Finbar McPaw

Sadly, on December the first at 9.40am we said goodbye to Finbar.

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I should apologise in advance to non-pet owners and non-dog lovers. I remember a time when I would have thought “it’s only a dog…” if I read something like this but believe me when you have shared thirteen years of your life with a very interactive being it doesn’t matter whether he has a tail or not, he’s your kid; except that from the outset you know he won’t outlive you. Over the past couple of months he had noticeably lost weight despite maintaining his usual appetite. Then he contracted a cough which was considerably reduced by antibiotics but on the Wednesday he started breathing in very short, quick pants. The diagnosis this time was that he had an advanced tumour in his chest. By Thursday morning he was looking pretty miserable and I knew it was time. He passed very quickly and it felt a privilege to help him in his time of need. The piper must always be paid and I wanted to be sure it was me picked up the tab not him.

Right that’s the grim bit. I don’t intend this to be a lament, hopefully I can make it a celebration of Finbar’s life as a sort of canine motorcycle celebrity. So to kick off, here’s what he looked like when he WAS a kid.

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Cute, huh? Him, not me, obviously. When he arrived he peed and slept a lot. In that time he was, of course, utterly fearless and I made use of those first weeks to expose him to as much as possible that might frighten him later in life, maybe I went too far – he wasn’t scared of anything…

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Not just weird tree monsters but  welding, angle grinding, hammering, revving motorbikes. It all became everyday stuff to Finbar and really the only time I ever saw him terrified about anything was a few years ago when he got his daft head wedged between two concrete bollards and I had to lift him clear, growling and snapping hysterically.

FInbar came to us in mid-October so I was able to include Bonfire Night in his training, I had him out in the garden chasing around during the fireworks and from then on they never worried him and I used to delight in taking him round the block on November 5th, if possible holding a spent rocket in his teeth for effect.

In fact here he is last year, enjoying a local display.

fireworks-2015 He liked to be lifted up to sit on my hips like a kid so he could see what was going on, which people found almost as entertaining as the fireworks themselves. To protect his ears I equipped him with ear defenders which he was used to wearing anyway during angle grinding sessions in the shed.

finbar-phones  But I’m getting ahead; as a nipper he grew very quickly – and equally quickly, typical terrier mischief surfaced and he would run off with anything you put down. Terriers – and Irish Terriers in particular – have a reputation for being strong-willed and throughout the first couple of years we were pretty tough on him – not rough or unkind but just making sure he never really got his own way; we tried to always ‘out-terrier the terrier’. But we balanced that with loads of chases, wrestling and ball games so he got used to having fun with us, rather than at our expense. As I said, he did like running off with rags and tools, just to get chased, and instinctively knew to get an obstacle between him and you so you had to run around it, trying to catch him. Once his adult teeth came, he was remarkably non-destructive though and still has toys and balls from puppyhood. I remember him once running off with an expensive pair of sunglasses – and another time even a 45 record, I traded treats for their return and neither was in the least bit damaged by its stay in his mouth.

imgp0822One exception to this was a strange obsession with baseball caps in his youth. The one I still wear for working on the van or particularly grubby jobs was forever falling into his clutches, whereupon for reasons known to himself he would chew through the strap at the back, which I then had to repair. I remember him brazenly eyeing up people’s caps that came to visit. He’d sidle up to them, put his paws on their knees, crane his neck as if to give them a kiss then grab the peak and scuttle off with it. Very funny – if it wasn’t your cap.

Irish Terriers also have a bit of a mixed reputation with other dogs so from early on we took him to a puppy class. The first Christmas there was to be a fancy dress for all the pups. I’d always referred to his little waxed cotton coat as his ‘coat of Sherwood green’ so the answer was obvious…

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Here he is, Doggin Hood, although I always title this picture ‘the reproachful stare of an humiliated pet’. Needless to say I had gone into it a bit too seriously; I mean, that bow is a working model whittled to shape from raw timber, steamed into profile with a bound leather-thread handle. I’ve never considered myself parent material but maybe I’m wrong…

Pissed off though Finbar seems in the picture, he was cock of the north when we got there, strutting about enjoying the attention. It turned out that none of the other contestants had opted for an accurate depiction of an historical character, most had a bit of tinsel wrapped round their collars or a paper crown (briefly) stuck on their heads, so Finbar was declared the winner and enjoyed the prize of a bone.

