Staff dog: Finnegan

Name: Finnegan

Staff member: Kate (Director of Training)

Our dogs have their stories intertwined with each other, we all influence and shape each other. However, this story really took off with Finnegan, a diminished form, 5 week old, single puppy from rescue, who was still and sad looking. He was the very last of thirty puppies that had been adopted out like hot cakes that Valentine day. I had come down to look for an active breed, a dog that loved everyone, loved life. 10 families had turned down little depressed Bull Mastiff x German Shepherd Dog. By the time they dropped him in my arms. He dropped his head slowly onto my wrist and didn’t move. Perfect. He was adopted.

He was afraid of so many things, and I was not a trainer, so I didn’t know how to help him. I also could not find a certified trainer. When Finnegan first started showing aggression to people and dogs I was given unfortunate training advice that made him much worse and also afraid of me.

He was 120 lbs now, and we couldn't even get out the front door because he was so ready to fight this danger-filled world. It had gotten to where there wouldn't even be any dogs or people yet, and he was preemptively reacting. I spent many nights awake worrying about him. I had to help him. So I looked at those sad eyes and decided that I would become what he needs.

I began to research canine behavior and volunteered at a shelter. I fostered many dogs, and eventually worked as a trainer at the shelter.  I started lectures to help other people find information to help dogs they loved. I adopted four more dogs on this journey, each introduced to Finnegan, and each brought more behaviors that we worked on together.

Finnegan learned that he wasn’t alone in this, and I learned kindness is strength. I learned everything form the dogs, the research gave me a framework, the dogs gave me the heart to keep going, and a chance to start again.

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