Baxter Clyde Skelley 2002-2014
I planned to write another update today about the old hound dog, but last night he took a turn for the worse. Baxter's breathing became very labored after dinner. He would not leave my side and was upset - he already had not been eating much and trying to get him to take his pills had become an exercise in futility. He laid beside me on the couch struggling to breathe and The Engineer and I knew it was the end.
Even at bedtime (the part of the day he loved the most) he was unable to settle. He roamed the house and finally came over to sit by the bed in the dark and stare at me - something he had never done before (unless he had been doing it all the time when I was asleep). It was like he knew it was time. And it was a little creepy. He was up again at 4:30 a.m. and had an accident in the living room. He started having accidents in the house last week. The Engineer let him out and he laid down in our mulch which was also not normal. M. wasn't sure he would get up.
I called the vet and my mother early this morning and she came to watch Little Kid (Big Kid is at Space Camp this week) while I took him in. Before we left, we took one last walk down the street. He could only make it about four houses down before we turned around and came back home. But he still loved stopping to sniff anything that caught his fancy.
We knew that this day was fast approaching. Baxter never liked to be boarded and when we had to board him a couple of weeks ago while on vacation, I did not know how he would handle it. Like many times before, he handled it by going on a hunger strike. Only with the amount of medicine that he was taking, that was not the smartest move. He became very ill and the vet had to take lifesaving measures. We stepped off the cruise ship Saturday to two voicemails asking us to call them immediately. Only they do not answer their phone on the weekend so we had to wait until the following Monday to find out whether he was still with us. It was pretty awful. When he came home that Monday, he was weak and refused to eat anything but chicken nuggets and hot dogs. But he was happy to be home and we were happy that he was able to spend his last days with us.
Baxter never lost his enthusiasm for the activities he loved - and I think that is part of the reason that we waited as long as we did, even though we have known for awhile that he was in failing health. He still loved to go to the mailbox, still woofed when it was time for a walk, still waited by the garage for M. to get home most afternoons and still had to be the first one to the front door when we had visitors. He hung in there for so long and never stopped wagging his tail. He was still fully present, but his body had given out.
I take comfort in knowing that even though he despised the vet, I was the last thing that he saw and smelled - and he fell asleep for the last time while I scratched his head. There is relief that he is not struggling anymore but it is a sad day for the Skelleys. Even so, we look back at the last nine years and thank God (and the Basset Hound Rescue of Alabama) that we were brought together. BHRA found Baxter wandering the streets of Birmingham in September 2005. We brought him home on October 1, 2005, and for the next nine years, he was our dedicated companion and a member of the family. We have so many good memories and Baxter lived a full and happy life.
We love you, Baxter.