Imagine you are deployed to Afghanistan and leave your beloved three-year-old dog with your girlfriend for the duration of your tour of duty. That sounds reasonable, right? That’s what Robert Gabbert thought when he left his Shiba Inu, Baxter, in the care of his girlfriend near Fort Carson, Colorado.
After the relationship ended, Gabbert had expected his ex to return Baxter to his parents for safe keeping until he came home. Instead, he discovered his ex-girlfriend posted Baxter for sale on Craigslist. In a desperate plea, Gabbert wrote on Craigslist:
I am currently deployed and my ex sold my dog. I just found out and I am trying to find the people (person) who bought him. I will pay anything to get him back. His name is Baxter and he is a Shiba Inu. I do not have my phone with me. You can email me. The phone number is my mom’s she is helping me locate him. If you have any information PLEASE give us a call or an email.
Gabbert raised Baxter from a young pup. He has loved and cared for him for three years. You can see the dedication in the photo collage Gabbert created and posted on his Facebook page before he was deployed. He wanted to make a blanket out of it to keep Baxter’s image with him while in a foreign land.
Gabbert’s mother, Karen Fraley, found out Baxter was bought by a military family with young children. The family was reluctant to return Baxter, saying their children had become attached. That’s when strangers started to help. Some caring people started a Facebook page titled “Help Bring Baxter Home 2014” and within two days it had more than 2,000 followers.
As the Facebook page garnered so many views and comments expecting Baxter’s return, the family who bought Baxter has finally agreed to return him to Gabbert’s parents. “Now that they know about it, they can do the right thing,” said supporter Nancy Wallace. “They can teach their children, ‘Yeah this is very difficult, but we do the right thing.’” Well said, Nancy!
In return, the “Help Bring Baxter Home 2014” page was taken down from Facebook. The family wishes to remain anonymous, as does the ex-girlfriend. The Gabbert family is willing to help the other family find a new dog. The Colorado Shiba Inu Rescue has also offered their assistance in helping the family with two children get another pet.
It’s a bit disconcerting that a family who thought they were ethically purchasing a pet for their kids initially refused to return the dog to his rightful human because the kids had “bonded” with the dog. That family had Baxter for a week before finding out the truth. Gabbert and Baxter had been together for three years. Is there any doubt Baxter would choose to return to Gabbert?
Social media is a powerful tool that while often criticized when being used for nefarious means, should be equally rewarded when it helps people do the right thing. I have no doubt it was difficult for the young military family to give Baxter back to Gabbert’s parents. It’s so easy to love a dog! The valuable lesson they finally decided to teach their children should stay with them for life and pay forward in the future.
All photos are from Facebook