This is a picture I took of Bert, at about noon today.
We went to see the US Womens National Soccer Team play Brazil last Wednesday night (six days ago). He sat in the car for four hours … a long stretch, sure, but not unusual for him. When we got back to the car, he was panicked, and had shortness of breath. From that point until today, Bert didn’t do very well. Bad bowels, shortness of breath, weakness … lots of weakness. Didn’t want to walk. Probably couldn’t walk much. Loss of appetite. Very shallow breaths and rapid heartbeat overnight. On several occasions, he appeared to be ready to pass out, he’d get really low to the ground, and his eyes would bug out of his head.
On Monday, we sent an email to his cardiologist. His cardiologist recommended a blood test, and an x-ray of his heart. Oh, let me tell you, Bert hated getting blood drawn. Hated having needles put in him. Hated it. HATED … IT!!
I scheduled his appointment … for 3:20pm Tuesday (today).
Twenty-five months ago, our problems started when Bert ran up the stairs to enjoy a sampling of Frosted Strawberry Pop Tart crusts. He collapsed, and we learned his mitral valve was failing.
This morning, I carried Bert upstairs, and he thoroughly enjoyed eating Frosted Strawberry Pop Tart crusts with me … he hadn’t had any in two or three months. He loved eating them! He acted like a puppy while waiting for me to hand him the treats.
This, after refusing to eat breakfast this morning.
We had guests over today, a house full, through late afternoon. So I took Bert to the vet by myself – I carried him out to the car, sat him in his car seat, and off we drove. That was at 3:10pm.
At 3:19pm, we pulled in to the vet. I opened the door, picked him up, and set him on the ground. I wanted to get his leash, so I could walk him inside.
When I looked down, he had slumped over on to his side, and actually had rolled a bit over toward his back. Non-responsive.
I picked him up, and rushed him in to the vet. Had a hard time opening the door. I got inside, I set him on the floor, and I blurted out “Our Boy Is In Trouble!“. The use of the word “our” is appropriate. His vet staff invested a lot of energy and kindness to keep him plugging along through the years. One of the employees, present this afternoon, was one of his favorite friends – she cared for him when we traveled and he had to stay put.
His vet listened to his heart. He was having a massive heart attack. She asked how long it would take for Bert’s Mom to arrive? I said if I called, it would take 15 minutes to let our house guests know that our party was over and then drive to the vet.
Bert’s Mom made it in 12 minutes. Seemed like 1.2 minutes to me.
When Bert’s Mom arrived, Bert was mostly non-responsive. Oh, sure, he tried to knock off the oxygen mask a few times, but interestingly, the needles didn’t bother him. ‘Nuff said there. I asked him to kiss my face. He didn’t. He wasn’t “Bert” anymore.
We said goodbye. As Bert transitioned to being unconscious, a cat strolled into the room we were in, and sat down against my leg as Bert passed. We were told that the cat appears when pets are about to pass away. The cat waited until Bert was gone, and then, the cat moved along.
In less than an hour, we went from a dog enjoying a party to not having a dog.
We frequently asked Bert’s cardiologist how Bert would pass? We both hoped that Bert would have a massive heart attack, or would die in his sleep. We didn’t expect our prayers to be answered, given what the past twenty-five months have been like. But our prayers were answered. He had the massive heart attack that we hoped would make the decision so very easy. And he had the massive heart attack at the vet, one minute before an appointment. Those are impossible odds. All three of us were clearly blessed.
If you miss Bert, go back and read through his adventurous trip to Wisconsin. We had so much fun with him! Until the past six days, he had so much fun, too! I doubt there was ever a dog that derived more pleasure out of life than Bert derived. At minimum, no dog watched as much TV as Bert watched, critiquing animals in commercials with his trademark growl.
He was my friend. That’s a good thing.