Baxter

Editor’s note: Baxter Black, a large animal veterinarian, nationally known cowboy poet, humorist, commentator, and longtime contributor to the Belgrade News, died Friday, June 10, at age 77, at his home in Benson, Ariz. Due to health concerns, he stopped writing and speaking in late 2021. On Jan. 15, 2022, his wife, Cindy Lou, reported that Baxter was in hospice care. Here we are reprising one of his columns that is a particular favorite of the Belgrade News staff.

Have you ever been embarrassed by your good dog? Me either! I’ve got a good dog – an Australian shepherd with one blue eye, and I believe he loves me. I believe I love him.

I’ve got a neighbor. A good neighbor. And when you live on the outskirts, a good neighbor is someone who lives just the right distance away. Anyway, she gets home ‘bout a quarter after five every day. Goes through the house and comes out the back door wearin’ her coveralls. In her backyard she has a long line of rabbit hutches and she spends, what is to me, an inordinate amount of time messin’ with them rabbits – talkin’ to ’em, singin’ ’em little rabbit songs.

Now I’m sittin’ out on the back porch one afternoon in my porch swing. It’s about 2:30. I look out in the driveway and there’s my good dog and he has got this rabbit between his teeth, and he’s thrashin’ him like a shark with a ham hock! There’s dirt and leaves and brush and gravel flyin’ all over. I jumped up and grabbed that rabbit! “Go git in the pickup you #@%5E...!”

That rabbit looked bad. Looked like he caught on fire and somebody put him out with the weedeater!

I ran in the house and run the tub full of warm water. Then I got some of my wife’s good shampoo. I sudsed him up twice then moussed him with my daughter’s mousse. Made him sticky. You could thwack him on the tile, peel him off like Velcro. Then I run upstairs to the laundry and put him in the dryer. When he came out he was fluffy, looked like an electrocuted porcupine!

I carried him to my neighbor’s house. Sure enough, the last hutch on the end was cocked open and it was empty. I took that rabbit and folded him into a rabbit position. Put a smile on his lips and leaned him up against the wire.

I went back to the house and commenced to rockin’. ’Bout a quarter after five I saw my neighbor drive up, she got out, went through the house and came out the back wearin’ her covies. She started down that long line of rabbit hutches. Talkin’ to ’em. Singin’ ’em little rabbit songs. All of sudden I heard her scream!

I ran over there, bein’ the good neighbor that I was, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

“My rabbit,” she cried.

I looked in the cage and the poor little duffer had fell over. One ear broke off. It didn’t look good. I stroked him gently and said, “Ma’am, I believe he is dead.” I was a veterinarian, I could tell.

“Yes,” she said, “But what bothers me is I buried him three days ago!”

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