Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zest and Zeal

Because yesterday's post was a little sad and bittersweet, I figured I'd cheer you guys up.

Baxter has a tendency to remind me that life is full of zest, and I should meet it head on, zealously. To close up this A to Z Challenge, here are some take home, life lessons from my best friend:

*It's okay to hit snooze. More than once. But after a few times, you have to get out of bed and go potty.

*It's okay to steal someone else's food when they're not looking. If they ask or accuse, just hang your head real low and look sad. They'll forgive you and probably replenish your food bowl.

The last good snowfall of 2013.
Bax is the little black ball in the center.
*Water is the only drink you ever really need.

*Cigarettes are yucky, and so are drugs.

*Enjoy a good snowfall. Run around, make fresh tracks, even if it's midnight. 

*It's okay to slip your collar and run off and freak your family out. Just remember to stay safe and return home.

*Be excited to be home, especially after you've been gone for a long amount of time. This is your place. Be comfortable here. Be excited to be with the people you love.

*Remember the joy of a car ride. I think a lot of us take it for granted, but Baxter loves to have his head somewhat out the widow, or looking right through the dashboard from the backseat. Try to find things you've never seen before.
I've always thought the car ride
is the same as a roller coaster to him

*Take a minute and just enjoy the sunlight. As Spring and Summer come in to full
swing, Baxter loves just sitting outside. Not sniffing or running around, just getting his tan on. Breathe in fresh air. Smell flowers. Enjoy the small things.

*No matter how big or small, or what age you are, it's okay to be a lapdog your entire life.

*Be excited. Be excited for friends, and family, and other things you may not understand (like cats and other dogs). Listen when someone wants to talk. Cuddle up to someone when they're sad. Most of all, be there, and don't be there because you feel obligated.

*Be brave. Don't be afraid to stand up and growl for the things you'd be willing to protect. Don't go to sleep until everyone else is safely in bed. 

He's not tied up in this picture.
He's just waiting for me.
There are a million other things I could tell you I've learned from him, and you guys know that's true. But just remember to enjoy the small things, like going outside, reading a book in the sun, how awesome your family and friends are. Remember that days can get bad, but to a dog, as long as you're around, every day is a good day.

For those of you who just ended the challenge, congrats! We made it. For those of you who were just popping in and reading about my BFF, thank you. Thank you for giving me this chance to creatively explore my pup and my relationship with him. You guys are awesome.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Youth

They looked for the Fountain of Youth in Pirates of the Caribbean. They found it in Tuck Everlasting. But I'm afraid that in the world I live in, it doesn't exist.

I don't want to live forever. But as it is, Baxter is turning seven this summer. Sure he still acts like a puppy and runs and plays, but...the clock is ticking. He's officially considered a "senior" dog. If I tackle him wrong, he'll bite me because I've hurt his hips.

I've had a hard time dealing with the fact that Baxter will die someday. Chances are, it'll be before me, and it'll be WAY before I'm ready for him to.

So I think if I could do anything, I would find the Fountain of Youth, and slip some in Baxter's water bowl. I know I have a lot of years left with him, but I'm still bracing for it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xenophobia

He's so cute sometimes 
For those of you who don't know, Xenophobia is the fear of strangers/strange places.

We all heard about that time my sisters were late to my graduation, walked into my house, and Baxter hid and peed himself, right? Well, it turns out, he hasn't changed all that much since then.

Sometimes, if it's not ungodly hot (or too cold) outside, I'll put Bax in my car (because he loves it) and go to work. (Don't worry, he also has his food and water bowls in the car, too.) I'll come out during my lunch break where we'll sit in the sun, and enjoy the day.

One day, my manager got my attention. "Hey, Lynne. I'm going on a smoke break, want me to let Bax out?"

Bax had met her countless times. She'd pet him, he'd lean into her, it was puppy love. "Yea, that'd be great."

About ten or so minutes later, she walked in. "Um, dude. He pushed himself against the far side of your car and wouldn't come out. I think I scared him. Go let him out."

He's all "I will growl quietly
while you walk past"
It took a minute, but it dawned on me that this is kind of Baxter's trademark. He's scared of the world unless I'm there to tell him it's okay.

When we first arrived in NC together we went to Jockey's Ridge State Park. We walked on the board walk out to the sand dunes. There were people everywhere asking to pet him. He would shove himself against me, and look at me like the approaching people were a big body of water. "It's okay," I'd tell him. Then he would slowly leave me and walk toward them.

He's gotten better the longer I've had him. If we're out and about, he'll go up to strangers and be all, "Hi, love me! LOVE ME!" But if I'm not around, typically he'll still hide like he's afraid the stranger will take him and he'll never see me again.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Water Loathing

This is not Baxter.
This is my friend's awesome dog in Florida.
The scene is this: it's hot outside.

The kind of hot where you'd peel your clothes off and lay naked under a fan, but somehow the light cotton is keeping you more cool than if you were naked. So you lay in bed because it's too hot to do anything else.

