"Moments with Baxter," by Melissa Joseph, is a collection of 36 touching, true stories between Baxter, a 19-year-old therapy dog, and the hospice patients and their families and friends to whom he brings comfort and love.
A fan of Harry Potter, one of Mo's wishes was to see the most recent film in the series -- which she did, with Baxter accompanying her in his own little padded red wagon.
"Baxter is with Davide on several occasions. Dennis [the author's husband] and I have no conversations with him other than his nodding 'yes' to indicate he wants Baxter in bed with him. He connects with Baxter like a child connects to his Teddy bear. Baxter becomes his link to the childhood that has slipped away."
"Paulita is all over Baxter, fondling him and flicking his ears with his I.D. badge and his business card. He's completely agreeable to whatever this little girl does. She pulls his tail, pats his head, rubs him, and hugs him. She gives him kisses several times. She looks at her mother, who is holding her upright. Paulita smiles big, laughs, and high-fives with her mother. Paulita has found a new friend, and so has Baxter."
One Thanksgiving, a 92-year-old patient asked that Baxter be placed alongside her on her pillow. "He's right there in her face and, though her vision and hearing are not sharp, he's so close that none of this matters. She can see all of him, and what she misses, she can easily touch."
Author Melissa Joseph has been volunteering alongside Baxter for over four years. She and Baxter currently volunteer at Palomar Pomerado Hospital in San Diego. She is also an adjunct teacher of writing and literature. Photos here and in the book are by Joseph's husband, Dennis Bussey, left.
With fuzzy ears; a cold, wet nose; and black eyeliner around his deep, brown eyes, Baxter wants nothing more than to cuddle with those who need it most.
All proceeds from the sale of "Moments with Baxter" will be donated to charitable causes. To learn more about Baxter, visit momentswithbaxter.com. Get more information about therapy dogs.
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