It was 2006 when it finally dawned on me that I got Baxter at a really bad time in my life. By that time, I was already in puppy love with him. I slept on the living room floor because he was too small to get on the couch or the bed. In the mornings he'd bite me to tell me it was time to wake up and let him outside. We spent the summer months playing soccer at the park and going on field trips in the truck.
I called my cousin in Massachusetts. "So...I got a puppy. Can you watch him for me while I'm in college?"
After some convincing, he said yes. Baxter got in the truck, we travelled from Michigan to the East Coast, and like a good puppy, he slept with his head in my lap a majority of the drive there. With a heavy heart, I dropped off my puppy stating in four years, I'd be taking him back.
|He's so youthful in this picture!|
Before I knew it, the four years had passed. From time to time, I'd talk to my aunt about taking him back and though the first couple years of college, she'd said yes, as the time approached, she became more and more reluctant.
After-all, it had been four years. Did I still have a right to him? I wasn't sure. As a test run, I took him during my graduation for a few weeks. I got him fixed, discovered he'd contracted Lyme while in the care of my aunt, and put him on a heavy round of antibiotics. My family drove up for my graduation, and though Baxter hadn't seen them in weeks, he ran up, greeted them, and returned to me. Maybe he did love me more. Or maybe, I was seeing what I wanted to.
Finally it was the Thanksgiving after college. My cousins sat me down and said, "Look. He's your dog. Write a note, apologize, but don't ask permission. Take him and go."
"But what if he's happier here?" I asked.
"He's not. He's a hyper dog. They don't take him for walks. They just tell him to go lay down. You're young. You go out and do things."
I looked to my large dog. Since his neutering, he'd put on heafty amounts of weight. He was getting to the age where it could start affecting his hips, as well as everything else.
|He was always so happy to see me|
With tears in my eyes, I signed it, "Please know that I love you, and I hope you'll forgive me for this someday."
Two hours later, my alarm woke me. It was three in the morning. I loaded the last of my things and let Baxter out to run. At last, I opened my door and whispered, "Alright, get in."
I didn't have to tell him twice. He leapt into the car, and after four years of separation, we finally started our life together.
|He's so ready to pounce|
But I truly believe that Baxter has had a better life with me. He's not surrounded by cigarette smoke all the time. We go for walks regularly. He's been to beaches, and rivers, and mountains. He's learned to walk on a leash (sort of).
And he's saved my life.
I almost gave up on him. Words cannot express how happy I am to have him in my life.