You're sweating in places you didn't know existed. You have one goal: get to a large, cold, body of water.

And bring the dog, because he's panting and drooling rivers all over the floor.

You arrive at the local pool/ocean/river and you and the dog do cannonballs. You swim until your lips turn blue. You come home and the warmth that once was heat is reassuring. You crawl into bed and Fido sleeps beside you. It was a wonderful day.

***

Most dogs love water. I've seen videos of dog jumping contests (legit, people throw toys, dogs run after and leap off something like a diving board. Amazing.) When I decided to steal Baxter back, I figured we'd live on a beach. I'd get a tandem kayak. He'd ride up front, I'd paddle from the rear. When we got really ambitious, we'd paddleboard. But we'd be in the water.

He'd play fetch on the beach as the sun set. He'd swim in waves with me and smell of salt.

Instead, the reality is this:

Yep. He's standing close enough to notice it's raining
and yet not get wet. He wouldn't budge.
If it's raining Baxter will go DAYS without going potty. He will slip his collar at the mountain and seek shelter if there's a light sprinkle. He will run from ocean waves. He will manipulate his body weight when you try to give him a bath so that you and your mother will be covered in bruises until she looks at you and says, "I'm giving up. We can't do this." It will always take more than one person to bathe him.

When we lived in Gilead, we lived about a mile from a nice swimming hole. Just before we left, Baxter slowly started making his way into the water...just to his paws, never quite so far as to fully have to swim. It was progress, and I was so proud of him. (And like a bad owner, I may have pushed him further than he meant to go. :) ).

One of the proudest moments of my life!
Though he's a good dog, he has a few flaws. I can deal with the not listening when there's another cat or dog around. Or having to put him in time out from time to time. But the fact he HATES water? Really?

Ugh.
I'm not sure I can forgive something like that...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vicious

Just when you thought it was safe to step outside...

This is his hunting face
...the monster attacks!

No, but really.

Maybe it's because Baxter is 120 pounds. Maybe it's because he's a little clutzy. But when I ran the road race in October, he was waiting for me at the finish line. We tried chili together (more-so, he snagged my bowl when I wasn't looking), and explored territory we'd never seen.

As we walked through the crowd, a dog who I'd been eyeing since we'd arrive lunged out of nowhere and went after Baxter. The owner didn't even apologize, meanwhile I wanted to punch him in the back of the head. (Awhile later, the same dog went after another dog who was passing by. Angryface.)

Just before the awards cemerony, there were a million people milling about. Baxter
The worst that's going to happen
is him knocking you over
and cuddling.
and I tried not to get tangled around people. On the ground beside us, there was a woman with a baby. Baxter wasn't even near her when she started screaming, "Not by the baby! Get it away from the baby!" and using her body as a shield like Baxter was going to eat the baby.

I wanted to yell at her to get "The baby!" off the ground. What am I supposed to do? Pick Bax up and carry him? Nope, you can do that with the baby.

Ugh. I wish people realized that I'm the more dangerous one out of the duo.

Outside of that, if you don't know Baxter very well, he does this....thing. (Sadly, I don't have a picture of it.)

If you give him a treat, or if you've been gone for awhile and he's REALLY happy to see you, he'll scrunch his face up and show ALL of his teeth. Legit, it looks like he's about to eat your face off. I have to warn people about this WAY ahead of time.

Do your pets ever look like they're about to maul you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Understanding

Notice he's not leashed?
Told him to just stay and be good.
Baxter has never been through obedience school (I feel like he'd flunk out anyway). He hasn't really been trained, other than by hand signals when I don't want to talk to him in the mornings. But somehow, he's an inherently good dog.

When we lived in NC, in order to get into our house, you literally had to kick the door open. We'd just finished going for a walk, and because he was standing so close, I tried gently pushing my foot against the door. It didn't budge.

"Bax, can you step to the side so I can kick this?" I asked.

He literally stepped to the side.

Before we left, we visited my friend Jake. I left Baxter with him while I went adventuring a few hours away. The following day I got a text saying, "I love your
He's all, "Dude, it's messy. Please clean"
dog." When asked why, he explained that his sister had had a seizure. Baxter somehow understood that something was wrong, woke Jake up and led him to her.

There have been a lot of small things like this, Baxter brings you a toy, and you say, "No, get your new toy," and he drops that one and finds the one you've just told him to get. I have no clue how he does this, but somehow he does.

Which is why, Baxter is my favorite person on the planet :)

In happier news, WE'RE SO CLOSE TO THE END OF THE A TO Z! HANG IN THERE!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Time Out

Sometimes, he can just sit next to me
So there we were, walking without a leash because MOST of the time Baxter is good enough. It's night time, there are barely any cars out (which is why I'm okay with him not being on a leash). Suddenly, he darts to the left, into the yard of the local veterinary clinic.

"Baxter, get over here!" I yell.

He responds by wagging his tail, taking several steps away from me and peeing on a tree.