What else did I waste my time over; oh yes, every dog should have a kennel, right? Having made my own workshop I decided to use some offcuts to build Finbar a small one of his own but the wee shite could never be bothered with it, instead preferring to sit on the ridge like Snoopy. I could have saved a week’s joinery and given him an upturned packing case…

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About the only thing that kennel was useful for was a place to chuck all his balls and toys from the garden. He never really got ‘retrieve’; in his view if you let go of the ball you’d have to catch him to get it back, so it was easier to have several balls and keep kicking them against the side of the shed to set him running about in different directions. The funniest thing was when my pal Jamie came round with his Collie, Chevy, who was always much faster to the ball. Finbar gave up and instead went round the garden picking up all the out of play balls and tidying them away in his kennel!

Finbar grew up with Chevy and Jamie says the old Collie still cocks his ears at his name. Here they are as nippers, literally.imgp0125Finbar was a wee bit older than Chevy, who’s still a tiny pup in this picture and would not leave Finbar alone for a second. We took them to a country park when they were both older and Chevy, who knew the place, went romping across the field into some reeds and leapt, closely pursued by Fin. It was hilarious watching as in mid-air Finbar realised his Terrible Mistake and tried to back pedal frantically before splashing into the river. We had to haul him out by the collar while Chevy enjoyed a swim. That was one big advantage with Finbar, he hated getting wet or dirty and was never one to roll in muck. On another walk, just before getting back to the vehicles, Chevy spotted a muddy midden and leapt into the pit with a satisfying splat! Finbar looked from Chevy to me as if to say, ‘I bet you’re glad it’s me that’s going in your car…’

You could always tell what he was thinking by his facial expressions. In this picture, we went to an Irish Terrier day and everybody got along fine apart from these two, Fin on the left and ‘Bruce’ on the right. It turned out that Bruce was one of Finbar’s brothers and looking at this picture always reminds me of the Dad’s Army episode where Captain Mainwaring’s wide boy twin brother turns up.

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I guess it’s all in the ears: “Finbar!” up he’d trot, interested, ears perky; “Bath-time” about turn, unhappy, ears flat.

With his dislike of water, he hated a bath and would stand there the whole time licking his lips nervously and standing on three legs, trying to keep at least one of his feet dry. The drill was to wash his body thoroughly and do his head at the very end – he only seemed to know he was wet when his nose felt it. He was very good at resisting his natural urge to shake in the bathroom and would wait as l picked him up in a big white towel and carried him downstairs (like ET) and delivered him into the back garden where he would then shimmy and shake around the lawn.

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But he still put up with it. One thing about FInbar, he was incredibly patient and biddable. He’d sit on a table for ages while I cut his hair; sometimes it came out better than others but, typically, it was only really this last year that I started getting consistently quite good at it. Still, fortunately they say dogs don’t recognise their reflection in a mirror – he presumably thought it was some other poor schmuck with a terrible haircut.

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Sometimes, admittedly, the grooming routine went a little too far…

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From the outset it was clear Finbar would have to be motor cycle compatible. Initially I took him round the block in a tankbag, zipped up so his little head poked out but that only worked for the first couple of weeks, as he got bigger it was obvious that I would need to come up with something more permanent. An Irish Terrier is one of the larger terrier breeds and  it isn’t that easy to accommodate him. I ended up making a stout box with  a hole for his head at the front and a hinged back section secured by locks and hasps.

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There was no way he could get out and the box could be clamped to a rear carrier like a top box. The problem was that it was too big and heavy (with occupant) for a swinging-arm bike, where it would sit behind the axle, so it had to go on a rigid – whose carrier takes the place of a pillion seat. But this meant he had a bit of a bumpy ride, so the box didn’t get used all that often. I took him on the back of the Sunbeam on the Ixion Run around the Pevensey levels near Bexhill and when he came out of the box he walked about ten paces before doing the largest poo he had ever managed, rigid frames make a good purgative!

He was admittedly never keen to get into the box but once there seemed happy enough to ride along enjoying the force-fed smells of the countryside. The only ride I know he didn’t enjoy was one Scott rally where we decided to take him on the all day run but just as far as the lunch stop and come back. Unfortunately the stop was a long way from base and worse we managed to get completely lost returning and ran into heavy rain. We ended up doing about seventy miles and when I let him out he crawled straight under the back of the van and stayed there scowling at me.

