Loyalty Shopping!

Amazon Smile donates 2% of your purchases to our Veterinary Care Fund!

Amazon Smile

Help our Veterinary Care Fund when you shop using Amazon Smile!  Amazon Smile donates 2% of your purchases to our Veterinary Care Fund!



422496Amazon Wishlist

Our Amazon Wishlist contains items which we need and would be happy to have. It covers everything from basics like dewormer all the way to our dogs’ dream bed and ink for us to print out adoption applications.


Ebay DonatesEbay

We signed up with Ebay’s Giving works!  This week, we received a $200 donation from Ebay’s Giving Works. Selling on Ebay? Make our Rescue your Favorite Non-Profit and show your buyers that you will donate a portion of your selling price to The Dog Liberator!  Sign up today, and share this with your Ebay Friends!


Just Enter our Group ID, 990055884

Yankee Candles

Yankee Candles will donate 40% or your purchases to our Veterinary Care Fund!  Just Enter our Group ID 990055884.  It doesn’t get any easier than this!


Not Setup to Donate Online?

Don’t feel comfortable with online payments?
You can send your contribution directly to our Primary Vet:

Payable to:  Newman Veterinary Centers, Deltona
Attention:  The Dog Liberator #7656

1200 Deltona Blvd. Suite 10 Deltona, Florida 32725
E-mail: deltonamanager@newmanvets.com
Telephone: 386-860-5335 Fax: 386-860-5322

Email us with your ideas at thedogliberator@gmail.com and please Subscribe to our newsletter


What Would Happen if There Were No Rescues?

This video is dedicated to Wells, I’m sorry we couldn’t save you in time.

Fostering 101

What if?

If we put together a package to attract New Foster Families, and it included a transport crate, a crate for your home, de-worming medication, flea preventative, dog food, leashes and collars, would you be willing to foster for us for 12 months and foster a minimum of five dogs over that 12 months…. and the dogs you foster may not necessarily have to be herding dogs.

Remember, our dogs stay in foster care for an average of 11-16 days. And all dogs are spay/neutered and fully vetted.

CertificateBut wait, there’s more!  What if we provided you with three 2-hour training sessions with a professional trainer/behaviorist, covering things like body language, resource guarding, food aggression, leash training, crate training, and much more….

But wait, there’s more!  We  also would create a “how to” foster program, and after successfully completing this training, and fostering for us, a certificate of completion would be awarded, stating that you are a Certified Dog Liberator Foster!

Would you say yes or no?


Mike Hannigan - I can't resist this face!

Mike Hannigan – I can’t resist this face!

We posted a simple question on Facebook:

If you’ve ever thought about fostering a dog, but have never really made that big decision to say yes… what would it take to convince you to foster? 

What incentives, or assurances do you need… 

What are you afraid of or what makes you apprehensive?

Next Question, if you have or are currently fostering… why do you do it?

The answers we received were very unexpected!  The majority of folks said they were afraid to foster because they were afraid they would get too attached.

Here are some more great answers!

Claire and Michelle

Claire and Michelle

Michelle Kamber:  I was reluctant to foster at first too, fearing I’d get too attached and not be able to let them go. But, I will say that deciding to foster has been such a great decision and one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Being able to help save a life is a great feeling. From picking them up at the shelter (or wherever) and seeing their relief in the car and home, to finding the absolute perfect forever families for them, there is nothing better. There have been tears shed for sure when some were adopted but it’s all worthwhile. (Came really close to being a foster failure a time or two….) I’m honored to have been able to spend a few weeks with these wonderful dogs and am always amazed how the perfect family always finds them. The follow up after an adoption with the family is wonderful as well and makes me happy. I keep an album full of pictures of dogs I’ve been able to help and looking at it makes a bad day much better. Fostering saves lives!


Blake and Laura

Blake and Laura

Laura Burk:  OK well I am a foster… fell into it by accident. I was transporting and there was always a day or two between meeting the incoming transport and taking them to Deltona and Gisele. Then something happened, kennel cough and the puppies Gisele had needed to get out of dodge. It was easy and puppies are fun… but then came the call. The call about Cecilia, LOL… She needed my family, that was what Gisele said. She needed a male dominated home to help her overcome her fear of men. I talked it over with my family… we decided to try it. She was a success and we were hooked. No greater feeling that helping a dog overcome whatever obstacle holds them back from the joy that every dog should feel. We have been fostering since June 2013 and love it (most days). I thought I would keep them all but I love the feeling I get when someone emails me days after an adoption to thank us for what we do. I love helping them move on to their furrever homes! And at 20+ foster/transports, I have only failed once, LOL… Like right now we are without a foster and my husband keeps asking me when we are getting the next one (hint hint… the one with blue eyes would be wonderful) I won’t lie, you get attached and it is hard sometimes to let go but knowing that each little one you let go makes room for another that might now make it without you is worth it every time! 

Over a year had gone by and Flash Gordon remembered Gisele!

Over a year had gone by and Flash Gordon remembered Gisele!

My favorite answer (because it sounds like something I would write) was from Daniel!

Daniel Frazier: As a foster, I’ve gotten completely overly attached to nearly all my old fosters and would take them back in a heartbeat. The only reason i let them go in the first place is because i know in my heart that their new family would be able to take care and love and spoil the pup as much as i ever could. It just warms my soul when i see them after months of them being in their new homes. That moment when they recognize you and start wagging their whole body and are just so excited they can barely contain themselves.

Two years have passed, yet Doc and Wyatt remember their Foster, Kevin Scott!

Two years have passed, yet Doc and Wyatt remember their Foster, Kevin Scott!

Why did we ask the question?  We are piloting new ideas to attract and retain great foster homes by identifying what they need.  What incentives do foster families need, what support system is required?  All of this information will be identified in a grant proposal.  Our goal is to identify and support ten new fosters in the next 12 months.  Each foster will be asked to foster 5 dogs each year.  If we are successful we could increase our adoptions by 50 dogs per year.

Our rescue is never inundated with rescued dogs.  Our dogs, on average, are adopted within 11-16 days.  In every foster-failure situation, the foster had room for one, was actually thinking about adopting one, and was waiting for the right dog to come along!

Most of our fosters are actually very reluctant to keep one of their foster dogs, knowing that the space that dog will fill might affect their desire to foster in the future.  “I’d love to keep him, but then I wouldn’t be able to foster again.”

We welcome your comments here to help us brainstorm on what it would take to really create a rewarding foster program!

For detailed information on how to foster for TDL, visit our Foster Page.


Instead of us telling you what a difference you can make, let the dogs show you!

Jackson BrowneShep

JaloTim Tebow

Augustus #806 (Charlie)Trixie Belle

Tiny DancerCourage

Claire BearCream Puff


Miss Muffet


Free PetFirst Pet Insurance for Adopters

Effective immediately, your pet is insured!  Just call this number, and sign up!

Your recent adoption includes 30-days of pet insurance from PetFirst. You must call 855-710-7387 in order to activate the insurance, so don’t wait.   Your 30-day pet insurance covers your pets for accidents and illnesses, and reimburses 100% of vet bills incurred during this time up to $500 per incident after a $50 deductible. It is effective at midnight EST following activation and is not retroactive to the date of your adoption, so call as soon as possible to ensure your pet is protected.

PetFirst allows you to extend or upgrade your pet’s coverage with affordable monthly payments.  Call 855-710-7387 to activate your coverage or discuss plan options.

But don’t stop there, if you’ve adopted from us recently, visit our Welcome Home page for tips on starting your dog out right!

Also, before your purchase any pet insurance, you might want to visit http://www.petinsurancereview.com/dog.asp to review what’s covered and what isn’t.  You can also review deductible and coverage amounts!


The Dog Liberator, Inc.

Before and After

We’d like to take a moment to brag a bit and reflect at our accomplishments. We couldn’t have done this without your help!  You can click on any dog’s photo to read more about their rescue and adoption.

Jackson BrowneShep

JaloTim Tebow

Augustus #806 (Charlie)Trixie Belle

Tiny DancerCourage

Claire BearCream Puff


Miss Muffet

Snuffy       Thank you Sarah White for putting all of these photos together!

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Little Bart

Little Bart

our final Farewell to Yogi

our final Farewell to Yogi

Update:  This post was written on April 3rd.  This morning, I received a text from Terri that Matthew McConaughey is getting worse.  What is it with these pups who get kennel cough, improve and then take a nose dive?  Terri is taking Matthew to the vet this morning.


Who knew that giving Journey the distemper shot would give her distemper?  We didn’t.

Who knew that Yogi had a cancerous tumor?  We didn’t.

After losing two beautiful dogs this week, who knew that Perry Como, who was recently adopted, would have a pancreatitis attack and be in critical care.

Who knew that Claire Bear would survive and be a normal, healthy, and happy girl?  Here’s the link to  her new happy video, included is the famous Aussie wiggle!

Who knew that Bart would become a very healthy and very big boy?

Bonnie Blue, Adopted 2013

Bonnie Blue, Adopted 2013

Yet we can not fix what we do not see.  

Several times our dogs have been adopted, and a medical condition appears that we were not aware of.  Clearly, we can not guarantee the health of all of our dogs.  In the case of Bonnie Blue, posted through our home finding service, Canine Connect, after adoption, a heart murmur was detected.  We were devastated.  We fully expected her new family to return her, but they didn’t.  Instead they are providing her with the medical attention she needs, and will love her even though her life will be cut short.  Their dedication is one example of our awesome adopters.

Allow me to go down a bunny trail for a moment!   Regardless of where your dog comes from, a breeder, shelter, rescue, craigslist, or from the side of the road – there are no guarantees.  If you want to be a dog-owner, you must be prepared for the unknown.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, should we recommend pet insurance for at least the first year after bringing your new dog home?  Maybe!

Annie and Mom

Annie and Mom

Recently, Annie the Poodle experienced complications.  She was adopted in 2011.  Annie developed serious heart-related issues.  Because her Mom had pet insurance, the thousands of dollars it cost to treat her – was covered.

Katie came to us pregnant, and when Lynne Deal whelped her puppies, we had no idea that many of them would be born with heart murmurs.  Again, devastating.

Yes, life is like a box of chocolates.

We want to thank all of you for your support and prayers, through the good times and the bad times!  I have to be honest, we are struggling financially.  The Hate Mail that we receive regarding our adoption fees still continues, and I’m at a loss as to how to explain to people why we can’t charge $50 like government-funded shelters do.  Yet most of our dogs come from these shelters.

It’s as if people do not want to reimburse my vet for the services we have provided for the dog.  I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but we can’t adopt out dogs for free.  We at least have to be reimbursed… and many times we are never reimbursed.  The healthy ones help pay for the ones we have lost.

Yogi cost us over $600, adoption fee $0, he passed away.

Claire Bear cost us over $1,500, adoption fee $350.

Remember Bartholomew?  His bills were over $1,600, adoption fee $400

We don’t have a final total for Journey yet, adoption fee $0, she passed away.

Here’s what owning a new dog might cost you:

Three boosters (one booster every other week) at $99 each = $297
Micro chip = $35
De-worming = $25
Spay at four months = $160
Rabies = $17
Total estimated vetting cost $533

Getting back on track now, do I have regrets?  No!  Would I do it again?  Yes!  When we rescue a dog we ballpark what each dog will cost us to rescue:

Here is our minimum:  Complete examination by veterinarian, heartworm test, parvo/distemper boosters, rabies shot, micro-chip, fecal, de-worming, grooming, spay/neuter.

When we overspend it leaves little left to rescue the next dog.

It may seem small to you, but every little surprise adds up.  If we rescue 5 dogs in one month, and one has a hernia that needs to be repaired, one needs ear medication for an ear infection, one needs a tooth extracted or a dental, and if just one has kennel cough, we just lost our reserve for the next group of dogs that are waiting to come to us.

I have to admit, our vetting standards are very high compared to others, but we are not going to lower them.  We could turn a blind eye to all of these minor issues, but we won’t.

