Monday, July 28, 2008

See Ya Later, Boos!

Day before yesterday (on Saturday) our just-married human kids, Sarah and Chris, left PA for Maine where Chris will attend grad school (Sarah, too, we hope), and where they'll live for the next couple of years.

And just as we'd planned, Baxter and Snickers made the trek with them to take up permanent residence with the newlyweds. Here are a couple of departing shots (I was good; I didn't cry until after they left):

Baxter, now five years old, has lived with us since he was just shy of seven weeks old. He was our blizzard boy (do you remember? the breeder let me pick him up a few days early because of the nor-easter blowing in). He was the first Lab we risked loving after our previous two lifelong Labs (Stoney and Strider) died in 2002 and 2003. I lasted a whopping six months without a Lab in the house; life just wasn't the same without wet noses and nuzzles.

Enter Baxter.

That wiggly-squiggly-pup-soon-to-become-our- 110-pound-outgrew-the-breed-standard-couch-potato-lap-warmer brought giggles back into our home. It's not that we'd forgotten how to laugh; it's just that life had grown too serious (lots of losses that year). Baxter warmed our hearts and made us smile.

He still does.

Someday soon I'll write a tribute to the Boos. Truth be told (shhhhh....don't tell the rest of the canine crew) Baxter has been my favorite -- my bud -- these last five years. I don't know why. He just has.

I wholeheartedly love the rest of the canine gang. Really, I do. But there's always been something about Baxter.

Perhaps it's because Baxter was our first of this batch of Labs. Or maybe it's because he's such a galoot: big, goofy, tender, faithful, silly, playful, exuberant, lazy, knuckle-headed, smart, people-oriented -- you get the idea. Or maybe it's just that he was the only boy we raised from puppyhood (Ridge came to us as a three-year-old).

Who knows?

What I do know is that I miss him already. It was tough to say goodbye:

Having said that, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this move is good for him.

  • Baxter always preferred 1:1 (one human with one dog), and that's difficult to get enough of in a house of five Labs.
  • He absolutely loves Chris and Sarah.
  • Chris and Sarah absolutely love Baxter.
  • Baxter WANTED to go (you should have seen him -- the guy who hates riding in the car -- leap into the backseat of Sarah's Suburu wiggling and squiggling like a puppy). He knew he was going with them (and NOT to the vet). Somehow he just knew.
  • The Boos is a couch potato, and he's more apt to get couch-potato-time in Maine.
  • Sarah needs her Boos, even more than I do (Sarah was still in high school when we brought Baxter home, so they had loads of time together early on). Boos is every bit Sarah's Bud as he was mine.
  • Baxter will provide constancy -- something unchanging -- for the newlyweds during months of huge transitions for them. He's NEEDED there.
  • And Snickers, the Cat, needs a playmate, too. Snickers and Baxter were Buds long before all the other dogs came to live with us. They still are.
  • Baxter will have the life in Maine he wants and needs: loads of 1:1 people time, lots of walks, loads of snuggle time (without competing for a human lap with five other dogs), and plenty of opportunity to sleep at night with his humans (something he can't do here).
  • He'll receive more individualized attention with Sarah and Chris than he ever could with us, now that we have the other five and now that we're occasionally breeding. They can give him a better home than we can -- one better suited to how he's wired (his needs and wants).
  • And let's not forget snow. Baxter is our Blizzard Boy. He loves to romp in the snow, much more of which is found in Maine for much longer periods of time.
Yup... Maine is good for Baxter. Maine is good for Sarah and Chris. Sarah and Chris are good for Baxter. Baxter is good for them. Snickers is good for Baxter and Sarah, and they for him.

It's all good.

No worries.

It's truly best.

And (I tell myself) when we love someone we want what's best.

I love Baxter, and Sarah, and Chris (and admittedly, sigh, Snickers the Cat), so I want the best for each of the them. Truly.

So why do I miss them so? Why do I have this ache in my heart?

It's part of the sacrifice of parenting, I guess. We raise them to fly.

And when they fly, they take parts of us with them--parts that become theirs forever, no matter what life brings. And I truly wouldn't have it any other way.

That doesn't mean we won't see or talk to them regularly. In this day of texting, chat, and e-mail, I suspect we'll be in touch several times a week.

But it's not the same as Baxter drooling all over me after he's gotten a drink or butting his way between my legs to be the center of attention or barking every time I pet one of the other canines. :o)

We do, however, have Tuc to fill that slot -- he's a slobberer already. And he barks when he wants something (mouthy little guy!). And he's a people dog, just like Boos.

In fact, Tuc demonstrates enough Baxter-like traits (that's another post) that I don't miss Baxter as much as I though I would (though I do miss him). And the Tucster is keeping us busy enough that I'm not reminiscing too much about kids (and dogs) growing up so fast.

That's another benefit of life with Labs: they keep us young. They keep us from becoming old and melancholy.

So, to Baxter, Snickers, Sarah, and Chris: we love you to pieces; we're incredibly proud of you; we miss you whole bunches already (yes, Daddy Don even admitted he misses Snickers, though he doesn't miss the litter box); and we hope your move is going smoothly.

And though this is a bittersweet time for us, we know this move is right and good and wonderful on all accounts. We wish you nothing but joy and giggles and adventure and wonder as you embark on your life together.

Hang in there. And give Baxter and Snicks nuzzles from the gang here. And remember to enjoy them and each other in the months and years to come.

'Til next time,

Joan (aka: Mom, Momma, Momesh, etc.)

P.S. Send pictures!


Christine said...


This post nearly had me in tears, it was so touching. I can only imagine having to give up my little lab, but I know Tuc and the new litter and all that is going on will help make the transition easier.

Mary said...

Christine may have almost been in tears but I was. I moved far from my family Oregon to Texas and I understand the feeling of loss but at the same time joy of starting the journey. Just remember that Baxter will always remember you and the next time he sees you, it will be wiggles and sqiggles and lots of lab kisses for you.

Joan said...

Okay (Mary and Christine), I'll admit it. I shed a few tears writing it -- it almost seemed as if I were writing to myself, trying to convince myself about how good this really is for all of us.

And it is. Really.

That doesn't mean, however, that we don't grieve the change. We will, and I do.

Like kids growing up: we delight in seeing them bloom and grow and become all God intends them to be. But we miss butterfly kisses and bedtime stories and sloppy hugs and the sense of being so needed and wanted.

Kids, however, are meant to grow up (and dogs should move to better situations when the opportunity arises). It's part of life.

That's all the more reason to treasure what we have now, while we have it to enjoy.

We never quite know what tomorrow will bring.

Thanks for identifying with me; I don't feel quite so silly now.

Oh, and I checked with Sarah: Baxter is one HAPPY boy. :o)

That's as it should be.


juditudes said...

Snuffled and sniffly, this drippy wet reader thinks you already penned the best tribute to your Boos boydog . . .

Thanks for sharing your heart.
Sending a hug . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi Joan!
Wow! Sarah looks like you. Glad to hear that they'll have some company with Baxter and Snickers. It must be hard on you but, like you said, they must grow up and fly on their own and it sounds as though these 2 kids have a good sense of what is what and will do quite well.
Sending hugs from me and baby!

Joan said...

Hey, Tiffany!

Great to hear from you, and congrats on your baby!!!! Thanks for the hugs. :o)


Joan said...

Hey there, Judi!

Thanks for your hug -- and, yea, I guess this will have to do as my tribute to Boos. He's really doing well (much to my relief).

Thanks for commenting... always good to hear from you!