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Rescued May, 2008, Died August 2012

"You Remain Forever With Us."

"Finnegan, begin again". Those were the first words out of my grown daughter when she saw the sick, little, bedraggled dog and heard the name we had chosen for him. Begin again he did.

A rescue coordinator spotted him on Petfinder…seemingly minutes after he was posted by an Atlanta animal shelter. The rescue tom-toms started and by the end of the day he had been identified as a true Kerry and we had dibs on him if his owner did not show up in 10 days. The shelter was crowded and although the shelter personnel worked as hard as they could, there was just not much room at the inn. Finnegan was in a kennel with a Pit Bull , an Akita and a poor little dog so frightened that he snapped and snarled at anyone or anything within his sight. They were all males, of course. Finn lived through the 10 days and no owner ever showed.

After being with a foster for a few weeks, it was agreed that I would have the opportunity to try and integrate him into our household which included a resident 1 year old Kerry male, Magee. There were a lot of crossed fingers and bated breath but the 2 formed a friendship that lasted for the rest of Finn's life.

He was in bad shape when we got him and was plagued with a constitution that was less than ideal. It seemed like there was always something going on with the little guy. What he lacked in consistent good health, he made up for with the strongest of spirits, the brightest of eyes, the sunniest of temperaments and a personality that preceded him into rooms. He was a true Irish imp.

Finn was always into something and most of it was trouble. Finnegan was a baaaaaaad dog. This troubled him not in the least and when I called him a baaaaaad dog he would look at me, smile, wag his tail and get right on with his business. We have so many funny stories about Finn. I cannot share them here. If I started, you would call and ask me to send you a copy of War and Peace instead.

October of last year, Finnegan was given a diagnosis of lymphoma. It is supposed to be one of the most common canine cancers and one that responds exceedingly well to chemotherapy. We gave it a go, knowing that we could stop if he did not tolerate it well. He did well with the 6 month treatment but had a very short remission. Several "rescue" therapies were tried but none was successful for long. Still, we were so grateful to have all the extra time to watch him bound to the gate in the backyard, barking doggy cuss words into the alley at the dog across the way, trying to sneak out the door with toys, chewing up blinds so he could actually SEE the dog he was barking at and so many other antics. Knowing our promise to Finn was to always take care of him and not have him suffer, we released him from a tired and worn out body this past Wednesday, August the 29th.

I cannot express the depth of our grief or the vastness of our loss. We are trying very hard to pull up all the great memories we have of him and trying to forget the fact that we were only graced with him for a short while. Dick has lost his soul mate and is inconsolable.

Thanks to all who helped get him to us. He was a true gift. Nothing we could ever do for him could equal what he did for us.

Run free you little imp. Go find Danny. May God hold you both in the palm of His hand.

Dianne Collins
Magee, Mia and Magee's Kitty

The End of the Story

Part of the reason you are hearing from me [again] is that the grieving was very intense and as it started to lessen, I was starting on the journey that would complete the last thing I would do for Finnegan. I decided to wait and tell you the end of the story.

Both of my boys loved to be brushed. This was the last thing I did for them before I took them to the vet to say goodbye. Each time after I got home, I cleaned the brush and put the loose fur into an envelope with their name on it.

On October the 12th, I stood on a high rock wall at Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. It was a beautiful windy day with the Atlantic Ocean washing in far below me and climbing hills behind me. One at a time, I released the fur of Danny and Finnegan into the air. As I was remembering them, I remembered the names of dozens and dozens of Kerries we all have lost. If you posted about the loss of your dog, the rescue of your dog or stories of your dog within the last 10 or 11 years, I remembered them. Most of you would probably be surprised that your dog's actual name was running through my mind and what I was remembering about them. I cried for some time and then I looked away from the water back up to the hills. It made me happy to think that I had sent Danny and Finnegan on up. It felt like their spirits were rising and they were in a place that they had never been but where somewhere in their lines they had come from. I was happy to think that they would be in a new place with new smells and new friends. I was happy to think that they were part of a rugged breed of dogs that started there so long ago. I am sure those ancient Kerries did not am even look exactly the same way that my boys looked so many generations later but they had those lovely Kerry traits that they passed along. In some symbolic way, I was hoping your dogs were with them and I said goodbye to them also.

Here is to the memory of all of them.

Dianne Collins
Magee and Mia

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The first winner of the Foundation's annual "Fly Me Away" raffle was won by Liz and Clay, who flew to Europe for the Christmas holidays.

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