Finlay Basset Hound


15th September 1997 to 7th May 2011

Our long loved hound

So soon after we said goodbye to Bailey, now it is the turn of his twin brother Finlay. Finlay came to live with us on 24th August 2002, when he was almost five, so we had him eight and a half years --- longer than any other dog. His first owner no longer wanted him, and our reputation as Basset rescuers (Jemima and Arbuckle) led us to him. When he came to our house, Finlay spent a minute or so checking the place out, then jumped into an arm-chair and curled up to nap, for all the world like he was thinking "ahh, home at last." (This was long before we realised that Bassets' jumping on and off furniture was bad for their backs.) He and Jemima got on very well, although (perhaps because his first owner had brought him up to be a show dog) he didn't romp with Jemima the way Seren had. But he wanted to make friends with everyone, and was surprised to find some animals (e.g. cats) didn't reciprocate.

Two dogs abed.Nadine cuddles with FInlay

When we got him, Finlay's name was BJ, but he had such a serious demeanour that we thought he needed a name with more gravitas. Before we had him "snipped" he was always vigilant, even tense, in the company of male dogs (though a real sweetie at home). Afterwards he was much more relaxed in the park, but still acted like a security guard, walking the perimeter sniffing out information, and leaving his own scent-messages regularly to show he'd checked in. At that time he was obsessed by balls (but only those that belonged to other dogs). He would casually stroll pass another dog, pick up a ball when nobody was watching and carry it away unobserved, hidden inside his big floppy mouth. 

FInlay watches a ball intentlySir Finlay

Another surprise with young Finlay was how much he liked to walk. At first, he just wanted to go west, and keep on going. But soon Finlay and I were heading off in all directions, often for more than two hours, on a Saturday morning.
I remember once, he had picked up an abandoned ball on Kenmore ovals, and then came across an abandoned sandwich. I thought "he'll have to drop the ball now." But he didn't. He moved the ball further back on his mouth, then picked up the sandwich, and walked all the way home like that. Once there, he walked calmly up to the back yard, spat them both out, ate the sandwich, and then settled down to chew the ball. In 2004 when Bailey came to live with his brother (after Jemima had passed on) we had two Bassets who liked long walks. Eventually I decided to chart the more adventurous ones, which you can see below. Our home is the dot in Jay Park, and I've circled the suburbs / locales we reached: from Lone Pine to Mt Cootha, and from Kenmore Hills to Chelmer. Some of the walks mapped below are no longer possible, as new houses have been built on the vacant land we explored.

walking with bassets

Many of the long walks above happened even after both boys had ruptered disks, requiring back surgery and long recuperation (Bailey in 2005, Finlay in 2006). Not long after Finlay also followed his brother in losing the sight in one eye through glaucoma. But at Christmas-time in 2007, Finlay lost the sight in his second eye too, which Bailey never did. It made remarkably little difference to him. If his nose bumped into something he just quickly tilted it down and changed direction. He even used his pendulous ears to feel for the level of the ground, so he could tell if there was a step up or down. By this time, the boys were too old for exploratory walks, so we started to drive them to new places to give them new smells to think about. Even
in unfamiliar territory it was easy to forget that Finlay was blind, so confidently did he set off on his own, in whatever direction he wanted to go. (Finlay in the lead below, in 2009.)

Two Dogs Walking

And he could still keep up his hobby, by sniffing out a finished toilet roll in the recycling bin (2011). The accompanying sketches are by our friend,  artist/physicist/philosopher Rob Spekkens from early 2007.

Finlay by Rob SpekkensFinlay in 2002Finlay face by Rob Spekkens

In the end, it was Finlay's brain, not his body, which let him down. He started to become more anxious, and during the Brisbane floods of January 2011, he got so upset by the continual rain that we had to move Bailey away. Despite the best medication, he just got worse, until he wouldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time, and spent most of his waking hours pacing around and whimpering, unconsolable. He lost weight, and didn't wag for us anymore. The only pleasure he seemed to get was if he met a puppy on a (now very slow) walk, and we felt this wasn't enough to balance the anxiety he was suffering at home. Below is one of our first photos, and one of our last, at almost the same spot in the park (the cement path is new). Its been a long journey for you my faded friend, but far too short for us.

Finlay in 2002Finlay in 2011

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