El Fin--the end is the beginning

2018 was a difficult year for Hoffmans in so many ways, but particularly for our pets. It began January of last year, with Theodorable "Teddy" Sunrise's devastating diagnosis of a rare seizure disorder and his ultimate, humane passing on January 26, 2018. There is not much more to say about this, other than it was horribly unfair, and one of the most difficult things we have walked through as a family.

Theodorable Teddy Sunrise, June 2017-January 2018

The untimely loss of Teddy was only tempered by the enduring love of our older beloved Newf, Sampson. For his 8th birthday in April, we showered with him endless affection and his usual 'meat cake'. However, in July, in the midst of family drama surrounding our son's surgery complications and multiple extended hospital stays, Sampson lost his voice and stopped walking. We thought it was psychosomatic--that he sensed the heightened tension in the family and was ailing, pining for his boy to come home and get better. When H came home and nothing changed, we ran tests, and found out Sampson had ALS, with no hope for a cure.

On October 6, he passed in our yard, a swift and seemingly painless stroke, with his head in our laps, surrounded by those he loved. We were devastated. Tired of being the family with bad news, we made an unspoken decision not to commemorate Sampson's passing in any way. No #rip posts, just a sad quiet.

Sampson William, April 2010-October 2018

For the first time in 8.5 years, we were a family with no dog. Throughout the fall, our son struggled with more complications and hospitalization, and we juggled this challenge with work and school. Maybe this was a good distraction for the quiet at home, a family with 20+/- chickens and four independent cats.

Then Cho, the failed foster kitten from the barn, the family favorite, went missing. We looked everywhere for her, and found her two days later, under the porch, with a fever of 106. A freak virus, she died with Hayden performing CPR as we drove to the emergency vet on an icy Monday night.

Cho Chang, April 2015-November 2018

It was starting to feel like a bad prank. One morning just before Christmas, Hayden shook me awake, and whispered urgently that the President was dead. I jumped up, thinking he meant Trump, but it was El Presidente, my late father's morbidly obese, fairly grouchy but ultimately lovable cat. Ten years old, nearly 30 pounds, he passed in his sleep, under the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree.

Enough, Universe. Uncle. Whatever it takes.

El Presidente, March 2008-December 2018

We felt done with animals, our hearts tenderized by a year of loss and struggle. For the first time in 18 years, I decided not to create a Christmas card. This was not a year worth commemorating. We celebrated Christmas a few days early, and boarded a plane for a well-deserved vacation. In the airport, on Christmas Eve, I got a phone call. A Newfoundland breeder nearby had ten puppies due in the morning, Christmas Day... Did we want one?

It took us all of ten seconds to debate:

Welcome Finn, the heart-healing puppy, whose name 'the end', signifies the end of the sad times, and the beginning of a new chapter.

#NewFinnLand #finnerfinnerchickendinner