I continue to yell, to whistle, to no avail. My dumb dog will not come back. It's usually at this point I start to worry; what if he runs back and gets hit by a car, what if a mountain lion comes and eats him, what if he sees a raccoon and chases it....

On a mission, I march to Baxter, grab him by the collar where his eyes go wide. It's clear he knows he's done something wrong. I walk-drag him a few steps until he fights me holding him.

"Fine, but you better stay with me!"

And he does. He takes a step, turns his head and looks at me, almost like he's saying, "Look, look I'm right here!"

We get home, I open the door and yell, "Go lay down, right now!" It is not a pretty voice.
He's all "Please just love me!"

My boyfriend locks eyes with me. "What'd he do?"

"Ran off and wouldn't listen, so now he's in time out."

How time out works:
1) Baxter acts up. Typically it's him running off and not listening to me. It can be for a vast majority of reasons: other pets, something cool he wants to smell, etc.
2) Baxter DOESN'T come back.
3) We get home, I tell him to go lay down
4) He's not allowed to come near us until I deem him okay to be out of time out. Typically, I yell, "Bax, it's okay to come out now," or "Bax it's okay to come to bed now" and he RUNS.
5) For the next few days he listens a little better

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sleep and Sit and Stay Signals

I'm a monster in the morning. If you wake me up, I will growl, yell, throw things...really, the first hour I'm awake, it's hazardous to be within a ten mile radius of me.

Though I love him, because he sleeps on the bed each night, Baxter is in the danger zone. So when he was a puppy, I started working with him on hand signals.

He responds to snaps (one snap verses two means different things), a closed fist says, Sit, while a flattened palm being lowered says, Lay Down. Flipping the hand over says, Roll Over, and holding your hand up in a stop-sign like fashion says, Stay (though this one is a work in progress).

I'm posting this so late because I've spent all day trying to get a video of him doing these things. If he calms down, it will be up!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Real Birthday Fun

Quest accomplished. Sort of.

He's all, "Adventure! Freedom!"
We left a half hour later than we meant to. Baxter piled in the backseat, the boy and I drove around Portland, Maine but failed to find the Planned Parenthood to hold signs of support. Time was ticking, so we gave up and made our way to the tattoo parlour.

I walked in, and one of the guys said, "What can I do for you?"
Me and the artist

"I want a tattoo of my dog's paw print. He's in the car. How do we do this?"

He took out a stamp pad. The boy and I looked at the stamp pad and laughed. "He's a little bigger than that."

After shooting ideas back and forth, we determined Baxter would be brought in. With a gloved hand, the artist lifted Bax's paw, rubbed the disassembled pad all over his paw, then placed it on a piece of paper. The entire time, Baxter's tail was wagging.

The artist outlined the paw, sought my approval, and began work. I may have crushed the boy's hand (I forgot how much these things hurt).

In the end, I love the end result:

Even his paw print is adorable!

We finished out the day meeting people who are trying to change the world (and are fully prepared to go to jail for their cause, count me in!), then at the mall, with my good friend, Liz for dinner, and my partner and crime for celebration and pool. (The boy and I won both times).

A wonderful end to a wonderful day
Moral of the story is, for those of you who don't like your birthday because you're "getting old", please just don't forget to celebrate. Even if it's something small like buying yourself a new hat, or getting a tattoo of your dog's paw print, take time out for yourself. What better way to celebrate yourself?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quest

That's right, his paw
is as big as my foot
(pretty much)
And on this day, April 19, a million years ago, I was born into this world.

And on this day, April 19, 2013, Baxter, the boy, and I go on a day long quest and adventure! (If you're wondering what the difference between a quest and an adventure is, it's simple: an adventure is spur of the moment, anything can happen fun fest! A quest has a mission to accomplish! We're doing a bit of both!)

 First, to Portland, Maine where we will hold signs supporting Planned Parenthood for the work they do. From there, I have a meeting in a coffee shop with an organization (eek!).

Then, the biggest dragon of the quest:

Getting a Baxter paw print tattoo.

Originally, the plan was to get it on the top of my foot. But then I started thinking: 1) Baxter's paw is HUGE 2) I hate feet 3) I never wear flip flops. 4) No one would see my Baxter tattoo. 5) I would only see it when I showered.

PASS!

Therefore, the location has changed to my calf. Less bony. More visible. Less feet-y. More Baxter-y :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Power Kites

Enough people don't fly kites anymore. It's a lost art that truly can make you happy.

When we lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Laura became obsessed with Power Kites after learning how to Kiteboard. Meanwhile, I was frustrated, and angry, and cranky. The kite had picked me up, and shoved me face first under the water. It hurt, I was coughing and snotting up water, and getting stung by jelly-fish. I was not impressed.

But, because Laura liked to fly her kite at Jockey's Ridge State Park, Baxter and I joined her.

