I looked up from tossing the spinach salad and watched as my boy was engaged in some tossing of his own. Finnegan, his beloved, stuffed puppy from babyhood, was being catapulted higher and higher from the deck and finally landed on the roof. Oliver shot a surprised but satisfied glance toward the kitchen and I called out, "Daddy's going to have to get him now. There's no way you're going up there. You know that, right?" I sensed my boy's tossing game carried the intention of perching rooftop with Daddy again. A few weeks earlier, my husband taught our son how to clean the rain gutters and the two of them ascended the fairly flat roof of our home--an exciting and daring feat indeed for a small boy. Nevertheless, it seemed to me, the Spring rush of our family business might just delay the rescue.
At dinner, Oliver announced that Finnegan had taken a trip to the roof and would Daddy please retrieve him? My husband put his plate in the sink and turned and held his son's head in his hands. He began, "Buddy, I have to go back to work, but remind me tomorrow again and I'll get him for you."
It stormed that night.
The trauma that ensued was predictable and that little fellow threw his skinny arms around my waist and wept as his sisters recounted the lightening, thunder and torrential rains.
"Finnegan is dying!", he cried, "We have to get him now!"
Somehow, in the next minutes, we became distracted with a visitor at the door and then into the truck for a few errands, and that puppy remained on the roof for another two days. Each time Oliver reminded his daddy about his rooftop friend, we were heading out the door again. Nights were difficult as Oliver climbed under the covers and had no one to snuggle. It was clear this young lad, who had recently teetered on the edge of disbelieving his puppy was real, was convinced his furry friend was feeling every moment of pain on the top of our home. As I kissed my boy's forehead and wiped his tears, I began to feel like we were failing as parents and vowed that tomorrow, indeed, Finnegan would be rescued.
After four days, the sopping-wet, brown puppy was lowered by my husband into desperate, waiting arms. Oliver squeezed that filthy dog and closed his eyes. He whispered, "Finnegan, you're back." I told him Finnegan needed to be cleaned up in order to spend the night in his bed. "Yes," he agreed, and we entered the house. What Oliver didn't realize was that I meant he needed to be thrown into the washing machine.
I pushed a load of light clothing into the machine and added Finnegan and some detergent. Then I went to check the bathroom hamper for a bit more to fill the load. When I returned, my boy had removed his puppy and was crying again.
"He can't go in there! He'll drown!"
I knelt down to his level and explained how he'll just do the doggie-paddle, "It's like a ride at the fair for him." He refused to believe it and clung tighter to his beloved. Finally, I managed to pull the stuffed friend from my son and remind him that Finnegan would not be entering his bed sheets with filthy, wet fur. He relented.
Ten minutes later, I walked into the laundry room to find Oliver kneeling with hands on the glass door of my front-loader, sniffling. His sisters were sympathetically perched behind him as he traced that puppy, sloshing round and round, with his finger, and cried, "There he is... there he is..." The girls came running when the machine changed to the spin cycle. Their brother was a wreck. The drying process was another traumatic event. Oliver begged for no more spinning. I convinced him that he'd get to hold Finnegan quicker if we didn't hang him out to dry but let him get fluffed up in the dryer... for just a few minutes. Molly was able to empathize because she had experienced the same difficulty over releasing her favourite blankie to be washed. She comforted her brother by placing her own stuffed piglet into the dryer as company for Finnegan. It worked. Oliver felt better, Finnegan felt better and I was grateful for a thoughtful big sister when I had run out of wisdom.
I slipped out for some groceries that afternoon, and when I returned, my son had his puppy under his arm. I asked him if Finnegan was feeling okay. Those big hazel eyes glared up at me and he pouted, "NO, he's DIZZY!"
The next two weeks were less eventful but that little dog joined us for all occasions. The backpack zipper was zipped just enough to allow Finnegan's head to peek out and breathe, the truck seat beside Oliver held the small pet, he strolled through grocery store aisles and friend's homes. It was apparent, Oliver was keeping a good eye on his friend, who normally only hung out in his bed. The rescue and adventures of Finnegan will never be forgotten in our family and perhaps one day, he'll be passed on to my son's child and he/she will be told about the love between a boy and his dog.