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My wife, Marty, has served as a volunteer at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control for more than 17 years. She’s come home with dozens of stories of animals – mostly about dogs and cats – some with happy endings and a few with sad outcomes.

Baxter was a two-year-old male turned into the shelter by its owner because he reportedly was suffering from separation anxiety, a condition in many dogs resulting in destructive or otherwise inappropriate behavior when an owner leaves the pet or is not in close proximity to it. However, these behaviors also may be due to other conditions or environmental issues. Therefore, before attributing Baxter’s behavior problems solely to separation anxiety, the shelter asked my wife to take him home for a weekend of foster care to determine how severe his problems were. He was about the first of some 140 dogs and cats we have fostered over the years, hopefully, prior to their adoption to a permanent home.

Marty described Baxter as “a mixed ball of fluff.” He seemed to get along okay with us and with our own dog, Toby, who also was an adopted shelter dog with many similar issues. So, upon his return to the shelter, Baxter was again put up for adoption with a warning that he had exhibited symptoms of separation anxiety in the past.

Despite the cautionary notice, however, a young, single man, who worked eight hours a day away from home, chose to adopt Baxter and keep him confined to a crate when he was gone. But Baxter managed to “walk” the crate around the man’s apartment and do more than $500 worth of damage, such as shredding drapery, chewing on the couch and so forth.

Again, Baxter was put up for adoption but with a stern warning about his problem and his need for almost constant attention. At about that same time, a mother and her son came to the shelter looking for a “pet for life,” as she put it, “for her young son.” Marty took the pair along with Baxter to an interaction room to see how they would relate together. That’s when Baxter jumped into the little boy’s lap, skootched around until he was comfortable and stayed there. And what was so remarkable about it, Marty said, was that the young boy was in a wheelchair and most animals are afraid of them.

“That puppy never will be alone again in his life and neither will my son,” the mother promised as she signed adoption papers for the third time in Baxter’s short life.

“Sometimes the story turns out even better than one ever could imagine,” Marty concluded.

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer