THERE are some relationships in life which are just meant to be. Some beings who are just meant to find each other – soul mates, if you will. And for Paula, and indeed her whole family, their ‘perfect match’ just happened to be a tall, cheeky and boundlessly energetic Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross called Baxter.
It’s just over a year now since Baxter came to live with Paula, her partner Brenda and their two boys Harry, five, and Alfie, three and a half, at their home in Guildford, in central Victoria. And Paula said the way the big pup has settled into the family is remarkable.
“He is quite possibly the best dog ever!” Paula says unabashedly.
And upon hearing more about Baxter’s unique personality, it would be silly to doubt it.
When Paula and her family decided they were ready to get a dog, she said there were some apprehensions, given the young age of Harry and Alfie, and the unknown element to adopting an animal, given there can be limits to what is known of its history.
However adoption, as it turns out, was the one element that Paula and her partner had decided was non-negotiable.
“When we decided to get a pet, ethically, we knew we wanted to get a dog which needed a home.”
“The four of us sat on the couch looking at the website and there was just something about his face … and about his energy when we got to see him,” she said.
Paula thought nothing of making the four-hour round-trip to the Home’s Campaspe shelter, because it resulted in coming face to face with their now truly beloved pet.
Baxter’s personality and gorgeous expressions were merely amplified by an in-the-flesh meeting, and there was no shadow of a doubt as to who he was going home with.
Now living the idyllic life of a country dog, Baxter is completely melded into the fabric of his new family, and they have relished watching him grow and flourish.
Paula said the young dog’s long legs and something in the shape of his face means they think Baxter has some Boxer in him, but with big, webbed paws which see him swimming enthusiastic circles in the dam, “like an Olympian”, they also think he has some sort of water dog in his genetics.
While Baxter was less than six months old when they adopted him, they will never know the exact specifics of his previous life, but one comment Paula received a lot was that he must have received some kind of training.
Baxter could already sit, and has proved himself to be something of a boy-wonder at doggy training school. His trainer even suggested Baxter’s winning ways and quick intelligence would make him an ideal candidate for TV stardom.
Mind you, as a young dog, Baxter was not without his problems when he moved in with his new family.
He turned out to be something of an escape artist – but one with only the best intentions.
“He’s just so ridiculously friendly. He wants to go visiting all the time,” Paula said.
“We’ve met more of the neighbours since having him!”
Baxter has a nose for company, and his escape efforts have by chance, always been rewarded with warm encounters.
“One day he went to a school hall where there were kids helping to set up for a play… we’ve found him in town having lunch with another family, and once he found some workmen who brought him back home in their vehicle, with Baxter sitting on the driver’s knee!”
He has also become firm friends with Roxanne, a 48kg Ridgeback, Mastiff cross, who has also been re-homed, and they have a ball during their regular play dates.
Paula said he has been likened to Red Dog by many people, due to the way in which he seeks a variety of company and is happy to share his love with everyone.
Well aware that his vices could be a lot worse, Paula said the family love him just exactly as he is, and they have just finished the latest addition to a multi-layered fence which they’re sure will do the trick.
Paula said she has never had a particular interest in the Staffy breed, but she absolutely loves the mix in Baxter. She said he is very vocal, as many Staffordshire Bullterriers seem to be, and he does his fair share of snoring.
“He just loves life to the full,” Paula said.
And with such an infectious energy for life, people who meet Baxter cannot help but find joy in his company and his antics.
“Everywhere we go people fall in love with him and no one can believe he was a stray. Who would give him up??”
Now, safe and sound in his ‘forever home’, the answer is: no one.