I am deeply saddened to write that our beloved friend and family member Baxter has passed away. Baxter was our Doberman Pinscher. He was not only a part of our family but also a part of our studio.
Baxter was our third Dobe as my wife, son and I love the breed. Unfortunately Dobes are known as The Heartbreak Breed because they have a ten year life expectancy. This is not uncommon in larger breed dogs. Contrary to their imposing appearance and all the negative press they were given throughout the 1970s Doberman Pinschers are a gentle, highly intelligent and loving breed. Our first two Dobes, Zaphod and Tricia grew up with our son who was four years old when we first got them. Actually Zaphod came first and Tricia joined the family five years later. After Tricia’s passing in 2005 we visited a wonderful Doberman breeder in Schomberg, Ontario named Angela. We learned a great deal of the importance of a proper breeding facility through Z and T who came from much lesser quality breeders. Nonetheless we loved them so much.
Baxter was from Angela’s N Litter and was subsequently given the show name Di Ravallese’s National Treasure. He was a wonderful boy so full of energy and intelligence. We socialized him early and well introducing him to many adults, children and other dogs. Baxter was a show dog in the early years and went on to become a Canadian Kennel Club Champion in 2007.
Baxter was a gentle soul who loved everyone and everything. At our old home in King City Baxter would often lie on the grass in the backyard and watch birds. Never before had we seen a dog who would lie four or five feet away from birds on the grass watching them rather than barking and chasing them. He was a very special guy.
When we moved to our new home and I rekindled my passion for making music Baxter was right there with me. At first when I set up our studio Baxter would come into the room while I was drumming and ‘sing’ along to the music. He had a preference for Led Zeppelin. Don’t ask me why… he just did. After seeing several of my friends come by the house and play their guitars and sing Baxter became interested in the spring door stoppers behind each door in the house. He would twang them with his paws repeatedly and bark along to the twanging. It was his version of playing guitar and singing. He did it so often and to so many door stoppers that we had to remove them and replace them with the type that mount high up on the hinges. You see he was accidentally damaging the hardwood baseboards and hurting his paws.
Not wanting to stifle his musical ambitions I built him a synthesizer which we dubbed The Baxtersizer. It consisted of an inverted plastic dog bowl mounted on a sheet of wood as well as a block of wood with a spring door stopper mounted as well. Inside the bowl was a drum trigger. The contraption was connected via an XLR cable to either a Roland PAD-80 drum trigger or directly to a DAW running a drum trigger VST. With this setup the Baxtersizer could trigger a variety of sounds for Baxter to play. I would start an arpeggio on my synthesizer and the Baxter would play his ‘lead’ and bark his vocals along to the beat. Upon seeing Baxter do this my friend and Fizzbin bandmate John pointed something spooky out; he’s doing it on tempo!
Since building his synth each time I keyed the first note on my synthesizer Baxter would come running into the studio wanting to play his Baxtersizer. Most times I let him play for fifteen minutes before beginning my own session. After all… it gave his pleasure and exercised his mind and body. Plus it was pretty cool.
Almost two years ago when the Classic Rock band I play in, Coming of Age, began to play here Baxter was right there with us. I would tell him ahead of time that his boys were coming to play music for him and promptly at 5:30 on rehearsal nights he’d be standing by the front door waiting for the guys to show up so he could greet them and determine which one of them brought the pizza. Our family spoiled Bax a bit and I would feed him some of whatever I was eating in the studio with the guys. Bax would then survey the situation and lay outside the glass studio doors so he could watch and listen without it being too loud for his sensitive ears. Last week we began working on an acoustic version of our set and Bax lay in the middle of the circle of musicians digging the mellow tunes. He was such a good boy and music lover.
Early last month Bax began to really slow down and show signs of some type of illness. We suspected it was DCM, a heart condition he had been diagnosed with a few years ago. It was DCM but in addition to that Baxter also had Lymphoma. We put him on a series of medication but did not opt to have any Chemotherapy or invasive Cancer treatments done. At almost ten and a half it would have been cruel to end his life with that kind of suffering.
Earlier this year Baxter’s daughter Fiji was supposed to have a litter. Baxter was bred twice and has thirteen children. Unfortunately that litter was never conceived but in early September Fiji did have a litter of fine puppies. Baxter’s grandchildren. Nine days ago we brought home Baxter’s grandson Bogey. Despite his poor health Baxter played with Bogey and taught him many things including (thankfully) where puppies go to the bathroom. Bogey potty-trained in just two days. The two of them enjoyed each other’s company lightly playing and going for short walks. By the end that was all Baxter could manage.
When Bax’s condition declined rapidly starting last Friday night we called the Vet to our home to give Baxter peace and relief. She did just that and we are so thankful for her help despite the massive sorrow we now feel. Baxter’s many friends have sent kind words and condolences and we are grateful to them for their comfort in our time of grief.
Now with our fond and wonderful memories of our very special and unique friend we will raise Baxter’s grandson Bogey with all the love, attention and care that we gave to Baxter. That’s what he would have wanted. We miss you so much Bax and will never forget your kind nature and wonderful personality.