The Baxter Chronicles. Chapter 1 He's Our Doggy-Buddy.

This is the chronicle of Baxter the Dog, written by his friend Joe.

I say friend. Some would say owner. Judy (Mrs. Joe) calls me Baxter’s dad. While this is biologically impossible it’s an okay description: I feed him and play with him.

I try to teach him and help him understand when he’s doing what he should and when he’s not. I love him even when I’m mad at him.

Which all reminds me of being a dad to my kids who are big themselves now. And like my kids at some point I’ll need to let Baxter go.

Which brings us to why I’m writing this. Baxter has cancer.

We’re not sure if we’ll have to say goodbye soon or in a few months or maybe even a few years from now. But we will have to. And that’s okay.

It’s okay but it makes us sad.

The tumor they found is in a place where even the best surgeons can’t get it all. They did their best.

We’ll find out soon what treatments, if any, might help him live longer.

Whatever happens we’ll keep him as comfortable and happy as possible and give him lots of love…

We didn’t meet Baxter until he was 5-1/2 years old.

We don’t know much about his early years but we know some. When he was a puppy he lived with a family that had more than one dog. There were problems. We think the other dog may have been mean to him. He has an interesting scar and for the longest time he was afraid to eat unless he could see what was around him.

He also shows fear aggression around other dogs. He’s been hurt before and doesn’t want to be hurt again. Sound familiar?

Anyway, he protects me and Judy fiercely…maybe too fiercely but we appreciate it.

His 1st family couldn’t handle him and was going to put him in a shelter (this is a polite term for dog pound) that killed dogs that weren’t adopted. His owner lady mentioned this to her coworker who knew Baxi (one of his many nicknames) and she said NO WAY…

I’ll tell you why: Baxter is amazing. He’s half Border Collie and half Black Lab. So he’s 1/2 the smartest breed of dog and 1/2 the 5th smartest breed. I’m sure your dog is super-smart too. I’m not bragging. I’m just telling you Baxi-Taxi (there’s another one) is scary smart.

He knows lots of commands and tricks and figures stuff out like a smart 7 year-old kid. We can’t lie to him. He knows. He’s trying to learn to talk, too. When we’re talking he looks at us just like a person would and makes growly-talky noises until we answer him. It’s hilarious.

So after she said NO WAY this lady named Diane adopted Baxter. She loved him too and took good care of him. But he’s a working breed (actually 2) and needs a job and LOTS of exercise and Diane worked 2 jobs and was gone all day long. Baxter was alone and bored and frustrated.

So Diane set out to find him a new family. She auditioned several folks and tried a family or two but Baxter is a handful. He’s crazy-smart, super-energetic, & if you give him an inch he’ll take 10 miles.

So she needed to find a family that had time, space, and understood what being the Alpha Dog meant.

Baxter came to visit on a rainy November day. He puked on the way (he gets car sick). He arrived chewing a tennis ball like a madman. He was extremely keyed up. We played fetch in the back yard, watched his tricks, & chatted with Diane, his savior.

While we talked he chewed that ball with almost frightening intensity.

We told Diane we’d like to adopt Baxter. She said she thought that was great. She agreed to drop him off the next week.

I went to bed that night picturing Baxi chewing that ball and worried that we’d adopted a 4-legged maniac.

Nope. He was just really nervous.

I get really nervous meeting people too. Sometimes I don’t even hear their names because I’m so concerned about saying the right things and not screwing up. Baxter gets that. He says, “Wag your tail and smile. It’ll be fine.”

So he moved in & we started to become friends.

Diane told us we should have him sleep in his crate because he might chew everything up when he was alone.

So night 1 he went in his crate. Night 2 he didn’t want to but went. Night 3 he refused. Hmmm, I thought. I’m the alpha dog but he hasn’t chewed anything since he got here (except the tennis ball ) so let’s try it.

That night I went to sleep picturing him chewing up my guitars. I have several. That would have been bad. But my friend Baxter laid down in his bed and slept like a champ and didn’t chew a thing.

You see, he was just lonely and bored and nervous all the time before he became our friend so we made it our jobs to keep him busy.

We threw the tennis ball, took walks, he patrolled the yard for squirrels…my command was “Check the yard!” and he would trot around the (loooong) fence line like he was a security guard.

Diane was also afraid he’d fall in our pool but he seemed to have no interest. I couldn’t coax him in at all which is probably a good thing. Dog fur is tough on pool filters.

So, anyway, he fit in fine and we became buddies. Doggy-Buddy is what I call him a lot. If you think that’s dumb or cutesy that’s fine.

We also call him Mr. Underfoot for the obvious reason and Codependent Boyfriend because he’s pretty possessive of Judy. They’re very fond of each other. He follows her EVERYWHERE. We once came upon a mountain lion when she as walking with him. I’m sure he would have fought the lion to protect her. Luckily the lion was as scared of us as we (humans) were scared of him and off he ran!

There are more stories. They’re just like the stories you have about your dog. But he’s our doggy-buddy so we tell those stories.

And now our friend is sick and we’ll all do our best.

You can also follow the Chronicles of Baxter via the Twitter account, @BaxtersfriendJoe