August 5, 1997 - May 23, 2005


He just had to have an Irish name, of course.  I have always liked the name Finian and chose it for no particular reason.  

Other names considered:  Fionan, Turlough, O'Carolan, Carolan.  (Turlough O'Carolan was a famous blind Irish harper.)


Fin, Puppy, Gigantor


August 5, 1997


Irish Wolfhound.


Enormous.  His top weight was 203 pounds (92 kg), which made him on the large side even for a Wolfhound.  He gained a little weight over the years as he became less active, but we managed to get him down to about 185 pounds (84 kg) - for a while, anyway.  He was very tall, too:  I'm 5'10" (182 cm) and I could pet him without bending over or even extending my arm full length, which was quite convenient.

Fin was very good-looking and I imagine he would have been show quality were it not for his disability and some extra weight (see History and Medical sections).  We always shaved him for the summer, so in many of his pictures, his coat is short.
He had a very deep, authoritative-sounding bark, but only used it when something important was going on.  He never learned to howl properly and tended to say "owww owww" a few times, then start barking loudly instead - usually right in another dog's ear.  Sometimes, he did what we called a pre-howl warmup, which consisted of him making a lot of guttural, muttering noises.  It sounded like someone with a very deep voice trying to talk backwards, and it was really kind of creepy.

I had wanted an Irish Wolfhound since I was quite young, but until my husband and I bought our current residence, I wasn't in a position to house one properly.  When Spook came to live with us, we realized he was going to be lonely by himself while we were at work.  It occurred to me to call one of the local Irish Wolfhound breeders (there are a couple) and see whether she had any handicapped puppies.  Seeing as we'd just bought a house, we didn't have enough spare money to buy a "normal" one, plus we're used to working with handicapped animals and it can be tough to find good homes for them.

Amazingly, for what I believe was the first time in her breeding career, she did have a handicapped puppy - a twelve-week-old boy.  The timing couldn't have been better.  I picked him up the same day I talked to the breeder.


Fin was generally calm, very affectionate, and loved to meet people.  Irish Wolfhounds are called "the gentle giants" because they tend to be placid, easygoing dogs and Fin was no exception.  He really had a lovely personality and made friends wherever he went, and most people seemed not to mind him putting their arms in his mouth.  (That is the way he said Hello.)  He was a bit on the lazy side, which is also a common trait of the breed.  I guess if I were that large, I might not be terribly active, either.

He wasn't overly fond of younger dogs and seemed to find their puppy antics rather annoying, but he was generally tolerant of them and dealt with the situation by ignoring them for the most part.  He could be a bit aggressive with strange dogs, probably because he couldn't see them and wasn't sure what they were up to.  We were careful to limit his exposure to dogs other than our own and supervise him when he did meet them.

When I get home from work I always pet all the dogs before going inside.  Some days when Fin was outside, he wanted extra petting.  To get it, he simply cut in front of me and stopped when I headed for the door.  He was too heavy for me to move and too tall to step over, so I was pretty much stuck standing there and petting him.


Blindness; osteosarcoma.  See Details.

For most of his life, Fin was very healthy.  We knew before we got him that Wolfhounds do not live very long, but several members of his family beat the odds and lived well past the average Wolfhound lifespan, so we were hoping he'd do the same.  Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way.  If you're thinking about acquiring a Wolfhound, the fact that their average lifespan is seven or eight years is something to keep in mind.  It was very hard on us when he died, but he was worth every minute of the time we had.
When he was younger, he enjoyed digging enormous, Wolfhound-sized holes in the yard.  One of them was right in front of our door and we kept falling into it.  Until he got sick, he enjoyed going for walks twice a day and "helping" us feed the chickens, pigeons, and geese, but I think napping, rolling around on his blankets, and meeting people were his top favorite activities.


For some reason, Fin was very frightened of our neighbor's gas-powered generator.  It makes enough noise that we can hear it on our property and if he was outside when they turned it on, he always got very anxious and asked to come in.  

He mostly tolerated Bobby, but the two of them had several spats - one serious enough that we had to call in an animal behaviorist.  After we learned how to handle the situation we could nip the quarrels in the bud, but the two never were overly fond of each other.

Finian was very close to Spook and took it hard when he died.  For the remainder of his life, his best buddy was MacKenzie.