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.


  1. Hey Lynn (Lynne? Wasn't sure),

    Lovely to meet you! I'm a co-participant in the A to Z Challenge and you're after me on the list so I came here. Seems like a lovely little place, so now I'm follwoing you (both here and on Twitter)! ^_^

    My dog is one of the consistently greatest parts of my life. There isn't a single day that isn't made better by his presence so I TOTALLY understand.

    I will ask if you've had any contact at all with your Aunt since this all went down and if, in addition to X-mas cards, you've tried writting letters just to keep them aware that you're still open if they ever decide to reply? Just a thought.

    I'm glad that Baxter's story comes under Almost and not Regret, cause that would be a tragedy.

    Happy A Day!

    1. It's Lynne (but I appreciate that you didn't just go with Lynn and roll with it :) ).

      I've written her some letters here and there, updated her on Baxter or our moves, apologized again, but nothing in response. We had some issues before I decided to take Baxter (in that, she hates my mom), so I think she's decided I'm like my mom and to write me off...

      I, too, am glad it's an almost and not a regret. My life is infinitely better because of him (like today, we took a three hour nap together :) )

  2. When I moved to CA, I had to leave my dog at home with my parents. He didn't eat for weeks and was depressed for over a year. I've often wondered if it would have been better if I'd brought him with me, but I think, actually, not. He's gone, now, and I still miss him. Thankfully, I have a great dog again.

    1. It is a really hard decision to make. I'm sorry he's gone now :( Truly, that's always hard, but yay for new doggies!

  3. Oh, Baxter! I love this dog, too, and I don't even know him. Seriously, I love your posts about him. Am so happy you guys found each other :).
    Ninja Girl

    1. You'll need to check out tomorrow's post: Baxter as a puppy picture :)

  4. I don't have a dog myself, it must have been tough to leave him, but I understand your concern for your aunt too.

    Shame there wasn't another solution.

    1. I agree, but in the end, I really do think I made the right decision. If you ever have the time (or energy!) I highly encourage dog-getting. They're amazing.

  5. Sorry she still isn't talking to you. Baxter seems like he's in a good place and very happy. ;)

    1. Thanks, and I like to think he's in a good place. Except when he gets into the trash...then he goes into time

  6. You did the right thing for Baxter, obviously, even if your Aunt has a hard time seeing it. Great story, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for your support. Sometimes, I still question it though...but I'm happy he's in my life

  7. Ahhh. I want to meet Baxter someday. :)

    My dog is about 16 years old. We've had her about 13 years now or so. Yes, she's half deaf, and quite a bit more jumpy thanks to the kids, but she still runs runs runs. Sometimes I can't believe how old she is.

    1. I love that the kids make her jumpy :) And I hope I get to meet you someday! (I forget we haven't met in real life!)


Please know that if you comment and I don't respond, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't have wifi, but I do have a bad memory.

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