Baxter was one of a kind. I say that with a wink and knowing smile, because I will be the first to admit he was not a very good dog. He bit people, screamed instead of barked, was stubborn as hell and ruined many, many a rug in his time. But he was such a good boy. He had a human quality to him, an understanding and ability to sense things most dogs didn’t. I swear he could read my mind. I’d silently hide his heartworm pill in a big piece of chicken in another room- feed him non-medicated pieces and then when I’d pick up the one with the pill in it he’d look at me, turn his head and RUN. It was uncanny. He also gave the very best hugs. Like, real hugs with his scrawny little legs wrapped around your neck. He’d turn his head almost completely sideways if we told him he was going to Nana’s house (his favorite) and wag his tail and make these little monkey noises of happiness. So with the bad, was the good. As is with all of us.
Bax had pretty severe anxiety, and if anyone understood that it was me. He had his own Xanax prescription (that we had to have compounded into liquid, chicken flavor form because of the above mentioned ESP with pills). He hated going for walks, but loved a good party at the house. He didn’t want to be touched, unless he really wanted to be touched and then he wouldn’t get off your lap. He once ate an entire block of cheddar cheese off the coffee table, but also was literally a bag of bones covered in fur and could go days without touching his food (and yet once chewed a bottle of Ambien in HALF and ate two, resulting in a stomach pump). He loved me to death, but I also would have to wear oven mitts to get him out from under the bed to go to the vet, lest he rip my hands off. He was a dog of many contradictions.
He was also all about the DRAMA. And I get this too, as I too can have a flair for the…uh…. theatrical. One time I couldn’t find him after coming home from running errands in our JP condo, and after looking for half an hour everywhere, I called Andrew in tears and told him Baxter had been dognapped. He was absolutely NO WHERE in the condo. He was like, who would want to kidnap Baxter he’s such a punk? And I yelled ” He sits in the window all day and is SO HANDSOME! Of course someone would take him!” Andrew came home and after about an hour of looking I finally discovered him INSIDE a black suitcase under the guest bed, just chilling. I was both irate and relieved. And then a couple summers ago he escaped from the yard and went on a 6 hour walkabout in Newton on a 95 degree day. Henry was a baby, and I was a mess- actually a bunch of followers in IG helped me find him and went out in their cars looking for him. I kept getting messages from people like “He’s by Pure Barre!” “He just ran through the five way intersection in the Center!” “He’s being chased by a cop down Hammond Pond Parkway!” . I was convinced he was a goner after several hours, but decided to put Henry in the stroller and go look one more time before dark and as I turned around from strapping Henry in, there was Baxter. Trotting up the driveway like nothing had happened. That dog literally drove me nuts. We were certain Henry’s first words were going to be “Shut the f*ck up Baxter!” ;)
When I was pregnant with Henry I was legitimately worried I could never love a child as much as I loved Baxter and Oliver (even Oliver had a rough start when he joined the family as I had such a bond with Baxter). And while I obviously learned that you CAN love children more than dogs, he WAS my first baby. The first thing to teach me about truly unconditional love and in a way prepared me for motherhood. He was there for me through lots of trials and tribulations with all my pregnancies- lied in bed with me while I cried and healed over losses, and learned to love (ok, perhaps simply tolerate) Henry and eventually Emma too.
The past 6 months he became a different dog though. He spent most of the day sleeping under the bed, he lost half his body weight, his liver and kidneys were failing, he was losing vision, acted very disoriented a lot and was in a diaper. But we just could NOT bring ourselves to put him down until this week. He just seemed miserable and lost. And while he was still eating and sometimes coming out to say hi, I knew he wasn’t happy. But nothing could have prepared me for the gut wrenching process yesterday. The sedative either made him feel really strange or he was dreaming, but he started crying so loudly as he laid there until they gave him his overdose. It was truly traumatic, a noise I will never forget. And it made us really sad and feel like he was scared. It wasn’t the way I had wanted his last moments to be. But I was holding his head and kissing him and telling him he was such a good boy and I loved him and I hope that’s all he heard.
