Saying Goodbye


It is a wobbly dawn. Fog on snow shifts the fields into otherworldly realms. Most appropriate for this morning. Last evening we said goodbye to Finn-dog, encircled him in our love as he died. He was all lightness and grace.

He was one of my most important teachers. Every day this exuberant spirit reminded me to lighten up. To enjoy the infinite pleasures of daily rambles on the land. To follow my nose. To be in the moment and stop thinking so much about everything all the time. To show my joy and express my love.

finn ready for the snow

I will miss him sorely.


29 Responses

  1. So sorry to hear although I knew from your blogs he was failing. It’s hard to lose that unbridled joy and tireless love that dogs show to us. Dick

  2. Oh, I am thinking of you. He had a rich life, in your arms and your home.

  3. I am so sorry, Barbara.

  4. My goodness, we can all relate. I do feel your loss. And, the lessons you learned from the Finn-dog are priceless. Thank you for sharing your companion with us.

  5. So, so sorry. I remember him as a young pup in the basement of Gifford–full of exuberance and humor.

  6. My heart goes out to you and your family for facing the loss of Finn who sounds like he carried the dog spirit to the highest level. The fog will clear, yet the world will not be exactly the same, but still better for having known him.

  7. It seems he lived well and was loved. What more can any dog, or any of us, ask for? I hope you can take some comfort from the happy memories.

  8. Thank you thank you for the lovely notes.

    It has been a sad day indeed, but sharing Finn with you through this blog, Flickr, Twitter etc. helps him to live on in spirit and does my sore heart good. It took me years to thread Finn into my blogging–I do not write about my family very often, choosing to honor their privacy–but even the act of writing about him here, in public, has added to my experience as a slow-blogger who tries to balance the sensory with the intellectual, who is learning to walk out on the tightrope of sentiment (without falling into a pit of sentimentality). Whatever poetry might find its way here I owe in some part to him. He taught me to slow down. His patience out on walks when I would stop to take yet another photo taught me to reciprocate that patience when he needed to check out yet another trail, another rock in the stream, scent in the grass. I learned to look more closely, take in more than the visual world, tumble words one by one about on my tongue as I watched him at ‘work.”


  9. I”m so sorry, Barbara. I’ve loved coming to know Finn from your writing. Thanks for sharing him with the rest of us. I hope your many memories are a comfort.

  10. so sorry to hear about Finn. a beautiful post & tribute to your friend and animal guide.
    with warmest thoughts,

  11. Barbara, My deepest condolences on your loss of a great zen master named Finn. May we all listen to the wisdom of such friends and keep their lessons close.

  12. Oh, Barbara, I’m so sorry. I saw the pictures of him recovering and thought he was up to spirits. I’m glad to have met Finn. He seemed wise and yet playful.
    my regards,

  13. Barbara, I’m so sorry. Sending my warm thoughts, love and condolences to you and your family. He was a wonderful pup. I’ll always remember him bounding through your backyard.

  14. Don’t know what I can say that people haven’t already said. After reading this though I have given my dog some extra loving to show him my gratitude for all the things he has shown me too.

  15. I’m so sorry about Finn. You were blessed to have such a companion!

  16. So sad. So sorry.

    We said goodbye to our 17-year-old cat, Fritz, at the end of September and our 13-year-old dalmation, Willy, last December. They are real family members with unique personalities, and their absence leaves a huge hole.

  17. Barbara,

    I am so sorry to hear about Finn, but I feel very lucky to have met him before he starting showing signs of illness. How fortunate you were to have shared your life with such a dog. Pete and I still cry occasionally over Woody’s absence, and Lucas still talks about Woody being “broken,” even six months after the dog passed. Pete found the best therapy was to make digital stories–or at least photos set to music–about their time together. I imagine you’ll find solace in some similar creative outlet.

    Best wishes, and big hugs,


  18. A dog’s death leaves a tear in the heart that is more immediate and sharper than anything else. Grief for people is deeper, longer, sadder, but a dog’s death rends the fabric of life too. They give us unconditional love, and they are always there for us. I am so sorry that you’ve lost your dog, and know that there are empty places now in your house and in your habits that you will have to navigate around. A friend once asked me, after the death of a well-loved dog, ‘but isn’t it better to have shared his company for all these years and to suffer this bit of sadness now?’ At the time she asked the answer seemed to be ‘no.’ But in fact she was right.