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But he was definitely a motor cycle enthusiast; he would always leap up to the car rear window if a bike was behind but only really British bikes or things with a similar beat, like Harleys or Ducatis. He mostly ignored fours or two strokes. I guess in reality so many people came round on British bikes when he was small that the sound was indelibly stamped in his memory as meaning ‘friends’ but it was more fun to think he was into the same sort of bikes as us!

Finbar often appeared alongside me in Classic Bike, the first time being June 2005. Initially then-editor Hugo Wilson was dubious, saying there was a bit of a taboo about ‘cute dog pictures’ in bike magazines but I persevered. Finbar pictures were intended to be humorous rather than cute and reader opinion proved that Finbar was a popular inclusion. In fact he nearly made it onto a tee shirt but a change of art editors midway meant it fizzled out in favour of a reprint of an old design, sadly. This is one of my favourite pics from CB, I like the way he’s looking at the camera out of the corner of his eye.

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In this one I was trying to portray us as a pair of dodgy dealers ( such as Dudley and Dunstan in the great film ‘School for Scoundrels’) Finbar played up perfectly with a splendid ‘no pictures’ pose.

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During the course of his magazine career, naturally he hob-nobbed with the stars; here he is with Ewan McGregor for example….

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But he was no stranger to dressing up for the camera himself. He was particularly good about hats and would sit there wearing one until it eventually fell off – just so long as you didn’t cover his eyes. Kids were delighted to see him sitting with my cap on at shows but there’s more…

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You get the idea…If I say so myself, Finbar was a pretty special character, remarkably easy going with no real ‘killer instinct’. He’d snap at flies but spit them out and let them crawl away to recover. Admittedly, although I doubt he would ever have tried to hurt one, he wasn’t cat friendly, I did try, I had a go at introducing him to a neighbour’s cat as a pup. He sat patiently while I stroked the cat sitting on a wall. I explained that the cat was a friend. Finbar watched with interest…and then leapt up the wall in a single bound! The cat screeched off and from that moment he learned cats were chaseable. I also remember his reaction to a mate’s pet rats in a cage. He walked in, sniffed, looked around and stared at the cage for the rest of  the evening. Irish Terriers are ratters to trade and I think that was the moment he realised his mission in life and perhaps the rats were best off in the cage that night. But strangely the creatures that seemed to interest him most were frogs.

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He  was fascinated by the way they would sit immobile….and then suddenly jump (causing him to jump too). It was very funny to watch but after a while he learned that he could make them jump more by boofing them with his paw or snapping over their heads. This meant they were likely to get hurt, so I’d put  him indoors when one was about. Unfortunately I was too late one time. I went out to find a dead frog and Finbar foaming at the mouth, I thought he’d been trying to eat it and was horrified! I couldn’t believe it, he just never ate anything that wasn’t food and I never had to worry about him crunching away on something he picked up in the garden. Of course I should have known better. It was only when I removed the unfortunate amphibian and saw it was untouched that I realised Finbar had killed it by accident and then been licking it, trying to make it better in same the gentle way he would do to my finger in the workshop when I got a cut.

Aaah, he was a real little gent and I’m going to miss him like hell but dogs, pedigree ones anyway, have a fairly accurately predictable lifespan. For an Irish Terrier it’s reckoned to be 13 to 15 years (although some live longer). As an owner, you know you will see them go and you know roughly when and for the last year I had been conscious of the fact that his clock was ticking even though he appeared as fit and healthy as he had always been, just a bit deaf and not really inclined to run off with the other dogs at the park. Maybe it was better to lose him now, still active and happy than having to watch my dear friend deteriorate and perhaps suffer pain, after never having had a day’s illness or injury in his life.

Finbar had so many friends and one of his best pals, our mate Richard Duffin, came up with the idea that we should commemorate him by helping a charitable cause. One thing that Judy and I felt was particularly significant to Finbar was that we had occasionally taken him to visit elderly friends in care homes and being such a friendly dog we’d also take him around the day room to say ‘hello’ to the other residents. This is one of the roles of Pets As Therapy but they are massively over-subscribed – one home told us they could only get a handful of visits a year. Finbar was like a real pro, treating strangers as old friends and I think he would be pleased if anyone wanted to give a donation in his memory that it would help the PAT organisation. There’s a big hole in my life now and a big empty space in the shed but there are a lot of people with far greater holes to deal with and  a visit from a friendly critter like Finbar can make a huge difference.

