Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bertrand Russel Fritsch

Bert in his bow-tie, enjoying the smell of Christmas dinner.

Bert died this morning. He had a couple of very rough days and nights after a few months of decline. Until the past two days he was still able to jump on the bed, work us for treats every time he went outside, and chase rabbits in the back yard but the past two nights it was difficult for him to even get up to get a drink or go outside. This morning, he couldn't make it up the step to the porch and could only walk a few feet before he sat down. He seemed to be suffering so we knew it was time.
Bert surveying the perimeter and keeping the yard free of rabbits and dogs.

If you're going to have a dog, you might as well have one with some personality. Bert certainly had that. He was a cantankerous son-of-a-bitch for a long time, until we figured out that he had epilepsy and thyroid problems. The medication helped his temperment a little but he was still ornery and liked things his way. No doubt about it, Bert was the pack leader in our house.

Bert claiming the couch.

Bert was a difficult pet to train because he figured things out and before you knew it, you were the one who was trained. If he barked at me when I was on the phone, I would toss him a treat. Pretty soon, the minute I picked up the phone, he started barking. Regis would give him a treat to get him off the bed at night. If he made the mistake of leaving the bedroom before getting into bed, Bert jumped right back up and expected another treat.

One of our favorite stories about Bert is the time just a few weeks ago when he chased a rabbit across the back yard. He was already suffering from congestive heart failure and he must have gotten right to the end of his capacity because he passed out against the fence. When Regis went out to pick him up, he had a chunk of that rabbit's tail in his mouth. He might have been old and decrepit but he could still catch a rabbit.

Another meal, another bowtie...surveying the grub.

Regis has been devastated by Bert's death. He wonders why we get pets when it's so hard to lose them. I think it's the same reason we let people into our lives. It would be pretty boring to spend your life alone so you were protected from hurt. As damn ornery as Bert was, he was an entertaining and occasionally even a lovable pet. He's in dog heaven now, not bothered by seizures, thyroid problems, or difficult breathing. He's chasing rabbits and birds and working somebody else for just one more treat.

He was some dog.

Portrait of Bert as a Young Dog

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