  19. Wow–I am so moved by this outpouring of kind support from all of you, those who met Finn and those who didn’t have that pleasure–old friends, students from several years ago, newer friends both online and off, and even readers I do not know except here in these spaces of written connection.

    Today, walking the land without him, I tried to locate his exuberance in my own heart. It will take some time, but I’ll find it again.


  20. Oh Finn! I wish I could have baked more bread for you, fine dog.
    I’m so sorry, Barbara. All best thoughts for you all.

  21. I am very sorry to hear of Finn’s passing. We’ve just traveled to Virginia and back again with our faithful Astro, and the trip was so much richer for his presence and interaction with our many generous hosts. A good dog is an extraordinary being. Errol Morris captures this very well in “Gates of Heaven.” Even amidst all the satire and surreality, the film powerfully celebrates the love these pets liberate in us.

    My best to you and your family in this time of loss, Barbara.

  22. We love you and loved Finn. Our hearts are with you on this cold, sad day and look forward to giving you hugs.
    He will always be one of my all time favorite dogs. So connected, so loving and smart, so energetic and always exuberant.
    Hetty and Chris

  23. Bryan–I smile to think that stealing your bread off the coffee table was Finn’s final bread-swiping act. He was so smooth that none of us noticed until well after dinner!

    Gardner–Thanks for the kind words and for the reminder of Morris. I will watch it soon. Today marks one week since Finn died, and I feel his spirit everywhere. He was an extraordinary being, it’s true.

    Hetty–You and Chris and Alex were high on Finn’s list of good people. You completely got him, and I will cherish memories of Chris on the floor playing with him–how we let ourselves be wonderfully silly and playful with dogs!

  24. I’m so very sorry about Finn’s passing. Our romps around your land are among the happiest memories I have of Middlebury. Finn lifted anyone’s spirit with the wagging of his tail showing friendship, demanding you to be present, “You! Right here, now!” He was that teacher you talk about… a teacher who could wrestle a stick out of my hand like an alligator! Literally, anything I would grab along our walk was fair game for him to claim as his own and to attempt to drag out of the woods.

    His energy was contagious, and his smile proud & constant. Together, you & Finn, have been incredible teachers.

    Throwing rocks to pull Finn out of the pond, to remember him always,

  25. Barbara:

    I am slowly getting back to my blog reading after the holidays, and was deeply saddened to hear of Finn’s passing.

    What a fine fine soul he was. As much as I love visiting you and your loved ones at your incredible home, it was the Finn-ster who was, okay, I will admit it, the highlight of my trips. Such a lovely boy. So eager to please, and as you mentioned here, so happy to pull you out of the hum drum, the self absorbed navel gazing, the minutae of our lives for the Really Important Things… like rolling in the snow and seeking out (but not chasing, never chasing) the fauna on the land and going for late night bunny walks down the dark, curving drive.

    Oh I am so sad for you, and for your loss of such a great dog, but I am also glad that Finn is no longer suffering.



  26. Remy,

    Thanks for your sweet words. You capture Finn in your comment–you knew him well and he loved you as only Finn could love. I remember your own devotion to your family dog while you were at Middlebury, commuting home to Maine on weekends during his final months. They do bring out the best in us.


    A lovely remembrance–thanks. I’m glad you got to know him, and I completely understand that it was really Finn you came to see!

    I am stunned by how different the land, the house, everything is without him here. The wildlife creep close to the house now, sensing his absence. The cats meow plaintively, prowl restlessly. We’re still all off-kilter, which is why, I think, I have blogged twice in a week and plunged myself into my art and what some would call “self-absorbed navel gazing” but I hope (but cannot yet tell) is really an exploration of ideas beyond myself. Who knew so much depended on a joyful, rare-spirited dog…


  27. So sorry to hear of the loss, but I take some solace that Finn found a place in the world worthy of him.

    Words always fail me in cases like this. All I can think to do is give my own dog an extra scratch, an extra yummy treat, and make the nighttime walks a little longer…

  28. […] build a nest on the drainpipe just above the grill. Stories that are sharply different this year without Finn. To learn to listen without […]

  29. […] build a nest on the drainpipe just above the grill. Stories that are sharply different this year without Finn. To learn to listen without […]

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