Finnegan is sleeping more innocent like than he should be. He’s no doubt tired after a two short walks — post breakfast and post lunch given my work-at-home lifestyle — and running away to see his girlfriend this afternoon. (Luna’s a lovely golden mix with whom he normally has set, mommy-monitored play dates.)
It’s technically my fault that he got out. I forgot to latch the garden gate after taking brush to the curb. But, he didn’t have to go off like a shot. Without me even knowing about it until Luna’s mom called me from work to report her husband had Finn trapped in their backyard like the rat dog he is.
After a series of easy, breezy dogs, we have clearly adopted a canine set on perma teen. He makes his own plans, follows directions only when he feels like it and responds to a direct “no” by flopping to the floor with a thud and a literal grumble.
This proves to me, once again, that God has a sense of humor. I say this, because we actually prayed as a family that God would direct us to exactly the right dog before we went to the shelter. Our beloved Miles — a herding dog mix with the personality of a surfer — died suddenly earlier this year. My mother, nearly 94 and part of our household for 11 years, followed soon after. Our eldest daughter left for college a bit after that.
It’s been a hard, raw, exhausting year. It would have seemed that a sweet furry wisp of a dog was surely in order. But, no, God sent a dog’s dog, a real dog, a dog and a half. Part Target dog (English bull terrier) and part juvenile delinquent — Finn has pushed our dog-wrangling skills to the limit.
I’ve prayed hard for this dog — mostly that he won’t be a neighborhood menace. I’ve prayed for myself — also that I won’t be a neighborhood menace. (Our neighbors are actively helping me in this respect. They “good boy” him if he doesn’t bark when they’re walking past our fence. Some even bring him treats for the same.) But, five dogs into life, I’ve been reduced to buying a dog training manual, an anti-pull harness, a seat belt and lots and lots of baby wipes for the car. (Did I mention he has motion sickness?)
We have made some progress.
We’re past house breaking and neutering. We’re past grabbing anything left on the floor — such as the wallet of a teen daughter — and chewing it into teeny, tiny bits. We’re past growling at baby strollers and men with beards. We’re past yanking my shoulder nearly out of the socket if there’s a squirrel, another dog with an attitude or some good-smelling garbage in sight. We’re past dognadoeing on the furniture. We’re past — for the most part — trying to nip people’s fingers if a pet ends too quickly.
But, we’re still in the throes of putting a stop to tearing through the garden plants — while barking and chasing after trucks or boys on skateboards who have the temerity to be going down the lane outside our picket fence. (My husband has put in so many zoomie-blocking bamboo stakes it looks like some kind of tropical jail out there. But, some of our perennials are still goners as Finn’s also digging holes.)
And, now, he’s watching the garden gate like a hawk for any slip ups on our part.
They’ve been my slip ups so far. Twice. In one week. He’s been to Luna’s both times. The first time was high weekend while everyone and their dog, literally, was out enjoying the weather. There was a parade of people and one of those dogs — an old and slow one who got loose in the fracas — trying to help us. The people (not the dog) were offering treats, whistling, yelling “Here, Finnegan” and grabbing for his collar as he slalomed like an Olympian through the crowd.
I can’t get a moment of peace with this dog in the house. I can’t think long or deeply. I can’t do a lot of things that I might be inclined to do at the moment. And, that might be the point of a dog we aptly but accidentally named after one of fiction’s most rascally boys.
Finnegan. Finn. Huckleberry Finn. Good Lord! And, rather surprisingly, I mean that as a praise.
At least for now. If Finn starts chewing tobacco or involves a river raft on his next escape, he’s outta here.