Yea....she was yelling,
"Baxter, I'm gonna kick you in the face!"
I thought Baxter was bad with other animals. Put a Power Kite in front of him and he'll run until he gives himself heat exhaustion and gets sick. He'll be puking, and still trying to chase the kite. (Not exaggerating.) He'll run into YOU if you're not looking where he's at. He will run at the kite and put holes in it.

He is so crazy about Power Kites, that for his 5th birthday, I bought him his own $500 kite just so Laura wouldn't kick him in the face like she'd threatened to.

Since moving to Maine, I haven't found a good place to fly, but you better believe, every time it gets windy, both Baxter and I are itching to get out there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Other Occupants

I know you guys have seen glimpses into the crap-holes Baxter and I have lived in, but I figured I'd give you a quick run down of our adventures in living...because it's more fun that way:

He looked happy.
But he wasn't.
1) When I first got him, the place I'd been living didn't allow pets. So, within a day, I moved. I knew the girl through work, and though her eyes are always rimmed red, I figured maybe it was eyeliner. It wasn't. It was, like, a permanent eye infection.

The house was infested with cockroaches. They'd invade my food, my oreos, my clothes. We only stayed there four months or so. Her dog and cat were starving to death, to the point her cat would drink soapy water out of the sink, and if left unattended, her dog would lunge into our room and eat Baxter's food. Baxter started becoming food aggressive. Because her dog also pooed and peed on the floor EVERY DAY (her room was covered in dog poop. It stayed there for WEEKS) Baxter got a rash. I got sick for three months.

Finally, I asked if she could start sanitizing and actually cleaning. She told me to move out. Thanks to the wonder of Craigslist,we did.

2) The next place we lived seemed like a saving grace. The roommate was cool and we played Wii together. There was a man who was 50-something, and the landlord who was 30-something. They were both guys, but they said they'd give me space, etc. etc. etc.

The first question I asked was, "You guys aren't infested with any bugs, are you?"

Though they said no, after my sister joined the party, it was found that the house was infested with bedbugs, and the 50-year old just liked to fight with me, then the landlord started picking fights. And for the record, if you ever get bedbugs, burn your house down. Baxter and I ended up sleeping outside, in a hammock, during the wildfires. We'd wake up covered in ash, and mosquito bites. Awful.

You can tell he's happy when he plays by himself
3)  The next place we moved to, we moved in a hurry. Though the previous tenants were up front with us about ants and cockroaches, I was suddenly no longer squeamish with these infestations.

Really, this house wasn't a bad place to live until the hurricane. And, even then, it wasn't a bad place because of the place, just bad luck. There was icky water everywhere. Baxter drank out of Britta filtered water. But this was the place I lived when I was pregnant, and unstable. Then my roommates all abanoned me and I couldn't afford the $800/month rent.

4) Skipping the homeless escapades and sleeping in the backroom of my work, Baxter and I moved to Maine where the sketchy old man exposed himself.

Though the neighbors sucked
He sure enjoyed cuddling
5) Then to the place where I thought my neighbors were going to kill me. Or him.

6) Then we moved to the place where my roommates locked me, Baxter, and my boyfriend in the basement. And threw our food on the floor.

7) Now we live in a gingerbread house. So far, it's going pretty well. The landlord is pretty chill, Baxter seems happy because he goes on more walks, and I'm a mile from work.

Long story short, I can't live with or near people. I'm a terrible roommate, and really, I don't like people being near my stuff. Right now seems pretty okay though.

Let's hope this upward trend continues.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Not Without Me

Baxter has always had separation anxiety. When he was a puppy, I had to sleep on the floor with him until he was big enough to climb on the couch and curl up next to me. Now, he sleeps on the bed, every night. When I left for college, I pretty much dropped him off and didn't come back for weeks at a time. It happened a lot.

Now, every time I pack up a car, he gets this look in his eyes as though he knows I'm leaving. I'm not sure he's accepted the fact that he's coming with me. So when I start piling stuff in the car, he jumps in the back seat if I leave it unguarded.

"Bax, come on," I'll say.

And he'll sit there, staring straight ahead as though he's saying, "No way, man. You're not going anywhere without me."

So then, I have to continue packing up the back seat of the car around him.

He is my wing man, my running buddy, my support system. As though I'd be able to go anywhere without him again. Pssh.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Magic

This is Baxter's reaction to the news.
I've had a hard time coming up with something to blog about today. In light of the Boston Marathon bombing, I needed something uplifting. Something that makes believe there is still good in the world. So, M is for Magic.

Not the kind of magic that conjures the devil, or hurts people. But the kind of magic that stirs and steals your heart and makes you truly happy. The kind of magic that the love of others gives you, the kind prayer (if you pray) gives you. The kind of magic that gives you hope, and happiness.

I don't want to believe in the things that harm people. I don't want to believe in the type of people who have so much hatred in them, they'd bomb the 26th mile.

I want to believe in puppies, and friends, and love. These are the things that keep me alive and keep me going.

M is for Magic, because Love is Magic. Acceptance is Magic.

