When My Dog Died

RIP Finnegan Quinn
June 22, 2012 to September 4, 2020
17 Pound Force of Chaos
Indomitable Clown, Master Cuddling Champ
Well Done, Little Beast.
I Return Your to Your Creator with Gratitude, Humility, and Grief. 

Finnegan Quinn, my emotional support dog, died suddenly last week following my first Spirit Fire speech of the fall. Every dog I have ever had has given me unique gifts and insights for life. So it was with Quinn.

Since February, when I was advised to curtail travel and stay home, Quinn and I had been locked up together during the pandemic and its social anxieties. He finally had me to himself 24/7. He adapted to the “new normal” so well I got mildly suspicious the pandemic might be a conspiracy after all, where dogs conspired to keep all owners home all the time. (Ever since then, cats have been conspiring to get owners back to school and work and out of their houses.)

Quinn was four when I adopted him. Within days of arriving, he revealed signs of aggression that contradicted his merry personality. Within a few weeks, tests revealed health issues causing pain he masked well, except during episodes of acute pain when he would protectively snap at anyone attempting to touch him. I was “within my rights” to return him but knew the rescue could not place a dog with an honest file on his impulse for biting. Anyway, it was impossible to return him. He was already mine, and I loved him.

As a survivor among survivor friends for decades, I recognized the self-protective snap we have used as a shield for pain until safe home can be found. So, Quinn now had his safe home. I quickly learned to sense and manage his pain with puppy-yoga stretches and laser and other options he would tolerate. Our progress meant that ultimately just mild medications left him free to be a pint-sized force of comical chaos in my otherwise calm and orderly home.

For four years we got through. Then, one night a pain episode proved too much for him. That was last Thursday, September 3. Within hours, he could no longer walk. He cuddled near me with uneven breath, waiting. The decision was clear and urgent. I needed to release him from pain. As I lay quiet and still on the bed near him, thinking through the right and the wrong of my few options, waiting to confirm the soonest vet appointment I could, I texted a friend very slowly, so as not to jiggle the bed and kick off his agony.

Quinn is curled into me. Been carrying him everywhere. It is that very close and holy and broken time.

He suffers. His dreaming suffers. Sleep isn’t rest. He Doesn’t dare breathe deeply. Sacrifices air to reduce pain. I suffer beyond all words to witness this. Would do anything to give him relief, but giving him death is the best I got.

At some point God said about us. Astonishing. The love of God, suffering with us when we were in pain, suffering we caused, left with nothing but death as an option. All creation broken and fallen.

He had no reason even to notice us, yet so grieved by our sin and death which wasn’t what he wanted for us that was all our own doing as a***oles in Paradise. Like me with Quinn but God sized.

God knew we had no options for relief in anything less than Him. Death is a poor option but the only option I have to give Quinn.

God wanted to save me and all of creation from us for us. He knew the price and gave His only Son to bear all this *&%$* agony even the agony of this impossible choice I have to make right now waiting for vet. No call yet.

Jesus carried it all, even me and Q laying here in hell, died, broke through death destroyed it all all to give life in abundance to save all creation from our stupid choices in the perfect life of Eden.

Good Friday we are closest to Jesus. Quinn and I are as close in this moment as we’ll ever be.

All his peace right now is from me. He sleeps easy knowing that, in a reversal of roles, I guard him. Not sure he can see beyond the pain he valiantly endures … may not see the pain involved for me to release him.

Feels like a huge lie to assure him I am protecting him to offer nothing better than release in death. Gotta leave the rest to God.

Within a few hours of that text, I did the impossible. I held Quinn near, staring into his eyes and speaking reassurance, as he fell into that merciful sleep in Eternity. It was the best I had to offer. I took comfort that what I offer is nothing compared to what the Lord has done for the fallen world, humans and all creatures, little comical beasts whose innocence makes them our betters, who suffer for our idiotic forfeiture of Paradise.

Rin Finn Quinn, Hunter in Color-Coordinated Action Shot

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