The call came in to a Nebraska animal control from a concerned neighbor. She reported cries, moans and yelps coming from a small dog in a neighboring home. Investigators rushed to the scene only to find their worst fears confirmed: It was a Pomeranian, barely 9 pounds, unconscious on a backyard deck. The dog, named Baxter, had been severely beaten, kicked in the head and abandoned.
Baxter was rushed to the Nebraska Humane Society's intensive care unit. Tests and examinations found that the pup had fluid and swelling on his brain. The society's veterinarians, techs and volunteers worked around the clock to care for Baxter, holding him, keeping him wrapped in warm blankets and whispering words of encouragement in his ear. Then, a miracle occurred: Baxter woke up. Unfortunately, it was soon apparent that the beating – and the many that had happened before this one – had caused irreversible brain damage.
Barely 2 years old, Baxter would never walk straight again; instead, his gait would always be crooked. The damage also meant that this dog would have difficulty ever holding his head upright. House-training would be an especially tough challenge. Baxter would also require a special diet for the rest of his life. Despite the seemingly impossible list of obstacles facing him, Baxter had a strong spirit, and he was not willing to give up.
With unfailing love, care and dedication, the Nebraska Humane Society staff and volunteers threw themselves into helping Baxter achieve as normal a life as possible. They were inspired by his determination and by his willingness to trust in people again. Baxter began to thrive at the society, basking in the attention and loving care he so richly deserved.
Baxter's story went viral, and he became the media representative for the Nebraska Humane Society, helping to educate people about animal abuse. During this time, Pam, the Nebraska Humane Society's vice president of public relations and marketing, fell in love with this brave dog, and she adopted him.
For 12 years, Baxter lived a wonderful life with his new owner. He remained a mascot for animal rights, including helping in the passage of animal cruelty bills in Nebraska and being the cause behind many fundraising efforts across the state and country. Everyone who met Baxter fell in love with the sweet-natured dog who greeted each day with gratitude.
Unfortunately, in February of 2017, Baxter died at 16 years old. He had defied the odds, overcome his initial injuries and stolen the hearts of everyone who met him. Baxter persevered and touched the lives of many people as an ambassador for the Nebraska Humane Society, from those who were with him every hour after his arrival at the society to those who loved him from afar via social media.
The Nebraska Humane Society expressed its sorrow in this Facebook post:
"This post is difficult for us to write. Our dear friend and shelter ambassador Baxter has gone over the Rainbow Bridge. If you had the pleasure of meeting B over the years, you know that he is the perfect example of what we try to do every day – give a second chance to an animal in need. He was a miracle and we'll miss him so, so very much. During this somber time, we're remembering Baxter's greatest moments: running to the gift shop to steal treats, dressing up as a lobster for Halloween, and best of all, sharing his boundless love with the Omaha community (in exchange for pets, of course).
"Thank you for everything, Baxter."
In memory of Baxter, the Nebraska Humane Society encourages people to volunteer, donate or adopt from their local rescue or shelter. There are many more "Baxters" that could use a helping paw or hand to give them a better chance at life. Learn about Baxter's remarkable recovery from the video below and help out a local animal in need.