Baxter

Five years ago, we got a new dog, Maisy. She’s been a great addition to the family. I had recently been thinking maybe she was a little lonely. She almost always has one of her human beings at home (especially during pandemic times), but I just found myself wondering if she might benefit from some canine company. Sometime in the last year or so, the kids sort of cornered me and made an appeal to begin fostering dogs, which’d give us the multiple-dog experience without the longer term commitment. I was unequivocal in my “no” at the time. I’ve been the chief caregiver for Maisy, and I’m fine with that, but I didn’t want another dog to manage.

But I changed my mind, and in late December, I started looking around to see if we might find another shelter dog we could adopt. Before Maisy, I had always had smaller dogs, and in fact I was a little reluctant to get a bigger dog. Maisy was about 35 pounds when we got her (which seemed big at the time), but she grew to be about 70, which seemed big indeed, but satisfyingly so. It turns out I’m more of a big-dog person. So I had my eyes open for a dog on the bigger end rather than the smaller end of the size spectrum.

After striking out at a couple of shelters, I did some web searches and learned about a local group called SARG. They had a Great Pyrenees named Baxter who had been living with a foster family. He was listed as being about 90 pounds, which met the bigness criterion. And my wife, it turned out, had always sort of wanted a Pyr. So we filled out an application to try him out for a couple of weeks to see if he would fit (like, perhaps even literally fit) in our home.

There were two things about Pyrs that I worried about. They’re bred to be big barkers, and sometimes they’re nocturnal. A nocturnal barker was not a family addition I particularly relished. I sleep poorly enough without a dog barking all night. But also, I work from home and spend a lot of time on video chats. My office is right next to our front door, so a big daytime barker would be a problem too.

We introduced Baxter to Maisy and they got along well enough, so we did the trial run. He does bark some, but it’s not so bad, and mostly he doesn’t bark at night. I’m not sure I’ve slept past about 7:30 in the morning since we got him, but on the whole, the barking situation isn’t so bad. And he is the sweetest big floof of a dog I’ve ever met (sorry, Maisy). He loves being petted and will let you know in no uncertain terms (by nosing you or putting a paw in your lap) if you stop petting too soon. He’s a snuggler, and he really likes company; he spends a few hours most days hanging out with me in my office while I work (which also mostly keeps him from seeing bark-inducing things outside). By the time we got him, he had bulked up a lot and now weighs in at about 112 pounds. He is satisfyingly big.

He and Maisy play well for the most part. He’ll nip her a little sometimes but always stops when she yelps and usually goes into a submissive pose to let her know he’s playing. And when they run around outside, she’s more often the more aggressive of the two. Sometimes they’ll very nearly cuddle a little (more so the more time goes on). He’s a great dog, a wonderful addition to the family.

We kept his shelter name because none of us hated it and we were having trouble agreeing on anything else, though I took the liberty of elongating his name a bit to Captain Baxter Leopold von Snugglesworth Learn-Houston, Esq. Mostly we call him Bax.

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