If you would like to make a donation please follow this link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Finbar-ClassicBikeWorkshop

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I dunno about Pearly Gates, but I’d like to think he’ll be out there somewhere, waiting for me…

Thanks Rick

 

 

 

Comments (46)

  1. Eric Gallardo

    Hi Rick,

    I’ve just lost my beloved Shadow the Jack Russell on last Sunday. He was 16. So I very much understand your pain. Obviously, Finbar lived a great life with you.
    We did chat on the Douglas promenade during the 2011 MGP. The conversation was about the content of CB and the Norvin I was building at the time. You were riding your own Norvin and I was riding a ’68 Commando with an over sized alloy fuel tank. Can you remember this?
    Cheers.
    Eric from France.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Hi Eric,
      Yes I do remember our conversation.
      Very sorry to hear about Shadow, that’s a long time to get used to having him around. Everybody says the same, hen they are gone they are never far from your thoughts. I’ve put a nice picture of Finbar up in the workshop and look across at it now just as I used to look at him curled up on his bed under the press, I find it surprisingly comforting.
      How have you got on with your Norvin? Mine’s been off the road for a while but it’s up on the bench now. I am finally trying to deal with the problem of custom-fitting a dynamo.
      All the best, Eric and take care.
      R

      Reply
      1. Eric Gallardo

        Hello Rick,

        I’ve done just the same. A picture of Shadow is on the workshop wall now.
        The Norvin was completed at the end of 2011 and is on the road since then. It’s even better than what I was expecting during its 8 years build. I have an Alton fitted and I’m very pleased with it. Alton’s Paul Hamon is a very nice chap to speak with. May I suggest you to get in touch with him? I’m now building an other Vincent special with a 51 Comet engine, an A10 frame and cycle parts plus Norton short Roadholder forks.
        I think it’s still time to wish you a superb year.
        Best.
        Eric

        Reply
        1. Rick (Post author)

          Sounds good, Eric, and a Happy New Year to you. I managed to sort the Norvin dynamo problem but yes I know the Alton is a good thing; my problem was that the dynamo mounting had been damaged – the Series B Vincents have a cradle for the dynamo cast into the crankcase – different to the bolt-on one used on the Series , mine had been broken and mostly ground off so I had to make a custom fitting for a Lucas dynamo. If I have trouble with the dynamo an Alton could be the answer but for now it all seems to be working fine.
          Take care
          Rick

          Reply
  2. Raymond Albeson

    He was a great character. I remember the way he used to jump up on Ben, to lick his face, and he just had to stand there until he had finished. Ben has grown a bit since then though… There will be a Finbar shaped hole in your life for a good d while.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Raymond, yes of course he was the same age as Ben. Fortunately he grew out of licking faces pretty quick; Finbar not Ben I mean!
      Cheers R

      Reply
  3. Andrew

    My sincere condolences. Cracking dog, my friend. Not sure how I’ll break his passing to my wife…

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Andrew,
      Yes, a great wee fella and I have often been told that he increased CB’s readership by encouraging wives, girlfriends and children to flip through looking for his picture. It was a privilege for me to share his life.
      Cheers R

      Reply
  4. Alan Sargent

    Hi Rick.
    Myself and 9 year old daughter Katie, met Finbar while he was taking Judy for a walk at Stanford Hall in July.
    Wandering around looking at old bikes was not really a young girls thing,but the joy on her face when she got to stroke said terrier is one i will not forget.
    She now looks in Claasic Bike every month for the K9 not the bikes!
    He will be missed.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Alan, yes he was unfailingly friendly to people, when he was younger particularly he was very fond of children and would run alarmingly across a park whenever he heard squeaky voices, which was a bit of a worry given that to a toddler it was like having a horse charging you! I remember a mates toddler being very quiet under the table and when we looked, she was tugging on Fin’s whiskers while he sat there, calmly tolerant. He deserved a happy life and minimal suffering and I am very grateful that was what he got.
      all the best. R

      Reply
  5. Ian Wilson

    Elaine and I only met Finbar a couple of times but we thoroughly enjoyed his company. He will be missed by those who met him and CB readers alike.
    He was so friendly and made everyone feel welcome, We will miss fussing him.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Ian and Elaine!
      All the best
      Rick

      Reply
  6. tony

    hi rick,.very sorry to hear of the passing of finbar,.a real character.weve got an irish terrier mongrel,15 yrs old,with very similar personality traits,.dislike of bathtimes and the same look out of the corner of her eye during hat wearing photo shoots!.i too met you on the promenade at 2011 manx gp buying an icecream.your norvin looked great.this is the first time i,ve seen your website and now look forward to following it.all the best and again condolences.tony

