This is an incredibly difficult post to write, so please bear with me.
A few weeks ago, we saw a plea for help from a lady who’s mother had Alzheimers and was going to be moved into a home. They had arranged for her mother’s 13 year old border collie, Bertie, to be rehomed, but it had fallen through at the last minute, and they were desperate for a loving home for Bertie.
Seeing the accompanying pictures of Bertie melted our hearts. We instantly knew that he was an amazingly loving dog, and within the hour, we had arranged to go round to meet Bertie with Zola.
The next day, we met the family and Bertie, and as soon as Bertie saw us he came straight in for tummy rubs. We were smitten and knew that we wanted to give Bertie an amazing retirement with us.
It was already on Day One of watching his floofy bottom make its way down our stairs, that I knew he had my whole entire heart.
This next bit is hard to write.
Almost immediately, Bertie started having tummy problems. We put it down to a change of environment and introducing him to a couple new treats. We went to a strict diet of chicken and rice, and assumed his tummy would settle shortly.
What followed was 4 weeks of Bertie not being able to keep food down, and becoming increasingly uncomfortable. We spent hours with him at the vets and ran a series of tests, until finally the vet came back to tell us that Bertie had cancer and at his age, palliative care was the only the real option left.
Because the palliative care measures didn’t help, we made the decision to put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We were both there to make sure he drifted off peacefully, having his tummy rubbed and his head tickled. I hope he went to sleep feeling like he was the most loved dog that ever lived.
But I don’t want this post to just be about Bertie’s illness, because that was only a tiny part of our story with Bertie. He was an amazing addition to our family, even if our time with him was only short.
To make sure I didn’t forget my favourite memories of him, I have written them down:
Things I love about Bertie
- How excitedly he gets up when you ask him if he wants to go for walkies. He’ll jump up so quickly and even start barking out of excitement! This is no mean feat because Bertie has arthritis, and sores on his skin, and is generally more of a slow ambler. But as soon as walkies come on the menu, its like he is a little puppy again.
- His little old man bark. He’s going a little bit hoarse but that doesn’t him stop from barking. Actually its more like honking! It is a great, deep honk, that is unmistakeably Bertie.
- The way he looks up at you when you scratch his head. His eyes just say “I love you”.
- When he’s sooooooo excited about his food and tries so hard to get every last drop of food out of his bowl. You hear this metal clank clank clank, and its Bertie vigorously licking the bowl to within an inch of its life.
- When you go in for a stroke and he immediately puts himself into the tummy rub position because that’s the best thing he enjoys in life. For a 13 year old, Bertie is adept at quickly flipping himself onto his back so that you are able to definitely understand what he is requesting. For Bertie, a day without tummy rubs, is a day not worth living.
- When he wags his tail so much, it makes a thump thump thump on the floor or wall. With Bertie, you can truly hear his happiness a mile off.
- When he lies next to me when I’m working, and I just look down and see him there, keeping me company. Bertie loved to stick by my side in the mornings. I would come downstairs, wake him up, and then we’d go for our walk. When we returned, we’d have breakfast and then he’d just stick to my side all day – his favourite position to lie and snooze was in my office while I took calls.
- When we first leave the house on a walk, he’s so excited and motivated to get going that he’s almost running! Bertie would jog down our street at the start of each walk; by the time we reached the main road, he was usually more sedate and tired, but always 10000% effort at the start.
- When Bertie wants more tummy rubs or affection, he’ll paw at you while staring into your eyes until you capitulate. Bertie definitely knew how to ask for things, and he wasn’t backwards in coming forwards. And of course, capitulation was inevitable because who wouldn’t want to give him every single thing in the universe?
- How he is so patient with Zola, especially when she is all in his face trying to give him a thousand kisses, or when she’s mere centimetres away from his food while he’s trying to eat. I don’t know how he managed it.
- How, as soon as he sees a ball, he lowers his head in preparation for running and if you go to throw it, he’ll start running after it already. Bertie doesn’t have time to wait to see if you’ve actually thrown it. Lets go!
- How cuddly and snuggly he is. When all his reassuring weight is pressed into you and you feel safe and warm because he’s there.
- How much he loves finding a good corner to go and nap in, often facing the wall. The amount of times I’d look over to check if he was okay during a call, and he’d just be snoozing right up against the corner of the office. I think it makes him feel safe.
- Most of all, how Bertie loves being told he is a good boy and wants to do anything to make you happy. The actual goodest boy in the whole universe.
Thank you Bertie for bringing so much joy, love and light into our family. We all miss you so very much.