Spread this. Don't spread hate.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Longboarding

Sometime during college, my sister gave me a pair of roller blades. In movies, people wear roller blades and get pulled along by their dogs, so I thought, "Why not?!"

I put them on, leashed up her dog, Bailey, and WHOOSH! we were off! He listened when I said stop. When we went too fast, he let me veer off to the grass. My heart pounded with exhilaration.  If Bailey could do it, surely Baxter could!

A few days later, I flew from Michigan to Massachusetts, reunited with Baxter, put on roller blades, and....WHOOSH!

Baxter was FAST! He didn't listen as I screamed for him to slow down. Using my brain, I figured if I made him run up a hill, he'd slow down. I managed to forget where there's an uphill, there's a downhill....

He kept pulling, and pulling. The wheels spun, and spun. Soon, I was going faster than Baxter could run. Panicking, I looked for the nearest patch of grass and veered in that direction.

THUNK. THUNK.

My arm jerked backward. I was on my ass.

Kids sitting in the yard began laughing. "Whoa, that must have hurt!" but they weren't talking about me.

Standing up and brushing myself off, I asked, "What happened?"

"Your dog hit his head on the car, then his body wrapped around and hit the car."

Um.,,, :/

We never tried roller blading again. But, we do longboard pretty regularly. Since I've had him, he's gotten 1000x better on a leash, too.

video

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Keep Out

When my sisters came to Maine for my college graduation, they managed to miss it. By about a half hour. They called me, and I told them to just go to my house. It'd be unlocked.

They pulled into the driveway. "Is this the right place?" Laura asked.

Tammy looked around. "That's Baxter, isn't it?"

Together, Tammy, Laura, and Jacci grabbed their belongings and made their way into my unlocked house. Baxter, rather than meeting them at the door, cowered behind the couch, and pissed himself.

When I arrived home, they told me this story, laughing. "Some protector dog you have," they mocked.

"It would have been a different story if I'd been home," I reassured them. They continued to laugh.

He's all, "This is my stuff. I
guard it"
We stayed up celebrating. In the morning, Laura was awake, and rather than knocking on my closed bedroom door, barged in.

Baxter lunged after her.

"Told you so," I laughed, after she slammed the door.

It turns out, Baxter has established some house rules, and I've found this out the hard way:

1) If the door is closed, and the Lynne is sleeping, NO ONE is allowed in until she's awake
2) Other dogs can be allowed in the bedroom, but they are NOT allowed on the bed
3) Other dogs are NOT allowed to eat out of his food bowl
4) Other dogs are NOT allowed to smell or be too near my stuff, especially if I didn't invite them over

They're not bad rules, I suppose. I'm just always shocked to see when Baxter goes from adorable goof to over protective pup.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jackets

We've covered the fact that my mother is crazy, right? Well, if you're new to the blog, or hopping over from the A to Z Challenge, just trust me. She. Is. Nuts.

With that said, she currently owns three Jack Russels. They're cute, but yappy. They're a fraction of the size Baxter is. (Realistically, they probably weigh as much as one of Baxter's paws). So, of course, they all have jackets for the wintertime. And, really, she tries to dress them whenever she can.

He's all, "they make harnesses my size...
where is my jacket?"
A few years ago, I was so excited. Old Navy's doggie vests were on sale! I grabbed the largest size I could find and headed to my aunt's house. There, Baxter let me trap him. I slid one paw through the hole, and then the other. Then, I sat in front of him to button the clasps...only it was like buttoning a pair of pants after you've put on ten pounds~It felt like if he sucked in, I could get it, but it wouldn't be comfortable.

My hopes were dashed. I let my family see Baxter in his handsome little jacket
(because it matched mine), but returned the vest.

Since that time, every time I shop and stop into the dog food section, I look at the doggie jackets in the fleeting hope that one will fit my 120 pound dog.

Unfortunately, Wal Mart and Target's XL size is "up to 60-75 pounds".

If 60-75 pounds is an XL dog....what is a 120 pound dog?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Identity Crisis

Baxter is the one who kind of put my memoir in motion. More-so, he was the one who told me something was wrong.

Let me back this up a bit. I'm sure you've gathered that he sleeps on my bed every night. And if any of you are familiar with dogs, or wolves, you know that they know female's cycles. It turns out, Baxter was no different.

My period had been late. And I mean, really, really late. I was laying on my back, when Baxter rested his head against my stomach. My heart dropped. He'd never done that before. Suddenly, I stopped waiting. I stopped thinking I was late. He was telling me was I was terrified to know.

In less than a week, I sought an abortion. I laid on the couch crying for weeks until we became homeless, until I got fired from my job, until my entire world fell apart. But he still needed to eat. He still needed to go outside. He forced me into motion when I wanted to give up.

We moved to Maine shortly after.