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Tony,
      Yes they’re great dogs aren’t they? I do feel Finbar was a bit young to go, I’m told quite a few make it past 17 and had he not had this problem he was certainly fit enough to live longer in other respects.
      Ice cream? Me? Must’ve been somebody else… I’ve finally got the dynamo fitted on the Norvin, fire it up and see f it works today. Then there’s the petrol tank to fix. And the speedo drive. Dogs are less trouble than bikes!
      All the best Rick

      Reply
  7. Guenter Weinhold

    Hi Rick!
    I knew Finbar only a little bit, a lovely dog, and I think never another dog “owned” so much interesting motorcycles.
    God bless him and the rest of the, now smaller, family.

    Guenter from Bavaria

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Guenter and frohliche weinachten!
      All the best Rick

      Reply
  8. Tim

    Hi Rick,

    Thought I’d have a look after being away for a bit and saw this…bugger.

    I remember meeting Finbar a few years back when I was visiting Edinburgh, a grand wee beastie.

    I lost one of mine a couple of years ago, Smudge the Wonder Dog. Still have my Border Collie mix, Bandit, though she’s getting to be an old girl as well.

    I know you’ll miss him a lot and great memories you’ll have of him.

    All the best mate,

    Tim in finally coldish San Antonio.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks, Tim and good to hear from you again!
      Rick

      Reply
  9. Nick

    Oh dear. Sorry to hear this. I know exactly how hard it is. someone once said a Dog lives just long enough to become your best mate but not quite long enough. (think that makes sense) Claire and I lost our best mate Brodie a few years ago to something very similar. Until I met Claire Brodie was the most loyal lady in my life. When the others walked she hung around like a bad smell (usually fox sh*t which was her fragrance of choice) We cried like babies rufty tufty bikers that we are. Very sad times. after a few false starts we ended up with another mad collie though who’s quickly wormed his way in, so much so I keep toying with the idea of bolting a chair onto my Hinkley Thruxton. One day maybe 🙂 Very sad for you guys and will miss seeing the old fella. Still as I was told by someone about our Brodie she was lucky to have the fun she had with you and you were lucky to have him. Same for you guys. Blessed twice as they say. Hope your Christmas Hols aren’t too sad. Theres another furry chap out there somewhere in need of a slightly eccentric home I’m sure 😉

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Nick (and Claire),
      Well, I haven’t mentioned it before but we do have another (slightly less) furry chap in the form of ‘Peter’, Judy’s mum’s English Toy Terrier, who is staying with us on a semi-permanent basis. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I wrote a post ‘Goodbye Little Star’ about losing Judy’s Toy Terrier Neville, Peter is Neville’s great-great nephew. He’s pretty undemanding same as Finbar – but he’s not a shed dog, he gets too cold and he’s not brought up to it all. To be honest a lot of effort went into bringing Finbar up to be as he was and I doubt we’d have the time now, so having Peter around (he’s six) is about the best thing for us right now – he’s kind of getting used to it all!
      Have a good Xmas!
      Cheers Rick

      Reply
  10. Robert Wern

    Hey Rick,
    So sorry to read of the passing of your best mate. I’ve been so lucky to have a succession of wonderful furry pals over the years, the last, my sheltie mix, really gutting me when she passed. You seem to get what I always try to remind myself when these things happen, that you would never trade the years of tremendous companionship for anything, even the misery of having to deal with the day of their demise. He really was a fixture and a true sidekick. Tremendous reflections by the way, thanks for sharing the joys of his life with all of us,
    -Rob Wern

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Rob,
      I guess every dog owner faces – and dreads – this sad day. But when it comes, you still have the memories of happy times and can enjoy them without the shadow of ‘when it will happen’ hanging over you.
      Hope you have a good Christmas and New Year.
      Rick

      Reply
  11. Neil Williamson

    Very sorry to hear about Finbar Rick, he must have been a wonderful companion. I’ve always had dogs ( two Dalmatians at the moment ) and there are quite a few small boxes lying around the house now, each one representing a moment of deep sadness but also of a life lived to the full. I’ve made a donation to the JustGiving page – good cause that. Keep your chin up.