Henry took the news incredibly well, I think the fact the Baxter was reclusive the past few months probably helped create some emotional distance. But just this morning when leaving for school he looked at the leashes in the mudroom and said “But Mommy, we still have two?” He’s also very concerned about Oliver and how much he’ll miss his brother. He’s such a sweet kid, and so emotionally intelligent. Loss is such a hard lesson for us all and I’m so proud of him- and I’m proud of all of us for doing the hard but humane thing, and also for loving Baxter for so long (almost 15 years). We all have our quirks, contradictions and difficulties, but that doesn’t make us any less lovable if we’re pure of heart. Baxter taught us that. We are so grateful you were ours, Bubs- and we will miss you always.
What a beautiful tribute to Baxter. It is so hard to let honor our furry family members.
Erin, I’m so very sorry for you and your families’s loss- Our family has too lost our beloved Golden – last week-who has been in our family for 11 years. It’s been awfully sad and has created a hole in our hearts as our ‘khaki” was the kindest most gentle “bad” dog too. She would take and eat whole loaves of bread out of the pantry, (so many times I’ve lost count) get in the neighbors trash continuously but oh how we miss her!
I hope it was cathartic for you to write a lovely tribute like this. It was his time and what a wonderful, crazy life you shared. Thank you for sharing this all of us with dog – children too!
What a good boy-I’m sorry for your loss. ❤️
A beautiful tribute. 😭 So sorry for your loss.
Love this and so understand all of your feelings. We had a golden for 14 years and I loved her as much as I loved a person. It was the most traumatic thing to put her down. We had a little funeral for her and buried her on a friend’s land with her tennis balls and some flowers. I cried for days. Hoping you don’t, but wishing you and your family the best as you get through Baxter’s loss. xxoo
Such beautiful words- so sorry for your loss.
Beautifully written, thank you for sharing and hope you guys give yourselves time to heal.
Oh hugs – this is the very hardest, but also most loving part of pet ownership. I went through it with my “heart dog” my first baby, the one I had pre IVF, pre baby, all the way through all the ups and downs – in mid 2020. And just like Oliver, when my Samson made the turn and no longer had any joy for life, I knew. You have written such a lovely tribute to a very good dog.
Beautiful tribute. Our dogs bring much joy and friendship to our lives. Baxter was one of a kind. May I ask, What breed was he?
He was one of a kind! Thinking of you and your family during such a hard time.
Oh Erin,I’m crying and feel so sad for you. My little fellow (Henry) sounds a lot like Baxter. He too has anxiety, Is as stubborn as all get out, as smart as a whip, as cute as can be, wants cuddles constantly and he loves me to bits. He also bites me for no apparent reason at least once a week, shocks the heck out of me every time! He has never bitten anyone else! What the heck? He is quite a personality, is a pain in the ass often and I don’t know how I will go on without him if something were to happen. I am with you in your grief, he was your baby and you loved him very much. Take the time you need to grieve him, both you and he are worth it. Much love.
Heart-wrenching. Sending love to your family! 😂
Oh god I sent the wrong emoji. Meant to send ❤️
What an absolutely beautiful tribute. Had me laughing and crying. Thank you. Godspeed Baxter.
I am so sorry. You do not ever know how hard it will be until it’s your beloved dog. I know. You have such a gift for writing…just enough detail, just enough emotion, and just enough humor. Rest In Peace sweet Baxter.
So sad to hear about Baxter.It sounds like he led a very happy life,the way he wanted to.We just put our 13 year old granddog black Lab,Maggie.She had the sweetest disposition, just a mellow loving big dog. It was gut-wrenching to put her to sleep. She went in my grandson’s arms.He said it was torture for him,but he did it for Maggie.I have to stop because I’m crying now. It’s amazing how much one can love a dog.
Erin, been following your blog. So sorry for your loss , honey. I’m sure Baxter had a wonderful life with you and was lucky ! With care-filled thoughts
I’m so sorry for your lost. Our animals certainly are ours forever and ever!
So good that you were there with him right until the end. So many people leave for that part so you should find peace in knowing that you – the one he loved most – was there for him right until the end. I’m sure that brought him comfort. You should also be proud of how well Henry handled the loss. We can’t shield our children from pain and loss but he’s clearly learned how to cope. That ‘s one of the greatest gifts we can give our children because life, unfortunately, is full of it. Those who learn how to ride out the challenges of life will, in the long run, be the happiest. I hope all of the god memories of Baxter will bring you comfort in the days to come.
