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Goodbye to Baxter, a Loving Dog

It’s said that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child. Because Son and Daughter 2 (aka Daughter-in-law) and their three children said goodbye to Baxter, their 13-year-old Boxer, I’m sad. Baxter was family. My Grand, four year-old Neil would say, “There are four boys at our house. Me, Daniel, Daddy and Baxter.”

When Husband and I visited Son and Daughter 2’s home, Baxter welcomed us first. I braced myself for his full-force hug as he leaned against my legs. When I sat down, Baxter lay his head in my lap, his tongue licking my hands, my arms. It took a while for me to learn to say sternly, “Baxter, go away,” as Son suggested. That sounded cruel. Surely he’d understand, “Baxter, I love you, too and you are such a good dog and I’ll throw a ball with you later, but right now I want to hug my Grands.”

These three Grands, ages 6, 4, and 2, have only known life with Baxter. He’d be asleep, even snoring, on his mat in the corner of the family room and one of them would pet him or sit beside him or lay face to face with him. When Baxter awoke, he’d lie still or stand and walk to another room, another mat, or his crate. I wondered if he hid in his crate for peace and quiet.

Although all three Grands loved Baxter, two-year-old Ann turned to him for comfort. When we visited recently, Ann was unhappy that she couldn’t do what she wanted. She ran across the room and said, “I need my Baxter!” Baxter, sound asleep, didn’t flinch when Ann slung herself across his body.

It’s Daughter 2 I’m saddest for. Baxter was given to her as a young pup and he kept her company, especially when Son travelled on overnight business trips. She wrote the following tribute.

Baxter — my sweet, people-loving furry boy. My baby before I had a real baby.
He was a leaner, a licker, and a lover. As long as he was getting loved on, he was happy (even at the vet). You could see it in his short, wagging tail and feel it as his entire body weight leaned against your legs, and he licked whatever he could reach.
His ears were velvety soft, and he had a small white spot on the back of his neck. He had one black toenail, and his paws smelled a bit like corn chips. (One learns these things when an 85-pound furry boy shares your bed, occasionally). He loved peanut butter and would eat almost anything, including small stinky socks.
He lived a long, happy life. I’m grateful to have had him by my side for so long – in four different states and numerous homes, along for the ride in life’s big and small moments. His absence has left an almost tangible void in our house.

So Son, Daughter 2, and Grands, know that others are sad with you. Baxter was one loving dog.



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