    Neil Williamson, CB reader from Southport, UK.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks very much Neil, and especially for the donation it’s a great cause but a bad time of year to request it! Sorry for the delay in replay but your message got caught up somewhere on the site!
      Happy New Year and all the best Rick

      Reply
  12. Clive

    Rick – a beautifully crafted tribute to our furry chum. We always loved having him come to visit and bring along his human companions. Must complain about the air conditioning – as I finished your article, some dust seems to have got in my eye…

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Clive, yes, been a bit of dust floating about here lately too… Keep seeing the little fella in my dreams, which is kinda nice until I wake up!
      Cheers Rick

      Reply
  13. Julie

    A great tribute to Finbar. Was the picture of Fin with the Wicker Man taken at the Rollright Stones?
    All the best to you & Judy (and Peter of course!)

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Well spotted, Julie, it was indeed.
      Cheers R

      Reply
  14. Bobbie

    Deepest condolences may Finbar rest in peace.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Bobbie, yes I think he’s earned a rest after 13 years with me!
      Cheers Rick

      Reply
  15. Tim hart

    My deepest condolences Rick and Judy , may finbar rest in peace for eternity

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Tim, mind you if there is an after life, he’d better make the most of it now; he won’t get much rest once I arrive!
      Cheers R

      Reply
  16. Gary Parkin

    Hi Rick,

    Being the owners of ‘Russell’s we can really understand where you are at the moment. Looks like you had a fun life together which is the main thing. Maybe see you at Kempton this Saturday?

    Gary & Rachel Parkin

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Gary, yes he was a lot of fun and I am really grateful that his life had a reasonably comfortable end. See you there, wrap up warm!
      Cheers R

      Reply
  17. Johnny Bloom

    It’s never “only a dog”, man. Both my old shop cats died this last year, and I could barely believe the grief I felt at their loss. People don’t understand the sort of bond we establish with a beloved pet. My heart goes out to you and your old dog!

    from California

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Johnny,
      And to you, losing both your cats in a year is really crap!
      All the best
      Rick

      Reply
  18. Peter Grogan

    G’day Rick, Peter from ‘Down Under’. Ive been a fan of yours and Finbar’s from the CB articles. Thanks for including him in your stories as I’m a dog lover too (Fox Terrier) Condolences on loosing your little mate, we get very attached to them as they always give so much in return for a little love. Please adopt another loyal friend soon. Cheers from a Beeza tragic.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Peter! We do actually have another dog around, an English Toy Terrier called Peter; he’s actually Judy’s mum’s dog but we’ve ended up looking after him. Peter is the great great nephew of Neville (see my post ‘Goodbye little star’) he’s six and a great little feller but he hasn’t been trained as a workshop dog like Finbar.
      Cheers Rick

      Reply
  19. chris Maplethorpe

    My partner has just lost Megan a 14 year old parson jack Russell. We both miss the old girl. They end up a big part of your life and is bloody horrible when have to say goodbye.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Sorry to hear that, Chris; please pass on my best wishes.
      Yes, it’s a long time to have them around and a rotten business when it ends.
      Cheers Rick

      Reply
  20. David Butt

    Rick, we haven’t met, but I subscribe to the mag and I (and my grandson)have had many a chuckle at Finbar over the years. Always a wrench when their time comes as I well know. I suppose little Peter won’t be in the least bit spoilt!!! Anyway, I’ve left a small donation for a deserving cause and thanks to you (and Finbar) for the entertainment and knowledge.

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Thanks Dave and thank you very much for your kind donation which I am delighted to say has pushed us just over the £550 target. It’s great to think that losing Fin has helped out a worthwhile charity that, in his way, he was involved with sometimes himself. Sort of rounds his life off suitably.
      But I still miss him…
      Thanks again Rick

      Reply
  21. Laura Brown

    Hi Rick, I’ have to confess I’m no classic motorbike enthusiast just an Irish terrier one – I stumbled across your post while looking for Irish terrier pictures and I’m so glad I did. Anyone who has ever known an IT would smile and chuckle reading your story so I felt I had to reply to it. We have a girl, Ruby, who has a look of Finbar, and suffice to say is our daughter, so special to us in every way. Just hearing you describing grooming Fin (Ruby had a session yesterday) is so typical and adorable, the total trust and love they have.
    Naturally, I’m very sad to hear Finbar has moved on and I sometimes get upset thinking of Ruby’s time to go but your story has given me a different perspective on that subject – to keep remembering the countless joyful, funny moments and to continue enjoying the life you had with them even if they aren’t physically there anymore.
    So, the question I’m eager to ask is….have you decided to have another ginger fur ball yet? I know they’re not easy to come by, but surely once an IT enthusiast aren’t we always one?
    Thanks Rick – I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to share the post on the Facebook IT page – for all other obsessives to read!!
    Best wishes
    Laura

