you don't want to know how many of them are treated.

    And that was the right thing to do to allow his spirit to leave to the next world rather than him dying a slow and agonising death. Having said that I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet. May good memories of his good life ease your pain.

  9. I am so very very sorry for your family's loss, Leigh. It is go gut wrenching; I know. You did the right thing, both with Finn, and with your son. Wish I could reach through this screen and give you a big, warm hug. Treat yourself gently in the coming days.

  10. We vowed never to have another pet after having to put down our almost 13 year old Boston Terrier. That was nine years ago, and we still talk about Smartie and how special she was. I know how heart breaking this is for you. Hang in there.

  11. Hugs- so hard to loose a pet. I think you handled it really well with your son, too. Never easy. Here's to remembering Finn and getting through this time of grief. Hang in there.

  12. Oh Leigh, my heart goes out to you and your family. What a wise, kind soul your son has - you must be very proud. I've worked in a vet hospital for 6 years, so this is something I have experienced on a too regular basis, and it never gets any easier. I still cry with the families most times!

  13. So sorry, Leigh :-( Losing a pet is just so hard. It's nothing but love.

  14. We are sorry to hear of the loss of you beloved pet Finn. Hugh Falkus loved animals and is one of our favorite writers, you gave your dog a great life, what more can you do.

    Hugh Falkus: from his book “Some of it was fun”

    Writing about his beloved dog.

    And the day came (so soon it seemed ) when the leg cancer spread and he couldn’t run at all. We did our best for him. There were two operations. But they didn’t work. After the second, he seemed better for a time. Then very early one morning at daybreak I heard him crying. He was in great pain, and I realised there was no hope whatever.

    At that hour we had no chance of a vet, but to let him lie there suffering was unthinkable. To keep a dog is a great responsibility, and I knew that here, alas, was my moment of reckoning. So I took a spade and went down to the Square at the bottom of the Run and dug a hole. Then I got my gun and a piece of chocolate. When he saw the gun his tail twitched with pleasure and he fell silent.

    “Come on doggie,” I said softly. “Let’s go and shoot some ducks.”
    The magic in those well- known words roused him, and he came slowly down with me to the river. When we reached the hole I gave him the chocolate…and while he was licking it, I shot him.

    I took off the old shooting coat I was wearing and spread it out. It’s weird how the mind works when wrenched with emotion. Quite silly sometimes. But I just couldn’t bear to think of the earth going into his eyes…

    You will probably think me very sentimental. And perhaps I am. But I don’t care. You see, although times have changed and fishing the Run is only a memory, I can pass the place without regret. I gave that dog as good a life as I could - and when the time came, as quick a death.

    I only hope that one day, if necessary, someone will do the same for me.

    Hugh Falkus ( born 15th May 1917, died 30th March 1996 ) was one of the foremost natural history film makers and angling writers of the twentieth century.

    His film ‘Signals for Survival,’ made with Niko Tinbergen, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Animal behaviour at Oxford, is still the only BBC programme ever to have won both the Montreux Film Festival Italia Prize and New York Film Festival Blue Ribbon Award for documentaries.

    Eddie and Jan

  15. Oh Leigh, I am so very sorry. It is so hard. xo

  16. I am so very sorry for the loss of a wonderful family member. We had to make the tough decision a year ago for our first dog. It was one of the hardest decisions but it was the right one. Hold on to those memories and know that you made the right decision for both your pup and your family.

  17. I'm so sorry for your loss. Our pets are always so special to us and heartbreaking to lose them. Be thankful for the years that you had Finn in your life as they are special. He's waiting for you at "Rainbow Bridge" and you'll meet again.

    By the way, you did the right thing by not letting him suffer. I know we always questions our decisions. I'm glad you made the choice to let Julien say his own goodbye. I know you'll find comfort every time you run down that trail. Finn will be right there with you.

  18. I'm so sorry Leigh for the loss of your beloved Finn. Losing one of our pets is total heartbreak. You made the right decision in not letting him suffer. I know from experience how we question ourselves and if we made the right decision. Cherish your special memories of your friend.

    I'm so glad you made the choice to involve Julien in the whole thing. That was the right decision.

    Finn will be right that with you when you run down that trail now cheering you on.

  19. I am so sorry for your family.

  20. That was beautiful Leigh. I am so sorry for Julien and your loss but so glad that you did what you did. It was exactly the right thing to do. So many people prolong life of dogs and it is more painful for everyone concerned. I love that you let Julien stay to say goodbye - as you said, he will always know he just fell asleep.

    I had to get a cat put down at the vets because she was attacked by a dog - my daughter arrived just after the cat died and didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I always regret that but back in those days - before mobile phones - I had no way of knowing when she would get there.