Lady Victoria

Lady Victoria

In 2011, we rescued a beautiful Collie that we named Lady Victoria.  At first glance, she looked perfect.  Upon careful inspection, she had a lot of problems.

Big Boo Boos

Big Boo Boos

Loaded with crate sores, and heartworm positive, we were in for a big surprise when we found a nasty tumor on her belly.  Dr. Oliver assured me it was a fatty cell tumor, and it was not cancerous.  It was gross.  It was disgusting.  Once shaved, it was the size of an eggplant.  I couldn’t imagine wanting to rub her belly with such a large squishy mass.

Since she was going to be spayed anyway, I insisted that Dr. Oliver take that nasty thing off of her, and he did.  However, that was an expense that we were not prepared for.

Yikes, what's that?

Yikes, what’s that?

We pride ourselves at rescuing these gorgeous animals and making them as brand new as possible.  We treat them all like they are purebred champions, AKC show dogs!

After Victoria’s surgery, our Dawn (who adopted Lady Priscilla) agreed to foster her, hoping that her Dad, Frank would adopt (we’re sneaky that way).

Dawn introduced the collie to Frank, and it was love at first sight.  After just a few short months, Lady Victoria (now Princess) was heartworm negative.

Frank and his Princess

Frank and his Princess

When I asked Dawn for an update, she reported that all was well, and that Lady Victoria loves to have her belly rubbed.  I let go a huge sigh of relief that I had that tumor removed!  Indeed she does!

There are a lot of things that we don’t have to do, but we are not going to change!

We need your support, your donations, and for the future dogs that we rescue, we will have to ask for sponsors – people who will donate and virtually foster.

There are so many ways you can help.  You can share the following fundraising campaigns with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest:

You can vote for us daily on Free Charity Cars

You can bookmark this Amazon Smile link (they share their profits with us) and use it every time you shop on Amazon.

Bart and I, at our annual reunion in 2013

Bart and I, at our annual reunion in 2013

We currently have fundraising campaigns with BarkBox and Yankee Candles.

Supporting The Dog Liberator can be as simple as sharing our passion with your friends and family through social media.

Again, thank you!

Rescue Groups

rescue groupsDo you volunteer or work for a rescue, shelter, or pound?  Maybe you are using Petfinder to post your available dogs, but we wanted to introduce you a service that we have been using for years, and we love them!  Rescue Groups!  They have saved us a lot of time posting available dogs, their website is fast and doesn’t hang up like other sites we have used.  Changes are instantaneous, and when I have a question, they answer me within the hour!  Now That’s Customer Service!

RescueGroups.org is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides free and low-cost technology services to the animal welfare community. RescueGroups.org is an unaffiliated, volunteer-driven, non-competitive organization that wants to work with like-minded organizations to help animal welfare organizations, volunteers and pets.

RescueGroups.org provides data management, website, email, voice mail and other services to over 3700 rescues and shelters. All of our services include the ability to send your adoptable pets to hundreds of websites you chose, including AllPaws.com, Adopt-a-Pet.com, PetBond,  ASPCA, DogTime, and Petfinder (with use of the Sync App). Our services are all web-based, and no special software or computer experience is needed.


for more information email info@rescuegroups.org

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/rescuegroupsorg

I Have a Dream

Written July 22, 2011
Rescue is simply not making a difference.

Several months ago, I was on the phone with Dale Parrent. We wondered why some people find it acceptable to dump litter after litter at the pound. Why won’t people spay and neuter?

Last month 4 purebred adult Border Collies and a litter of puppies were dropped off at the Rome, Georgia pound by a hobby breeder. Perhaps the extra money he had been making off of these dogs had helped feed his family. Who knows? But when the dogs and the puppies got very sick, apparently he couldn’t afford to vet them and his solution would have resulted in their death were it not for our rescuing them. The pound he dumped them at euthanizes every animal it has on Wednesday morning, regardless of breed, age or how long it has been there. We recently learned that one of these dogs is pregnant.

When citizens drop off a litter of puppies to one shelter director in Alabama, he begs them to come back with the mother of the litter, and offers to spay her for ust $10. They refuse. Even when he offers to spay her for free they still refuse. Why?

Amber Halsey explained to me that they have a spay/neuter mobile clinic that sets up shop in Camden County, Georgia… and no one comes.

It’s even harder to convince dog owners to neuter their males, yet we all know that an un-neutered male can produce hundreds of puppies in one year.

So, I have an idea.

What if our shelter directors and volunteers contacted their local Wal-mart, grocery store or maybe feed store, and together developed an incentive program to encourage citizens to spay/neuter their pets? What if they helped underwrite the cost of spay/neuter to make it afforadable, if not free? What if they offered gift cards for every spay/neuter?

How much money would the shelters and pound save in a year if a spay/neuter campaign in their community was successful?

I wonder how many Moms would take advantage of this opportunity to buy school supplies, shoes, or even food for their family with those gift cards?

This isn’t a novel idea. We’ve heard of principals giving money to students of failing schools as incentive, and it worked.

Who would fund this? I don’t know. But I do know that it would take full cooperation of the veterinary community. Charging up to $350 for one spay or neuter today is almost as damaging to the current over-population of dogs and cats as the puppy mills. Without the cooperation of the veterinary community, we’re doomed.

One of my fosters in South Florida has established a relationship with her vet, and up until a few weeks ago, that vet didn’t know anything about rescue. Now he knows more about the situation and has offered to lower his price for spay/neuter.

The only way to stop the puppy mills is by having taxpayers push lawmakers.

The only way to stop our current dog and cat over-population in rural areas is to change attitude, and a step in that direction is to create incentive.

A man who surrendered one of his female Border Collies to us a few months ago is a breeder. He said he couldn’t sell his puppies anymore. He was losing money, he was stuck with them. His situation isn’t unique, yet hobby breeders keep breeding.

We have twelve puppies in our rescue right now. Not the most we’ve ever had, but twelve is a lot, and more are on the way. Yet the number of puppies in pounds that have no place to go is alarming as is the euthanasia rate in this country.

Trying to stop shelters that gas and heart stick is useless as long as the numbers keep pouring in. The form of euthanasia is irrelevant to me at this point as the end result is the same: we are killing adoptable animals.

I’m hoping that someone reads this post and creates such a program.

Rescue is simply not making a difference.

Homeless Dogs – Comparing 2007 to 2013

Gordon Ramsay's Shelter Photo

Gordon Ramsay’s Shelter Photo

Back in 2007, I designed a video based on raw numbers I found on Petfinder.  I designed another video similar to the 2007 video in 2009, and again in 2011.  Amazing that I kept the numbers in notes and I found them today.  I’m probably the most disorganized person you’ll ever meet!  However, I went onto petfinder, and looked at the numbers for 2013.  What I found was shocking!

First, there are more dogs available.  How can that be?  More people are using it, but is that it?  No, once I did further research, I noticed that a few breeds grew, and I mean in a catastrophic way.  The breeds are being breed and not adopted – double whammy.  Regardless, I really think we (rescue) has done a good job over the years.  We really have, and the numbers prove it.

We warmly welcome your comments, but please appreciate that the numbers do not lie.

The Mixed Breed

Tiny Tim the Corgi-lier (Corgi Cavalier)

Tiny Tim the Corgi-lier
(Corgi Cavalier)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but just couldn’t figure out how to explain what it is I want to share.  This post is written specifically for shelters and pounds, and I hope those of you who work hard to save dogs, make sure that my message is delivered to the top of your organization.

It’s all in the label.

A few months ago, we helped a purebred Boxer find a new home. We posted Wrangler through our Canine Connect program, and he was adopted right off of our Facebook post. The problem was after he was adopted, we received about ten requests from qualified adopters wanting to adopt a purebred boxer.  I found that strange since there is a Boxer rescue not far away.

Over the past few months, we received notifications from shelters and pounds throughout the southeast who had advertised a homeless boxer in their care that needs a home.  The problem was every listing showed “mix”. So while I was looking at a photo of a purebred Boxer in their shelter, on Petfinder and other rescue sites, the dog was labeled a mix.

KiKi, the Shorgie (Sheltie/Corgi)

KiKi, the Shorgie (Sheltie/Corgi)

I have spoken to several shelter volunteers and employees about this. Why do you do that? Their answer is very disturbing. If they can’t prove that the dog is a purebred, they can’t mark it down as such.

petfinder CaptureLet me explain something about posting on Petfinder. You have a drop down menu where you insert the dog’s breed. Border Collie!

Then there’s another drop down menu where you can insert a second breed.

Then, there’s a box you can check, mixed breed where the options given are Yes or No!  What shelters and pounds do is automatically check the mixed breed box with the Yes option. Why? Do you know, proof-positive, that this dog is a mixed breed? Their answer is no, but we don’t know proof-positive that it’s a purebred either.

The Borgi Puppies (Border Collie/Corgi)

The Borgi Puppies (Border Collie/Corgi)

My question is, what would it take for you to know proof-positive that it IS a purebreed? Their answer? Papers!

This is not only insane, but it’s hurting the dogs that are truly purebreds.

Katy Perry was adopted yesterday. I am very confident that Katy is purebred. Do I know that for a fact? No. So why would I profess that she is? Because I don’t see anything else. She does not present any other breed.

When I looked at Boo Boo, I saw Aussie, but I knew she was not a purebred, yet I couldn’t put my finger oni t.  After a few days, and hearing Brittney’s opinion, I saw Aussie and I saw Red Heeler, so I labeled her as such.

White Fluffy Puppies (Aussie/Catahoula)

White Fluffy Puppies (Aussie/Catahoula)

I’m not saying that purebreds are more attractive, and I’m not saying that mixed breeds are less desirable, all I’m saying is I am not going to check the mixed breed box with a Yes unless I know it is, think it is, or suspect it is.

Shelters and pounds claim that their hands are tied, and that they are forced to label every dog that comes into their shelter a mixed breed.

So if you’re cruising Petfinder or other rescue sites, and see that nasty little box checked, ignore it. They don’t know, the dogs are strays!

In cases where a shelter receives an owner-surrender. The owner brings in a puppy, and the owner claims it’s let’s say Border Collie. The owner claims it has a male and female Border Collie on the property, the two dogs were breed, and the pup must be a Border Collie. In this case I would agree, if those were the only two dogs the breeder had, and those were the only two dogs on his property the entire time his female was in heat.

Lady Victoria Collie Mix?

Lady Victoria Collie Mix?

In many cases, Hobby Breeders own several different breeds of dogs. If there is a Sheltie or Great Pyrenees on the property, you can’t guarantee that the puppy is a purebred Border Collie. In many cases, what really happened is the breeder whelpt five wonderful Border Collie puppies, and three that were not. One may have looked more like a Sheltie, and two may present Great Pyrenees. Now, the breeder is stuck. The breeder has three pups that he/she can’t pass off as a Border Collie, i.e., the pups have no value, hence they go to the pound.

I personally could case less if it’s a mixed breed, the purpose of sharing this with you is so that you do not look at that box that is checked.  If you are determined to adopt a purebred, use your own judgement, do not rely on the shelter’s assessment, after all their hands are tied.

One of the reason some people love TDL so much is because we do take in the mixed breeds.  Dogs like Kudos just melted my heart.  There’s no doubt when we rescued dogs like Tim TebowTrixie BelleJakeLady TrueloveZiggy, and even Bart, they were all probably labeled as mixed breeds.  Hogwash, and  I will not drink the Kool-Aid!

Tim Tebow and Lady Truelove (Ignore the Box!)

Tim Tebow and Lady Truelove (Ignore the Box!)

