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All the Dogs I've Loved Before: Part Three, the Boxer

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Boxers have been a part of my life since my childhood, although I can't seem to find the family photo of Mountie and Princess in front of my bell bottom clad father, my polyester clad mother, and our BC-bound Winnebago. Nor can I find the photos of Baby, my 16th birthday present, either before or after we had to amputate her broken leg. The picture you see here is of Gunner, I think, although maybe Tiga, who came into my parent's retirement, and fostered a mini-breeding program. This picture was taken at Halloween. We were Cat and Dog.

Mountie and Princess lived with us in Ontario, meaning before my eighth birthday, which was celebrated in BC. Mountie was a strongly built red fawn with a wide, white chest, Princess a brindle. They were siblings from the same litter, and although Mountie was about as perfectly built as a boxer could be, Princess had an over bite. I didn't care. Mountie was the family pet, equally loyal to all; Princess was mine. I defy anyone to tell you otherwise.

The dogs were, as boxers are reputed to be, gentle and energetic -- perfect dogs for a family with young children and a fenced back yard. When we moved from Cornwall, Ontario, to Ladner, BC, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, we travelled together in the family Pacer -- Mountie, Princess, my cat Velvet plus litter box, my mother father sister and myself. I was too young to remember, but I am guessing it was a long trip.

Climbing roses grew outside our house in Ladner, and one day my mother pricked a finger on a thorn while gardening. The dogs were loose in the fenced back yard until, hearing my mother yelp, Mountie leapt the back fence and rushed to her rescue, showing all his protective instincts. Princess stayed put. Clearly my dog knew the difference between a rose prick and a serious danger.

Baby came along years after her predecessors. She was my 16th Birthday present -- my father, who worked in aviation and was always in and out of the home for work, snuck over to Vancouver Island to pick her up. As a puppy, Baby liked to be held. She would put her paws on opposite sides of my neck then snuggle in for a hug. Which is how she gained her name.

While Baby was with us, the family moved again, this time to the Okanagan of BC. There, my parents purchased 40 acres of raw forested mountain side (now bordering Predator Ridge Golf Course), and I spent my grade twelve year riding my horses through the forest with Baby running alongside for hours. Periodically, she would disappear into the bush to chase down something or other, but she always found her way back. It was a pretty great improvement on city life -- for both of us.

The spring of my graduation year, our family came home from a late night outing to a missing dog. It was early morning before we found her, lying beside the hay pile, broken and bleeding, clearly the victim of a vehicular hit and run. Her back leg was broken, the vet told us, but she was otherwise okay. Setting and casting the leg, Baby was ordered to come home and rest -- not a boxer's best skill. The bone was healing well, though, until she made the ill-advised decision to jump four feet off our patio while still casted. The bone re-broke, and we were advised to amputate.

From that point on, Baby became known to my father as Tri-pod (rude!). She did just fine without the leg, still running after me and the horses. The only noticeable consequence was the amazing development of her chest. That dog had breadth! She didn't do as well with moving back to the city. I'd left home by then, and was living in my first apartment -- no dogs allowed. Baby moved to Surrey with my parents. She howled her unhappiness at her new confinement.

Years later, back in the Okanagan, mom bought Tiga, whose name, in Indonesian, means Three. Tiga became founding dam number one in my mother's retirement backyard breeding project. One of her pups, Jake, was purchased by my grad escort and his wife. You know you live in a small town when... The beautiful thing about that arrangement was my ability to scope Jake's pictures out on Calvin's Facebook page. From what I can tell, no dog was ever loved more than Jake. He won the family jackpot.

Some other people who own boxers include Chelsea Handler (comedian), Giselle Bundchen (model), Greg Biffle (Nascar Driver), Jessica Biel (actress), Jordan Knight (singer), Jorja Fox (CSI actress), and Hugh Jackman (that's right, Wolverine owns a boxer). Oh yeah, and Carmen Diaz, Justin Timblerlake, Luke Perry, Tony Curtis, Matthew Goode, Yannick Bisson, and my personal favourite, Ryan Reynolds. As well, in my novel-in-progress, the murder hinges around a lost dog -- Sylvester (boxer!).

Whether you are a celebrity or an average Joe, boxers really are great family dogs -- great dogs, period. They were originally bred as guard animals and still retain those instincts, as Mountie's story attests, but I've yet to meet a mean boxer. I've met hyper boxers, mischievous boxers, escape artist boxers, gorgeous, loving, gentle affectionate boxers, but not a mean one. They are considered to be mid-sized dogs, and to show them, the amount of white on their face and bodies must meet specific regulations. They can be prone to ear infections and have a fairly short life expectancy. Some chew shoes and most erroneously believe they are lap dogs. If you are considering buying a dog and you want an active pet, boxers really could be an excellent choice. They were for us!

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