When we arrived, I was still fresh off a knee surgery, the abortion, uprooting our
One of the first pictures I took
of Baxter in Maine
entire lives. I couldn't breathe. I could barely stand. I felt disgusted with myself, and though through years of depression I'd said I hated myself, I truly, truly, did. Each day that passed, it took every fiber of my being not to hurt myself.

At nights, Baxter would still lay on my bed, but since the days of my pregnancy, he hasn't laid with his head on my stomach.

So, maybe I didn't want to be this person anymore. Maybe I was sick of being miserable, of putting myself in stupid situations, of trusting guys who would leave me when I was pregnant and not call to see if I was okay. Maybe...it was time for me to grow up.

When I'd arrived at the clinic, I wrote my name on a small piece of paper. That was the name they'd called me back by. Every time someone called me by that name, I heard the nurse. How could I escape from that?

And so I did what any insane girl would do. I started giving everyone another name, my middle name. People bought it, no questions asked.

I began to rebuild myself, from the inside out. Each day, I would say, "You're okay, you're okay, you can do this." I tried to be positive. And this month marks the one-year anniversary of my last round of cutting.

Baxter saved my life. He forced me into motion when I wanted to stand still and play dead. No matter what I tell people my name is, he's been there through all of it. He knows me, he accepts me, and he loves me. I've had an identity crisis. Some days, I'm still wondering who I am. But now, thankfully, most days, I feel like I'm on the right path.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Household Hazards

Originally this post was going to be for Home and Hanging Out (but I'm sure you guys have seen enough of those pictures :) ), but I'd rather address something more serious (because I don't typically do that on this blog).

Many of you have expressed that you have pets that you love. But a lot of people don't know that things like onion, or garlic, can poison your pet. Many more don't know that these ingredients are found in canned dog food.

It's a scary world. Most people think "Hey, I can eat this, so my pet can, too." Sometimes that's true. Sometimes it isn't. I lived under that mentality until I obtained a veterinary internship my senior year of college (best idea, EVER. I got to assist in really intense surgeries. Amazing). It changed my life (and got me Pet-First-Aid Certified!)

With that said, I wasn't kidding. Here is a quick list of easy ways to accidently poison your four legged friend:

Baxter saying, "Please don't
feed me these onions"
*Onion~They can't digest it the same way we do. If I remember correctly it does something to their kidneys and liver

*Garlic~People who've been around awhile SWEAR that this acts as a flea and tick repellent. It doesn't. Your doggie's insides can't break garlic down the way we do. They'll eat it because they think it's yummy, but too much and your pup will keel over.

*Grapes~I once made the mistake of forcing my mom's dog to eat this. Years later I discovered it's the same as onion and garlic. Don't feed Fido grapes. Or really, fruit.

*Mouse or Rat poison~My mom's dog once found a container of this and ate the whole thing. Thankfully, we figured out he'd eaten it in time. The vet's pumped him full of charcoal and he was sick for a few days but alive. My father's dog wasn't as lucky, and she died a miserable death. If you have a pet, I understand that mice suck (I've had many die in my room...in my sheets). But try a live trap. #1) That way you're not killing something #2) You're not putting your friend in more danger than necessarily #3) You can release the mouse MILES from your house so (s)he'll never come back.

*Over the counter flea medication~I know it's cheaper than going to your vet, or even using 1-800-pet-meds, but really, please, DON'T use it. They've killed more dogs than the fleas have. And if you have a cat, DOUBLY DO NOT use that crap.

*Pain killers~See above about the mouse poison. It's bad news bears. Sometimes you can rush the dog in, get its stomach pumped, but most times, the owner doesn't know the pup can't digest it. If you're considering this route, TALK TO A VET FIRST, please.

For a more comprehensive list (and kittie geared, too) check THIS out. In the meantime, stay healthy, both you and your pet. Baxter expects a play-date soon. (No really, if you're ever in the area, please hit us up, he'd love it.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Greetings and Goings

So pathetic...
I work two jobs, which means that I'm gone anywhere from 8-12 hours a day (though I'll be back to one job soon enough). Though the boyfriend spends extra time with Baxter and lets him out during his lunch break, Baxter still sits and stares out the window as though the world is ending.

When we lived in North Carolina, I'd drop him off at friend's houses if I knew I'd be working a long shift. When I'd pick him up, they'd say, "I tried all day to get him to eat, or to play with him. But he just sat there and sighed. He was miserable."

As it turns out, there's just no fun left in the world.

But there are two exceptions to the misery rule:

1) When I come home (Greetings).
To Bax, it's like the world is full of dog treats, puppy toys, and canned food. The grass is made of back scratchers, and the trees have all been peed on. There is nothing better than the moment I walk through the door. His entire body wiggles, he pushes all of his weight into my legs, and for the next thirty seconds, I can do nothing but pet him until he deems it safe for me to enter the house.

2) When we get ready to go for a walk (Goings).
 Which is better described in this video. CAUTION: The sound was really messed up, so I'd mute it before I'd watch it. The effect is still the same:
video
Sometimes he gets so excited, he'll rear back like a horse, and kick his front paws in the air. Sometimes, he paws at the door like he's capable of breaking it down (who knows, he may be). It makes it hard to put his leash on, but as soon as it's on, it's go time. He's ready to face the world.

