Dear Gary: Attached (below) is the e-mail my daughter just sent me. She had just lost Finnegan, her first pet dog, unexpectedly. I’d like to share with you and your readers her heartbroken, yet warm all over experience. Merry Christmas. (George Hsieh, Walnut Creek, CA)
"Our beloved Finnegan was laid to rest December 21, 2005, at 2:35 p.m.
"He suffered for five days from symptoms of cancer of his liver and lungs. There was no treatment for his cancer. He wasn’t alone for a minute in his last days, and I don’t think he wanted to be.
"He changed us as people. I never knew before my capacity for patience or pure love. When we went to the Oakland, CA, SPCA in February, 2001, Brian was interested in a very strong-willed female mix and I was interested in a boisterous female collie-type dog. But for some reason, we kept looking at the frightened one with the black patch over his eye. We took him out of the kennel and tried to take him for a walk. If anyone knew Finnegan, they knew that he would not walk with strangers, but he came with us. He leaned into us. Before we left with him, he sat on my feet.
"Not until years later did we realize the significance of what he did. He chose us. Brian thinks because Finnegan knew we’d love and protect him from what had been a very, very scary world for him.
"That first day was followed by four years and ten months of joy, frustration, laughing and smiling and lots and lots of love. His true love was the beach, and I hope he is running in heaven’s sand and chasing the waves. No more pain, no more suffering, and most of all, no more being afraid.
"He was between 5-1/2 and 6 years old and our hearts are breaking. But to answer the age-old question, is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? The love was for Finnegan. He deserved every ounce of love that he was shown. I could never consider taking that love away from him so that these tears wouldn’t be running down my face. My heart is not breaking from having loved him, it is breaking from the loss. So, it is irrelevant if it is better to have loved and lost. The love was his. The loss is ours.
"If you knew him and loved him — thank you. We will carry him with us always." (Anne-Marie, Brian & Lily, in cyberspace)