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Oh, Baxter
by Carolyn Hassall

Baxter the beagle sat quietly drinking in the mayhem around him.  First, there was the food fight and then the twins moved on to hitting each other with pillows.  Now there was foam, feathers, smeared Jello and squished brownies everywhere.  Baxter’s sensitive nose twitched at the heady aroma.  He started to drool.  Unable to control himself, he pounced on a large chocolatey chunk and quickly gobbled it down.

“I can’t leave you for ten seconds!” exclaimed Stacey, surveying the damage as she came into the room.  Clara glanced at Chloe and then looked up at her mom, “It wasn’t us,” she began. 

Stacey’s eyes strayed over the twins’ curly brown hair and settled on Baxter.  The circumstantial evidence was strong, Baxter indeed looked guilty with crumbs and feathers stuck in the drool on his jowls.  “Oh Baxter, you bad dog,” she pointed to the corner.  Baxter slunk off sighing, his round, sad eyes downcast.

The children quietly helped Stacey tidy up, relieved that Baxter was fall guy. 


“Why is the dog moping?” The twins’ dad asked when he came home later. 

“He’s in trouble AGAIN,” the girls chimed in unison.  “He was very naughty,” said Chloe her eyes wide and innocent, “He made such a mess!” 

“We cleaned it up” added Clara smugly, her arm around her sister, the very picture of treacherous solidarity.

“Oh Baxter,” said Charlie, “What are we to do with you?”  He came over and patted Baxter on his soft brown head.  Baxter sighed, his round sad eyes looking up lovingly.

“Do you want dinner?,” Stacey asked her husband.

“No, thanks,” said Charlie, heading for his usual seat at the end of the room.   “I already ate.”  Charlie had in fact had a large lunch at his favorite all-you-can-eat buffet, but he decided not to mention that detail.  Stacey had recently banned him from eating there because the food gave him bad gas.  Fingers crossed he’d get away with it this time.

An hour later the gastric rumblings began.  Stacey was busy reading the mail and the girls were happily coloring at the kitchen table.  Charlie managed to suppress the sound effects, but the gas was escaping regardless and soon the air was ripe. 

First Baxter, who had been happily snoozing at Charlie’s feet, got up in disgust and went to sit by the open window.  Then Stacey’s nose started to wrinkle.

“Phooey,” she said looking up, “What is that awful smell?” 

Charlie looked up over his book, “Nothing over here,” he lied hopefully.  Now Chloe and Clara could smell it too.  “Yucky, yucky,” said Chloe pinching her nose. 

Charlie’s eyes wandered around the room, searching desperately for something to deflect the conversation as his gut continued to rumble.  His gaze fell conveniently on the beleaguered beagle. 

“Oh, Baxter!” he said accusingly.  Clearly betrayal ran in the family.

“It’s all that feather brownie he ate earlier” piped up Clara.  “He’s such a naughty dog.” 

This time there was no circumstantial evidence, but there was an undeniable credibility in the accusation.  Baxter sighed; his round sad eyes distraught at the injustice. 


The next day the twins were getting ready for school when Chloe realized that with all the fun of the food and pillow fight, she hadn’t done her homework.   She began to cry.

“What’s wrong sweetie?” Stacey bent down to her daughter sympathetically. 

“I can’t find my homework,” she lied, real tears running down her cheeks.  “I did it last night and now it’s not here.”  Chloe’s eyes narrowed as she spotted Baxter by the door.  “Do you think the dog ate it?” she asked Stacey, optimistically. 

“Baxter?” Stacey mused thoughtfully, as she scooped Chloe up into her arms, “We need to go now.  Don’t worry, I’ll talk to your teacher, but we need to do something about that dog.”


Later that evening, with dinner over and the dishwasher humming in the background, the twins sat happily at the table finishing off today’s (and yesterday’s) homework.  Stacey went over to sit next to Charlie on the sofa.

“Honey,” she began, “We need to talk about Baxter.”

“Baxter?” Charlie reddened slightly with guilt, “What about him?”

“Well,” said Stacey looking at the beagle, snoring gently on his bed, “It seems like he’s always in the middle of some trouble, maybe he’d be better with another family where he’d get more attention,” she ventured.

“Oh Baxter, no!  No!” The girls jumped up in panic, running over to their faithful hound’s side.

“It’s not his fault he ate the brownie,” wailed Clara, “It was on the floor and he’s a dog.  That’s what dogs do, Mom!”

“Yes,” chipped in Charlie, “And that’s what made him smelly, give the old boy a break, dogs are smelly you know.”

“And maybe we had a bit to do with the feathers,” ventured Chloe.  “It wasn’t ALL his fault.”

“Well, if you’re sure,” said Stacey cautiously, “I’d hate to see him go too.”

“Yes, yes, yes.  He’s our best friend EVER,” the girls chorused.

“You’ll never get a more loyal friend than a dog, Stacey,” added Charlie, knowingly.

Charlie, Stacey, Chloe and Clara all crowded round Baxter, mussing his ears, rubbing his tummy and patting his head.  Baxter sighed, because that’s what beagles always do, his round sad eyes brimming with love.

Oh, Baxter by Carolyn Hassall
Copyright DECEMBER 2023 – All Rights Reserved