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Kristen Stanley and Baxter changed each other’s lives for the better. Kristen shares their sweet story.
Sometimes in life, if you’re lucky enough, you get the chance to meet “the one.” Whether they’re meant to be the love of your life, your soul mate, your best friend, or all three, you feel an immediate connection with that individual, and a sense that your meeting was meant to be. For Kristen Stanley, “the one” turned out to be Baxter, a gentle giant of a pup in need of a forever home. Not only was it love at first sight, but the bond Kristen formed with Baxter turned out to be bigger and more powerful than she could have ever imagined. This is their love story.
“In 2012, I was going through a very rough patch, probably the hardest time in my life. I had recently returned from deployment and was being separated from the Navy despite wanting to stay in and hoping for a career as an officer. My boyfriend was struggling to decide whether or not he wanted to make a real commitment to me, I was hundreds of miles away from my family and close friends, and I was struggling with what a Veterans Affairs doctor diagnosed as major depressive disorder with occasional anxiety. In short, I was not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, I wasn’t seeing a light in my life at all.
Then Baxter came along. I was looking to adopt a Great Dane or a Great Dane mix. I had found one through a breed-specific rescue, but they rejected my application because I was active-duty military. I was devastated, with yet another setback to juggle. Then I found Baxter on an adoption website. He was listed as a German Shepherd/Great Dane mix and was still living with his current family. Although I couldn’t tell how big he was in the picture and really didn’t want a German Shepherd of any kind, I was drawn to him and decided to drive the two hours to meet him.
He was (and still is) a big, silly oaf. He was calm and sweet and big and goofy, and he was so loving and gentle with the two little boys living at his house. He didn’t look much like a Great Dane, but that was okay. I took him with me, and when I got him home and let him inside (he had lived outside his whole life), he immediately took a liking to the couch and one of my giant stuffed animals. Since then, couches and giant stuffed animals are still his favorite things, other than food and treats!
From that day, Baxter changed my life. I had a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to be excited about coming home, and he was a shoulder to cry on when I had a bad day or got bad news. He really gave me a reason to be excited about living and hope for the future as long as I had him. He made me feel loved and needed, he gave me unwavering loyalty and a trusted friendship, and he gave me someone to rely on and always be there for me. He made me laugh, he made me happy, he opened my heart to other people who loved dogs as much as I did, which opened doors to new friendships, and for the first time in my life, he gave me something to be passionate about.
Two years after getting Baxter, I was finally able to get off of my mental health medication because with him by my side, I can take on life and its ups and downs. He’s the reason I’m stronger and happier than ever today. And although we’ve gotten another dog who I also love very much, nothing compares to the connection and love I have with Baxter. I owe the world to my sweet gentle giant!”
Love comes in many forms, but there’s nothing like the unconditional love of a dog — especially a “soul mate” dog — to help us heal our hearts when they’ve been broken. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Kristen — Baxter is just as lucky to have you as you are to have him!
Top photo: Kristen and Baxter courtesy Kristen Stanley.
A devoted dog mom, journalist, and animal activist, Lisa uses her writing to spread awareness about animal welfare and cruelty issues. She lives in Atlanta with two spoiled German Shepherds, one entitled Pug, and a very understanding husband. Read more of her work at her blog and website, and follow her on Twitter.
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