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Barbara Techel is the author of the multi-award winning Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series. When her dachshund, Frankie, suffered a spinal injury, Barbara had her custom-fitted for a wheelchair. Frankie persevered, and Barbara realized the beautiful opportunity she had to share Frankie and give others hope and inspiration to be the best they can be. Along with sharing Frankie’s story with children, Barbara and Frankie routinely volunteer as a therapy dog team at a local hospital, senior assisted facility, and hospice community, spreading joy wherever they go.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Final Tribute to Baxter, the World's Oldest & Greatest Therapy Dog

This is the last picture taken of Baxter from Baxieboos Blog.

It is with great sadness I share the news of a dear, sweet dog, Baxter, who died on Friday, October 16th. He showed the world the true beauty of therapy dog work, up until the last days of his life. He is my hero. I will miss him... but I do know this, he was not afraid to die, and he knows he will see his Mom and Dad again someday. I also know he is in heaven, reunited with all the friends he helped in their time of need, and he is surrounded my many, many angels. His Mom wrote an awesome tribute, and I wanted to share it here with all of you.

See you someday in heaven, dear pal, Baxter. I, and all my therapy dog friends will carry on the work of loving others, in honor and memory of you.

March 23, 1990-October 16, 2009

Baxter, the world's best, most devoted, and oldest therapy dog, 19 years and 6 months, eased peacefully from his life on Friday afternoon, October 16th.

Baxter began volunteering 7 years ago at Sand Diego Hospice. In a place created for making goodbyes gentler, Baxter comforted everyone who crossed his path. He licked tears from grieving faces, gave hugs to those at a loss for words, and warmed the hearts and souls of those who were making their transition. He would take his body and curl himself next to a patient for hours, making this intense eye contact that penetrated the human spirit in everyone, proving his undeniable loyalty, love, and sensitivity. Everyone loved Baxter!

I took in Baxter after he was rescued from a life threatening circumstance. He was 2 years old, and it took me 6 weeks to make him mine. It was not much longer and he became my heart. As I socialize him more and more, I realized Baxter was not like other dogs. He had a gift and everyone who met him witnessed it. Though perhaps difficult to believe, to meet Baxter was an experience. And, you never forgot that experience. He touched everyone he met.

When my husband, Dennis and I went through the volunteer orientation at San Diego Hospice to become volunteers, Baxter accompanied us because he went everywhere with us. During those many hours, he spread his magic spirit throughout the room. And, in the end, the knowing staff exhorted: "You must get Baxter certified. He's magical, and he would make the perfect therapy dog!"

What they recognized was Baxter's special ability to bring light to darkness, smiles to down turned lips, respite to tear swollen faces, and comfort to pained hearts. His mere presence brought joy to rooms that were filled with tragedy and imminent loss.

He was the perfect love affair. His love never ended, he was true to the bone, and his companionship was invaluable. Baxter taught me many of life's lessons. And when I forgot one, he reminded me in the subtlest of ways. He was consistent, reliable, and predictable. He was always in a good mood, prepared to volunteer and full of love, kisses and devotion.

There has never been a dog like Baxter in my life. And there will never be another Baxter. He truly was the world's best therapy dog.

Though Baxter is gone, his legacy lives on through his book. MOMENTS WITH BAXTER, a series of 36 true stories and photos that demonstrate the magical connection Baxter made with individuals at the end of their life.

Visit Baxter at his website.

~Melissa Joseph, Baxter's mom and author of MOMENTS WITH BAXTER



Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

Baxter has touched the lives of so many; those who met him personally as a therapy dog, and those of us lucky enough to view the video of Baxter at work. What a special, special dog -- and my heart goes out to Melissa Joseph, his "mom", who must be feeling both the fullness of the soul Baxter was in her life and the lives of so many others, and the inevitable emptiness of his physical loss. Thank you, Baxter, for making a difference in my life and the lives of so many.

Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog said...

Thank you, Dawn for sharing your beautiful, heart felt thoughts. My mom and I can't stop thinking about Baxter... and what an honor it was to follow his journey.


Yvonne Perry said...

Rest in peace, Baster. I imagine you visiting with all the folks you loved and comforted on earth.

PetSafe Dog Collar said...

I appreciated your post. Thanks for posting this touching story. This dog really touched lot of human hearts. He left big memories to treasure.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

We are to furry sads to read about Baxter but furry happy that he had the chance to lead such a worthy and fulfilling life in service to mankind. We know that he is in heaven right now because heaven can always use more angels.