An abandoned Pit Bull with a wobbly stance spent nearly a year at Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary northeast of Seattle. Now the pup, Finnegan, has finally found his forever home.
Sanctuary Director Stephanie Perciful says Finnegan was abandoned after months of suspected neglect, and that he had ingested hard drugs.
After being picked up as a stray a few times, Finnegan ultimately ended up in a shelter, where he was in danger of being euthanized due to his medical issues.
That’s when Pasado’s stepped in to help.
“We took Finn because we knew that he was going to be a little tougher to place,” says Perciful. “We did not know what his medical needs were at the time but we did know that finding the right home to work with him would not happen overnight, even though he is a complete sweetheart. He had such potential and could have been deemed ‘unadoptable’ at places that do not have the luxury of taking time to find the best home. We didn’t want that to happen, so he became a Pasado’s dog.”
Finnegan Gets a Diagnosis
The first task for the Pasado’s staff was evaluating Finnegan’s health since he had ingested drugs, including opiates and meth, possibly multiple times.
“We were wondering if that’s what was wrong with him, why he had mobility issues,” says Perciful.
An MRI determined that Finnegan had a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia—his cerebellum was not fully developed. Because the cerebellum controls motor skills, Finnegan is unable to move normally and appears “wobbly” and uncoordinated.
“For dogs, that is generally a genetic condition and there’s no treatment for it. It’s not going to get better or worse,” says Perciful.
A Regimen of Specialized Care
While being wobbly and spring-loaded is the only life Finnegan knew, and while he had a great outlook, his care had to be extremely specific.
The Pasado’s team worked hard to get Finnegan adjusted to life obstacle-free.
“We had to make sure wherever he was he had some floor coverings to help him stay upright as much as possible,” says Perciful. “We had to make sure there were no sharp corners that he could run into.”
And because Finnegan didn’t have complete control of his body, anything that was at tail level was going to go flying across the room, so modifications had to be made.
Finnegan was started on hydrotherapy to help improve his strength and balance, and physical therapy helped give him a little more awareness of where his limbs were and where his feet landed.
“It did seem to help him,” says Perciful.
A Happy, Happy Dog
Finnegan’s caretakers quickly began to see the joyful “snuggly house hippo” emerge, and he did well with his treatments.
“He’s the greatest dog, he’s so incredibly sweet and loves everybody and everything and thinks that being alive is the best thing on the planet,” says Perciful. “He was just this happy, happy guy, loved everybody, just had the happiest tail ever, never stopped wagging and we were all madly in love with him.”
But months went by and nobody expressed interest in fostering or adopting Finnegan.
“We knew that whoever adopted him would need to make adjustments,” says Perciful.
Following the Signs Home
Now, nearly a year after he was brought to Pasado’s, Finnegan has found his new home.
“Someone came along who was just perfect for him and was willing to make these changes to have such a wonderful guy in their life,” says Perciful.
Before Finnegan left PSH, his caretakers were working with him to manage his excitability.
“He is so joyful that he would bodily throw himself at people for love and play,” says Perciful. “He was responding well to hand signals so his mom took it a step further since she knows ASL.”
Sign language is an additional form of communication for Finn, and his new mom reports that he is incredibly smart and learns quickly.
“It’s almost as if Finn can understand me—that’s how smart he is,” says Finnegan’s new mom, who asked that we not use her name in this article. “He has gotten better at getting on the couch and walking with me.”
She reports that some strangers ask if Finnegan is OK, but most people love his sweet face and want to meet him.
“And Finn just loves everyone back and has a lot of love to give,” she says. “Finn is a very special dog and I am so incredibly lucky to be his human friend.”
The Right Home for the Right Dog
Perciful says the staff is happy they were able to bring Finnegan to Pasado’s and find him a home where he’s safe and cared for.
“It kind of confirms our belief that there’s the right home out there for everybody that’s willing to make those compromises in their lifestyle to accommodate somebody as special as he is,” says Perciful.
Pasado’s Safe Haven is an 85 acre animal sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest, named after a beloved petting zoo donkey who was abused and killed by three teens in 1992. Pasado’s mission is to provide sanctuary and rehabilitation to animals who have suffered from abuse and neglect, advocate for better laws to keep animals safe, and to inspire people to feel compassion for all animals.
If you’d like to help Pasado’s, you can make a donation that supports their work, from cruelty investigations to rescues to pet food banks.