Since this little man is my beloved Valentine this year, I thought I’d share a little about how he came into my life.
In 2005 I lost my my last dog to cancer. It broke my heart and took me almost 3 years to work up the courage to get another dog. I knew I couldn’t get a beagle again, it was just too hard for me, and I wanted a running partner so I set my heart on a Lab. For my birthday in 2008 I told my Mom that I was finally ready to get a dog again and that in lieu of presents, I was accepting donations to the ‘Puppy Fund’. I also told her that I was 100% certain I wanted a Chocolate Lab Puppy.
At the time I was living in an apartment that charged about $1000 pet deposit plus another $35 each month as pet rent so I needed a little upfront money. Since I wasn’t expecting to actually get the dog for another few months, I didn’t tell anyone else about wanting a dog.
Less than a week later I received an email from a good friend asking me to pass along some info about a dog that needed a home. He had sent it to me as an after thought, not knowing that I wanted a dog, just knowing that I loved pictures of cute puppies.
This little one needed a home.
So a week after deciding that I wanted to get a chocolate lab puppy, one showed up in my email inbox. It’s funny how things work out. Another family was originally going to take him, but the father lost his job so they decided against getting a dog. The mommy dog had accidently stepped on the puppy’s leg and broke it which is why he was in a cast. Within about an hour, I had agreed to get the puppy.
At the end of May 2008 I brought Baxter home. He was 3.09 lbs with dagger nails and teeth. His eyes were an amazing blue, he had no hair on his belly and didn’t yet know how to pant. I honestly don’t know how old he was. I was told 8 weeks, and he was the runt, but he seemed more like 4-6 weeks old.
I took him to the pet store on the first night and the only collar that would fit him was a tiny pink kitten collar.
He kissed up to my parents that first weekend, falling asleep in their arms and fitting into the palm of my dads hands.
“Oh yeah, I’ve got them wrapped around my little bitty paws!”
In the coming weeks he perked up and developed his incredibly playful personality. Even now, almost 4 years later, he still things he’s 3 months old and 10 lbs.
I may have annoyed him with the camera more than once…
I wish he would have stayed this size, I believe he was about 15 lbs here…
As he was getting bigger we made many trips to dog beach (it’s the thing I miss most about having moved inland)…
…but he’ll live with dancing in the sprinklers until I can get him to the beach again.
He loves his walks, but I learned the hard way he wasn’t the greatest running partner. He likes to find big sticks and smack me in the back of the legs with them.
“Go FASTER Mom!” He’s such a drill sergeant.
At the apartment, my couch was right next to my desk. He used to sit like this all the time.
…and he’d sit like this if I wasn’t paying attention to him.
It took till about 3 years old for him to calm down and turn into ‘America’s Favorite’ dog breed.
Up until then, he often spent his time like this…
He did all of that while I was taking a shower one day. He shredded mail, packages, trash, magazines, then found the empty food bag.
I cleaned up…he took a nap. He has such a tough life.
So that’s my little Valentine. In the past 3 1/2 years he’s gained about 90 lbs and while he’s calmed down, he still has the same playful personality he did at 3 lbs. He still thinks he can fit in my lap and that I should carry him down the stairs. Big baby.
In honor of Baxter, my puppy Valentine, I took the money I would normally spend on a Valentine gift and put together a doggie donation package for my local animal shelter. Animal shelters often need the basics to take care of the animals that come in on a daily basis. A lot of people will bring in food, treats, unused leashes/crates, cash donations. All of which are GREAT. However, I decided to fill a few other needs for them and put together a package of towels, rope toys, dish soap & laundry detergent. You can get a list of needed items directly from your local shelter.
It seems odd to include dish soap and detergent in a donation for animals, but we forget that the shelter often needs these things to keep food dishes and bedding clean. Hopefully it helps, ever if only a little bit, so that my local shelter can keep doing great things by taking care of these amazing animals.