What a lovely tribute ❤️I’m thinking of you and your family.
I laughed, I cried, and I related to all you said because my first cat was very similar to Baxter. Thanks for sharing this beautifully written tribute to yourr boy….
Such a beautiful tribute to Baxter—so very sorry for your loss
A lovely tribute for your special “baby”💙.
What a wonderfully written tribute to Baxter. Thank you for sharing it. I was laughing and crying at the same time. I have my own Baxter named Pippa and wouldn’t trade her for anything g in the world!
I am so , so sorry for you lose. I know all too well the heartbreak. You are so lucky to have had him for almost 15 years and he lucky to have had you. Dogs are such amazing animals. He will forever be a part of your heart and your family. I hope you find peace in knowing that. xo
I had to put down my Dixiebelle after Thanksgiving. She was 14.5 yrs. English Springer Spaniel. The hardest thing to do. I was not prepared for how difficult it is. I’m not even one of those dog crazy people but I loved that pretty girl. And yes, they do teach you unconditional love. We loved her good and she loved us too!
I am so very sorry for your loss.
I’m so sorry for your loss, and let you know how incredibly brave it was to stay til the end of Baxter’s life. I couldn’t do that with my dogs that I’ve had to put to sleep. I wanted to remember while they were still breathing. I don’t have children, but I totally understand when you say Baxter KNEW what you were telling him, I feel the same with my Daisy.
This is such a beautiful post! You absolutely did the right thing for your precious Baxter. We have had to do this several times and it is so incredibly hard.
Well, I’m sobbing. This was beautiful and he is so very handsome! Very sorry for you and your family’s loss. 💔
So very sorry for the loss of your little Buns. The hardest thing in the world in making the decision to let them go but it also the kindest. I am also sorry it was so traumatic, I am sure that all he heard was you telling him that you loved him. Take care of yourself.
A beautiful post and wonderful tribute to a good boy. Much love and many condolences to all of you. XXO
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” Anonymous. XO
The post so many of us relate to. These little people become such a huge part of our hearts. You were lucky to have known him. Lucky to have loved him. And so very brave to let him go when it was his time.
Erin, what a lovely tribute to Baxter. It is the hardest decision to make, our dog will be 16 next month. The biggest issue is the incontinence and chronic UTI’s. She gets my husband up in the middle of the night and so he gets short on sleep during the work week which puts stress on both of us. She stills eats pretty well but we had to start ordering The Farmers Dog over a year ago because she would not eat anything else. Continues to go for walks just not as far and is super slow. But she still enjoys rolling in the grass, and does an occasional zoomie. I am dreading what is coming and I think once they become unhappy or miserable it’s definitely time.
Beautifully written, Erin. I am so glad you were brave enough to hold him until he passed. My vet friend says that’s who the fur baby wants to be with, not a stranger (vet staff).
So so sweet. Well said Erin. When I got both my little puppies, I looked at them and said “You will break my heart one day.” And the first one did and the second one definitely will. Such is love and grief. Any baby who is well loved will also be well grieved. Peace to your heart.
What a honest and beautiful tribute for Baxter. I am so sorry for your loss.
Oh Erin this is such a beautiful tribute. You’re a wonderful writer. I laughed and felt sad at your wonderful portrayal. I’m so sad for you that his last day was hard. I have been there too and it is gut wrenching. Sending my condolences and a big hug. I’ve had to let a couple of my fur babies go and it leaves an aching hole in your heart for a long long time. Xo Terri (love and read all your posts but seldom comment – a major fan of your work and love your writing and style).
I’m in tears reading this…I’m sorry for the trauma you experienced. Your love for him quirks and all is special. He will not be forgotten. Xx
Heart wrenching, but also so beautiful.
