August 28, 2017

I miss you Bartles


I started this morning perfectly happy with a  promise that it was going to be a good day. Lady's happy tail that greeted me reaffirmed this.

Maybe that started to change when I felt the crisp morning air that felt like fall (I don't do emotionally  well during fall months). 

Maybe it was when I decided to rummage through Bartles' old medicine basket. 

But my heart started to ache and I wanted to cry but tears wouldn't come out. Only if they did because it felt like my heart would feel better if I just sobbed.

But it just kept at it.. a slow ache with no plans on easing up any time soon. 

I took this picture of Bartles just a couple of days before he crossed the rainbow bridge. I have been meaning to share it here on the blog and on Instagram for quite some time now but I just couldn't get myself to do it. It brought me back to that sorrowful day when he left us. 

At the time I didn't know I would be spending my last moments with him. Sometimes you know when you are about to part with your best friend. And so you prepare the best you can. All I was feeling this time was hope. Hope and determination. A stubborn determination perhaps, but I just had so much confidence that he was going to get better. 

Sometimes when I look back on my time with Bartles I wish that I was more experienced. I thought having come off of caring for Piri that I knew all I could about caring for sick senior dogs. 

Somewhere I think I lost focus.

I wish I didn't go on a crusade to get him better. To cure something that couldn't be cured. I feel like I blindly focused on trying to get him to walk better again, to get him to beat his Cushing's, his kidney disease and he was just going to do a 180 on all of us.

Somewhere perhaps I didn't think to put his comfort first. That everything I was feeding him and his acupuncture sessions were making it harder for him. That perhaps medicine, good food and a nice bed was all that he needed. 

I feel selfish. Misguided. Foolish. 

And I go down this endless self guilt trip wondering how I will come out it this time around.

I don't have a lot of pictures of Bartles with my good camera. I thought I had plenty of days ahead for picture time. In fact, I didn't do a lot of things when he was with me. I kept putting it off because I always thought we had more time. And after he left, I found myself making his name banner and looking at engraved rings to add to our family collection. And I felt terrible that I didn't do it while he was still here jingling his way around the house. These moments of regret is when I found myself alone and crying over a broken heart that was trying to mend itself.

I used to look at this picture of Bartles and see determination in his face. Now I wonder if I read it all wrong. I wonder if it wasn't determination at all. That perhaps everyone who asked me, "Why are you prolonging his suffering," had been right all along. I hate this thought and I hate that I think this way. 

Bartles came to me with scabs all over his body. He had beautiful fur but his skin felt like armor. And he was itchy. I remember spending days and weeks and months determined to get his skin under control. I bought a natural salve and rubbed it all over his body. It was messy but I was determined.

I first tested on his head and neck and when the scabs cleared (and didn't come back) and new fur grew I decided to work on his entire body.

I shaved him down, rubbed the sticky salve all over his body and let it sit for a couple of days. Then I brush him and picked out the scabs that were willing to fall off and then I bathe him. After a day, I would start the process all over again.

I repeated this for two months and his itchiness went away. He was 85% scab free with new fur growing (he had some scabs left on his belly and some on his back legs). Friends who saw him often remarked how much better he got. But then the vets would tell me what a disastrous state he was in. How his skin condition was horrible. I remember feeling so defeated but not being able to say anything.. afraid that if I told them of my "natural" routine, they would laugh at me or remain skeptical or say, "It's not working as effectively as you think.". But the truth was, they didn't see him before. And so their reference point was different from mine. But how do I explain all that without sounding defensive or long winded?

Or.. was I wrong all this time? Was he just in a disastrous state and I was too stubborn to realize it?

I regret sharing stories of my hardships in caring for Bartles on the blog and on Instagram. I look back and wonder if I told a narrative of how he just made our lives so hard. Once you start to share the negatives, that's all that people see and remember. Even if you share the positives and the happiness. No one will really remember those. 

I have people tell me how bright my life looks now with Lady. 

I feel bad for Bartles because perhaps I did tell a bleak narrative with him. 

I regret a lot of things with Bartles. And I feel bad when I got frustrated at him. 

I regret that perhaps I am still telling a bleak narrative. Even after he's gone...

3 comments

  1. I miss you Bartles too. I'd like to offer you respite and a place free of judgment - hugs to you

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  2. Jane, what you feel is totally normal...the "what ifs"....all the self-doubt. But know this....your experience with Bartles is not bleak at all despite everything. Your tenaciousness is really something to be admired and quite inspiring. May we all be so passionate in caring for our loved ones.

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  3. My number one thought when I question myself on things was, did I have love for the situation/person/thing/soul and if I know in my heart I did, all I can do is love myself for opening my heart :) :) Your natural self care routine for bartles skin sounds awesome btw and it totally reminds me when I sheepishly confess to my dentist the alternative brand of toothpaste I use - hard to not feel judged!

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