I realized that I never really put Bart’s story up on this site. I had it linked to his chipin page which has since expired. In celebration that he’s still here with us over a year later today, here is the story I drafted up last November, after his surgery and our discovery that he had what was deemed by the doctors as a rapid and aggressive cancer.
Barty’s Story 11/2011
This is my boy Bart. He came into our lives when he was seven weeks old, and for almost eight years he’s been our family’s constant companion, kitty guardian, and resident comedian. He is my pride and joy and my best friend. We have shaped our whole lives around this guy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We only travel to pet friendly places we can get to by car, so our loyal buddy can always accompany us, and we never stay away too long when he’s at home waiting.
Earlier this year, (2011) Bart had surgery on his right knee to help heal a tear in his A.C.L. It was a hard road to go down, since he already had his other knee repaired four years ago and we knew we were in for no picnic. We were reluctant to put him through surgery again, but it needed to be done. Aside from the fact that he had to spend an entire, excruciating night away from us at the hospital, from my dog’s perspective it was pure torture due to the fact that we had to restrict his activity for several weeks. He became so visibly bored at times that we devised little games to help cheer him up. The best of these games was the old find-a-creature-on-the-walk trick, where he sometimes encountered a wayward squeaky toy just waiting to be scooped up and absconded away. Of course, either my partner or I would smuggle said squeaky toy outdoors without notice and drop it when my pooch wasn’t looking, but we first came up with this idea when he actually did find a squeaky toy in the grass on his own. He was so proud every time he found his prize that he would guard it like a running back after receiving the ball. We ended up buying several of the exact same creature, small, spearmint green and all. He must have thought he was harvesting squeaky little neighborhood creatures that had a recent population boom.
The appropriate amount of time had finally passed for healing, and we began doing fun dog things again, going for longer walks, playing ball, walking on the beach, rough housing with other dogs. All was returning to normal until Memorial Day weekend when he woke in the night with explosive diarrhea that would not go away without help from the vet. It happened four times over the course of the next few months. We thought perhaps he had a parasite, but the vet could determine no bugs in his stool. They sent the stool sample to an outside lab, where they found he was giardia free and healthy as far as can be seen. Upon going through the fourth bout, things looked promising when our vet gave us something different called Tylan Powder, or magic powder, as we fondly dubbed the yellow debris. It was a calm Saturday, and Bart was just relaxing at home because diarrhea, as most of us know, can be truly taxing on a body. But by 1:30 that same day, things began to shift in a scary and dramatic way. Bart began stalling in an unusual way on our walk. I finally had to carry him home because he refused to budge after a while. In a matter of an hour, he began writhing in pain on the living room floor, shivering so hard his teeth were chattering. Being an energy healer, I swooped down upon him and showered him with healing vibes until he calmed down considerably, but he wasn’t really showing complete relief, and his body began retching in a backwards fashion. We thought maybe he had bad gas or a reaction to some cooked potato peels from the bland chicken and potato diet we’d been feeding him, but the call to the emergency vet assured us that there was something else happening that needed to be looked into ASAP.
