Baxter Deez, January 1995-May 13, 2009

We had Baxter put to sleep this afternoon.

She was a remarkable dog. As my brother and sister-in-law pointed out, she was the dog who inspired other people to adopt dogs, the dog who was loved even by people who don't like dogs. And not just people--she was Friend to All Cats. She had a virtually infallible technique for getting cats to like her, which involved patience and avoiding eye contact while sidling closer and closer to them. She was much beloved by all the cats who've ever come through our household, including more than one rip-snorting feral cat.

She used to chase after squirrels at top speed, faster even than much lither breeds, and she loved swimming. Lakes were her favorites, but if you were on a walk and she saw a particularly deep puddle, she'd be happy to plop down in the middle of it and bury her snout halfway, like an alligator. She'd grab a long stick in the yard and run around with it, tearing her head violently from side to side, breaking its spine.

She was a smart dog, too--smart enough that we had to start spelling "walk" around her because if she heard the word mentioned even in a casual way, she'd get very excited. And then we had to stop spelling it, because she figured out what "W-A-L-K" meant. For some reason she never did understand what "taking a stroll" meant, though, so we stuck with that.

She knew a lot of commands. She could "Go get Walter," "go get Alison," "go get your hedgehog," or do a down stay in front of a store or coffee shop indefinitely. People were often impressed--and rightly so--with how well behaved she was.

She was my companion when I couldn't sleep at night, my housemate when Biffle was in grad school, my bodyguard when we lived in sketchy parts of town. She was in our wedding. She would have been at Maybelle's birth if things had worked out like we planned.

She's been part of our family for fourteen years. For the last few years she's been able to do fewer and fewer of the things she loved, as she's gotten stiffer and more arthritic and lost muscle tone in her back legs. She's been taking expensive doggy Vioxx for the last several years, which has helped with the pain but hasn't eliminated it. She hasn't been able even to scratch her own ears for recent months, and Biffle and I have had to do that for her. She took a turn for the worse over the weekend, and it became clear to us that her quality of life was no good.

I realized today that I haven't been away from her more than a few weeks for fourteen years. I don't know what my life is going to be like without her.


Meghann said...

Alison, Walter, Maybelle:

I am so, so sorry for the loss of such a great dog.

I have to admit, I'm welling up a bit at work, both because of how much I adored Ms. Baxter and because it was only a few weeks ago that we had to put one of our own to sleep.

Love to you all, xx

The Mom said...

Alison, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful spirit. As you know, I was one of those who didn't particularly like dogs until you got Baxter. My heart is hurting for you, sweetheart. I bet you'll feel her near you, though, and I know she'll live on in your heart as Hugo does in mine. I love you all, too.

Kevin O'Mara said...

Reading this makes me so sad. I loved the Deez so hard - though I knew that I could never have a dog as good as her. She was an inspiration to all dogs, if they were smart enough to pay attention.

Fourteen years was a great run, and I'm glad she made it that long. I'm glad I got to see her over Christmas.

I want to say, "bye bye, Baxter" but then I get the mental image of her walking away and I don't like that at all.

I miss Baxter already.

The Dad said...

Alison, Walter

This is truly sad. We knew it was coming but doesn't make it much easier. We have her picture on our mantel when she was younger and all ears.

She is always going to be near you in your memory (and because her fur is going to be in your house forever). Hug Walter, Maybelline and Benya Bo.

The Dad

Jen H. said...

So sorry to hear of your family's loss - I remember Baxter's presence during many good times at Vandy - including a vagina cookie making party!

Alexandrialeigh said...

So sorry to hear this, Alison. Your last post about wondering how much more time you'd have with her really touched me -- I sit here surrounded by my 6-year-old golden mix, my 5-year-old golden mix, and our fostered 2-year-old Beagle mix, and I just hope we've got at least another six years with them. You must feel lucky to have had such a great dog; I'm sure she felt lucky to have you, too.

Jims said...

One of my best memories involving Baxter was the time I house-sat for you and you explained that there was a special stick of butter to dredge Baxter's pills in so that she would take them. Dogs who have their pills dredged in butter have lived very good lives.

Agrado said...

:( I just got my very own dog and your last post about Baxter made me think about my Maude. I hope I get 14 great years with her too. Baxter was a great dog and I'm so sorry for your loss. She had the best life any dog could ever wish for. - Ula

ariel said...

R.I.P. Baxter. We will all miss her and cute ears.

Kenneth said...

I'm so sorry. She was lovely.

mary said...

i was just thinking of my funny deez memories. i remember when aaron and i would stay over in nashville around christmas for the party and we had made sausage balls and left to go see a movie or something. the sausage balls were out on a rack to cool next to the sink.
when we came home we found a verrry guilty looking baxter and about 3/4 of the batch gone.
she was so funny!

Pam said...

I'm sorry.

These dogs, they're such amazing creatures. All of them. I'm glad that they like people. In that sense, I suppose we're all very lucky.

Biffle said...

she ate an entire cake one time, too. she was very good at looking guilty, though.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alison, I'm so, so sorry to read this. Baxter was such a sweet-spirited, beautiful girl.

My thoughts are with you & Walter


Christie Bates McKaskle said...

Oh, Alison ~

I am so sorry for the loss of Baxter, and hope to get to speak to you in the next day or two.

I am also looking forward to seeing you early in the week. When do you arrive?

Anonymous said...

Alison and Walter, I'm so sorry for your loss. Baxter was one of the Great Dogs of the world, and I esteemed her greatly. I only wish to meet her like again in this lifetime.


Syd said...

I'm sorry about Baxter. I have a nearly 15 year old Labrador that is my heart dog. I know that some day soon I'll need to make that same decision. It is never easy.

Elizabeth Schlaeger said...

Alison and Walter - I haven't had a lot of time to keep up with your blog the last few months, and just tonight read about Baxter. I remember when ya'll got her. I have a picture of her in my office, actually. I guess it's been about that time - I had to put Lucky down at the end of August, and then had to put Lucy down about 3 weeks ago.

I think about Ursa from time to time with great fondness, and Baxter will join that rank.

Love to you,

- b