Hoppy Friday Everyone!!
While we are still grieving our loss of Bart, being asked to write an article for the Hungarian Vizsla Society Newsletter offered some personal therapy for me. I miss my boy every day. Although the tears I shed daily come less frequently, the sadness they contain has not diminished one bit. I miss my boy. Plain and Simple…I just miss him.
I hope you enjoy the following memory about Bart and our life together…he was truly one in a million and is missed by all.
Bart – A Wounded Warrior Offering Hope to Others
On September 4, 2014, the Vizsla Community lost its own Wounded Warrior. Ch Razn The Bar CGC MH, lovingly known to all as Bart, lost his battle with Osteosarcoma after a brilliant six years in remission. While tears were shed, it is impossible not to remember the legacy Bart leaves behind.
Bart first gained notoriety when he completed his AKC Master Hunting Title from start to finish on three legs, within only 10 months of amputation. However, Bart did not rest on his laurels; instead, he went on to touch the lives of everyone who met him in so many ways. As his owner, it is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the impact Bart had on the Vizsla community. To me, he was my friend and we were just doing what we loved to do, together.
One of the most memorable and life changing events Bart and I were fortunate to experience together was getting the opportunity to meet several groups of Wounded Warriors. In 2009, Command Sergeant Major Michael P. Collins, leader of the Warrior Transition Battalion from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, met Bart at a Vizsla Play Day and immediately invited us to come to meet his soldiers. Bart and I traveled to KY for too short of a weekend, and were thrilled when they later accepted an invitation from the Vizsla Club of Metro Atlanta to be the gunners at our Thanksgiving Field Trial. Bart knew that his squad was there rooting him on as he ran his heart out, making the call backs in each retrieving stake he entered. During these call backs, it was difficult to keep one’s composure as we all watched in awe as the soldiers, one of whom was also an amputee, positioned themselves behind Bart to assist him in completing a perfect retrieve.
After the Field Trial was over, and the image of the Wounded Warriors gunning for Bart was still fresh in my mind, we were privileged to take these soldiers on a guided quail hunt. None of these men had ever been quail hunting and all of them were overwhelmed by Bart’s tenacity as he hunted his heart out, on three legs, standing covey after covey of quail for our soldiers. When we said our goodbyes, I was humbled when these great soldiers said they considered Bart to be one of them, a Wounded Warrior in his own right.
At almost nine years old, Bart was invited once again to take some Wounded Warriors from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, on a guided hunt. Bart once again hunted hard and bonded with these men and their sons who came out for an opportunity to feel like their former selves and enjoy life. I cannot thank the people who volunteer their time to organize these events and who invited Bart and I to participate and show our appreciation for what all these heroes have done for our country.
While I spent time with the Wounded Warriors, I discovered that all of them could look to another Wounded Warrior who saved their life and who inspired them every day not to give up. They all had memories of low points in their life when another soldier, who had been where they were, lifted them up and showed them that they could still do what they did prior to their injuries and that they could even do things they had never imagined doing before they returned from war. It was at this point that I realized that Bart’s status as a Honorary Wounded Warrior was deeper than the physical infirmity and challenges that he overcame with a courage I have never seen. Like the Wounded Warriors who worked their way through their darkest days to shed light on someone else who had not yet seen the light, Bart was a ray of light for others who were in need of hope. Bart challenged peoples’ beliefs on what was possible and demonstrated that we are limited only by what we believe we are unable to do. To me, being a Wounded Warrior means more than having a physical or emotional scar. A Wounded Warrior looks for someone who needs to be lifted up and needs renewed hope just like someone had done for them once before. Bart gave people hope.
Throughout our journey I often found myself asking why people were so taken by Bart…we all love our dogs, and I was no different. I believe one of the legacies Bart left behind was an alteration in the way people think about canine amputees. Time and time again we would be running in the park, visiting a pet store, or just taking a walk together and strangers would say, “Oh, poor guy…” In my mind I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” Smiling, I would tell them, “No need to feel sorry for this dog…he can’t count…he doesn’t know he is missing anything…he is the happiest dog you will ever meet.” Sometimes these folks would linger and we would converse about Bart, canine cancer, and Bart’s accomplishments. More often than not, these strangers would share their own painful memory of losing a favorite dog to cancer.
The other day I was sharing Bart stories with a friend, an amputee himself, and he said, “Bart was one of a kind…you will probably never have another dog like that.” I agree. The journey that Bart took me on was a one in a million. What other dog will I have that will grace the cover of Gun Dog Magazine? What other dog will I have that will have us whisked off to the Eukanuba Championships to be awarded the AKC’s Humane Fund ACE Award for Exemplary Companion? What other dog will teach me about love, friendship, acceptance and taking a risk like Bart? The answer is simple – there will never be another dog like Bart. He was, to put it mildly, An Extraordinary Vizsla.
As always, Bart, Thanks for Everything…I had a Wonderful Time
Love Forever, Your Mommy