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Camp Baker

Thursday, July 3, 2008

David is saying something about Baker's apple head, and the little stop atop his nose--his favorite part of the the Bacon. Chet adopted Mary Jane as his surrogate Zick. It was seamless.

From the time he was a little pup, I always put Chet Baker in the kennel when we'd travel. I knew it was part of the deal when we got him, and I explained it to him when he was a puppy, and he understood. I told him he'd have the most wonderful life, but his folks did travel, and he'd have to deal with that. He did well there, as well as any dog could do in a cold, stainless steel cage (albeit with two fluffy beds and all his blankies) in the basement of a veterinarian's office in the summer.

But as time went on, he liked it less, and there came a day when I handed him to the attendant (loving and caring, and very fond of him), and he gave a very small moan. That little moan tore my heart in two. Tears streamed down my face and they didn't stop all the way home. I knew I couldn't leave him there again. Mostly, it was I who suffered; they told me Chet ate his food, was cheerful and always wanted to play, but I just couldn't leave him in a cage for the month of June. I couldn't do it.

So I thought and thought and came up with some foster parents for Chet Baker. They live in the middle of the woods in West Virginia, and they had a wonderful shepherd/Lab cross for years, recently passed on and deeply missed, and they know and understand dogs. Would they be willing to take him? I had to ask. Nothing to lose by asking.

David and Mary wanted to think about it. Mostly, they were afraid that keeping Chet would awaken dog-longing in them, and they didn't feel ready to have another dog--theirs had been so singular, and so deeply mourned. But finally, with prodding from several mutual friends, they said yes. And thus began a beautiful relationship.

Chet Baker knew David and Mary socially, and when time came to leave him there, he really dug their place. He patrolled and sniffed every cranny, chased their chipmunks and rabbits, and leapt onto the back of their sofa to survey the scene. Finally, I had to take my leave. Chet had been listening to our conversation. He moved quietly to the door, and stood, head down, nose pressed against the screen. "Mether. If you go, I am going with you."

"Chet Baker. Mether has to leave. But she will be back. You will stay here with David and Mary, and they will take good care of you. Mether is coming back."

And Chet padded over, sat down and pressed his body against Mary's leg, ears pasted back, eyes wide. He understood. David's mouth fell open. "He understood every word you said!"

"Damn straight. That dog knows."

I left, happy that my pup had found people who would love him as I do. He leapt to the back of the sofa and watched me all the way up the drive, but he didn't moan. And neither did I.

Two weeks passed, and finally it was time to pick Chet up at what came to be known as Camp Baker. It felt like Christmas morning. He'd been on two hikes a day; he'd been loved and played with and messed with just like he is at home. He'd cleaned out all the dumb chipmunks and had given a good chase to some squirrels. He had had a wonderful time, and so had David and Mary.

This is the sight that greeted me as I got out of my car. I looooove this snapshot. You can see David and Mary watching from their side yard.
Let's have a close-up of that smile.
What is not to love about a Boston terrier? If any animal could embody joy, they do it best. METHER'S HERE!! METHER'S HERE!! She said she'd come back and she DID!! She DID!!

I must hurry back and tell David and Mary that Mether is here.
Oh! Oh! Oh! She is HERE!! You told me she would come back and she DID!!I think David must have said, "ANY TIME you need us to care for him, just call!" about six times before I finally tore Baker from their loving arms. David's a self-confessed "big dog guy" but he was impressed with Baker's athleticism, his beauty, his heart, and his courage, as well as his common sense. He never wore a leash the whole time; hiked in the woods with them, stayed around and came when called, just as promised. He fit perfectly into David and Mary's lives, and it was one situation where everyone was happy about it. Sometimes in life, things work out just as you hope they might. And now Bacon is back in our home, well-rested, happy, full of beans, and David and Mary are the ones jonesing for him for a change. Thank you, sweet friends, for welcoming him into your lives.


Oh, oh, yet another lovely story. I am so glad to see David and MJ, and their place in the woods, and such a happy puppy.

If Margaret and Zane ever need to farm me out when they go away, I would be happy with either Camp Zick or Camp Baker!

I will be in Marietta in a couple of weeks -- dare I hope the Orangutangs will have another gig while I'm there? It will be a grand family reunion, and I get to be Matriarch.

You have NO idea how much I needed this Baker post tonight. I'm grinning from ear to ear!

But..."Baker full of beans" sounds very dangerous.

Have a happy and safe 4th!

I'm in tears. His face, his intelligence, and his love is so familiar. This whole post knocks me over.

Thank you, David and Mary. Everyone should have a Boston T, ;-)

Thank you for the story and photos, Julie. Have a wonderful time at home.


There's nothing like coming home to a happy dog.


I'm tearful too. What a good boy, Baker! I'm a former big dog person who loves a terrier now too and never thought it was possible! I love the way she hangs out with us, doesn't roam, chases the squirrels away, etc. Terriers are cool dogs.

WHAT a WONDERFUL post!... Chet looks like he'd break his jaw if he grinned any more widely. And the rest of us are left grinning almost as broadly ourselves.

That is just the sweetest story ever Julie. God bless David and Mary for being such special people for Baker.

LOVE IT! I think all dog owners know the feelings you express--the moan a dog gives when being left behind, even though in good care.
Sounds like the temporary Baker parents benefitted just as much as Chet did.
What a wonderful story.

Happy Fourth to the whole clan, including Bacon!

Thanks for the post full of love. What a face in that flat-out sprint to Mether.

What a great story, Julie. I wish I could find some people I would trust Sophie with as much as you trust David and Mary. I'm so glad that Chet Baker loves being there, but still loves you best (his huge, happy grin proves that).

What a heartwarming tale. So nice when it does all work out.
Chet Baker has the happiest face!
(and this is coming from a confirmed big dog person too).
Lucky dog, lucky friends, lucky you.

You really are working on getting me hooked on a BT, aren't you, Julie?

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the big, happy, "welcome home, Mether" grin on Chet's face. If only people would show you that same emotion.

I am always amazed that dogs are so happy to see us come home, whether we have been gone two hours or two weeks. "You came back!"

~Kathi, just back from the winery and struggling with the verification words

Damn if that dog ain't part human.

Well Julie, you did it again. Brought a tear to my eye and a glow in my heart. Don't you just love those expressions a well loved BT shares with those around him or her. That's one of those things that gets me out of bed in the morning, just knowing I get to share my day with several that love me like he does you. I am now babysitting Chet's half sister and she is another one of those that greets you with a grin and such enthusiasm.

Hhow the heck does he get that mouth open so wide?

Other than pure happiness...

Reading this post is such a joy.

We buried one of our dogs two weeks ago. Seeing that smile on Chet's face reminds me of the gift dogs give us in such a brief lifetime, if only we're lucky enough to receive it.

A great Baker fix.

One of my favorite posts EVER, Julie. Thanks for sharing the joy of that happy, happy boy.

If I ever get another dog, I'm getting me a Chet Baker lookalike...I've fallen in love from afar.

that is such an amazing place to live! im realy enjoying these photos!!

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