Back in the late 90s I was contacted by a lady who had purchased a Border Collie pup, and she could no longer take care of it.  She described the pup to me over the phone, and I wasn’t interested.  She called me day and night, begging me to take the dog.  We went to see her, and as she came out of her house, one look at the pup and I knew it was a Sheltie mix.  Even though I was looking for a Border Collie, my then husband convinced me to take her.  The woman swore that she bought it from a Border Collie Breeder, and met the parents of the pup.  I asked her if there was a Sheltie on the property.  She said yes.  I rest my case.  Did it matter?  Not really, I loved the Sheltie, we named her Mischief and later I found an awesome Border Collie.  It was meant to be.

While we listen carefully to what a shelter or pound shares with us, and we do share that information with you, we also share our opinion with you! We won’t drink the Kool-aid!

Denise Novros sent me this video on Facebook this morning, and it blew my mind! If you volunteer or work for a shelter or pound, you have to watch this brilliant video!

Bart Revisited

It's Bart!

It’s Bart!

09/07/13 Update:  It’s been one year since Bart was adopted.  I guess I can let my hair down now!  I never stopped to think about what was going on during those sleepless nights, I was on auto pilot.  All I could think about was Goldie Hawn, and desperately trying to do more, do different, do something else.  I just couldn’t lose this pup.

Yes, there were times I didn’t think he’d make it.  I remember going to Dr. Oliver and telling him either he gives me a shot of something, or gives me something to save this dog!  Dr. Oliver is so cool!  He tweaked his meds… but probably just to sooth my nerves!

I didn’t know then that people… extremely close friends of mine, were talking – Talking behind my back.  Talking about the likelihood that should Bart die, I would quit.  It wasn’t until months passed, and Bart not only survived but was adopted, did my friends come clean with their fears.  They were right.  I just don’t think I could’ve handled it.

I wrote Bart’s story in three days.  It was amazing how the details were all in my memory, and how much I enjoyed writing this!  I’m really anxious to hear your reviews!

You can review and buy it on Lulu.com  Included in this book, are your comments!  The comments you left on Facebook as Bart flirted with death were uplifting.  This sickly pup had a lot of ups and downs, but he made it.  Your prayers, warm thoughts and cheers were appreciated.  While I felt very alone, wondering if I was doing enough, you were with me every single day!  Thank you!

Also included are sections written by Sarah White-Buxbaum, Holli Miller, and Bart’s owners, are also included in this book, most of which has never been shared before.

Click here to see Bart’s original post.



BoBo Gives Back

TDL Transporter, Laura Leigh Burke

TDL Transporter, Laura Leigh Burke

Written by Laura Leigh Burke

Sometime in 2011, my Facebook feed introduced me to the Dog Liberator with the story of Chance (Rhys).  I remember reading his story and sobbing at my computer desk.  I could not comprehend how anyone could do such a thing to any living creature but I was so happy to know that he was safe now.

From that day I frequented the Dog Liberator blog and Facebook page taking turns sobbing and laughing.  I always found it comforting in this crazy and most often un-explainable world that no matter how desperate the situation or how far away the dog was, the people here found a way to help.

In March of 2012, my daughter brought home a stray black lab she rescued from being hit by the school bus.  I had always had dogs but I was not prepared for the bad habits this one brought with her.  Gisele was a wonderful source of support and information.  Things went back to normal and I often stalked her page liking this and commenting on that.

In April of this year The Dog Liberator posted Bobo’s need for transport from Lake City to Deltona.  I felt so sorry for this beautiful boy home alone all day because his owner, Sherilyn was in the hospital.  I was sure that someone would come through to transport BoBo to Gisele.  I watched and I waited and still no transport and I finally realized why.  I had been praying to find a way to help since I read Chance’s story and this was it.  So nervously I emailed Gisele and told her that if it was ok, I would transport him.  She emailed me back to let me know that she was trying to put together something and would let me know when.   Well, I thought, she did not tell me no so I emailed her back to let her know that if she could not find anyone else to help, I would go get him and bring him to her the whole way.  And that is just what my son and I did.

On April 7th we arrived in Lake City and met with the woman, Belinda, who had been checking on him every day.  It was emotional.  She was crying and I was nervous.  BoBo suffers from separation anxiety, and he cried every time Belinda would come to check on him.  BoBo needed more than a kind person to visit him, he needed to be in a home where he could feel secure.  Once I got BoBo in my car, the further we got from his house, the more he cried.  He knew, we were taking him away from his home.  I called Gisele, I didn’t know what to do except keep driving.  She reassured me that he would be fine and so it was.   It was a long day but it was such a great feeling to know that I helped him and he would not be alone anymore.

Strangely, once BoBo arrived at Gisele’s house, he wasn’t nervous anymore.  He walked in, greeted her dogs, and acted like he had been there forever.  Her house is where BoBo started.  He was rescued from Panama City, Florida and was fostered by Gisele for a while back in 2010.

Osbourne transported from Alabama

Osbourne transported from Alabama

Since then I have helped Gisele with the transport of Osbourne and Maggie May.  It gave me a chance to see and check on my very first passenger.  Osbourne looked wonderful and was much happier than that poor boy who cried all the way from Lake City to Deltona.

BoBo had a blast at Gisele’s house, and when things got busy for her, Bart’s Mom volunteered to foster BoBo.  BoBo and Bart had daily frat parties!  Funny how Bart made BoBo play, and BoBo taught Bart some manners.

Bart and BoBo, BFFs

Bart and BoBo, BFFs

On Friday, June 21st I got the privilege of bringing this story full circle.  I got to take Bobo home to his Mommy in Lake City.  To top it off, I brought him a wife as well.

Gisele called me Friday morning about my trip to Deltona to pick up Bobo and we discussed the fact that his Mommy had decided to get a foster dog to keep him company.  That same morning Gisele had been contacted by a woman in Marion County who could no longer keep her 8 year old Border Collie female due to divorce and the resulting housing issue.  She had taken her to Marion County Animal Control and they referred her to the Dog Liberator.


BoBo going home

We discussed how perfect it would be if this girl could go home and be fostered by Bobo but Gisele did not want to just send this dog to Lake City without having the chance to evaluate the situation and I agreed.  So I reminded her that at the moment I was in Marion County at work (I live in Citrus) and could go pick up the dog on my way to get Bobo and we could see how things went from there.  We made contact again with the dog’s owner in Marion County and at 4pm I was there to evaluate things.  She was very stressed about having to rehome her dog.  She had been with the family for 8 years and I could tell she was loved however, the stress was tangible.

BoBo and his new foster, Lovey

BoBo and his new foster, Lovey

I could feel it, the owner was overwhelmed with it and the dog was being affected to.  The dog’s name was Shebba and she seemed to know why I was there.  I got the necessary paperwork, loaded her into my car and we were off to Deltona.  I can not say it was love at first sight.  They sniffed and circled for a moment but Shebba was still overwhelmed and needed to adjust.  So, after a wonderful dinner with Gisele and her family, it was back in my car with both dogs this time and home to Crystal River.


The next morning we were all loaded up into the car by 9am and headed to Lake City.  Like dogs do, Bobo and Shebba took turns creating nose art and sleeping.  For the most part the trip was uneventful, that is at least it was until we got to Lake City.  We were about 7 minutes from our destination and my daughter opened the window.  Suddenly Bobo looked like he’d just drank cappuccino.  He began to excitedly sniff the air and pace my back seat.  We looked at each other and I said “Do you think he knows?”.  The closer we got, the more excited he got.  In fact, due to parking issues I had to pass his house and turn around on another street and he nearly went crazy.  BoBo started crying!

Bobo was one happy boy to be home.  He pranced around his living room while Shebba, now called “Lovey”, explored the house.  When I finally said my goodbyes, Bobo and Lovey were laying on the living room floor in front of the air conditioner side by side.  This was the happy ending I had hoped for for BoBo, and a great new beginning for Lovey!

Shebba now Lovey

Shebba now Lovey

06/26/13 Update:  I received a photo from Bobo’s Mom, (Sherilyn) of his new foster, “Lovey”.  The two dogs are getting along very well, but BoBo is a bit shy.  BoBo would like to proudly introduce to you, his new foster, Lovey, who is available for adoption!



Click here to read BoBo’s original post.

Four Years in Rescue

Ozzie, 2009

Ozzie, May 18, 2009

The Dog Liberator has been rescuing now for four years May 18th. That’s the day Ozzie was dropped off at my home by a family who couldn’t keep him. Because I was dog-less at that time, (my Reckless had passed away) and he was awesome, I kept him! Ozzie was my first foster failure, and has since proven to be a gracious host to our foster dogs; he’s earned his keep!

Ozzie keeps a low profile at TDL.  He rarely listens to commands, he is always getting in trouble, either going into the trash or trying to escape for a short run in the neighborhood… but he always comes back.  Why?  There’s always cat food waiting for him on the front porch.  I think he believes the cat food is left there for him, as a reward for coming back home.  I could have named him Ferris Bueller, or Forest Gump, but his name was Ozzie!

Random Rants, Ah ha Moments, and Praise

What have I learned in the past four years? That rescue is a crazy place to be and not always fuzzy and warm. Rescue has a way of hardening the average person. Being angry, disappointed and downright disgusted is hard to fight off when you look at the condition of our dogs and hear their stories of abuse and neglect. It’s a feeling that I allow myself to experience for a brief moment, and I move on. Sometimes I cry, but not much. I really don’t want the dog to see me cry!

I work here, from my home, alone all day – and many times I feel very alone, but it’s the good people that make it worth while – especially our adopters. Some days I wake up to find an email containing a new photo of one of our adopted dogs.  It’s the before and after photos that are inspiring! If it wasn’t for my supporters, followers, volunteers and adopters, it would be a very thankless job that has no end to it. God knows it’s not a profitable business! My Dad still doesn’t understand why I do it. My children on the other hand, won’t let me quit – no matter how hard it gets.

What I didn’t expect is that we have almost 4,000 followers on Facebook, we have almost 600,000 page views on our blog, over 500 subscribers & 1,261,000 Views on Youtube, and 169 followers on Twitter!  More importantly, we have rescued at least 700 dogs in four years.  Some of the dogs we have rescued are not mentioned on our blog, and I’ll explain that later!  Photos and stories of happy families is what keeps me going!

Princess Lady Di

Princess Lady Di

One of the hardest thing not to do in rescue is rush to judgment.  I think I’ve done a good job in that area.  It makes no sense to make a person feel bad about giving up their dog.  While I watch some folks post comments about someone who had to give up their dog, what I realize is that they don’t know what really happened.  They haven’t sat at my dining room table and watched a grown man sob while he gives me his dog’s leash.  They aren’t there watching him hand me a giant box full of his dog’s toys, and the mountain of paperwork proving that the dog has been well cared for.    They don’t have to read the cards, sometimes pressed flowers inside of them, written by the children who had to surrender their dog to me.  Even though I offer a million suggestions for the family to keep their dog, I know what’s best for their dog is to be re-homed.

Those people never get over having to give up their dog.  They see the blog post, and get to watch their dog get adopted, but their heart still aches for their loss.

I do get those phone calls in the middle of the night, when a friend is frantic and they tell me that the dog will be shot and killed if it’s not removed immediately.  What we learn in rescue is that if a dog is being threatened, the threat of escalated domestic violence is huge.  There is no talking sense into someone who is ready to kill the dog.  In this case, the dog was immediately brought to my home, a purebred Pekingese, and was adopted that evening by an employee of Newman Veterinary Centers (then Val-u-Vet).  The dog is no where on my website, or Facebook.  It was a covert adoption!  The only thing that was missing was me wearing a long black rain coat!

I’ve learned to wait for the dog to tell you what happened.  If you wait, it never fails, the mystery will be unraveled for you!  Mystery is a prime example of that, and she has taught us many lessons.  We thought was she was terrified, even possibly aggressive toward people, but we learned was that she was terrified of being alone.  Go Figure!



I have learned that emotion plays a big part in adopting.  It doesn’t make sense to me when I have a gorgeous, healthy and fully-trained dog, which no one is interested in adopting!  Maybe that’ll never change.

