MY FOREVER FRIEND
I know it must be different
Now that I’m no longer here.
I realize how much I was loved,
And how all of you did care.
I know it will be hard at first,
When you look around for me.
Expecting to find me in my bed,
Or beside my favorite tree.
Someday you will begin to see,
Although it’ll take some time,
The happy times you shared with me,
The memories are yours and mine.
I’ll remember you, my family,
And how much you meant to me.
So please don’t grieve and don’t be sad.
It was just my time to leave.
Bart (AKA Mr. Bart) was our only little boy, and a very typical little boy he was. If there was trouble to be found, he would find it, sometimes not even intentionally. If we were painting, he would be the one who ended up with paint all over himself. If there was one little mud puddle in the backyard, he would come in covered with mud. After our move to Florida, we had a fishpond in the back yard. I can’t even count the number of times he fell into that. Bart had a chocolate fettish. We spent three Christmases in a row sitting in the emergency clinic waiting for Bart to have his stomach pumped because of his love of chocolate. Before Shelly moved to Florida, she visited us for the holidays and decided to clean out some boxes we had stored for her from her high school days. In one of the boxes was a 1-pound Hersey Kiss she received from an old high school boyfriend. You guessed it. Bart found and ate the whole 1-pound chocolate Kiss. The following year I made candy baskets for the people I work with. There were extra bags of chocolate candy on top of the dresser. Dusty was the only one big enough to reach the top of the dresser, so she must have been bribed by Bart to get them down for him. So, another trip back to the emergency clinic. Then there was the time Bart found a loaded mousetrap. All the other dogs left it alone – Bart ended up with it attached to his tongue. I could go on and on. So, life with Bart was always a promise that something out of the ordinary would happen. But we loved him.
Bart was like his mother and sister when it came to traveling. I had a big green duffel bag that I always used to pack the dog food, the treats, the toys, the extra bedding, and anything else the dogs would need for an extended stay away from home. The excitement that Bart displayed when he saw me take out that bag goes beyond words. I would usually pack their bag the night before we left on a trip and stand it by the door. Bart would actually climb up on top of the bag and sleep on it overnight to be sure we wouldn’t forget him in the morning. Bart kept us laughing throughout his entire life.
When Bart was about 5 years old he began to develop the same type of back problem that paralyzed his mother. At least this time I was prepared and had the knowledge of how quickly action needed to be taken. Sure enough, Bart needed immediate surgery for calcified disks. The surgery was successful and Bart fully recovered.
The following year Bart needed additional surgery to remove another disk. A few months later he developed problems in his neck and once again went in for disk surgery. A few months after that he had to have surgery for kidney stones. Each time he bounced back with no permanent damage.
Then history almost repeated itself. Over the Memorial Day holiday in 1997 we drove up to Michigan to help Mom with her move to Florida. On the morning of the second day of traveling, Bart was obviously in distress. It seemed to be his back once again. So there we were, halfway between Florida and Michigan with a truck that was giving us engine trouble and Bart with back trouble. We made it as far as Cincinnati when the truck finally gave out. We arranged to have the truck towed the rest of the way to Michigan. We rode in the tow truck holding the paralyzed Ginger and Bart, who was in a great deal of pain. There was no room in the tow truck for Tiffany, so she stayed in her crate in our truck and was towed with the truck. The truck was dropped off in front of a dealership service area and we called Jeff to pick us up. This was the Sunday night before Memorial Day. Bart was going into his second day of back pain. He needed surgery but we couldn’t locate a vet. Then we remembered the emergency clinic in Oakland County near where Mom lived where Ginger had her back surgery. We took him there on Memorial Day. The doctor in the emergency room examined him and called in a specialist. They did a mylagram and found that a disk had ruptured and he was bleeding internally. Euthanasia was their recommendation. John and I both indicated to them that this was not an option. They told us he had virtually no chance of ever walking or being normal again. We told them we already were dealing with Ginger’s disability, so we were prepared for whatever hand was dealt, but we would not go home without him.
So surgery was done right away. We were told that without a doubt he would be paralyzed like Ginger. He stayed at the hospital for the entire week while we were packing up Mom’s things and waiting for the engine to be re-built on our vehicle. Finally we were ready to begin the trip back to Florida. We picked up Bart who was hooked up to all kinds of tubes. Before we could get started, we had to make one stop back at the clinic because Mr. B was being his normal self and pulled out some of his tubes.
Upon our arrival back home, we took Bart to his own vet. He was disengaged from all the tubes and sent back home to rest. But the word REST is not in Bart’s vocabulary. I was told that Bart’s bladder would also have to be manually emptied 3 times a day just as we did for Ginger. However, I guess Bart didn’t want to follow instructions. He wanted to go outside, so I carried him out and put him down in the grass. He started to attempt to drag himself toward his favorite tree, so I picked up his back legs and “wheelbarrow-walked” him out. He went to the tree and demonstrated to me that he did not have to have me empty his bladder for him. So much for that. I really got my exercise over the next month or so doing the “wheelbarrow” walk around the yard.
I guess Bart decided he wasn’t getting around fast enough by dragging himself and he never quite mastered the “seal walk” his mother perfected, so one day he was up on his feet again. Within a week he was trying to pull himself up to walk again. This was quite astonishing since he basically had very few disks left in his back. From that day on he was referred to as the “miracle dog” by his vet. The vet used him as an example and referred clients who were facing similar tragedies to me so I could share my experiences with them.
Bart continued to improve and within 6 weeks walked almost normally with just a slight limp. He was even able to maneuver going up and down the stairs in our family room. He never had another medical problem and was actually quite healthy for his age (now almost 14).
On the morning of December 3 Bart was running around the house playing with his toys while I was getting ready for work. John called me in the afternoon and said Bart wasn’t feeling well. I told him to get him to the doctor. Blood tests were done that night but didn’t reveal anything abnormal. The next morning he couldn’t even keep water down, so I took him back to the vet. He was examined and found to be having a lot of pain in his stomach. I left him there for x-rays and returned to work. The x-rays didn’t reveal anything so the next step was an ultrasound. I received a call in the afternoon telling me that my Bart had died in his sleep before the ultrasound could be done. I wouldn’t allow an autopsy — I just wanted to bring him back home.
Bart went to Rainbow Bridge on December 4, 2003. His death was probably one of the most difficult losses for me because it happened so suddenly without any warning. I couldn’t even say goodbye and that will haunt me for the rest of my days.
I will never know what happened to my baby boy. The blood test ruled out that he had found some kind of substance that was poisonous. But on the other hand, my home is pretty well “doggie-safe” so I wasn’t expecting any problems in that area. The x-ray didn’t reveal any kind of obstruction. Could he have had some type of internal cancer that we couldn’t detect? We’ll never know what killed him. I only know how much I miss him and how empty our home is without him.
My “Three Musketeers” are once again together in Heaven, all of them gone within five months. Ginger, Tiffany, and Bart were very special and will always be remembered.
THE THREE PICTURES ABOVE WERE THE LAST TO EVER BE TAKEN OF BART. THEY WERE TAKEN ONE WEEK BEFORE HIS DEATH.
THE FOLLOWING GRAPHICS WERE CREATED IN MEMORY OF BART BY MY GOOD
FRIEND, SALLY EVANS
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