A Life Well Lived-The story of Baxter "Bean"
by Sharon Peete
Hello my wonderful friends!! We lost Baxter "Bean"on 8/3/19 to an insidious cancer called hemangiosarcoma. The past month has been the hardest I have ever faced since the death of my grandmother in 1988. I've never felt such pain and there were times when the grief was so overwhelming that I did not think I could breathe. But I knew that what we did was the right call for a beagle who gave everyone love wherever he went. A life well lived with spiritual teachings to my husband and I along the way.

No matter how long our babies live it simply is not enough time!!! We had 14.5 years as Baxter would have been 15 on 8/31. When I look back on his life I remember that our closeness was because I saw what real faith (Hebrews 11:1) was in him. Baxter absolutely believed that if he was in trouble my husband and I would find a way to help him ever since we got him at 9 weeks old. We should all look to God in this way when we are in trouble. There was something special about him as we went into a pet store and he chose us in 2004!! The minute I saw him I called him Baxter and he looked at me like that's me!!(I had a stuffed animal beagle as a child and he looked a lot like him) Baxter was our first dog and at that time I was so stressed at work that my husband thought a dog would calm me down. I had no idea of how to care for an animal and we have no children so it was a true experiment. But each day since he has been gone I have grieved but reminded myself to give thanks for his life and that God allowed me to be his Mama for so long. That is what brings me through the tears and what gives me hope that one day he will come running back to my arms when I join him in heaven.

When Baxter was 6 years old he developed IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease that beagles are prone to) in his neck. This was such a terrible time as I lost my job at the peak of the recession for 17 months. I thought I would have to put him down but God led me to a neurologist who chose Baxter as the dog to help and he recovered after surgery with lots of attention and love. Having pet insurance his entire life helped also. Right after that I had to take a job 3 hours away and would come home on weekends. But my husband and I made sure that he did not feel slighted and we visited with him in 2 different locations for 2 years. Meanwhile he continued to make friends wherever he went and folks in our subdivision always asked about him and visited with him when he went on walks with my husband.

At the age of 9 he tore his cruciate ligament and with a heart murmur I did not want to do surgery. So I researched a company in Colorado called Ortho Pets and had a custom brace made for him. In addition we enrolled him into therapy including laser, water treadmill and acupuncture and he recovered!! 12 months later he tore the other one and we did the same. No surgery and the therapy bought him back to us. We put him on a maintenance plan afterwards and he did very well.

In April of 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. No symptoms and cancer could only be seen on a mammogram which I skipped for 3 years (not smart ladies) and was told in a dream by my deceased grandmother that I needed to get to a doctor. So I deeply believe that angels watch over us and tell us things we need to know if we pay attention. His love and persistence in watching me and guarding me was quite amazing. When I lost the use of my right arm to play he started playing on my good side. And the snuggles at night on the mastectomy side helped make me feel so much better. So grateful that he was with me through 3 years and I will celebrate with him God willing at my 5 year mark in 2021.

So much more that I could say about the best beagle ever but his presence in my life made me feel loved and special. Now days are different and I have trouble sometimes holding back tears. But just a week after his passing I was working from home and happen to look down at his favorite rug he sat on and saw his entire imprint. I know he is with me and watching and one day I will see that beautiful face and hear that awesome bay leading me in to the Lord's paradise. And it will be paradise because he will be there with me. Funny thing is I am less afraid of cancer as I saw how Baxter prepared me that something was wrong and showed me what I had to do when he was too tired and sick to fight. The morning that he had trouble breathing and almost collapsed he looked right into my eyes and I knew that God was asking me to trust him and give back to him what he had given to me so he could take away Baxter's suffering. Hermagiosarcoma causes blood to accumulate in the abdomen, anemia and is an extremely aggressive cancer that metastisizes. Keeping him and watching him suffer was not an option and when the vet told me what his chances were I prayed and heard God say to us to trust him and release him. We were with him when we got him and both of us were with him when he left us. He was calm and ready as I told him I was sending him on a fantastic adventure where he would run and play with all of his friends and that he would hear me coming with his leash one day and I wanted him to call for me. As hard as it was to make this call I asked God to give us strength and courage knowing that Baxter would be ok and that he had lived a wonderful life. It's no mistake that he chose us and we all must remember that when we leave the only thing we can take with us is love. Our pets know this and we should too.

All of us need time as losing our loved furbabies is a major adjustment. But we have to remember that love reaches across death and that they know how we are feeling. They would want us to love and to give that love to another animal. Not sure if I will get another dog but I have signed up for a shelter and starting on 9/14. This will help ease the pain a bit and maybe one day another dog will chose us the way that Baxter did.

The worst part about losing Baxter is knowing that I won't see him again for the years to come, the holidays will pass, the seasons will change and all I have are pictures and videos that make us smile. But every once in a while I ask God to send me a message from him and I know that whatever it is will lift my spirits. Meanwhile I will serve others the way that Baxter has served me for so many years.

I leave you all with love and peace for our healing. Thank you all for reaching out to me and my husband with such kind words on the loss of Baxter. It has made the grief more bearable. Let's all stay close as we have experienced joy in our lives that few get to realize from having a furbaby. And let's all know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will someday pick them up at the rainbow bridge and you can believe they will be right there waiting at the gates with love and kisses for us. Love you all.

Sharon Peete

Comments would be appreciated by the author, Sharon Peete
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