I have learned that it is a myth to think that if you adopt a puppy, you’ll be able to raise it the way you want it, and it will grow up to be a perfect dog.  We have had a few puppies returned, because they were adopted for the wrong reasons by the wrong people.  People who didn’t understand how to raise a puppy.

The only way to adopt a perfect dog is to adopt an adult dog that is perfect!  I’ve had a lot of those!  I’d foster ten adult dogs over one puppy… but everyone knows I have very little patience for puppies, and that has not changed!  You feed them, they poop, they cry!

"you said you wanted me to feel better!"  ~Bart

“you said you wanted me to feel better!” ~Bart

With regard to puppies, my kids are four years older now, so that helps.  I can ask them to let the dogs out, or feed them, even though I have to hear them complain, but they do help!  Sarah is the nurturer, and Ryan helps with training.

I’ve also learned why grass won’t grow in my yard, why I ripped all of my carpets out, and how badly I need to repaint the walls.  We keep telling ourselves that our house is “lived in!”  Lived in indeed!

I did make up a new rule about one year ago – no dogs allowed in my room, but somehow China keeps sneaking in every night. I must re-establish my dominance around here.

I’ve learned how to listen to people, and match them up with the right dog.  Not everybody listens to me, but I do my best.  Sheila Coffman listened to me, and she’s still very happy with her dog!  She wanted to adopt a young female, and I wouldn’t let her!  I wasn’t being mean or difficult, I just cared more about her older female dog named Abbey!  I didn’t think it was fair for Abbey to share her remaining years with another adult female, so I suggested Sammy!   I do lose potential adopters sometimes because I have an opinion.  Nippy dogs shouldn’t go with kids, prey-drive dogs can’t live with cats, and dogs who bark should not live in an apartment!

Gisele with Chaos, 2010

Gisele with Chaos, 2010

I’ve learned that the most important thing in rescue is responsibility.  When you rescue a dog, you should do everything you can to help that dog until the day it dies.  I’ve learned that rescue is a commitment not to be taken lightly.  

I understand now why Prozac would be helpful if you’re in rescue.  I can wake up in the morning furious, and by the end of the day I can be celebrating a joyous event.  I don’t think I have ever had a normal day.  What is a normal day?

I’ve learned that it’s not true that a dog that has been abused will bite.  I have learned that a dog who has never been abused might bite.  There is no code of ethics.  Dogs don’t read manuals.

Ozzie, Lady Di & China

Ozzie, Lady Di & China

I’ve learned that you never ask your dog to do something.  You tell them.

I’ve learned that Deaf and Blind dogs are a joy to own and super easy to train.

I’ve learned not to hold dogs for an adopter.  If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen!

I’ve learned that heartworm in dogs is easy to cure!

I’ve learned that Parvo doesn’t always win.

I’ve learned to pray a lot.

I’ve learned how Parvo spreads, and to never let potential adopters meet my puppies if they have been visiting other puppies that day!

I’ve learned that without a good vet, a vet that you trust, depend on, and will listen, you can’t possibly rescue.

I’ve learned to accept my grey hair and call it highlights.

I’ve learned that each new wrinkle on my face was earned by worrying.

I’ve learned that coffee and advil are necessary in rescue.

I’ve learned that dogs act differently in different environments, your dog may be bad in your home, but great in mine!

I’ve learned not to take returns personally, even though it’s a disappointment, the dog always finds a better home in the long run!

During almost every adoption, I am asked the same question, “how can you give them up?”  Seriously, I’ve rescued over 700 dogs… where would I put them all?  People say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.”  I look at them in awe, and wish they could see themselves through my eyes.  Here they sit, after driving for hours, elated to adopt one of my dogs, bring this previously unwanted and homeless dog into their home to love, nurture and make part of their family.  Why would I stop that?  How could I believe that I alone can provide for all of these dogs, better than they can?  When you look at the before and after photos of our dogs, you understand that each of them are much happier where they are, then with me!

Here, allow me to give you an opportunity to take a quick look at yourself!


I believe that you may not get the dog you want, but you’ll always get the dog you need.

I’ve learned that when I lower my adoption fee, the dog always comes back.

Ryan, Lady Di, Gisele & Sarah

Ryan, Lady Di, Gisele & Sarah

I’ve learned that most hobby breeders do not have high standards with regard to veterinary care.

I’ve learned to trust my dogs’ energy when I foster a new dog.  They will tell me if the dog is okay or not okay.

I’ve learned that dogs can train other dogs a lot faster than a human!

I’ve learned that when I’m stuck, it’s okay to ask for help.

I’ve learned to stop working when I’m tired.  Bad decisions are always made when a person is tired!

I’ve learned to spay/neuter without exception.

Danni says goodbye to Bart

Danni says goodbye to Bart

My children have learned many lessons in rescue, and so have their friends.  They have learned what selflessness is all about.  They heave learned that you can love and give to another living creature even if you gain nothing.  They have learned  that their sacrifice and investment will be rewarded in another world.

They have also learned not to say goodbye, but to say see you later.  When Bart was adopted, I thought Danielle was going to have a melt down.  She couldn’t understand after all we had gone through, watching him almost die twice, how I could just let him be adopted.  On the way inside the house, however, I told her about our annual reunions.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she asked, “you mean I’ll get to see him again?”  Of course!  Just a few months later, she did see Bart again!  And just a few weeks ago, Bart came for a visit!  It’s never goodbye.

I’ve learned to say no when my children say Keep!

I’ve learned that there are bad dogs just like there are bad people.  I’ve learned that it’s not always genetic, it’s not always environmental, it can be neurological and that can not be explained.

I’ve learned that rescue is not a part-time job.  You have to invest as many hours as it takes until your dogs find a home.   I’ve learned not to expect any paid vacations, and to work on weekends, evenings and holidays!

I’ve learned that my dogs don’t know it’s Mother’s Day or my birthday… if they want to tip over the garbage can, they will.

Winter, 2013

Winter, 2013

I have learned that dogs who never experience homelessness, and that are spoiled have a harder time adjusting to new environments and experience more pain during spay/neuter surgery.  Dogs that have lived through hell and suffered tremendously feel no pain, and adjust quickly to new settings.  It is true that rescued dogs appreciate their owners more.  If you don’t believe me, ask Dale!

Some things haven’t changed in four years.  Transport is always the hardest part of rescue.  It’s like watching a football game.  Who is going to get the ball, and run with it?  Who can pass it off, and keep it going until the dog reaches it’s destination?  There are hundreds of dogs I would’ve liked to have saved, but I had no way to move them.  That is the biggest disappointment of all.

I’ve learned to be as honest as possible, without hurting someone’s feelings.  When I have to write about the condition of a dog that has been surrendered to me, I walk a very fine line.  I have to be honest, and tell you what the vet found, and how the dog is being medically treated, but I don’t have to give the general public the name of the person who neglected the dog.  It is what it is.  I believe in Karma.  I also believe that life gets in the way sometimes, and not everyone can care for their pets the way we would like.  Some people don’t care for the kids either.  We have to focus on the good stuff, and move on.

BoBo and Bart

BoBo and Bart

I’ve learned that there is no rhyme or reason regarding which dogs I decide to pull.  Some are big, some are small, some are old, some are young, some are healthy, some are not.  I think when I see a dog in a shelter, I ask myself if I would personally like that dog to come and live with me for a while.  I ask myself, if that dog is returned years from now, will I be happy to see it again?  Such is the case with BoBo.  When I learned his owner was in the hospital, I was thrilled that I would get to foster him while she recovers.  As mentioned previously, we were all very excited when Bart’s owner asked if he could spend a few days with us.   We can’t save them all, and I don’t try to.  I do try to save the ones I’ll never get tired of, the ones I will always adore, the ones that will always be welcome here in my home, with my family – that’s what makes a TDL dog.

I’ve learned that we can save dogs by preventing them from going to the pound in the first place, through Canine Connect.  By sharing TDL’s methodologies, and helping dog owners properly re-home their own dogs, we have re-homed dozens in just a few short months.  This is very exciting!

I’ve learned that love exists, and so does kindness.  I’ve learned that there are some amazing people out there, and they are our supporters!  I’ve learned learned that The Dog Liberator will never be big.  Big is not better.  I’ve learned that what we have created is awesome, I’m proud of all of our dogs, and I am very grateful to all of you!  Especially those of you that I call during crazy hours with crazy questions, like Sarah, Anita, Brittney, Ron & Dawn, Jen & Bill, Susan, Emily,Vicki, Kathy, Becky, Kingsley & Sandra, Ernestine, Megan and Dusty.


Osbourne, May 18, 2013

Today is May 18th, 2013… four years have passed since Ozzie walked into my home.  And today, I will greet Osbourne, rescued from Alabama and I’m amazed that he arrives on Ozzie’s anniversary!  Woo Hoo!

Bad Dog!

Nitro Wilson

Nitro Wilson

If you have adopted from any rescue, shelter or pound, or if you purchased your dog from a breeder, and your dog is experiencing behavioral issues, please do not wait… call and ask for help immediately. If you don’t know of anyone, write a detailed email and ask for help by contacting a rescue group that specializes in your dog’s breed. Contact your local Pet Store and ask for recommended trainers, or contact your Vet. Do not wait until an unwanted behavior becomes a habit.

There are training videos on Youtube, and available on DVD that might solve your problem. There are books galore, one of my favorites is The Other End of the Leash.

Recently, Vicki shared with me her excitement over a book called Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out, a fantastic book to help manage hyper dogs!  There are also thousands of training aids available, and many of them work!  As a matter of fact, there is a FREE Webinar “Fear of People” this month, that I have registered for!

TDL tries very hard to follow-up with all of our adopters. We have found that sometimes, adopters are embarrassed to ask for help. Don’t Be! Do not wait until you yourself are so discouraged that you are unwilling to try to help your dog overcome its issues. Again, I can’t stress enough that a dog’s  bad behavior needs to be corrected immediately, before your dog turns it into a habit.




We have gone through extreme measures in some cases, to rescue our dogs. They have traveled hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles, some of have been flown in, some have undergone extensive and expensive medical procedures. Please do not give up on your dog!

Realize that in some cases, it has taken us months to rehabilitate a dog, dogs like China, Shy Sharon, Shy Shannon, and more recently Shep, Les Paul and Mystery are all work in progress.

We may not have the answer, but we will dig until we can find a solution. Sometimes, for example, owners who have successfully housebroken their dog take their dog’s crate away. Don’t! You’ve taken away your dog’s Safe Place! There are many training tips we can offer that might help modify your dog’s behavior.

Also, if you have adopted a dog from us, and have not yet ordered your Free Training DVD, please simply email me at TheDogLiberator@gmail.com for details.


If you want to be the best for your dog, please read “let it go“.

The Art of Cross Posting

Clifford rescued from Clayton County, GA

Clifford rescued from Clayton County, GA

This has been one of the hardest articles to write ever!  Maybe it’s because I can’t clearly explain, but this is my third time at attempting to write about Cross posting.

Wikipedia defines cross posting as:  Cross posting is the act of posting the same message to multiple information channels; forums, mailing lists, or newsgroups. This is distinct from multiposting, which is the posting of separate identical messages, individually, to each channel, (a forum, a newsgroup, an email list, or topic area). Enforcement actions against crossposting individuals vary from simple admonishments up to total lifetime bans. In some cases, on email lists and forums, an individual is put under a Stealth Ban where their posts are distributed back to them as if they were being distributed normally, but the rest of the subscribers are not sent the messages. This is easily detected if the Stealthed individual has two different, and totally non-associated identities in the channel, such that the non-stealthed identity will see a different set of messages, lacking the posts of the stealthed individual, in their view of the channel. 

cross postingCrossposting to groups that are irrelevant to the message posted could be considered spamming. Moreover, excessive crossposting is generally considered bad form because it multiplies traffic without adding any new content. In the extreme case, if all messages were crossposted to every email list or forum, then every email list or group would look exactly the same. A crossposter can minimize this problem by specifying that all responses be directed to a single group.

