My sweet Baxter turns 13 years old

Jun 17, 2021

His face is whiter. He walks with a limp. He thankfully can’t hear the doorbell these days but knows exactly when his kibble tumbles into the metal bowl in the kitchen.

My boy is 13 years old. Thirteen! All but the first three months of his life, he has been by our side.

How it all started

We adopted Baxter in 2008. He was with a family who had seven kids. They moved from their rental and left him in the backyard. The landlord found him howling with an injured paw and nervous spirit. Baxter ended up at an animal rescue the next day.

The photo that started it all

I still remember my husband emailing me Baxter’s photo and profile, wondering if I also thought this cream-colored beagle mix could be “the one.” With little more than a few emails and a phone call with the shelter, we drove 2.5 hours to meet him.

Baxter trembled as the volunteer placed him in Brandon’s arms. It took a soft voice and gentle strokes to show this little puppy he was now in safe hands. About 30 minutes later, Baxter was officially ours.

Baxter the Mama’s Boy

Baxter was technically Brandon’s dog. I was working in South Carolina as a news anchor for the NBC affiliate. Brandon was in Chapel Hill for his last year of law school and then moved to Washington D.C. Baxter adored Brandon. They went to the dog park, for evening walks and Baxter spent his days at the office with Brandon too.

Around Baxter’s second birthday, his loyalties shifted. He suddenly started growling at other dogs if they got close to me at the dog park. He followed me around the apartment and whined at the door when I left. These days, I can’t leave a room without Baxter trailing two steps behind.

At age 13, his walks are shorter. He sleeps more and is a bit calmer (thanks to a daily dose of Prozac).

Tara and Baxter together at a cafe
Baxter and Tara during a photo session in 2018

The biggest change over thirteen years? Me.

This frightened little puppy stole my heart. Baxter inspired me to take my love for animals and put it into action by volunteering with animal shelters and rescue groups. Baxter ignited my passion for photography and convinced me to trade in my TV news career to run my pet and family photography business full time.

Photographs have a special power. They can freeze time and tell a story. They can change a life. A single photo of an abandoned puppy changed mine forever.

Baxter over the years

Baxter’s 4th Birthday
Baxter at the NC Museum of Art
Baxter with his new sister in 2017
Baxter in 2018