Baxter’s Humble Beginnings

A lot of you have been following Baxter since he has been in my home, and many of you knew him from his stay at Jasmine’s House. A few of you even knew him when he was at MCHS. If you haven’t been following him since day one, it’s hard to appreciate how far he has come – even for me. He may seem like your average happy-go-lucky pibble, but his story started much differently than that.

I mentioned in my initial post about Baxter that he had a rough past. He came in to the shelter in June as a stray, like many other dogs do. He, however, was different. Half of his body was bald, and he had wounds all over his head and back. He was so scared he wouldn’t even walk – he only crawled and cowered. People had to carry him to and from his kennel to go outside. He was unsure about humans, but you could tell he wanted so bad to get affection. Once he realized we meant no harm, he would find shelter and comfort in the arms of those who offered it.

He didn't even want to walk when he first got to MCHS. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

A lot of this isn't the wounds, it's just the mange. Still hurts my heart. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Because of how sweet and shy he was, many people at the shelter took a special liking to Baxter. We have lots of extremely dedicated volunteers who care deeply for our animals, and one special volunteer seemed to take Baxter under his wing. “Big Bruno”, as he is called, went out of his way to get to know Baxter while he was at the shelter. He and the rest of the kennel staff and volunteers helped Baxter find more trust in humans, which let him grow emotionally stronger.

Terrified Bax, but you can still see a little tail wag there. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Big Bruno took a video of Baxter when he was at the shelter. I had seen it a few times over the summer, before I ever knew Baxter personally. Now, after bringing this dog into my home and my heart, this video is hard for me to watch. To see Baxter so scared, looking so neglected; it breaks my heart into a million pieces. Luckily there is a happy ending. Here is the video.

Despite the extra love and TLC MCHS’s staff and volunteers were pouring out to Baxter, it was clear the shelter environment was no good for him. A few foster homes fell through, and finally Jasmine’s House stepped up to take on this “project” dog and all of his emotional and physical baggage. For that, I thank them from the bottom of my hearts.

Baxter’s baldness turned out to be Demodex mange, something easily treated. Slowly his wounds healed and his hair started to grow back. As his health bounced back, so did his confidence and appreciation for people. A few months went by and he still had the “I have to get to know you before I love on you” attitude, and that was what I was expecting when I went to visit him for the first time at Jasmine’s House. Instead, I got a bouncing, waggy, biggest-smile-ever pit bull scrambling to kiss my face. Can you say “pleasantly surprised”? CK Bax had come a long way from the thin, mangy dog he walked into MCHS as.

Baxter showed us all how resilient he is when he left his past behind him and learned how to be a dog again. With every milestone – being comfortable with strangers, learning to not be terrified of the car, mastering the stairs – he exemplifies the ability that dogs have to move forward, move on, and forget the past. I think as humans, most of us want to be able to do this: live only in the present moment without bearing the burden of the past. It’s a lesson we should all take from our dogs.

Comeback Kid Baxter isn’t named “Comeback Kid” for nothing; he truly overcame whatever dark upbringing he had and is now a shining monument to underdogs everywhere. And now…. he is happy. He is confident. He is outgoing.  He is a love bug. He is a goofball. Most of all, he is ready for his forever home!

Conquering the Stairs.

** First, a fostermom moment: Baxter has officially learned sit! He didn’t know it when he first got here (or at least pretended not to) and now he does it perfectly! Every time he sits on command – especially for other people – my heart just bursts! I know it’s a really small thing but I am just so proud of my little bugger! Now on to our regularly scheduled programming…**

Like many other dogs who got the short end of the socialization stick in their early years, Comeback Kid Baxter can be understandably a little weary of new situations. One new situation that he didn’t exactly embrace with open paws? Stairs.

Now if you think about it from a dog’s point of view, stairs can certainly be quite scary. They are little zig zagging floors that lead to the depths of WHO KNOWS WHERE. Baxter will follow me all over the house, only to stop dead in his tracks when I head down the stairs. This has been a little inconvenient, as I live in the basement and any time I want to go to my room Bax won’t follow. I resorted to the solution for all things Baxter: food!

Baxter is extremely food motivated, which makes training him not only easy, but also really fun. Check out how this exercise went (and yes this was real first attempt!):

The bait: kibble. On every single step.

There ya go, Bax. Not too hard.

Half way there. Will he turn around!?

