Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Catching up, Part 1

I’ve done very little writing in the last year, and my goal to get back to blogging regularly in 2021 was not met, obvs. But I’m okay with it. In the past I’ve flogged myself, feeling I’ve somehow failed for not pursuing this more aggressively. I don’t do that any more. Well, not in this arena. Too much. I do think I can do better, and still have a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment when I write. I just haven’t been. Hmm. As usual, I’ve been busy, and as usual, have a couple posts that never made it off my laptop. I’m going to use them to catch up now. Because ya, I still have something to say.

Catching up, loss and grieving

Only 5 10 months gap this time. I’m doing good! {kidding} As usual I’ve started/not finished a couple blog posts in the meantime, and a few more never made it out of my head. Life’s been good, and busy. I’m winding up a week off work now – my annual Thanksgiving week break, taking advantage of the two days of holiday pay and adding only three days of vacation pay for a full 9 days in a row off – blissful, yet not too damaging to my paid time off (PTO) bank. Since I’m not actually vacationing or traveling, the ding to PTO seems more painful for these staycations, even though time off is delicious no matter what, and so very needed. But it takes so damn long to build up the PTO that I’m a little miserly about using too much of it. I try and keep my bank of PTO over 100 hours, but am not always successful in that. I’m going to do this again in a month, so I can ring in the New Year completely rested. (4/30/22 note: I did this, and I loved it, and am going to do it again every year.)

A lot of little things happen that I think about posting on, but I don’t always document well. Instagram tends to be my go-to, but even that has slacked off. COVID, farm doings, and the usual assortment of sundry events, some more impactful than others.

Another 8 months of COVID restrictions has passed but it is getting a little better as vaccinations have become more and more available.  But we’ll get to those little things in another post. Because life has changed here at MacFinn. And in my little world, the earth has tilted on its axis. 

And the elephant in the room (for me)… It happened. I’m down to two dogs. After 15 ½ years together, Farley has left the building.

We’d had our ups and downs in the past 18 months, to be sure. Some health issues and bad days where I questioned what I was doing, my own integrity as a dog owner. Yet he never seemed ready; he always rallied back. A bad day was always bookended by at least one or two good days, and we rarely had more than one questionable (is this it?) bad day a week. Hell, even at the end, I’m questioning – should I have waited? Maybe he would have rallied again… The insidiousness of magical thinking. But he was an old dog – at least 16, maybe close to 17 years old. And the decline was steady. Still, I got more than a year longer than I’d prayed for in the spring of 2020, when I’d asked for “just one more summer. Please.” with my boy. I got that, and a whole year more. An embarrassment of riches, this time with this incredible, life changing dog.

The memories, so many memories, all of them clear, if brief, as the day they were made, flooded me for that first day after, and I felt lost without him for a few days. Not only the daily rhythm of the day, where I revolved around his needs, doted on him, hand fed him (something I swore I would never do for a dog – but he was eager for food and just had a hard time eating because of his GOLPP). But it was more than that. He defined my life for so very long. FIFTEEN YEARS with him. He came at a time when I didn’t know I even needed him, and changed my whole outlook on dogs. All of them change you, all of them leave indelible marks, but some… some are game changers. He was a huge help in the grey cloud that hung over us (me, Dinah, and Cutter) because of Cutter’s worsening epilepsy.

He was full of so much spirit. My first Setter, he was as different from the serious Rottweilers I’d had for 20+ years as a dog could be, and certainly the spriteliness he brought to our lives broke up those dreary clouds, so heavy at times. He escaped the yard to run down the street with glee, his bird dog instincts driving him in following his bliss, and in the house he snuggled up like a cat. I fell so hard, there was no going back. I fell so hard I felt guilty, as if I was caught cheating on a lover, about my love for the Rottweilers. The road trips… he was so fun to travel with (although he was Cujo in the car, and big trucks set him off, which made me and the truckers laugh). He had such joy, and it was infectious. He lived life to the fullest: a walk became The Best Thing Ever, a hike was a grand adventure, and he was so fun to hike with. He had such character – his dislike of male strangers (up to and including biting them, to my horror), his love of his toys. Coming home with a new toy for him was like a kid on Christmas morning. He was SO fun to buy toys for, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have another dog who loves toys as much as Farley loved his. The siren song of the honking ones was something he couldn’t resist, and when he ripped out honk mechanism in one of them (or maybe that was Dinah – she was the toy destroyer) I used it as his emergency recall. He’d come to me at a dead run if he heard it. Even when his eyes got milky with age, and his sight diminished, his hearing poor to nonexistent, he still loved his toys. He got too frail to chase them very far, but still brought them to me to toss.

