Just five days ago, on January 29, 2009, I read Dawn Prince-Hughes’ post on the Dog Liver Disease (DLD) group asking whether she could safely give her liver-compromised dog a de-wormer medication to treat him for tapeworms.

Since dogs with liver disease cannot efficiently process chemicals, toxins, proteins, etc., vigilance and care must be taken on what goes into the dogs’ systems, including food, medication, treats, topical solutions, or anything that would be ingested, inhaled or absorbed. The group’s founder and head moderator was able to let Dawn know which de-wormers would be better tolerated by dogs with liver disease.

That was the easy part of Finnian’s story to read. The rest of Dawn’s posts I present here, very minimally edited, for you to read:

    Finnian, my dog who is in liver failure, was a puppy mill rescue. He had been in a cage so small for eight years that his back was permanently arched and he couldn’t walk. He was bald and his lungs were burnt from urine and feces.

    Although he’s a “teacup” poodle, at three pounds he was only half his ideal weight. His kidneys were hardening and his heart was enlarged. And his mouth was so infected that a hole had been eaten into his nose. After four oral surgeries we still haven’t been able to close the hole.

    He can’t have another surgery as he became so weakened, he almost died on the table the last time. Both the infection and the operations have lead to his current liver failure.

    It’s so hard, because despite his health, he has bright eyes and loves life for the most part. Even in his current state at eleven years old, he tried to play with the puppy last night.

An outpouring of posts flooded the DLD site, expressing gratitude and admiration for Dawn’s adoption and care of such a sick dog. Even I posted: “You are truly a knight in shining armor for this dog.”

Dawn’s response revealed yet another layer of meaning and poignancy:

    I feel like I have been so blessed by Finnian. I spent many years as a homeless autistic person and he reminds me every day to forgive and let go. What I’ve been through is nothing compared to Fin’s life.

    Finnian has been MY knight in shining armor! You know, he was so sick when I got him I carried him around in a front pack. When he felt better I took him out in public that way. He started alerting me to impending sensory episodes that would incapacitate me.

    I finished his basic training and then had him registered as my service dog. He has traveled with me by plane, train, and bus, over mountain and plain. He goes on errands with me everywhere, and sits on my lap when we are home, going nowhere else except for exercise walks. That’s what makes this even more difficult. We have become one entity.

Here are the two photos she sent me last night.



Only four days later, we read the crushing post from Dawn entitiled “Finnian will be crossing the bridge tomorrow…”:

    Mon Feb 2, 2009 11:41 am

    Finnian is crashing. He feels awful and is having trouble standing and walking. He is very confused and his breathing is shallow and difficult.

    I am taking him shopping today in his front pack, his favorite thing. I will be spoiling him tomorrow and then at 4:00 pm the vet will be putting him to sleep.

    I won’t be on the list for a while, as I recover from the loss of my service dog and best friend. I just wanted to thank everyone who helped us and has shown so much love and care to us.


    Dawn and Finnian