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Hi Laura,
      Thanks for getting in touch. Finbar had a great many friends in the old bike world but we didn’t have much time for IT scene things unfortunately – although at one meeting in Scotland a girl upon hearing me talk about old bikes said “Ooh there was an Irish Terrier in one of my Dad’s bike magazines recently.” I was delighted to be able to say, “This is that Irish Terrier!”
      Yes by all means share the post, Irish Terriers are fantastic dogs – I actually dreamed of Finbar last night and it as great to ruffle his ears again. Strangely, although I dream of him quite often in the dreams I always know he’s gone – it’s just like he’s visiting which is odd but quite nice really.
      As to the $64,000 question, I wouldn’t have another IT at the moment; Finbar was the product of a very intensive training/play regime when he was tiny and as a result he was always pretty easy going and very seldom did anything seriously wrong – he didn’t even dig holes in the garden! As you know, all terriers are pretty determined little blighters, we just don’t have the time to spend on that much training now and I couldn’t bear to spoil a dog by my lack of effort in his upbringing.
      We sort of inherited an English Toy Terrier ‘Peter’ who was Judy’s mum’s dog – she has moved to a retirement flat. Peter is ideal since he is already trained and very little bother. He’s also the Great great nephew of Judy’s last dog Neville, who we lost a couple of years ago ( I did a post on him too (Goodbye little star).
      Initially I thought I would never have another IT, having been so lucky with Fin, but reality has kicked in a bit. Looking at IT videos on You Tube made me recognise that maybe he wasn’t as unique as all that – one particular one being ‘Fergal meets Mr Rat’ – clearly Finbar wasn’t the only IT missing the killer instinct! I guess dogs are very malleable and, particularly if you have them from pups, you make them into what you want, so maybe one day when things are quieter!
      Meanwhile, enjoy Ruby; I’m pleased if my post has helped you think about the future.
      All the best
      Rick

      Reply
  22. Trish Anderson

    Hi Rick,

    Ive just come across your post on facebook.

    What a heartfelt tribute to the wonderful Finbar!

    I really enjoyed reading about your life together. All dogs are special, however i do have a soft spot for ITs. They seem to express such empathy at times.

    My Póg is a precious boy and like Finbar doesn’t have the killer instinct when it comes to rats (he stood and watched eight rats scurrying about in our local park, turned and looked at me and then walked away)! He will chase foxes at night but stops chasing as soon as they disappear into the bushes. Same with squirrels, none of this endless barking at the base of a tree malarkey. Having said all that, he will eat flies and other insects if they fly into our flat.

    I am a photography fan and am constantly taking photos of him, which he takes in his stride. I harbour a suspicion that he may even enjoy it. His instagram page has more followers than mine, which doesn’t surprise me! He’s at @pog_the_it_boy if you fancy checking him out. His great love is swimming, i think he could literally spend all day in the river or sea!

    Thank you for writing about Finbar and for sharing the story of your lives together. Interesting that when you dream of him you’re aware that he’s dead. Maybe Finbar really is visiting you, isn’t that a nice thought…..

    Will share your story on an IT facebook page as I think other IT owners would will enjoy reading it. I hope that’s ok with you.

    All the best,

    Trish and Póg

    Reply
    1. Rick (Post author)

      Hi Trish (and Pog) yes no problem – if you could just put a link to the blog in case there are other old bike loving Irish Terrier owners out there! Pog sounds great, I will see if I can navigate my way to his pictures. One big difference between him and Finbar is swimming. Finbar hated water and even skirted puddles. One baking summer day when he was a pup we thought he’d enjoy a garden hose game – but he scuttled off behind the shed and glared at us until we pout it away. Ever after whenever the hose was uncoiled the ears went down and he trotted off. At least that taught us that the perfect discipline tool was a water pistol. One squirt stopped any nonsense! I used to carry an old Jif lemon on walks and after a while you didn’t need to fill it with water, just the sight of it had the desired effect.
      Cracking dogs, keep on taking the photos and thanks for getting in touch!
      All the best Rick

      Reply

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