Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to Baxter

I can't believe it! Tomorrow, my precious, precious dog Baxter will turn 11....uh, that's 77 in dog years! It seems like yesterday that my son Andrew was begging us to let him have a puppy from the litter of labrador pups that belonged to our neighbor, Joe Thompson. Joe had told Andrew he would give him one of the puppies for his graduation gift. Cary and I really didn't want a dog and we knew that if we took one, even though both boys said they would take care of everything, we would end up doing it all! After much begging from the boys and much deliberation between Cary & I, we relented! It would be a few more weeks before we were to get the puppy since they were only a few weeks old. I knew that by the time we got the puppy, I would be off for the summer from my job at the junior high and I would be able to be home all day to potty train him.

The day finally arrived and we went to pick him up. He was the cutest thing EVER! I remember driving Andrew to his friends houses to show the puppy off. We had been trying to think of a name for him but it was my mother who actually came up with "Baxter". It just seemed to fit this precious little furry creature! This is Baxter's first official picture on the day he arrived at the Hughes household.

Baxter immediately became one of the family! He was afforded the privilege of staying in the house with us, not to be bannished to the outside! It was a struggle for a while, making sure that after every little nap, he was scooped up to go outside to "potty". He was really good and wasn't very hard to train!

It didn't take long for this little tiny thing to grow into a huge boy! I think having his daily bowl of milk just added to the growing spurt. He was always so full of energy and any time that he was let out in the front yard, there he would go, running full speed. There was one night when he was 3 that I let him out in the middle of the night so we could look at the meteor shower. As luck would have it, my neighbor two houses down decided at that moment to check the mail in his mailbox and Baxter, having seen movement, proceeded to run to the neighbor to check him out. Before Baxter could even get to the neighbor's mailbox, the neighbor saw this huge dog running toward him, broke into a run himself and threw himself on top of his vehicle! Of course, we didn't see this as the neighbor's vehicle was under his carport out of our view! We didn't know until about 30 minutes later that anything had happened until the deputy sherrif showed up at our door asking if we had a dog! To make a long story short, the neighbor sued our homeowners insurance company for damaged to his vehicle (that he did himself trying to jump on the hood) and for injury to his back (that he did while jumping onto his hood). Poor Baxter had not even gotten close to the man. In fact, he had turned around and headed home before the man had even reached his car. Our insurance paid the man $7,000 and Baxter never even got near him! Let's just say we were very careful about letting Baxter out when that neighbor was outside!

For years, Cary would load Baxter up in his little red Honda Civic and they would make the short trip up the street to the Jack Hayes Elementary school yard. Baxter would jump out of the car and run full speed for about 10 or 15 minutes. He would then slow down and proceed to sniff everything within his nose reach. He managed one day to get into a nest of hornets. Cary was trying to beat them off of Baxter just enough to get him back into the car. When they got home, poor Baxter went and hid in my closet for several hours until the shock wore off! I can't tell you how many hours over the years that Cary (or I) and Baxter spent at the school yard!
He would pester you to death every day until you took him up there!

I'm sure that I have traumatized Baxter over the years with my constant desire to dress him up for all occasions! He was and still is a good sport about it but I know in his heart, he hates every minute of it!
This was his first Halloween costume...he was Yoda from Star Wars!
This particular year I tried dressing him up to be Keith Urban (the country music star of whom I'm obsessed with). I couldn't find a blonde wig so he ended up looking more like Wynonna Judd than Keith Urban. I called him Baxter Barkley, country canine sensation who's #1 hit was Who Wouldn't Wanna Sniff Me? (I know, I'm sick).

Almost two years ago, we moved to a new house and it was a very traumatic experience for Baxter....Oak Circle had been the only house he knew and all of a sudden, he was in a new place. After a few weeks, he began to lose big patches of hair and had all of these rash looking places. The vet said it was from nerves/stress from the move. It took a while but he finally got over it. Now he's sniffed & peed on everything within a square mile of the new house.....it's his territory now!

There are so many stories to tell about his last 11 years. I just don't have the room to write them all. Let's just say that Baxter doesn't yet know that he's actually a dog...we haven't told him and may never tell him! He's had a bowl of milk every day of his life and he has NEVER spent one night outside! He's the one that wakes us up every morning, brings the newspaper in every day, gets several treats per day and follows my every move in this house!

I know in my heart that his days will be soon be up as I know labs only usually live to be 12 or 13, but I'm not thinking about that right now! I can't imagine what it will be like when he's not here, under my feet, making my every move! I never in a million years dreamed that I could love any dog the way I love Baxter! I tell him every day how sweet & precious he is and I kiss his head every single day! I whisper in his ear daily that he's my "precious boy" and I know he understands!

Happy Birthday Precious Boy!