Which reminds me, it's Monday.

Are you ready to face the world? (Happy Monday, we hope your week is awesome!)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Friends and Family

He can make human, or canine friends
The thing about dogs and small children is that they fall in love easily. I remember being at the playground when a little girl, small and blond, just like me, came up. I asked, "Hey, do you want to be friends?" and she said yes. And for that entire day we played on the jungle gym together.

Baxter is kind of the same way. If you pet him the right way, he'll love you for life. I'm pretty sure that by now he's used to moving around a lot and getting his heart broken as we leave, but he still makes friends.

He met Laura as a puppy. He pooed in her yard, probably peed in her apartment, got attacked by her cats. Back then he was small and adorable so the peeing and pooing was (somewhat) excusable. A few years later, we all lived together on and off for about two years. She hated how much he drooled, but when I went to Seattle for PNWA, she took care of him for me.

And then she left North Carolina.

And then we left North Carolina.

Though Baxter and I travelled to Michigan, he didn't get to see Laura (her apartment didn't allow extra pets, plus we were afraid of how the cats would take a 120 lb dog). It's been just about two years since Baxter has seen my sister.

And though it's been awhile, it turns out, he hasn't forgotten her at all:

Think he missed her?
When she got into the car at the airport, he all but mauled her. It was probably one of the cutest and yet most heartbreaking things I'd ever seen. Cute, because it was so very evident that he remembered her, and that he missed her. Heartbreaking, because he truly missed her.

Here's why dogs are better than people:
~They don't get angry when you leave. They're just happy when you return.
~They don't ask for more than you're willing to give. If you don't want them on your lap, you say "Go lay down" and typically it's done.
~They can love you, even if you're not the owner.

So to friends and family near and far, know that Baxter loves and misses you.

And he's patiently awaiting your return.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Everywhere

Traveling to somewhere. He's so ready.
This is not a Michelle Branch song. Baxter has not figured out how to time travel, and literally be everywhere at once (although if he did, that'd be pretty cool).

E is for Everywhere because I try to bring Baxter everywhere. He's traveled to: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, and many states between. He's lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Maine (twice now!), and North Carolina. He's made friends from other countries (including but not limited to: Ecuador and the Phillipines). He goes to New Year's gatherings with me, Thanksgiving feasts with friends, Neon and Glow in the Dark themed proms, and when the job allows it, work. When I do my public speaking gigs at middle schools, he's usually in the backseat.

He isn't afraid of a 14 hour car ride, but with the 18-20 hour rides, he starts getting fussy (still a champ, but more reluctant to get back in the car for awhile).

Waiting for my car to finish with its oil change.
Many of my friends know that if I'm coming, Baxter is, too. Many will already have bowls down on the
ground, one filled with water, and one waiting to be filled with the food that I'll bring. The truth is, I don't like being separated from him. Four years was quite enough, thank you.

However, this traveling can sometimes be problematic. Like that time a deer decided to T-Bone my car, explode the window, rip off my side mirror, and all around jack up my car.

Baxter was in the backseat. his snout was covered in glass. I had glass down my shorts, down the back of my shirt, pretty much everywhere. When I looked, I was grateful that it was my window and not his that had exploded (last time I'd seen him, his face had been pressed against his window).

After the deer accident
All we were trying to do was get some frozen yogurt from the new shop that had opened up. Geeze.

My sister was (thankfully) in the car behind us. After the cop did his report, Laura looked at me and said, "Look, I don't appreciate him drooling all over my car, but I don't want him standing in all that glass, I'll take him home."

Since then, it makes me nervous every time he gets into the car with me because though I can control my driving, I can't control deer, or other drivers, or snowstorms, or falling trees. I limit the times he'll ride with me (if conditions are bad, he stays home and glares at me.) It's already been a bumpy ride for us. I make a silent prayer that the car rides won't make it any bumpier.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Drinking Til You Puke

This might be doggie-flaw week. I really enjoy pointing out all of Baxter's flaws, so you guys truly know what kind of monster he is.

If you guys grew up watching Mortal Kombat, you're told that The Element Which Brings Life is Water. For some reason, Baxter believes this whole heartedly. I understand he's a big dog, so he gets more water than say an ankle biter does, and while he hates rain, and rivers, and oceans, he loves drinking water.

After the Great Baxter Caper, I had to adjust to being a pet parent. I bought toys he hated, treats he refused to eat. For awhile, I always kept his food and water bowls completely full.

Until one day I was sitting around, and I heard the coughing. The coughing turned to gagging. The gag turned into...well, you know.

Every day, it kept happening. So I started paying attention. I learned that he'd only puke after he inhaled lots of water.