After rushing to animal ER, I had to carry my 62 pound baby from the car into the waiting room. He was in too much pain to rest on the floor, and insisted on resting in my lap. Clear fluid with chunks of potatoes slipped from his mouth, splattering at my feet and causing the vet techs to hasten us to an examination room. We had no idea what was happening. The whole world started spinning as they took my boy into the back. My partner and I sat dumbfounded, helpless in the waiting room. Time crawled to a surreal pace. We halfheartedly gawked at a nearby television showing a food channel reality show featuring a doughnut making contest until we were jolted by the sound of a lab tech calling into our limbo, “Bart?” Again we were summonsed into a special examining room, and like two hungry barn hens, we scurried to the room. A large statured, blonde, German-esque woman told us that Bart’s hydration levels were dangerously low and he needed to be kept on an I.V. drip over night. As hard as that was to hear, the woman’s hulking presence gave me confidence, and we had to tear ourselves away and leave our little man in the hands of these capable folks who could help him in ways I could not. We shared a tearful goodbye, and anxiously awaited his retrieval after a very long, sleepless night. Per hospital rules we were not allowed to get him until 10 am on Sunday morning, so we devised our weekly shopping trip at a grocery store close to the vet – which was 30 minutes away from home – and timed it so we would be finished just before 10. We actually finished around 9:30 and had to keep ourselves occupied because hospital policy dictates that you need to call before you come by to visit, and by 9:59 am, I could no longer stand waiting, and I was on the phone calling to say I’m ready to pick up my Bart. The woman at the front desk said we could come in anytime and the doctor would be able to speak to us about his condition. I thought, “That’s weird. I just want to take him home. Surely he’s hydrated by now.” So I informed her that we were actually just around the corner and would be right in. It was a busy Sunday morning, and we waited for what seemed like an eternity before we were met by a different doctor from the previous night. I kept waiting for her to tell us we could take him home, but instead her words morphed out like Charlie Brown’s teacher as she spoke of fluid in his stomach, and ultra-sound, and a possible mass, and on call surgeons. My ears heard the words but my heart was not having it. I became angry with this new doctor. How could she not see that my dog was just really sensitive and scared because he’s not used to being away from home without us? After I got a few “logical” questions in, she stood firm, and refuted my logic with great patience and persistence. Something was really wrong, and it wasn’t just dehydration. Something in his digestive tract was inhibiting him from absorbing last night’s hydration treatments and at the same time causing fluid to back up into his stomach. Words of possible prognoses fluttered around me like pesky gnats, worst case scenarios and best, but all I clearly heard was, “You can have a seat in the waiting room before we’ll call you to visit with him in back.” Visit, the word was like a kick to the stomach. When we went in back to his caged hospital room, we cried and cried and apologized to our dog. I apologized for crying, and I apologized for not being able to bring him home, and I apologized for crying some more. Then we left so we could get him some food from home because he wouldn’t eat anything at the vet. The day slipped away before we got a phone call from the vet. I heard my partner, on the phone, weakly crumble, “Can we at least get there to see him first?” Bart was about to go into emergency surgery and if things went badly, she was told, they might need to euthanize him on the table. Everything dropped to the floor. We grabbed our keys and jackets and bolted. This time, I was the calm one. We took turns. So I drove the thirty minute trip, trying to stay calm. As soon as we arrived they ushered us into another exam room, and through the opposite door stumbled in a dazed Bart. We grabbed him and cried into his neck. We told him we loved him, and that if he needed to leave us, we understood, but if he wanted to stay and fight we supported him completely. They took him from us and we waited. For how long, I can’t really say. The goal during our wait was to have pure positive thoughts only. Science tells us that our thoughts shape our world and I wasn’t about to test that theory through contrarian measures. An interesting side effect of focusing on only positive thoughts, time sort of shifts and flows differently.
We discovered that he had a mass the size of an orange that had recently ruptured, which the surgeon removed along with six inches of his small intestine. He made it through the surgery, and he did well. He did great, actually. The vet asked us if we wanted to see him before we left for home, assuring us it wouldn’t rile him up, for he wouldn’t even know we were there. Well, he did know, and he tried to get up to leave with us. He remained at the emergency vet for three more days, and every day the doctors told us how surprised they were by his wonderful recovery. Bart, being a pit bull or American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff), is a member of a breed notorious for a high tolerance for pain. He had the entire hospital staff amazed by his resilience and determination. He was up and about the next day, loving his trips outside every two hours for a little relief. By early Wednesday evening we were ecstatic to be able to bring him home again. I honestly think even the cats missed him. And as I write this, he is lying on his favorite dog bed recovering from a surgical procedure that would have rendered any human being incapacitated for the first several days.
He’s tough and tender all at the same time. Most of all, he’s my baby, and nothing could keep me from rescuing him.
It has been over a year since we went through this. His diagnosis was extremely bleak, 3 months if we did nothing, and 8 months with chemo. We decided we didn’t like either of these options and began feeding him an anti-cancer, cancer starving diet with the help of my vet and he’s still here, thriving. He’s still being my clown and best friend and I couldn’t be more grateful! To see the diet I have been giving Bart click here.