I'd bet money that he won't be able to resist that big victory pile at the bottom...

Success!!! Good boy Bax.

Then of course he turned right around and trotted back up the stairs. See ya! I figured I should be happy with that and was ready to call it a day. Until I heard…

The pitter patter of little paws slinking back down the stairs. Baxter’s good old love for food brought him back to investigate if there were any missing pieces. He walked up and down and up and down – so many times that he completely forgot why he was ever afraid!

Now Bax trots up and down the stairs fearlessly with ease, and he and I can hang out in my room worry free (which clearly CK Bax embraced quickly).

More CK Bax!

So Comeback Kid Baxter took the liberty of introducing himself on Sunday, and I’m here now to share a little bit more about this sweet boy.

Baxter came to the Montgomery County Humane Society in June in pretty rough shape. He was rehabilitated as much as possible there, and was then scooped up by the incredible rescue Jasmine’s House. The set up at Jasmine’s House is a big house with kennels for many dogs on a ton of gorgeous land. They have room to run and play, and they have extraordinary people who care for them day and night.

CK Bax improved light-years at the farm thanks to the work and TLC of the Jasmine’s House folks. When he reached the point where his best opportunity to excel would be in a foster home, an email landed in my inbox. Because of his past he wasn’t exactly perfect yet, but my quiet, animal-free house is a great place to help a dog like this grow and learn. I was torn about whether or not I could provide for him what he needed, but after meeting him for a second time (the first time was in the shelter and didn’t count), I was sold.

Because Baxter came to MCHS as a stray then went straight to Jasmine’s House, he has never truly lived in a household setting. When he came to us there was so much unknown, so much uncertainty – we just had no idea what to expect. But CK Bax has turned out to be wonderful. Of course he needs guidance, structure, correction… but as he learns what is expected of him he is becoming better and better.  He is such a happy dog and shows so much promise; I envy the home that will end up with him.

I know it is going to be a long and maybe not the easiest journey, but as he snores on the floor at my feet I also know I am lucky to be his fostermom. I’m sure he is going to teach me more than I will ever teach him.

CK Bax, you are going to make an incredible dog for your forever family!

Already getting good at "being a dog" : -)

Introducing Comeback Kid Baxter.

Hi! My name is Baxter. My fostermama keeps adding “Comeback Kid” in front of it for some reason, saying how I’ve come such a long way from where I started. I’m not sure what she’s talking about, I just like the way it makes her smile.

I am two years old and I have been through a lot in my time. Doesn’t matter to me, though – I just want to have fun! Meeting new people is my favorite way to have fun. I used to get a little scared by humans I didn’t know, but then I realized you all are just a bunch of BFGs: Big Friendly Giants. Now I seek out every human in the room so I can say “Hi!” Yep, just like that: “HI!” (wag wag wag).

My other favorite thing to do is go on walks. Betcha don’t know how much stamina a studly pup like me has, do ya? When fostermom puts on my Maryland Terps jersey, her friends say I look like a football player. Little do they know I’m way too gentle to be a football player. But don’t tell them that! Fostermom says it’s really great how nicely I walk on a leash, even with all those big muscles.  Hey, I just like to enjoy the day. What’s the big hurry?

I only got here to this new place a few days ago. I kinda miss my old pals back on the farm, and my two favorite rescuemoms. They said this would be good for me though, so I could learn something called “manners”. What the heck are “manners” anyway? My new fostermom keeps telling me words like “sit” and “stay”. She gives me hotdogs when she says those words (I guess I’m doing something right?), so I’m thinking I kinda like this manners game! I also like how at this new place I can splay out on the floor while all the humans stare at this glowing screen that has other humans on it. The carpet is comfy, especially when it has a big squishy dog bed on it, and I really like being with my new pack.

Fostermom told me that I should be excited about all the big adventures we have planned. She keeps mentioning these things called “adoption shows” and “obedience classes” and “hiking trips”.  She also says that I’m looking for my forever home. Something about the word “forever” just makes me feel all fuzzy inside. I sure hope it means what I think it means!

So for all the things I’ve gone through in the past, it sure looks like I have an exciting future. Lucky me! Here are some images of me. I think this is why fostermom followed me around with a black block all weekend. Hmm, who knows!

She is getting out the leash…. wahoo, gotta go!

Great to meet ya!

~ Bax