This has been a long time coming.
I should actually be somewhat ashamed of myself that I’ve had this blog for a year now and haven’t written anything committed to my best friend in the universe.
The time has come to end this travesty. Today I commend my little friend here, Mr Baxter. He likes scotch, and…just kidding.
About five years ago I was living alone in West Virginia working for Liberty Mutual. It was an awesome job for a recent college graduate. Good money, great upward mobility, outstanding company. But West Virginia, no offense of course, was a bit of a culture shock for me. There wasn’t that big city feel I was used to coming straight out of what we called the “Vanderbubble” in downtown Nashville. So I basically had no life. I was living to work, not working to live.
Then one day my manager, who to this day is still my favorite boss (no offense again of course), asked me after a long day what I did after the office shut down. We were standing in the parking lot, chatting after a long Friday afternoon. That question resonated with me, because I realized I was living like a robot. My life was essentially wake up, work, watch TV, sleep. It was empty. So she made a joke. She said “you know what you need? Someone that loves you when you come home. And that could be one of two things….a girlfriend, or a dog.”
Now obviously she was joking. But I thought about that comment a lot that evening, and I realized how true it was. I was living alone and had absolutely no companionship. Which, according to my interpersonal communications professor at Vandy, is one of the core requirements of a happy life.
So that weekend, I made a big decision. I drove to the good ole Milton, WV flea market, and looked for pups. If you aren’t familiar with the area, the Milton flea market was one of WVs big weekend getaways. All the cool stuff went down there. And there was an entire elongated tent set up for animal adoptions. So in I went, not having a clue what I was looking for other than a sidekick.
Walking through the tent, there was breeder upon breeder – I mean they were literally everywhere. Imagine a huge, white tent, open on all ends like those 4th of July tents, only bigger. Then insert the image of like, thousands of little doggies running amuck. That was my sea of options.
Okay, maybe they weren’t running amuck, but still. You get the point. There were a LOT of pups. I learned so much that day as I waltzed through the various booths and cages. Hyper vs hypo allergenic, big dog habits, little dog habits, girl dog habits, boy dog habits, you name it. I probably could have applied to the AKC as a puppy judge with all the knowledge I left with after that day.
It was a wonderful experience. Dogs are the best. I think we can all agree on that. After walking through the entire tent, satisfied I had seen all of my options (I promised myself I’d see them all before committing to one), I wanted to let fate dictate who was coming home with me.
And then something happened that would forever change my life.
I made one last walk through the center of the tent, hoping that I would just click with one of the little things. You know, that feeling that it’s just…right. I had almost reached the end of the tent before catching a glimpse in my peripheral of this little, itty bitty group of puppies that were SO energetic. I had been there quite awhile, so the fact that these little guys still had all this energy peaked my interest, since I’m a similar type. So I walked over to the knee high, chicken-wired cage where five tiny mini scnauzer puppies were being kept. Three were an off gray, one black, and one white. They were all up and at it, scattering about their wood chipped floor trying to play with the people watching them. But there was one that stood out. The black one. I don’t know how to describe it, but there was a connection I felt.
He didn’t even run up to me immediately, like the others did. As I walked up to the fence, I remember kneeling down. All four of his siblings sprinted toward me to see who the new human was. But he stood back, cocked his head, and looked right at me. It was almost like he was studying me. I remember looking at him, eye to eye, for about eight seconds. He then tried to sprint toward me, spinning his tires in the wood chips for a moment, before trying to launch himself out of the cage toward me.
That was the moment I knew I found my best friend.
After seeing this happen, the breeder walked over and did his whole pitch (all he saw was a price tag, unfortunately). Mini schnauzers are great, smart, yada yada yada. What he said didn’t matter. I knew I had my dog.
So after picking him up and playing with him for a few minutes I looked at the prices. The gray ones were $400, but the black and white ones were $500.
Naturally I was like wtf? Why is he more expensive than the others? The guy told me that solid colors were “more desirable”. Whatever. So I paid for the little guy, bought a leash and some dog stuff (since I obviously didn’t have anything) and took off.
Now, five years later, I can say with absolute, unequivocal confidence that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. Baxter has been with me through everything. A string of girlfriends, different career paths, an ever changing group of personal relationships, everything. And he has always maintained the best, lovable, personality that he had from day one. He and I have the best relationship I’ve ever had, save my mother. He gets along with everyone and everything, and is always willing to make new friends. He truly is the perfect sidekick for my life.
So here’s to you, buddy. I love you more than your little doggy brain can comprehend, and I have to thank you for always being by my side no matter what.
You’re the best, Mr Baxter.