So Baxter was my first experience with having a really, really large dog. I had lived with two dogs in my lifetime at that point, Samantha (named after BeWitched), a terrier mix that was somewhere around 20 pounds and Sasha, the anti-christ 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier. He was a gift from my manager at my job, and needless to say my parents were! not! happy! about it one bit.
He looked just like the dog from "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" (showing my age people). Baxter was an adorable puppy, and none of us were prepared for just how big he was going to get.
Thankfully my parents ran their own business and had a huge fenced in backyard. As Baxter grew he did not like to be in the house at all, and would cry every time he came in. The only time he did come in and was satisfied was when I slept. He would sleep in my doorway, never with me. We weren't used to dogs that didn't like to just sit in our laps and be cuddled, so this was a totally new experience.
He could also be out of the fence, and would walk the perimeter of their business as if guarding it. Considering we lived on a major four lane highway, this was amazing. Baxter knew what his property was, and he was their to protect it.
Problems started to arise when he was around a year old. I had moved out, but I would bring Baxter to my parents backyard while I was at work. Their Garden Center parking lot was right next to the fence. Baxter was fine as the customers came in and out, but he would hang on the fence looking so damn cute that people would want to pet him.
They always ignored the "DON'T PET THE DOG" signs or the "BEWARE OF DOG" signs, because he just looked so friendly. Well, as soon as that hand went over that fence, they entered Baxter's territory. This was not good people. Many a person almost lost their hand by doing that.
So Baxter was becoming more and more of a pain in the ass. He meant well, really he did. I have never in my life seen a dog more protective of his land or his family.
This didn't satisfy my parents who were scared to death that despite the signs they were going to get sued or someone was going to seriously get hurt.
So an extension was put on the fence on the parking lot side, paid for by yours truly (damn tough love parents), and the problem was solved. My bank account took a spanking, but my dog was allowed back in the fence.
Then the day came that made me a true believer in big dogs for the rest of my life.
I had painted my apartment and was staying with the parental units for a weekend while the fumes cleared out. It was hot outside, so staying there with windows open would be torture. Some friends and I painted all day late into the night.
I drove my tired ass to my parents house to get a shower and some beautiful air conditioning. Baxter had stayed their the whole time, because painting would not! be! fun! with a 150 pound sheepdog in the mix.
I pulled into the dark parking lot and got out of my car. Now one thing you learn when you live on a major highway that stretches coast to coast is their are some really weird fucking people that travel at night.
Well one of these weird fucking people came out of no where and grabbed my arm.
"What are you doing here girly-girl?"
I can still hear that phrase in my nightmares every once in awhile.
Now I've always thought I was a tough chick that could take care of myself, but I learned that night that when a man that out weighs you by probably 60 pounds wants to drag you somewhere, he is probably going to be able to do it. I also learned that the mace on my keychain was pretty much useless when he had my arms bound to my side by his shear force.
He pulled me towards him and wrapped his hand around my mouth. I fought against him with all my might, but it was furtile. He was just to strong.
He was dragging me to the back of the garden center when I heard it. This low, rumbling growl. Baxter had went to the side of the fence that didn't have an extension, jumped it, jumped into my neighbors yard, jumped that fence, and then ran down the street to get back to our parking lot.
I had never seen dog attack a person before. Baxter clamped on to the guy's thigh and he let me go, trying to get the dog off of him. I ran like hell to my parents house screaming my head off, my parents woke up, police were called, and the man, about half dead from what my dog continued to do to him until the police showed up, was arrested and taken to the hospital.
My cute, beautiful sheepdog was now red instead of white, and treated like a king amoung kings after that incident. It still makes me want to throw up thinking about what might have happened if he wasn't there. It ended up the man was wanted for rape in a couple of states and a possible homicide.
Baxter was only 2 years old when he disappeared. You see, after this incident he learned he could "be free" by jumping the fences. Now if we let him out of the fence he would walk the perimeter of our property and never, ever leave it. But once he was outside of that area, he was just gone.
So a couple of times we caught him coming back home. A couple of times the police called us from a couple of miles away to please come get him. Everyone knew Baxter as he was a bit of a local hero, but the cops also saw what he did to that horrible man and were scared to death of him. They would patiently follow him with their car until we went and got him.
The fencing people were coming to put an extension on that side of the fence the day that Baxter didn't come home.
Frantic searches to shelters and the police being on alert for him turned up nothing. It was like he disappeared into thin air. About the only thing we can think of is someone opened up their car door and he got in. Once he was away from his property he was fine with people, and he loved going in the car.
I like to think that a nice family took him home and he lived out his life on some big farm running and playing. I don't believe I could stay sane if I didn't hold on to that little fantasy.
He really taught me that love comes in all different forms. While he didn't sleep with me or sit by me all the time or want to be cuddled, that dog loved me to no end. That dog saved me from what could have been a life ruining experience, or really possibly a life ending experience.
Which is why I now love big dogs. Now I know not all big dogs are as smart/protective as Baxter was, but I do know this. Mace wasn't going to help me. A gun wouldn't have helped me.
But that big dog saved my life, and I will love him and be grateful until the day I die.