In the world of rescue, however, cross posting can be a useful tool that can save the life of a dog, when executed properly.

The most effective cross posters are those who specialize.  They email, share and/or tag dogs in shelters to rescuers who specialize in rescuing that specific breed.

rescued from Chilton County AL

Trixie Belle rescued from Chilton County AL

Two of the most successful cross posters that I know are Becky Harshman and Dale Parent, simply because they know their rescuers!  Together, these two women have saved thousands of dogs, yet they do not run a shelter, nor do they work for a specific rescue.

How do they do it?

They don’t just send a photo, they send information, and when a rescue says yes, they pull the dog, find a foster, coordinate transport, and make sure the dog gets to its destination!  This is no easy task and I don’t know how they do it, but they are my heroes.

Last week, I opened my email to find 92 emails from one cross poster.  The emails contained multiple photos of dogs of various breeds, none of them were within the herding category, and they were from shelters throughout the United States.  We can not save them all!  If a cross poster continues to bombard me with random emails, even after I have politely asked them to forward only emails that pertain to dogs I can personally save (the herding breed), I am forced to send their emails into a spam folder.

Cross posting is quite simple.  You get an email, and forward it, or you tag/share a rescuer on a photo posted on Facebook.

Shep, rescued by Holli Miller

Shep, rescued by Holli Miller

Almost all of the dogs I have rescued are because of a cross post.  Jen Wilson found Anderson Cooper, Holli Miller sent me a photo of Bart, McDreamy, McSteamy, Shep, and many others and she personally transported Shep to my door!  That’s much more than cross posting!

Someone shared Winter’s photo with me on Facebook.  Cross posting does work, but when it is done with care.

If a cross poster chooses specialize in a specific cause, they will be much more effective.

Do you want to focus on saving puppies

Do you want to focus on saving senior dogs

Do you want to focus on saving deaf/blind dogs

Are you passionate about a certain breed

or do you want to support a specific city, state or shelter

Marjie Wolfe, for example focuses her attention on the shelters in her community, Brevard County.  While her favorite breed is the Border Collie, she has saved dozens of dogs from her local shelter.

Cross posting is like trying to catch butterflies with a hole in your net  

Marjie with Timmy and Sherman

Marjie with Timmy and Sherman

Cross posting is really a hit and miss effort.  If your goal is to save dogs from being put down, the first thing you have to realize is that we can’t save them all.  Take a deep breath, and choose a specialty.  Focus on your cause, and be a liaison between the shelter and the rescue.  Take the act of rescue from beginning to end, until that dog is rescued.  Find out what paperwork the shelter needs, and help your rescue facilitate the save.

There is so much more that’s needed than just cross posting.  We need movers and shakers!  We need do-ers.  I am not suggesting that cross posters should stop, I’m suggesting that the need is so great, and so complicated that we need more – we need help.

19794852 - Safe!

19794852 – Safe!

Once I get a dog into my home, the vetting, rehabilitating, training and adopting part is easy peasy!  The hard part is getting him out, and getting him here.  The hard part is finding a foster, a foster or a boarding facility that will take care of a dog that’s been pulled from a shelter that is hundreds of miles away from the awaiting rescue.  The hardest part is coordinating a transport for the dog that is hundreds of miles away from the awaiting rescue.  That’s what is happening right now with a dog that I fell in love with because of one cross post.

He was in a shelter I had never heard of, and because of total strangers who moved heaven and earth, he has been pulled, seen a vet, and is waiting in a boarding facility for transport to me.   I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that complete strangers will take the ball and run with it for one dog.  It’s not easy, it’s a lot of work, but it’s what needs to be done in order to effectively rescue.

Huckleberry, rescued by Vicki from Clayton County, GA

Huckleberry, rescued by Vicki Truelove from Clayton County, GA

Remember, Rhys, Huckleberry, and Jake?  They were all once just a photograph on a computer screen, begging to be rescued.  It took an army of rescuers to pull it off, but they are alive, adopted, loved and worth the effort.

I want to thank everyone who has helped rescue dogs from kill shelters.  You are appreciated!

I look forward to reading your comments here!


Brittney’s Mystery

This is the story, written in real-time, is about one loose stray that we attempted to catch for almost two months. While residents have reported seeing her for many months, we were determined to bring her to safety. At first, not knowing if she was feral, we kept her whereabouts a secret. We decided if she was feral, we would spay/neuter, release. We didn’t even know if Mystery was a male or a female. I asked Brittney to document her experience, in a diary format.  I’m glad she did!  While this story is very long, please note that Brittney does update it several times a week. You may want to bookmark this page, and come back to it occasionally to learn more about Mystery’s progress.



She did it!

If you follow Brittney Myers on Facebook, you know who Mystery is.  Brittney has been working for almost two months now trying to catch a stray dog that she almost hit one early morning.  With the help of Volusia County Animal Control, we successfully trapped and caught her this afternoon.  She is currently at Newman Veterinary Center in Deltona, relaxing!

Beautiful Mystery

However, while I was filling out Mystery’s paperwork at the Vet’s office, two ladies engaged Brittney in conversation, and mentioned that they too had seen a loose dog in DeBary days ago.  The dog darted across the road, and ran into the woods.  Could it be the same dog?  When one woman said it was a blue merle, we had a match!  So Brittney’s Mystery has been sighted by many people that travel through that area.

I have to tell you that every single day, Brittney had new news to report.  She found every one of Mystery’s hiding spots, learned where she darted off to, and panicked when Mystery didn’t come back to her den to eat.  “She’s gone Gisele, she hasn’t eaten in days.  We may have scared her off, what if she never comes back?”  I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights Brittney has had these past few weeks.

Brittney’s Mystery

Just several days ago, we got her… but when we opened the trap door, and put a leash on her, she bucked and panicked, and bit through the leash.  ARGHHHH!  We thought she’d never come back, but she did.

While this cat and mouse game was going on, Brittney documented everything so that we could share her story with you!

This little girl has been a stray for approximately 6-12 months now.  We estimate her at two years of age.  She is very scared, but she is not feral.  At this time, she is not available for adoption.  We will give her some time to adjust.  Written on her kennel card in big bold letters is, “DO NOT REMOVE”!

However, being on her own for this long poses the question, how is her health?  I’m cringing at the thought of hearing my phone ringing with her medical condition, and worried that we will not be able to afford it.

If you can spare a few dollars toward Mystery’s Veterinary Care, we sure do need your help right now!

You can view more photos of Mystery on Facebook.  Special thanks to the folks at Benson Junction for their help and patience!
What we have not yet discussed is how Mystery is a shining example of why we must be thorough when we approve an adoption.  Mystery was probably purchased from a breeder, to be a guard dog.  Once the company folded, she was left behind on the properly, to fend for herself.


Mystery’s Daily Journal

Everyday when I visit, I follow the same routine

1. Pull in turn the car off, remove the key from the ignition so that the door does not ding!

2. Leave door open

3. Sneak around the backside of her den

 4. Check to see if she is in her den

5. Feed and water

Last but not least and the second most important thing, I yell out “Mystery, Come and eat girl!”  I then head back to my truck, start the truck and yell, “I’m leaving girl come eat!” most times she will return to eat exactly 1 hour after I leave.

You will notice that throughout this journey I do my best not to leave food if she doesn’t see me there. Even if she see’s me and runs, that is okay.  I do my best to make sure that if there is food left there, she knew who left it there for her, and it paid off in the end!

The Mystery Starts Here

March 6th

  • 5:30 am spotted a loose dog coming out of Benson Junction’s parking lot toward the Moose Lodge.  She went behind Moose Lodge into tall woods/weeds toward power lines. She ran when I opened the car door.
  • 6:30 am went back down with hotdogs.  There was no sign of her.  I took my son, Jorgen to school and went to Gisele’s house to talk to her about what I had seen.
  • 2:30 pm I went back to where I had seen her, and walked through the weeds with Gisele and Dale Johnson.  Dale had recently adopted Winter, who was also a stray on his own for many months.  While looking for Mystery we found her up on the path, standing on the concrete, looking right at me.  “She’s an Aussie,” Gisele whispered.

the woods


March 7th

  • 5:30 am I through hot dogs to Mystery from the Moose Lodge side of the fence, and watched her run away.
  • 8:30 am I left 3 pieces of hot dog for Mystery, walked to end of the path.  She was on the hill side.  She spooked me and I spooked her!  She ran toward power line and disappeared in the tall grass.
  • 4:30 pm The hot dogs are gone, and there is no sight of her. I left 3 more pieces of hot dog.

one of her paths


March 8th

  • 5:30am Last night’s hotdogs gone left 2 more pieces.
  • 8:30 am The hot dogs still there
  • 2:30 pm I left a shirt that I had slept in overnight in her den.  Gisele suggested she needs my scent. I also left a bowl of water and some canned dog food.

her den, my orange t-shirt

March 9th

  • 10:00 am I refilled her water and left beef stew at her den.  I then walked the path with my mom.  We walked back to eagle tree and there was no sign of her.  We saw multiple beaten paths in all different directions.  The grass was plowed down from frequent travel.
  • 3:00 pm The beef stew still there but all of the meat is gone.

March 10th

  • 8:30 am- Mystery was in her den I spoke to her. “Mystery, are you hungry?” She ran out of sight.  I left her food and water, and I left.  I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is every single time I have to leave, knowing that she is totally alone.

March 11th

  • No morning visit.
  • 2:00 pm I didn’t have a car to drive, but Mystery is still hungry and I still need for her to see me today. So I hopped on my bicycle and rode  3 miles round trip to feed and water her. She was not in her den but she was at the mouth of the trail and she was watching me. In any event she keeps her distance.


March 12th

  • 8:30 am I fed and watered her, but no sign of Mystery.
  • 2:00 pm I got video from over the fence from Moose Lodge parking lot of Mystery. I fed and watered her early since she was there and she saw me, trying to associate food with my presence.


March 13th

  • 11:30 am I found her second den today.  It is in the back near the power lines.  She has bedded down here frequently. It was well hidden and surrounded by trees and tall grasses. I left treats along the way and left her a few treats in her bed.

March 14th

  • 9:00 am Left food for Mystery at the mouth of the trail, no sign of her.
  • 2:30 pm The food that I left at end of trail is gone. I left food in her den and walked the paths for a while.  I came back to her den and found baby raccoon eating her food, so I left more food out in the path.


March 15th

  • 8:45 am I was inches from catching her with slip lead while she was in den.  I used a crate divider and held it in front of the opening to her den.  I used a braided rope slip lead and dropped it over the opening.  I spoke to her, and she ran out.  She took her nose and flipped the leash out of her way and ran down the path. I left her food and water, and discouraged again, I left.  She had eaten last night’s food, or at least I think she did!  The food container was up along the fence at the mouth of the trail.
  • 4:00 pm There is no sign of Mystery, but no food left.


March 16th

  • 8:30 am There is no sign of her. Left food and water.
  • 3:30 pm There is no sign of her, but she had eaten her morning meal.  I left her more food and water.


March 17th

  • 3:30 pm There is an empty food container moved alongside of the fence, but no sign of her. There is no food left.

March 18th

  • 3:30 pm I was inches from catching her with a cloth slip lead while she was in den.  I spoke and she ran out again shoving the leash aside.  I left her food and water, and I left.

March 19th

  • 9:00 am No sign of Mystery but she moved her empty food container to the side of the fence. I did not leave food because she wasn’t there.


Halt, Who Goes There?

March 20th

  • 5:45 pm There is no sign of her.   I snuck up from behind and blocked den with crate divider to restrict her exit points. She was not there.  I left food.
  • I went down during the Tornado warning; we had heavy rain, strong wind and a lot of lightening. The storm started at 6:30 pm and continued throughout the night. The rain washed out all of the old footprints. Including those of the unknown man’s tennis shoes.  I blocked the den to see if she was in there. No sign of Mystery and no food left.

