How Social Media Brought Baxter the Dog Home

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.

Credit: Facebook

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


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Nola C.
Nola C3 years ago

What a worthless piece of crap the ex-girlfriend is, and she should not be allowed to remain anonymous, especially so she never gets a chance to do this again to someone else's beloved pet! As for the family, I understand that they could become attached to the dog, but all it would take is one look at Gabbert's facebook page to realize how much he really cares about Baxter. Especially since this man helps to protect this country in the service, no question you give the dog back. The experience will also teach the children when to do the right thing, not to mention the fact that there are hundreds of other dogs out there that need adopted into a good home.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

thanks for sharing this story

Joy T.
Joy T3 years ago

Yay! So happy to know that Baxter is back in the hands of Robert's family, and will be there to greet Robert when he returns from his deployment! That's a video I look forward to seeing!

Val M.
Val M3 years ago


Heidi D.
Heidi D3 years ago

Not only should the bitch ex-girlfriend NOT be allowed to remain anonymous, her photo and info should be posted far and wide so that everyone, future boyfriends included, will know what a nasty piece of work she is. I hope she has a miserable life.

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

What a mean person, that ex of his!

Lee B.
Lynne B3 years ago

What a nasty piece of work the ex girlfriend is. She should be named and shamed. Glad the dog went back to his rightful owner.

Darla G.
Darla G3 years ago

I have no doubt that if the Facebook page had not been created, Baxter wouldn’t have been returned. Social media CAN and DOES work to do good things. I’m sure it was very difficult for the new family’s children to give up Baxter. There’s no question that you can bond with a dog in a week’s time but as Nancy Walker in the article said, it teaches the children a good albeit difficult lesson. My biggest fear when I adopted a “stray” dog from a rescue group was that someday I would be in Petco and someone would say, “Hey, that’s my dog” (my dog, now deceased, had a VERY distinguishing feature – he was missing 2 toes from his left front paw). I always wondered what I would do if that happened. Thankfully, I never had to find out and Buddy and I spent 8 wonderful years together before he died of cancer at the age of 16.

Miya Eniji
Miya Eniji3 years ago

oh no, spelling error- should have been: in any case, to REMAIN anonymous should NOT BE a privilege she is allowed... perdon, pardonnez-moi, sumimasen, etc.