Rescue Dog: Meet Finn (Survivor)

Note: My dear, dear Finn went through a surgery yesterday so I wanted to re-post the original piece about him that was published on April 11, 2011 just after he came to live with me. The vet was addressing some of his old injuries. She removed bird shot that was on the surface, but left a lot still in him because she didn’t want to cut into his flesh. She DID, however, find a 22 caliber bullet lodged in his shoulder, which she did remove. I can’t know everything my boy suffered before he came to live with me but, right now, as he snores on his ottoman, wrapped in a blanket in front of a blazing fire, the past just doesn’t matter. He is home and he is loved.

Here is the original post:

There seem to have been a lot of rescue stories on the blog lately—anniversaries, reunions—but I have a brand new story to share and it is just at the beginning, so you all get to participate. Today I brought an eighth animal into my family—something I said I would never do. But today I found Finn, for Irish hero (at the vet’s he was dubbed Survivor, but I thought he deserved better).

rescued dog

I’d had my coffee and was setting up to transcribe some notes from an interview, but decided to go to the post office first—no home delivery here–so I could settle in without interruption. And there he was, in the center of town. I don’t know his story. I don’t know from whence he came. But he crossed my path, all bones and sorrow.

survivor dog

He wouldn’t get into my car so I raced home for food and water, terrified he wouldn’t be there when I returned. He’d wandered, but I found him and fed him and picked him up, without struggle this time, and put him in my car. Without even thinking I told him he had a home with me; that he was a good dog and had done nothing to deserve this. He ate more. I called the vet and they could get him in. I called my friend, Craig, to see if he’d come with me because, quite frankly, I was deeply shaken. Craig came immediately and we took this dear, dear boy down the mountain to Dr. Ramsay at Cottonwood Vet—a miracle of a vet, truly.

rescued dog finds hope

So much good news mixed in with the bad: he doesn’t have heart worm! Other than being in the last stage of starvation, he is not ill. Miracle after miracle! His blood work was clean! But his protein levels and red blood cell count were at death levels.



he won't look at me

So Craig and I went to the feed store to get some special kibble, to the grocery store to get chicken livers, a bed and a collar and we brought the boy home. I was concerned about the cats. Some dogs are cat killers. You just can’t know. But Finn is not, thankfully. He was iffy with Kelee. He’s probably had to be defensive with dogs, out in the world, fending for himself.

to the vet

road trip

Skye hid under the bed, of course, and I wasn’t looking forward to their introduction. Other than Kelee, she’s not had another dog in this house. And it wasn’t great. It was scary, in fact. Barking, growling, lunging, hackles up, all around—three big dogs in one small space feeling threatened. I pulled out my very best alpha attitude and, amazingly, they all listened.

a new best friend

getting a collar

It’s been an exhausting day and evening. I’ve called Craig about a hundred times. But Finn has eaten regularly (he needs to eat numerous small amounts of food every couple of hours), and all three dogs are sleeping peacefully right now—a minor miracle.

kelee welcomes finn

I have a wonderful Willa Cather novel I’m itching to snuggle into, so the next big event here in the Weigel household will be to get this crew upstairs, out of the studio, and into my living quarters. Let’s not even THINK about going to bed for the night! Just venturing out to the portal to get wood for the fire was a major event.

rescued dog safe at last

A storm blew in this evening, bringing with it badly needed rain. I am very grateful for the precipitation and at least as grateful that this dear dog doesn’t have to spend the night, tonight, out in the rain and cold. Tonight he has a soft bed, a warm fire, plenty of food, and hope. A dog’s belief is an amazing thing. Here he is, nearly dead from neglect, and he already believes in me. Simple trust. A beautiful lesson I hold close to my heart.

skye and finn

And now it has started to snow.


By the time this story is posting, Finn has been with us for five full days. His recovery has been amazing. He’s putting on weight faster than I thought he would and he’s able to tolerate food much better. His energy has been returning in leaps and bounds and he is even wanting to PLAY! While there have been some tussles between the dogs, they are actually getting along remarkably well. Skye seems smitten but Kelee is somewhat jealous of both Skye’s and my attention going to Finn. Time will sort all this out, I am sure. But as much as I want to put a cheery spin on his story, I was just petting him and found three shotgun pellets in his chest. I tried to comfort him and get him to lie down on his bed and he almost wouldn’t breathe. He was uncomfortable with the attention and did everything he could to present a submissive posture. And it occurred to me that Skye has a shotgun pellet embedded in her flesh and Kelee lost his leg to a bullet. Some nights it is hard to be human, knowing what we are capable of, and yet these animals, who are my family, all of them rescued from some wrong, continue to believe. And I will do everything I can to give them something true to believe in. I can’t take away the past or right every wrong, but I can see to it that they are loved and protected and safe from this day forward.

addendum photo
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We have a new family member and Finn has his forever home. You know you’ll be hearing more as this story unfolds… Stay tuned!

Love to you all,

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