I know part of the reason I bought my farm was because of him. The house (property) in Sammamish suddenly became too small, too claustrophobic, the neighbors too clueless, and I had to get out. We ended up here, on our almost six acres, and before I got the fence up he was out on the road more than once, and up into the woods on the hill behind the house, running, running, running. He was poetry in motion. It’s weird being here without him – he permeated every inch of this property, every day I’ve been here for 11 years. Even the last months, and last weeks, last days, he still toddled around, and would come down the driveway with me, which gave me inordinate joy (that he wanted to), then back to the house via the sheep pasture. He was weak in the rear, and would sometimes lose traction and crumple on the hillside, but he was game until the end. He would go out in the mornings or evenings and do his business, walking around the house, into the brush behind the chicken coop, sniffing his way slowly along the route he’d done for years at breakneck speeds. He would bark at the bottom of the steps when he was ready to come in and I would dutifully come out and spot him (he knew he might fall, so he barked to let me know, and I was there to catch him and assist if he needed it). Now he is no more. Who am I without him? What am I to do without him? But life goes on, and a week becomes two weeks, and soon it will be a month (4/30/22 – 6 months now). I knew it would be hard, but I figured since he’d been declining that I was somewhat prepared (never ready). But had no idea how hard it would be. How much his presence had come to define me. How it soothed me. Saved me.

Each dog has a song; I’ve forgotten Hannah, Will, and Trinah’s songs off the top of my head (although collectively it was “Simply the Best”). Little Pal is the only one that hasn’t a song of his own, as I’m thinking of it (gotta work on that!), but Daisy’s is “My Girl.” Farley’s was “You are my sunshine” – I would sing it to him occasionally, which he dutifully put up with. I sang it to him that last day, though tears, and sang it to him as I drove home, his body so still and quiet in the back of my car. I sang it to him the next day, crying, as I drove him to the crematorium. The words are modified now, and when I sing it I cry, of course. My bright, bright shining boy, my game changer, my sprite, my joy in dog form, is gone, and so is the little old man who replaced him the past few years too. He’s racing along the cloudbanks now (thank you, Laurie, dearest of friends, for that perfect image), his spirits high and the joy palpable. Oh how I miss him so.

You made me happy, when skies were gray. You’ll never know dear, how much I loved you. I miss my sunshine every day. 


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12 thoughts on “Catching up, Part 1

  1. Laurie Haight Keenan on said:

    Of course I am blubber-bawling now. What a beautiful tribute, Mo. Every. Little. Detail. You have him memorized. He wove himself into your fibers.

    • mcfwriter on said:

      Just the tip of the iceberg, as you know, my friend – next time we talk I have to tell you about my “feather” with him. And yes, I wrote it months ago and I still cry every time I read it. He was a touchstone for sure. Love you!

    • mcfwriter on said:

      And thank you! ❤

  2. I knew I should have waited – but I’m glad I didn’t. Only five years with Angie. I think that’s what makes it so hard to swallow. Thx Mo. This too shall pass . . .

    • mcfwriter on said:

      Aww, sending you big hugs, cousin. Your post the other day about her was a shock and is part of the reason I wanted to post this. It hurts so bad, and when we don’t get to see them into old age, it really hurts. Angie was unforgettable, and packed a lot into those 5 lucky years with you. xoxo

  3. I agree that this is an amazing tribute and I am crying. I am so glad you are catching up.

  4. Oh Farley, you were so well loved. What a wonderful tribute. think I’ve got something in my eye…..

  5. What a beautiful tribute; it makes ME miss him and long for him and I have never met him – or you! But oh yes, I have lost beloved dogs, heart dogs, irreplaceable dogs, so the feeling is much too familiar. And being away from my current best dog to help with my dad’s hospice care makes it hit twice as hard. I am so sorry; thank you for sharing this beautiful soul with us.

    • mcfwriter on said:

      Thank you, Michelle – he was definitely one for the ages. I remember the very moment I met him, when he came barrelling toward me from the back of the vet clinic where his rescuer was working. He came right to me, licked me on the chin and said Let’s GO! And go we did. What a ride!

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