    Your post has me in tears *hugs*

  21. Sorry Leigh. Hugs

  22. So So Sad :-( What a brave boy your Julien is. I only wish I'd let my little guy be there for his cats as he still talks about not getting to say goodbye..he was 5 at the time and is 11 now. I often say we prolong our pets lives for our own benefit and you definitely made the most compassionate decision to let your friend cross over the rainbow bridge. Condolences to you and your family.

  23. I'm so sorry, Leigh. Keebler is my best buddy. It must be so sad.

  24. I am generally a silent lurker ... A lot of what you say on a daily basis leaves me contemplating well past when I have clicked out of the window... Regardless, I had to say something here. Too many people don't know what it's like to lose an animal or don't understand that for many people losing that animal is the equivalent of losing a family member. Reading your beautiful tribute to Finn made my eyes well with tears remembering the few times I have had to say goodbye. It is awful and I just wanted to say that I am sorry. I hope your heart heals quickly knowing that you did the right thing, letting him rest and that happiness fills you knowing he is in a better place without pain. And you should be so proud of your son. It speaks so much to his character that he wanted to be with his doggy the whole time. There is much to be said about the connection between a boy and his dog. ((hugs))

  25. My heart is absolutely broken for you and your family. I have been in the same position, having to make that awful decision to let a precious member of the family go because the pain is so great. One of my sweet angels was born in my home, so I watched him grow from a fur ball to an adult that was with us for too short a time. Now thankfully Finn is out of pain. May God bless you all in the days ahead.

  26. Sorry for your loss Leigh. Your son really was a brave boy!

  27. Don't know what to say here Leigh, My heart is very heavy after reading this. My dogs are my best friends and I hate to think about what it will be like when that day finally comes for me. Thank goodness for good memories, hopefully you have a treasure trove of them to remember him by

  28. I am so sorry for your loss Leigh! Julien must be so sad! May god give the courage!

  29. Oh Leigh - I am so very sorry! Our furry friends are part of our families, and its always super hard to lose a family member. :-(

  30. Leigh, like so many others I feel your pain as I have been down this road myself, more than once. My prayers are with you, your family, and Finn as you travel through this painful time.

  31. I'm so very sorry, it hurts so much to lose a family member. Rest in peace Finn.


    If it should be that I grow weak
    And pain should keep me from my sleep,
    Then you must do what must be done,
    For this last battle cannot be won.

    You will be sad, I understand.
    Don't let your grief then stay your hand.
    For this day, more than all the rest,
    Your love for me must stand the test.

    We've had so many happy years.
    What is to come can hold no fears.
    You'd not want me to suffer so;
    The time has come -- please let me go.

    Take me where my need they'll tend,
    And please stay with me till the end.
    Hold me firm and speak to me,
    Until my eyes no longer see.

    I know in time that you will see
    The kindness that you did for me.
    Although my tail its last has waved,
    From pain and suffering I've been saved.

    Please do not grieve -- it must be you
    Who had this painful thing to do.
    We've been so close, we two, these years;
    Don't let your heart hold back its tears.

    --- Anonymous ---

  32. so sad, have peace in knowing that you gave Finn a loving and caring home and remember his "doggy smile"!

  33. Hi Leigh,

    Sorry to hear about finn, Marina, Emily, and Matthew really liked him.

  34. Oh Leigh, I'm so very sorry - it's such a dreadfully hard decision to make but you made exactly the right one. You thought of what Finn needed, not what you needed (i.e. the pain of losing him).

    You've had a faithful friend and you'll always have the lovely memories of him - the photo of him in the summer shows what a happy dog he was and how much he enjoyed life. Hug the family and take care of you through the hurt.

  35. Awwww SO SORRY to hear your darling Finn has been so ill... and that he has passed away.
    I have lost two puppies in the past year, and although they had not been in our family for long, it still hurt my heart. {{{HUGS}}} to you and the family.

  36. I know I'm late in commenting, I'm just newly returned to blogging...but I wanted to say I am so sorry. It brought tears to my eyes reading this. I know that pain of losing a furry family member and it's a horrible one. I hope you find peace in his passing and that he continues to make you smile, in your memories of him. <3

  37. Found you and your blog via Women's Health newsletter. You're an inspiration.Thank you. As for Finn ... oh, it does hurt, doesn't it? I have a shelf crowded with beautiful boxes, holding the ashes of my beloved animals who've gone ahead of me. I have a brand new family now, all young, so far healthy. I try not to look ahead but the knowledge is always there. The thing is, for what it's worth, I've learned that finding someone new to love in the midst of grief is one of the most healing things I can do. I don't love those I've lost any less -- but in giving my love to a new little soul, I'm honouring those who've passed and giving a great life to someone else. Just a thought. I'll be following your blog now. You rock.

  38. Hi Leigh, I am very sorry to hear this news. It is never easy no matter how many times we go through this in life. I remember Elsa and i still to this day have the wonderful poem that you wrote to her shortly after her passing. She was an awesome dog and friend. Sending lots of love -Lynda