March 21st

  •  9:00 am There are no footprints in sand, so she didn’t come in last night. In the past she has always returned to her den for shelter, especially in the event of a storm or even a light rain.  There is a new fallen tree in the path at the mouth of the trail, from the storm.  There is no sign of her.  I left her food and changed her water.
  • 11:00 am No sign of her.  The food is still untouched.
  • 1:00 pm Mystery has been here and moved her empty food container to the fence.  There are new prints in the sand.
  • 4:30 pm This time, I went with Gisele and Ryan.  We spread out, and I checked her den.  Mystery was not there.  As we continued to walk down her path, we saw her sun bathing in the open.  Gisele and Ryan and I walked up on her before she saw us.  She ran out the path and turned toward the left.  Ryan was excited to see her for the first time.
  • 6:15 pm Mystery was not in her den but she was out to the left of the trail toward Shell Road.  This time, we brought Lady Di with us.  Amazingly, Lady Di tracked her scent and Mystery was found laying just ahead of us along the edge of the tall weeds.  Mystery saw us, looked at Lady Di and ran. We followed keeping our distance. We didn’t want to chase her and scare her.  It didn’t take long before Mystery was out of sight in the tall grasses. We all dropped and sat in the middle of the beaten path and waited to see if she returned.  Gisele went back to her van and Ryan and I stayed sitting and waiting, Mystery did not return.   Gisele came up the road in her van to flush Mystery out of hiding.  We closed in on the area we had last seen her from both directions.  We did not see her.  We returned to the van with heavy hearts.  Gisele took me back to my truck.   But before we left, in an effort to give Mystery a sense of safety, we left a wire crate in a hole next to her den.  We put a piece of plastic over it, and I started feeding her in the crate.  


March 22nd

  • 10:00 am  No sign of Mystery, she hadn’t eaten last night’s food.
  • Ryan and Gisele wanted to try again this evening but I asked that we not go until morning.


March 23rd

  • 8:30 am, Mystery was not there, she had been there yesterday, an hour after I left.  Kristen from Benson Junction Trading Post let me know she had seen her and spoke to her.  Mystery stared at her for a minute and then Mystery ran off. There were foot prints in the sand and she moved her empty food container to the fence. I fed and watered at her usual spot.  While walking around, I found her third den today.  I followed tracks left behind from the truck coming in off the road near the power lines. Up on the top of the hill over in the tall grass she had dug out another den.  There were foot prints in the sand.  I left treats and food in her new den. 
  • 6:00 pm There is no sign of Mystery.  She had eaten her food from this morning as usual.


March 24th

  • 8:45 am Again, no sign of Mystery, other than she moved her empty food container to the fence.


March 25th

  • 8:30 am Still no sign of her.  She had been to her den during the night and had eaten but she was gone already this morning.  I am really getting discouraged.  Sharing my failure to capture her with Gisele, I’m more determined than ever before to catch her.

March 26th

  • 10:00 am I walked the paths out near the power lines and there is no sign of Mystery. I did not leave food and water.
  • 4:00 pm I left her food and water, but no sign of Mystery.  Has someone taken her?  How?

March 27th

  • 8:30 am Mystery ate last night’s food but there is no sign of her this morning.  I did not leave her food, I want her to be hungry, and come to me… maybe even wait for me.
  • 4:15 pm Still no sign of Mystery.  I  did not leave food, hoping she was watching me from afar leaving. There are new foot prints in the sand; a man’s tennis shoes.  Someone is snooping around back here. I brushed all foot prints from the sand with fallen palm frond.  I feel invaded, even though it is not property, I feel like someone is stalking my dog – but she is not my dog – yet.  I called Gisele frantic, that someone else is trying to catch my Mystery.  Gisele assured me that if I couldn’t catch her, no one could.

March 28th

  • 8:45 am I fed and changed her water.  I walked the paths, and no sign of Mystery.  She had been on the path, there are new foot prints in the sand.
  • 4:45 pm There are no new foot prints in the sand, but the food was gone.  I did not feed her.

March 29th

  • 8:00 am I left her food and water.  There is no sign of her.
  • 4:00 pm I found an empty food container up on fence line, but she was not here.  I did not feed her.


March 30th

  • 11:00 am I left her food and changed her water.  There are new foot prints in the sand. She has been running the power lines.
  • Skipped evening feeding.


Someone’s Been Sleeping in My Bed

March 31st

  • 8:30 am I quickly checked for her she was not there.  I left her food and changed her water.
  • 11:00 am This morning’s food is still where I left it – untouched. I walked to the mouth of the trail and found tire tracks from a full- sized vehicle.  I assume the vehicle was a truck. The tire tracks showed that the truck backed up as far as it could to the trail (it narrows the further up you get) and the truck entered from the power lines.  No one has any business driving back there.  I am livid.
  • 5:00 pm I left Mystery her Easter dinner at the mouth of the trail and checked her water.


April 1st

  • 8:30 am Mystery didn’t touch her Easter dinner but the food from yesterday morning is gone.  I believe the raccoons ate it.  I walked the path and looked for her.  I did not see her.
  • 2:30 pm She still hasn’t touched her Easter dinner.
  • 4:30 pm She still hasn’t touched her Easter dinner.
  • 7:00 pm There is still no sign of her.  She still hasn’t been to her usual den nor has she eaten her Easter dinner.  I’m in tears.

April 2nd

  • 9:00 am Mystery finally ate her Easter dinner late last night or early this morning.  I left her more food and water at the den, and brushed away all foot prints at the mouth of the path.
  • 5:50 pm  Mystery came back for dinner this evening.   I saw her at the end of the path so I left her more food and water.

Because of the man’s foot prints and the tire tracks, I am desperate to get Mystery out of there.  I discussed options with Gisele, and we agreed to get animal control involved.  The caveat is if she is trapped, she is ours.  Our biggest fear was that Mystery would be caught, and taken to the pound.  She would then be labeled as a fear biter, and be put down.


Stop, Thief!

April 3rd

  • 11:00 am   I called animal control and spoke with a wonderful lady named Laura.  I explained my situation and requested the use of a trap. She explained that she would have to have an authorized representative of Benson Junction sign for the trap and allow me the use of the trap on their property.
  • 11:45 am Mystery was sleeping in her crate, when I called her for her morning feeding she darted down the path it  was very hot out this morning.  I was very happy to see her using the crate.  Then maybe, the trap wouldn’t be a strange thing for her, when it arrives.
  • 3:30 pm I arrived to feed for the evening and realized that her crate was gone.  Someone has stolen her crate that was hidden behind concrete walls and covered with random brush.  I spoke to Benson Junction Trading Depot and they said that a black truck left with it about an hour before I arrived.  They didn’t know that they were not with me, so they didn’t stop them. They pulled their security cameras and reviewed them to see if they could see anything but the tapes showed nothing.  It was too far away from their fence line.  I immediately called Gisele, alerted her and went to the scrap yard that was across the street. I spoke to several different people in the scrap yard, but no one has seen Gisele’s  crate.  A gentleman named Dan took my name and number and was going to call me at the first sign of our crate.  I also called Laura from Animal Control and alerted her that our crate was stolen.  I expressed my concern with their trap being left in the same area.  What if it also gets stolen?  Her response, “Just chain it to the fence, or a tree.”  Laura was such a huge help in this process.  Foot prints, tire tracks, and now a stolen wire crate.  I’m furious.
  • 4:00 pm I did not feed Mystery today, she wasn’t there.

April 4th

  • 5:00 pm The food was gone but she didn’t eat it. It was just knocked off the cement block and possibly the raccoons ate it again.  I left food and water again, but no sign of her.

April 5th

  • 10:30 am I took my dog, Lola with me, and she tracked Mystery’s scent down the trail and back up toward the road. There was no sign of her.  She ate last night’s dinner. I fed and watered.
  • 4:30 pm Mystery ate her morning meal.  But I don’t see or hear her anywhere.

April 6th

  • 9:00 am I fed and watered her.  I saw her today, she was at the mouth of the trail.  The moment she saw me, she took off.
  • 3:30 pm Mystery has eaten her morning meal.  I did not feed her today.

April 7th

  • 11:30 am I took Lola with me again.  She tracked Mystery back up to where Lady Di found her last week.  Lola found every path, every den, every bed and every hole made by Mystery!

April 8th

  • 11:00 am I fed her this morning, but not much.  I plan on setting the trap that Animal Control will leave for me today.  I appreciate the support from the people of Benson Junction, allowing me to put the trap on their property.


An Adreneline Rush!

April 9th

  • 10:30 am Benson Junction called me to tell me that Animal Control left the trap for me. It is waiting at the shop.
  • 11:00 am I set the trap up with Gisele.  Neither of us knew how to use it, however my daughter Jaidyn really enjoyed testing it out!  We chained and locked the trap to the fence where Mystery moves her food to.  We agreed that we would check the trap in shifts, checking it every two hours.
  • 11:30 am The food was eaten trap still set.
  • 12:00 noon The food is gone, but the trap is still set.   How is she doing this? She was eating but not triggering trap!  I realized that the trap wasn’t working on the ground because it wasn’t level.  Thanks to my daughter, Jaidyn, I found a piece of rubber to put under the trap and I reset it. Little Jaidyn crawled in the trap, and it worked! I baited the trap again and I left, calling Mystery to come eat and telling her I was leaving.
  • 1:50 pm Trap set food untouched.
  • 2:30 pm Trap set food untouched.
  • 4:00 pm She is not here.  I had an appointment and would be gone from 4:45 –  5:30.  I asked Gisele to check the trap at 5:30 for me.
  • 5:30 pm Gisele checked in at 5:30.  Mystery was at the mouth of the trail sunbathing, at 5:45.  Gisele left to go home.  She called me on her way out asking about the Black truck, she passed a black truck coming in on her way out.  I panicked!

What if they take trap owned by Volusia County Animal Control with my dog in it?  I load up my daughter and we rushed down there.  It is 6:00 pm on the dot!  It’s time for Mystery’s dinner and she came to eat!   Just as I look up, I hear the trap door slam shut and I see Mystery scratching, pawing, spinning, running from one side to the other.  She was panicked.

So I literally ran to her, and she growls (she is scared).   I approach her anyway.  She is unsure looking at me from the corner of her eye! I am on the phone with Ryan, Gisele’s son and I am saying over and over and over she is in the trap she is in the trap SHE IS IN THE TRAP!!!! Gisele made a u-turn and came back.  Mystery is still spinning in panic.  I talk to her, “Mystery it’s okay girl.”  She immediately stopped and looked at me.  I was so excited, but tried to remain calm.  In an normal voice, I asked, “are you hungry girl?”  She immediately sit down, and looked at me calmly.  It was as if she said, “oh, it’s you!”

I kept saying to myself, she isn’t going to hurt me I know her! I know who she is.  I’m fine at this point.  I am calm!  I am petting her and scratching her ears, scratching her side, her shoulders, and the top of her head without hesitation.  I am sticking my fingers through the crate and it dawns on me, we can’t move this trap with her in it! She is too heavy! The bottom of it isn’t strong enough to hold her! What are we going to do?

Gisele and Ryan are here and we decide that we are going to have to leash her and take her to the car.  There is no other way.  Ryan is totally against our decision.  He votes we carry the trap into the van, with the dog in it.   

I am freaking out inside because I know the risk of opening that trap even an inch! She is going to see a glimpse of her  freedom and she is going to bolt through that door!  One of the trap doors opens on the inside.   I will leash her first, that way and get her out.  I ask myself in doubt, “She is okay with me right?”

So I get the leash on with no problem! She didn’t care at all!  I give it a tug with the trap door still shut! She does nothing.   I really pull hard on the leash, she still does nothing!  So I did it dropped the trap door and coaxed her out.  She took forever as the door opens inward.  Her body was in the way and she wouldn’t move, despite my pushing the door.

