A love letter to my dog Baxter

Jan 11, 2024

Reflection on this post: While I did compose Baxter’s dog obituary last fall, nothing has been quite as healing as writing this doggie love letter directly to him. I can’t encourage you enough to write your own if you are also working through your own grief journey.

Four photos of Tara Lynn and Baxter from the day she adopted him to one of their last days together

Every February, we are surrounded by messages encouraging us to give a gift of love to that one special person in our lives. Baxter received his fair share of special treats and cookies for every holiday. Heart-shaped dog cookies. A toy that looked like a candy “conversation heart.” 

But since this is my first Valentine’s Day without my boy by my side, I wanted to sit down and write out a love letter to my dog, thanking Baxter for all the ways he made my life worth living. I had shared a lot of his life-story when I blogged about his 15th birthday last year. Tech bugs devastated me when all but the first paragraph of that blog randomly disappeared. There were a lot of tears.

I’ve also been wanting to share more about the “Celebration of Life” we held for our dog just before he passed away, but the emotions can be overwhelming.

So…knowing that my heart still needs help grieving his loss, I’m sitting down at my computer to put down in words how Baxter changed my life.

Dear Baxter,

Oh my heart aches for you. Every single day. Since you left my side on July 9, 2023, the sun hasn’t been as bright. The world is a little less colorful. God brought you into my life in 2008 laying the foundation for life-altering love. Little did I know then how much I would need you.

Thank you for teaching me to love myself

When I went through the depths of depression in 2012, you were there. You were my constant. No, you didn’t come up and lick my tears away. In fact, you would go find a different spot to curl up when tears flooded my face. I knew the scars of your past had also made you weary of love and trust. But together, we found safety and comfort. 

You forced me outside into the sunshine for walks. You reminded me to laugh when you reacted to new things like snowmen or howling at outdoor holiday decorations. 

You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You knew I loved you and would care for you. Your trust in me allowed me to feel worthy of love at a time when I didn’t think I deserved it. You showed me how to love myself, guiding me by the leash out of my darkness and into a world where I knew I could make a difference by celebrating love for all.

Thank you for reminding me that there is good in the world

In an unpredictable world, Baxter, you were my constant source of companionship. You inspired my volunteer work with Pet Helpers, the SPCA of Wake County, Triangle Beagle Rescue, and so many more groups. You connected me with other animal lovers who were passionate about ending animal suffering, showing kindness to people in need, and working for a better tomorrow.

You were my beacon for hope and catalyst for finding a focused way to share my talents and make a difference. So many of these friends I made because of you have been a crucial part of my healing process and helping me through the pain of losing you. You gave me angels on earth to watch over me when you no longer could.

Thank you for providing purpose and a routine

Anxiety and depression will always come and go in my life. When it’s here, I am so unmotivated to do anything. The daily routine of feeding, walking, and caring for you helped me get up in the morning and wrap up my life at night. In your dependence on me, I find a profound motivation to rise each day, knowing that my actions help you eat, live, play and love well, too. Don’t worry, though. The kids are still keeping me in the routine.

Thank you for teaching empathy and responsibility

Sometimes I feel like God forgot to give me a few extra layers of skin. I feel everything so intensely. I want to run out and save the world and fix all the problems. Caring for you allowed me to realize the importance of taking small steps to solve big problems.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” 

Mother Teresa

More importantly, you taught our children to think about others, too, reminding them to live compassionately beyond the boundaries of our home. 

Three children and a dog sitting with their backs to the camera watching the sunset over the water on a dock

Thank you Baxter for 15 years of devotion and trust. I will never stop loving you. Our love story will always be my favorite to tell.

Your mama, 


P.S. Have you considered writing down your own love story? Perhaps you adopted many years ago. Consider sending a happy update to the rescue this Valentine’s Day to remind them of the impact their work continues to have in your and your pet’s lives.

Want to capture your love story? Get in touch. Photo books are my favorite way to share my client’s love stories.