Now, my ears are tuned to the sound of him slurping. I usually give him to the count of ten before I say, "Hey." If he starts again, he gets a count of five. People who don't know this about him will stop me and say, "Dude, he's just drinking water."

But they don't understand....if I let it get out of control....
 BAD.NEWS.BEARS.

But thankfully, he usually aims in places that aren't occupied by my clothes, papers, or computer.

A few months ago when we were living in Most Recent Creepy Situation, I came home and there were 2-3 piles of puke on the floor. One of them had splotches of blood in them. I FLIPPED out, and took him to the vet (who we now live next to, literally) the following morning.

"So what's the issue?" the woman asked as she scratched him behind the ears.

"So, he's always been a bit of a puker...but last night..."

In the end, he was okay (just must have eaten something that didn't agree with his tummy), so, I guess I can still love him. Until he decides to run off on me again...



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Cats and Dogs

My good friend's cat and Baxter
I know I gush about how perfect and how smart Baxter is. Most of the time he is. But while I can leave whole pizzas in front of him and walk away, or uneaten tacos, my adorable pup has on weakness: Other Animals. Cats, Dogs, Raccoons ..it doesn't matter, he loves them all and wants to play with them.

We've had instances where we've gone long boarding and a neighbor-dog who is unleashed decides to try to attack the unsuspecting Baxter. I've had Baxter sans leash, and he's come home with scratch marks across his face from the big dark animal he decided to chase for a half mile while I'm running behind him and screaming for him to "Get back here!"

There is no reasoning with him when there is another animal life form around. While the center of his universe usually focuses on me, when there is a meow across the street, or a person walking their dog...I cease to exist in Baxter world. In North Carolina while I was visiting a friend, Baxter saw a small dog across the street, began to run, smashed straight into my legs. It was like a movie, my legs flew over my head, and I pretty much landed on my neck hard enough to knock the wind out of me. I wanted to murder him.

Remember that time the old man exposed himself to me and I got him arrested? Where was Baxter, you
This was his friend he abandoned me for
wonder? Playing with his friend. Then there was that time we moved into the last sketchy place and within the first two days, Baxter managed to tree their cat (I should have known then it'd be trouble).

I love my dog. Really, I do. But sometimes, he's such an idiot, I just want to knock some sense into him. Thankfully, usually after I regain control of the little butthead, I'm able to send him to Time Out, but I feel like that's a post for another day :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Baxter

My family and I always had this belief that you cannot pick a name for a cat or dog, go out, and get a cat or dog and place that name on it. You have to go to the pound (or in this case, go to a Wal Mart parking lot), pick out an adorable puppy, and hang out with him or her for awhile. The pet you get has a name, you just have to be able to find it.

Baxter was no exception. I got him in 2006, just after graduating high school. Like any puppy separated from his brothers and sisters, he craved nearness and warmth, and an obnoxious amount of cuddling. He enjoyed chewing on things (including the photo album my SO at the time put together, and as I screamed at him he peed on the pieces. Ugh. Memories). During this time period movies like Pirate of the Carribean and Anchorman were pretty huge.

"He's pretty spunky," I said to my sisters. "We should name him Jack, like Captain Jack Sparrow."

Laura shrugged. "Maybe Jake, because he's playful."

He was so small and adorable...
What happened??
I shrugged. No matter what we said, the names didn't have the right magic to them. We continued tossing names around before either watching Anchorman, or having someone quote the part where Will Ferrel (spelling error? Too lazy to look up how to spell his name) says, "The bad man punted Baxter!"

The light clicked. At once, we all turned to stare at the small puppy curled in my lap. "Baxter!" we said, cooing his name. There was a faint tail wag. We knew what Baxter's name was.

In time the Baxter proved to be the best name for him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Almost

You make a million decisions on a daily basis. Sometimes, they completely change the direction of your life. Sometimes, it's just figuring out which socks you should wear today. And then sometimes, your decisions not only affect you, but the people around you. So much so, that they decide not to speak to you...for over three years (and counting...).

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!
I spent most of my holiday breaks with my extended family, primarily so I could spend time with Baxter. When I'd walk through the door, he'd tackle me, pin me down, and lay on me for about an hour. It was pathetic and adorable. When I'd leave my aunt would call me and say, "Baxter hasn't left your room. It's been three days. He's not eating. I think he misses you."

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.

"Take him."

He was always so happy to see me
Two days after Thanksgiving, after eating a nice meal with my aunt, I stayed up all night packing my car. Baxter sat at the door as if to say, "Please don't leave me again." His head hung low the entire time. As I sat on the bed with a notebook in my hands, Baxter rested on my lap. I scratched behind his ears, took a deep breath, and began writing the letter that would explain why I was stealing my dog, and that I loved my aunt, and I'm sorry for being selfish.

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
It's been over three years now. My aunt still hasn't spoken to me, and while it hurts, and while I've still sent Christmas cards and letters from time to time, I can't bring myself to regret my decision. Yes, it was selfish. Yes, four years was a long time for him to be in her care.

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.
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