Gisele and Ryan went to the other end and used food to move her.   I got the door part way opened, and she still wouldn’t move!  I said fine.  I forced the door the wrong way past the clips etc., and opened it toward me coaxing her with a hamburger patty.  She is hesitant to exit.  I waited a good five minutes with the trap open to the inside and she still wasn’t coming out!

Finally, her feet hit the grass and she tries to bolt.  But she is still on leash, and I have the other end of it.  She goes about four feet, and the leash stops her. We were prepared, or so we thought, when she turns and spins.  She spins violently in the air at least five times.  She flopped and spinned like a fish out of water, and she did the alligator roll vertically in the air.  “Fine,” I said to myself.  “I can hold on for the ride.”

Gisele and I step forward and point to her and said shht! It’s a quick procedure that means NO! In the dog world you don’t know what the sound of the word NO may trigger in the mind of an abandoned dog.  In rescue we train ourselves not to use the word NO,  because it may have used before while the dog was beaten or abused.  You never know how that simple word can take a dog that appears calm and collective to defensive and protective. 

Mystery immediately responded to our command, and she sat nicely for a split second.   I needed the chance to get her focus back on food and keep her attention! With that said either Gisele is reading my mind or I am reading hers, because Gisele offers a piece of bacon!

Mystery accepts the bacon.  I am still holding a piece of  hamburger as well.   As I stepped toward her, offering the hamburger, without warning, she immediately goes into an alligator roll.  In a flash of an instant, Mystery grabs the leash,  closes her mouth and starts to bite it.

Both Gisele and I have the same instinc –  to grab the leash out of her mouth, knowing that the chance of being bitten is very high.  Gisele and I look at each other briefly, and we keep a safe distance to protect the dog.  Why?  Because if she should bite us, and have absolutely no shot records, she will be quarantined for at least ten days.  

She takes that leash in her mouth and gives one quick snap of the head and she severs the leash in two! She has direct eye contact with me, and I throw the leash on the ground.  I don’t want her to see me with the leash.  I don’t want her to process that she won.  I held my hands up and she saw me empty-handed.   

I’m hoping she believes that I let her go.   I want her to trust me, but now I’m wondering what if she doesn’t.  What if she never comes back?  What if, what if, what if, what if?  A million thoughts ran through my mind but all I could do was say we all learned a lesson today!  I feared that Mystery learned a lesson too.  She learned not to go into a trap anymore!

Gisele saw the disappointment in my face.  Ryan was frustrated with us.  Saying over and over that we should have just carried the trap into the car.  The terrain made it impossible.  We were next to a deep gully, tall stumps, vines and roots.  We had a teenage kid, two Moms and a toddler.  That’s not a professional dog-catching team!

I went to home.  There was no sense in sticking around.  Mystery isn’t coming back.  She is going to retreat to a new spot and stay out of dodge for a while.  Gisele drove home with Ryan, and had to listen to Ryan saying, “I told you so repeatedly.”

I was home pouting in my kitchen while making dinner when my mom called. “Did you catch your dog?” …. so I start to tell the story – the story of our failure, when she cuts me off.  “I saw her just now!” My Mom said with excitement.  I was confused my mom lives far from Mystery’s den, how would she have seen her?


Haven’t We Met Before?

Mom explained she had gone shopping and passed “Mystery’s Place”. She said  while driving in the far lane, a feeling came over her to check on the dog (something she has never done before).  She pulled into Benson Junction, and there was Mystery! Mystery looked at her and trotted off calmly.  She did not run this time. My Mom got in her car and started to leave only to find at the end of the road stood Mystery again! My Mom got out of the car, and slowly approached Mystery.  Mom knelt down, and spoke to her softly.  Mystery looked curious.  My Mom whistled at the dog, and Mystery continued to have eye-contact with my Mom.  But Mystery did not run away.  This time, Mystery looked around and calmly walked away!

I called Gisele immediately.  I was so excited and talked so fast!  There is hope!  Mystery is not feral.  She is not afraid.  We did not scare her today.  We will come up with Plan B and next time, we will be successful!

While it is a sad day and we lost what we worked so hard to save, we didn’t really lose at all!  We gained the unimaginable, we gained her trust.

While I finished making dinner, I wondered how many chances is this dog going to give me until I get it right?  Will she hunker down someplace else and we never see her again?  


Plan B

April 10th

  • 8:45 am I wanted to keep her comfortable with the area and the trap so I released the trigger switch and locked the trap door up and continued to feed her inside the trap. She was eating but she was taking the food out of the trap to eat it.
  • 5:00 pm I held evening food I am going to re-bait the trap in the morning I have to act FAST!

April 11th

  • 8:30 am My daughter and I baited the trap and I called Mystery to come and eat, then I left. Went to breakfast with Gisele and went back to check the trap.
  • 10:45 am Mystery was waiting patiently for someone to notice she was in the trap to let her out!  I walked over and sat down next to the trap stuck my fingers inside and pet her telling her she was a good girl!  I immediately got up took pictures and posted to Facebook! WE DID IT!  This time there is no way that I am removing the dog from the trap so I called Animal control and spook with Laura again, “Laura, its Brittney, (yes animal control now knows me on a first name basis), I have a favor to ask. I trapped her! But because I lost her on Tuesday, I will not take her out of the trap here and I can not transport her in the trap.  Is it possible for you to dispatch an officer out here to help me transport her to the vet?”  Of course they had questions!  “Why can’t you transport her, what happened last time. etc.? The verdict was “Of course we will help you, I will dispatch someone out to you now!  Good luck!” 

I have to take this opportunity to Thank all of Volusia County Animal Control Officers for their help.  We couldn’t have done it without them!   We waited patiently for the officer to arrive, I took the opportunity to take photos and videos of us waiting and to bond more with Mystery since she was stuck in that trap with no choice in the matter.

I called Gisele to alert Newman Veterinary Center, that we were bringing her in via Animal Control.

I talked to Mystery while I waited.  I explained to her what was going to happen when they got there and that I WAS NOT going to leave her side, and that I would be there when she arrived to the vet.  It was all going to be okay!

Animal Control officer McNally arrived she was AMAZING to say the least. She, like me, did not want to use a catch pole but given the scenario of Tuesday’s events, Mystery really left us no other choice. Together we agreed on a plan and executed it!  I opened the trap to the inside officer McNally got the loop around her neck and cinched it up, making it snug while she commented, “I don’t think she missed a meal!  Her neck is bigger than her head!”

When she gave the okay I pulled the trap door out toward us and the rodeo began again. Halfway to the truck I used the Sshht sound again because Mystery was rolling herself up in the catch pole and really beginning to choke herself.  Mystery immediately sat and looked at me waiting for my instruction on what to do next.  The only thing I could do was tell her “I am right here; you’re going to be fine let’s go for a walk.” Off we went again making it only a few feet before she laid down and froze.  We coaxed her just a little further and she laid down again.

At this point we decided we would just pick her up and put her in the truck so I held the catch pole, took the rear and Officer McNally took the head and we lifted her into the truck. Removing the catch pole was a bit of a chore (not because she was struggling but actually just the opposite.  Mystery was sitting on it and wouldn’t get up!  We wiggled, jiggled, twisted and turned while I held the door,  for Officer McNally to maneuver the pole we eventually freed the pole!

We arrived at Newman Veterinary Center, and Gisele met us there moments later.  We put Mystery on the catch pole again and open the door to the crate in the truck.  Gisele arrived but she is still nervous.  I was smiling, so happy and so relieved.  Mystery was safe, was going to see a Vet, and she was enjoying human affection.  Officer McNally assured us, “This dog is going to be fine!”

We muzzled her to prevent her from chewing a leash and debated back and forth whether to leash walk her in or use the catch pole and we after a long debate back and forth used both. Once inside the building we removed the catchpole and the vet tech carried her to her cage in the ISO room

Gisele, my daughter and I went upfront to sign our lives away and there sat an elderly woman and her friend/daughter.  As Gisele and I were asking Amanda to make sure them microchip Mystery in 10 different places neck, each leg, eyelids, ears (just kidding).  The expression of concern on this poor woman’s face was priceless.  As I began explaining that we were only kidding and that she was a stray we had rescued, the woman shared that they  too had just seen a stray on Doyle Road.  Of course the first question out of my mouth is what kind of dog was it? And she replies with exactly what I thought she would! “Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.  She darted across the street and into the woods. We were so afraid we were going to see her hit by a car one day,”  the lady explained.  “No need to worry she wasn’t hit by a car and she is safe and in a cage in the back now!” 

Her first day at the Vet

It was Mystery that they had seen, I asked “When was it that you saw her?” already knowing what her answer was going to be she replied,” it was late last week, maybe Wednesday or Thursday.  “Of course!  That was when Mystery wasn’t at her den for 2 days last week; Wednesday and Thursday to be exact! She was a mile away and the only way to get from her den to where the lady spotted her was to cross the very busy four-lane State Route 17/92.  A very scary thought!  

I think it was then that I realized how lucky Mystery really was.  Living on her own for who knows how long, she had no fear of cars, yet she was alive.

We insisted that Newman Veterinary staff include DO NOT TAKE OUTSIDE on her cage card.  We took several pictures, spoke with the Veterinarians and left to prepare a plan for what we would do, and how we would do it!


 Unraveling Her Past and Starting a New Life

Mystery, Safe and Sound


April 13th

Mystery was picked up by Brittney from Newman Veterinary Center in Deltona.  She was spayed and had all of her shots.  She is also heartworm negative, which blows my mind.  Mystery has also been micro chipped.  She is resting comfortably at Brittney’s house.  Brittney notices that she has started to shut down emotionally, getting used to being a domestic animal.  Her recovery will be slow.  Much like my experience when I rehabilitated Shy Sharon, Shy Shannon, China and Nutella, not to mention my current foster, Les Paul, who has totally shut down emotionally, we will experience good days and bad days.

The Dog Liberator is not set up to take in long-term fosters, it can be very stressful, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly.  However, once we make a commitment to take a dog, we do it, and we do it right.  If you can donate to Mystery’s care, we really appreciate it.

In the meantime, her progress will be documented on this page, and her photos can be viewed on Facebook.

"Whats it take for a girl to get some alone time around here?"

“What’s it take for a girl to get some alone time around here?”


April 16th

The last few days have been uneventful with Mystery.  She is rarely coming for a pet.  She really just wants to be left alone, while I would love to just leave her alone, I know that isn’t going to make any progress, so I push on (tough love girl).

We made a few trips outside.  She walks out my back door straight into a very large crate.  Her favorite thing to do is sunbathe, but when she gets too hot she will come to the crate door and sit until I bring her back in.

She has learned she really enjoys Velveeta cheese as a yummy treat when she gets something right, like walking nicely on lead.

Today she blessed me with a nice surprise!  When it was time to go outside we went out into our crate as usual.  It wasn’t until we started back in that she wanted to make me proud!  She walked behind me, still a little unsure, she weaves from side to side behind me, but never passes me.  Then as we entered the living room she didn’t head straight for her crate!  Instead she went toward the actual living room.

I sat on the couch petting her head, when my phone rang.   I turned away to answer it, and she is still sitting in front of me waiting for me to give her direction.  The doorbell rings!  Really? What timing these people have!  My Lola begins to bark and growl.   Mystery is still sitting in front of me!   stand and start toward the door all the while still holding her leash, I asked her to come with me and she follows!  I crack the door and explain I can not open it.  The man understands and holds the signature pad so that I can sign one-handed.  Mystery is starring just waiting for that door to open, but much to her surprise, it doesn’t open!
Mystery looks back to me for direction and we walk back toward the couch.  I sit down and start to scoot back and she gently helps herself to the couch, squeezes behind me and lays down, her head resting up on the armrest.  I was so excited!  She just took a huge step forward all on her own and really enjoyed the Velveeta cheese she got for all of her bravery today! 
Hey! This isn't so bad....