I am so sorry for your loss and Baxter’s passing. Dogs are definitely family members and we love them very much. Baxter was so lucky to have you love him, care for him, understand him. He’s crossing the rainbow bridge probably screaming, not barking, for joy to see lots of pals to play with. Sending you best wishes from Australia, where we love dogs unconditionally too. Warmest, Penelope
So precious. I have a bad dog but a good girl. I know the feeling and I’m so so sorry. xo
As someone who lost their infertility dog (over 12 years ago now and I still mourn for him), I completely understand. My 17-yo son has finally given up trying to convince me that he’s my first baby, but he sure was offended as a toddler by the fact that it was my Guinness, always. My first dog, an irrational and complete bond. I get it, and I’m so sorry for you and your family.
Gosh. This made me cry. I have a dog we love like a child, and kids who sometimes feel like puppies.
I’m sorry he cried out, maybe he was trying to hold on for you. Hold onto to this life.
It is the saddest part about having a pet, it ends too quickly.
Oh Erin…I am so sorry. This was such a beautiful tribute to Baxter. It is so hard to let them go. But it’s the price we pay for the love they give us. He will be waiting you for you at the Rainbow Bridge.
It’s the worst, just the worst thing ever! Sending dog kisses and hugs to you and your family. Better was a lucky guy! ❤️🐶
Boy, if that didn’t hit close to home & heart…after 20 years & still missing our Toi…I know we, and, you did the “right thing.” He was our Toi foe 13 years & forever friend. franki
Oh, I am so sorry for this loss for all of you. This is so hard I know. I gasped when I saw Baxter’s picture…we have a grand dog named Tucker and he could be your Baxter’s twin, right down to the little white beard! We always laugh at him, because his eyes are as black as his fur and are hard to see at times.
One of my favorite posts from you. I can totally relate, especially the “Shut the f*ck up Baxter!” I’ve always appreciated your frankness and humor. Thank you!
Eating lunch on a break from walking the floor at KBIS and fighting back tears! I have had, and currently have, my own “Baxters”, your post hit close to home on every level Very beautifully and accurately said. RIP Baxter and so sorry for your loss!
💔What a beautiful tribute to your baby.
So very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet boy.
So so sorry to read about Baxter’s last days and your trauma. They ARE family and it hurts to let them go no matter how irritating those last few moths or days can be. But one thing reading this post did was realize how wonderful a writer you are! Sorry it took me so long!!!!
What a beautiful tribute to your first baby! I’m so very sorry for your loss.
I haven’t even read this yet but already have tears down my face. Much love to Baxter’s entire family at this time.
Holding you in the light.
We lost our Jack Russell after 19 years a couple years ago. I really relate to what you’ve posted. They leave lasting pawprints on our hear forever so we can always remember the good times.
Oh Erin <3 I too just put down my first "baby," our senior chihuahua, and it was heartbreaking, almost exactly like what happened with Baxter. My heart is with you during this tough time.
Such an endearing tribute. I’m sorry for your loss ❤️.
So sorry for the list of your sweet boy
This made me cry. A wonderful tribute to Baxter. So sorry for your loss and pain.
A beautiful tribute. ❤️
I’m so sorry for your loss. This brought me right back to losing my own. Thinking of you all.
Such a beautiful tribute to your special Baxter. The lessons he taught and the love he brought will stay with you forever. How awesome that he found the perfect person to spend his life with.
I’m so sorry, my dog is quirky too so I relate so well to this. It’s such a difficult loss; you were lucky to have each other. xoxo
Really sweet and lovely 🥰 My heart goes out to you, a difficult experience as pets are most definitely members of our family!
As the friend I feel like you are, I’m crying with you again as I have done before after reading one of your posts (both happy and sad tears in the past). We said goodbye to our first puppy baby a few months ago, and I still cry for her almost daily. My heart aches for you to be going through that same loss now. Personally, I would rather wallow than be comforted, so I’ll just say that I’m thinking about you and your family, and no judgment if you want to look at pictures of Baxter every day and cry.
So very sorry for the loss of your beloved Baxter. I’ve been through this, too, and it’s never easy. 💖
Sending you lots of love. ❤️❤️❤️
Well said on so many levels. I’m very sorry for your family’s loss of Baxter ❤️
I’m so sorry for your loss. Beautiful words for your sweet Bax.
What a beautiful tribute. I’m sorry for your loss.