On June 29, Baxter the Labrador retriever, pictured, passed away and a memorial party took place in his honor July 13 involving family, friends and neighbors.

On June 29, Baxter the Labrador retriever, pictured, passed away and a memorial party took place in his honor July 13 involving family, friends and neighbors.

Photo provided by Denise Schneider


Memorial balloons let go in Shelby receive letter back from Virginia

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 24, 2020

 Memorial balloons were released at the memorial in Shelby Township with cards asking that whoever might find them to return the card inside when found. A man in Virginia found one of the balloons and sent a note back.

Memorial balloons were released at the memorial in Shelby Township with cards asking that whoever might find them to return the card inside when found. A man in Virginia found one of the balloons and sent a note back.

Photo provided by Denise Schneider

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A dog is more than just a pet; a dog is both a family member and a friend. The memorial for one friendship that was built over almost 16 years brought an unexpected coda to a dog’s life in Shelby Township.

Denise Schneider, of Shelby Township, remembers all the good times she had with her almost-16-year-old Labrador retriever, Baxter, and will continue to remember them well after he has moved on to a better place.

On June 29, Baxter died at the age of 15 years and 2 months, and a memorial party was planned in his honor.

The party was held July 13, as family, friends and neighbors gathered to share the memories they had of Baxter.

Memorial balloons were released at the memorial, with cards asking that whoever might find them to return the card inside when found.

So far, one balloon has been returned.

“Of the 20 balloons released, this was the only one returned,” said Schneider.

It was returned by a man in Virginia named Jesse Marsh.

Bill and Diane Smith, of Shelby Township, are neighbors of Schneider and attended the event in memory of Baxter.

They said they remembered when they first met Baxter in 2008. Denise, her husband, Jerry, and Baxter would walk by their house.

“Our two dachshund pups would let us know by barking incessantly. We were kind of leery of letting Baxter meet the pups, but he was a gentle giant,” said Diane Smith. “Baxter was well known in the neighborhood, and many friendships were created over the years. He had a kind and gentle personality and was welcomed and loved by all.”

Bill Smith said he wonders if Jesse might have found their balloon.

“We attended the memorial, and it was sad, but a nice way to honor and say goodbye to Baxter. I’ll always wonder if Jesse found the balloon that I let go. I still can’t believe that it traveled so far. Maybe Denise and Jerry will receive more responses,” Bill Smith said.

He said one of his favorite memories of Baxter is when he would be sleeping and his back legs would start moving like he was running.

“Baxter meant the world to them, and they really gave him a wonderful life,” he said.

Denise was surprised by the apparent speed with which the balloon traveled.

“Apparently, the balloon made it to Virginia in one day, because the postmark on the note he sent back was the day after the balloons were released,” Denise said.

Marsh has three dogs of his own and lives on a farm.

The note stated that Marsh sends his sympathy and that his dogs had found the balloon.

Schneider said she was happy when she found out that someone had taken the time to send the card back and even include a little message.

“I was so touched that someone would take the time to send me back the card with a letter. I still cry every day and am in a grief support class at Trinity Lutheran Church,” said Schneider.

Schneider said she will be getting a new puppy at the end of September, and she might name the new dog after Marsh. In that way, it would provide a connection to Baxter and how much it meant to her that someone sent the balloon back.

The new puppy will be ready Sept. 27, and she will be eight weeks old. The puppy will be a black Labrador retriever, just like Baxter.

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