On July 2, at a very early hour in the morning, the McKnapps bid a sorrowful goodbye to our gentle giant, Findley. At nine and a half years old, Findley was ill enough that we had to make the tough call that further intervention would have been strictly for our sake, and not for his.
Findley was our best companion, resident comedian and truly a Great Dane extraordinaire. In his prime, he went everywhere we did — hotels, family visits, cottages, friend’s houses, stores and banks, you name it. Visitors to our house would be greeted with a carefully chosen toy, every time — picture a 130 pound dog rooting through his toy basket to pick just the right stuffy to give whoever came in, whether they were a friend, family, or gruff contractor. He was so used to being commented on in the street that we realized he was answering to the word “beautiful” as if it was his name.
As a well-behaved and well-socialized dog, Findley also came along to many of my races — and after I finished each one, I’d expand my race belt, strap it around his 44″ chest, and he would wear my bib on his back, walking around the site as Du-Dog.
But for every good moment a dog brings you — and there are so very many wonderful and rich moments — in the end, you have to endure the one very worst moment as you say goodbye. It’s heart-wrenching and painful and terrible, even though it’s the right thing to do.
Now, after almost a decade living with this great Great Dane, and just two weeks without, we’re still missing every tail whip, every snore and grumble, every jingle of the collar and tags, every flap of the ears, and every goofy gallop around the back yard.
I’m slated to race the sprint duathlon this Sunday at Niagara. The last time I did this course was in 2014. It was just my second race, and Findley came with us, as he had for my first, at Guelph Lake. Though Grimsby is just an hour from home, we stayed overnight at a nearby hotel, where Findley had his own bed to relax on. It was good he rested up for race day — a day where he was possibly one of the most popular attractions on site.
So now we return to Niagara, but without our companion. To be honest, if I hadn’t registered already there’s no way I’d sign up now. My heart is still heavy and my mind just isn’t ready for the intensity of a race. It doesn’t help that physically, my legs are strained and my IT band is causing me a lot of grief, even after a layoff. But I signed up in June, and I will race.
Just, sadly, without my Du-Dog.
RIP, Findley. You were a very good dog.