In April, I received a call from a woman who wanted to either place her 4-year-old neutered Kerry male or have him put down. He had just been diagnosed
with bladder stones for the second time in 6 months, and she and her husband were unwilling to pay for the needed surgery. Their vet had prescribed
a change in diet after the first surgery, more exercise, and more water intake than the dog had been getting. The owners, however, told me their lifestyle
did not allow them to provide that level of care.
John and I picked up Finnegan on April 22nd, and his condition was not good. Apart from not having been groomed for months, he continually strained to
urinate but nothing came out. We weren't even out of the driveway before I was on the phone to my vet, who agreed to stay late to see him. She determined
that his bladder was nearly full by this time-creating a potentially life-threatening condition in which the urine backs up into the kidneys. An emergency
procedure with a catheter was performed to push the stones lodged in his penis back up into his bladder. This allowed him to urinate and to be more
comfortable that night. Bladder surgery was performed the next day, in which "innumerable" stones were removed. He was hospitalized for several days
for observation, to have his bladder completely flushed, and for treatment for acute ear infections (both ears). We surmised that his ears hadn't been
plucked in years.
In the weeks that followed, Finnegan recuperated exceedingly well. He gained strength, energy, and exuded happiness. And his sparkling personality came shining through. He began "singing" in the car as we approached our walk site, and again when we turned up our road on the way home. Whenever we walked by our neighbor's gate, he became a whirling dervish, predictably sending the neighbor's two yard-bound dogs into a tizzy. When that happened, Finnegan nonchalantly walked away. Far from the "couch potato" his owners described, Finnegan is always busy, patroling the yard and fenceline, looking for excitement and his next adventure.
For the first month, I thought he was more than a bit neurotic about food. He refused to eat from a stainless steel bowl, a ceramic soup bowl, a glass cereal bowl, a paper plate, or from a plastic carton. He only ate when his food was poured on a sheet of vinyl I used as an oversized placemat. Otherwise, he would dance around whining. Eventually, he graduated to a cookie sheet, until one day I spied him licking Jazz's empty bowl out on the patio. I immediately put his food in her bowl and voila, down it went! He now eats out of his own bowl, but only outside on the patio!
Finnegan is one of the few dogs I would term an "easy" Kerry. He has shown no dog aggression whatsoever, even toward a loose snarling dog that charged him. He mixes well with my two Kerry bitches, and greets everyone-dog or person-like a long-lost friend. He craves attention (which he's had little of) and will sit for hours having his back scratched and throat rubbed. Although he lacks basic obedience training, he does well on a lead, and learns fast.
In his life, Finnegan has been failed by just about everyone-his breeder who didn't screen his home, offer to take him back, or pay for his needed surgery; his first owner, who dumped him after only a few months; his next owner, who placed him in another unscreened home; his last owners, so lacking in compassion that they preferred to euthanize him than pay for needed surgery (which they could well afford); and finally, he was even failed by his first surgeon, who left undissolvable stitches in his bladder, which could have contributed to his most recent problem.