A girl could get used to this!

For about 20 minutes we sat watching TV and working on the computer.  I needed to get up so I asked her to come with me.  She hesitated, I insisted, and she complied.  We started toward the garage to do laundry and she started past the living room chair when she leaped up and parked it!  She is now permanently attached to the blanket on the chair and the cushion of the recliner.  I asked her to come down and she just stared back at me!

What don’t you understand? I’M NOT MOVING!

Nope! Not even for a pork chop!

My attempts to bribe her down failed miserably, pork chops, Velveeta cheese.   Nothing worked!  I eventually just picked her up and put her down myself.  We started to the garage and she was beginning to be very distressed and was frantically searching for her cage.  She stopped and looked out the sliding door, seeing the outdoors, maybe she thought about running and I said HUH-UH and gave her leash a slight tug.  She sat down and looked to me while scanning the room, unsure of how or where to bolt to.  I continued toward the garage and called her as we passed by her crate.  She sneaked into her crate, where she is resting quietly now.  She had a huge morning and was so brave!  Despite the fact that I know she is terrified!  She has never hinted that she has wanted to bite, snap or even growl at me no matter what I do, or how scary it may be.  We are finally gaining more of that much needed trust!

April 17th

Mystery is full of surprises.  She is doing much better in the house.  She is right by my side everywhere I go, that is unless she is on the couch.  We have arguments daily about her being on the couch and obeying me when I tell her to get down. She is no longer showing signs of resource guarding.  Every time I fed her today, I held the bowl and she showed no signs of aggression or even any concern.

Woo hoo right?  I made a big stink over her not guarding her things?  Keep reading!

Nothing can touch me here!

Guess I will be rewashing those….

Late morning I asked Mystery to the garage with me (somewhere she has never been). She followed me despite the fact that she was overwhelmed with concern. After sitting out there and folding laundry, she was becoming less nervous the longer we sat. At one point she decided that the basket of clean fresh clothes I had folded just moments before looked like a nice bed. I asked her to follow me back inside I shut the entry door to the garage, opened the garage door, and asked her out again. Triple leashed and hesitant she followed. She was concerned again but intrigued. We sat in the same chair just sitting, watching and listening.

After a few minutes of watching and folding laundry, I asked Mystery back inside.  She was more than happy to follow,  we moved in to the couch and sat down.  We talked (well I talked she listened) about how things were just a week ago and what I was thinking, what I knew she could do and how scared she was of  any human interaction.

Doing a little work and talking about what life was like for her a week ago…

I was thinking about a phone conversation between me and my mom from yesterday. We had been talking about Mystery still wanting to RUN when she looks out the slider or a window to the outside and that I just can’t bring myself to take her out without the crate.  My mom made a statement “I think it is more you than her”, that statement stuck with me through the night and into the morning I had to try, but….  Okay ENOUGH!  As long as I am afraid Mystery will be I have to suck it up!  I mean really if she gets loose she is going to run and when she gets hungry she is going to come back,  if I leave the front door open she will come into her CRATE and eat, right?  A million scenarios ran through my mind as I sat there and thought of what COULD happen when I expose her to the outdoors with no barrier!


It was then I realized,  it was time I put my big girl pants on.  So I stood up and off to the front door I went, Mystery right by my side.  I reached for the front door and she flinched.  I said “It’s okay girl, I am right here”, she looked at me the

“What do you want me to do now?”

concern and anxiety just poured from her eyes.  I cracked the door and she backed up to get out of the way of the door.

I opened the door the rest of the way.  She took 3 steps forward to the threshold of the door and she SAT DOWN!  I was shaking with so many emotions running wild through my body, I literally sat down with her!  I was excited, proud, terrified, relieved and many many more!  The great outdoors was just over that threshold and she is just sitting with slack in the leash!



April 18th TODAY WAS HUGE!
After yesterdays adventure to the garage and the front door, I decided this morning we would actually go OUTSIDE! After our morning routine I took her leashed her up all 3 leashes and collars and she started for the garage door 🙂 “Not this morning girl, come here” I called, she followed willingly. We walked directly to the front door, I open the door and she is literally cringing with every inch it opens. She immediately sits and looks to me, but she was SHOCKED when I stepped out the the front porch and called her to join me! She hesitated and then followed nicely she got a little flighty at first I gave her a “Shh…”, she sat and looked for direction! She continued to sit a couple of times she would try to stand and I would just simply say “Shh…” and she would sit right back down we had slack in the leash we sat out on the sidewalk for a bit and she listened and smelled. She would flinch when the birds chirped and literally jumped when a lizard ran across the yard. After a short period of time, she was more than ready to retreat back to the house where it wasn’t so scary!

A bit different from exactly one week ago, Isn’t it?

Later this evening, the neighbor came over and knocked on the door, Larry and I stepped outside to talk to them. I haven’t allowed anyone in my home since she has been here that she doesn’t know. This needs to continue to be her “Safe Haven”. My neighbor and I had last spoken the day that Mystery freed herself from the leash, and got away. So I asked her to stand just outside the garage door and I went back inside I leashed up Mystery and I opened the door and said “Come Girl” she followed hesitating with every step. This is the first time she has met a stranger here, but remember they were outside not inside. We took 3 steps out into the garage and I sat in that chair and she came in close (she usually sits on my right side and on top of my foot she stays very, very close). The neighbor said quietly, “Oh! You caught her! She is so scared?”. I explained that she has only been outside without her crate this makes the 2nd day. Just then I felt Mystery begin to shake. It dawned on me the neighbors husband was out front and talking to larry, he resembles Ryan. If you remember she was very concerned about Ryan when she was in the trap. So I leaned down, she had her head buried and hidden between my leg and the empty chair next to me, and I said “Its okay girl, I am right here!”. When I raised up she followed me putting both front feet on my lap and burying her head between my arm and my stomach! At that point it hit me I AM FINALLY HER SAFE PLACE! I took her leash and I said “Come girl lets go inside”, she darted through the door and was headed straight for her crate, I kneeled down and said “It’s okay girl you did great! I know its scary out there but you made me proud!” She sat down in front of me waiting for the pat that she knew was coming and I got my first OFFICIAL KISS!

“Ok, I guess I will say Hello!”

I put her back in her crate and gave her dinner my son Jorgen (6) was sitting at his desk, between her cage and my Lola’s doing his homework. I told him as I always do, “Leave Mystery alone don’t touch her, don’t bother her. Okay?”. “Yes, Mommy!” he replies, and I go back outside. I step back in to check on them and he is still sitting in his chair but he is smiling ear to ear and he is doing homework? Something is very wrong with this picture! “What are you smiling about?” I ask. “Watch this!” he says, and he reaches down into the side of Mystery’s cage and he is PETTING HER! He stops and she looks up at him! She is doing it, the kids aren’t so scary anymore!

Mystery has shown great improvement in the last week, However, she still has a long way to go if outside more than a minute or two she will fight to get back INSIDE to SAFETY!  The wind, the birds, the lizards and all the other sounds of the outdoors Terrify her!  We will work daily going back outside, in and out, in and out.  My focus is on desensitizing her to everyday sounds in and out of the home she is spooked very easily and when she gets spooked you better have a good hold of her.  Despite all of that I can say shht!  and she will give me an immediate sit and she will look either to me or straight to the ground.  We are working on Confidence and Self Esteem.  She is getting there slowly but surely.  One Baby step at a time!

Nothing can touch me here! Cant see me either

She has taught me so much, and while all of you see what I am teaching her, I don’t think anyone has stopped to think about how much she has taught me. The very first day,that dark morning she ran out in-front of me, I said “we will never get close to this girl but I am going to touch her or die trying!” After seeing her several times at her den, on the trail, etc… watching her run at the first sight of me, and seeing her now run to me when she is scared is such a rewarding feeling to know that I have shown her how to trust me. It is up to her to trust everyone else and she is working on it one baby step at a time. It was up to her to change and she just needed someone to show her the way! She chose what to do with what she was shown, and so far she is doing AWESOME!  She has shown me such an INCREDIBLE amount of Bravery and TRUST in the last week!  The photo below tells it all!

Happy Smiles

Happy Smiles!!! What a difference in just a week.


April 19th

It was a fairly uneventful day today, Mystery and I made several trips out to the garage with the garage door open.  Today was a day for her to become comfortable with all she has accomplished and gain some confidence in what she can do already.  Without this confidence I don’t want to ask her to do more, she is only doing it because I want her to and the only thing she will learn is the trust, we have that now (Maybe even a little too much).  I need her to start gaining self confidence and being a little more sure of herself and her actions before we go too far forward with new things, so today we will not change our routine or do anything new.  Just lots of repetition, Reassurance and LOVE!


April 20th

Today was a CRAZY BUSY DAY!  I had the Central Florida Earth Day event in Orlando with TDL and lots of our TDL Peeps, so I was out most of the day.  As usual Mystery started me off with a SMILE this morning.  We went out back to potty and rather than going directly into her cage she went to the right of it and she squatted to potty in the yard OUTSIDE OF THE CRATE!  Yay! Lots of praise for her today!!!

She returned to the door and in we went. I was pressed for time this morning so we had little time to just sit and relax together.  She wanted in her crate this morning so that is where we went.  I removed her leashes and she laid down, I stayed to love on her for a minute before I had to go let Miss Lola out.  I took Lola out and came back in. When I got back inside Mystery was watching the door waiting for me, as I entered the dining room (where the crates are) she stood and came to the crate door to greet me!  Great way to start my morning! I gave them each  food and water in their crates, gave them hugs and kisses and off I went.

Before I walked out the door I stopped to entertain my thought “Should I take her? I could put her in a crate next to me and it would be good exposure for her”.  Following my gut feeling I decided that I wouldn’t take her while it would be good exposure it would be forced and I don’t know what the surroundings will be like but what i do know is I would be  STUCK in Orlando in a park if she really gets overwhelmed and upset I would have no way to remove her from the situation.  So I made the choice to leave her home this time she isn’t ready, even though I push her hard, I think that would have been too hard and we would have moved backwards.

Several of us TDLer’s spent most of the day and early evening at the event, and while I had a great time and it was a great experience, I was missing my Mystery already!  Just then Dusty arrived with his Lilly who is a smaller version of Mystery, and she loves me as much as I love her!  I referred to Lilly as my therapy for the day…

As the day went on we had a great turn out and several inquisitive minds ,but I also had a few  people approach us just to ask “Where is Mystery?”.  One stood out in particular.  Gisele, Dusty and I were standing around talking amongst one another and a gentleman approaches out of the crowd “Brittney?” I turned to look, I don’t recognize this man and would be safe to say I have never seen him before… “Yes?”, I replied.  “Where is Mystery?” he asked.  “Oh! She is at home I don’t think she is ready for all of this yet.”  I am still standing there looking at him as if he were a ghost, I still have no idea who this man is!  Later in our conversation I learned that it was a gentleman who works with my mom who is also following Mystery’s Journey. It was a proud moment to know that we were making such an impact, and not just here in Florida as Mystery has followers countrywide.

After a long day at the event in Orlando I invited Gisele to my house to visit with Mystery for a moment on her way home and allow her children to meet the New and Improved Mystery.  So everyone stepped into the garage and sat down scattered across the garage, I went inside and got Mystery.  I leash her up and said “Lets go say Hi”, to the garage we went.  I open the door, she is so focused on me and where we were going she failed to notice that there were 4 other people out there.  As I turned to close the house door behind me she seen them, she looks to me like “Really??? Why? Ahhhh!!!”  I asked her to come I start to sit down in the infamous chair and she walks up to Gisele to greet her!  Is this really happening?  She really just greeted someone face to face without burying her head in my lap and showing them nothing but her rear end? YAY!!!  I was so proud of her and her confidence.  <– There is that word again.

After a short lived visit with Gisele she returned to me and sat to my right as she always does.  After a few moments of conversation I approached the children with her, two on my left one on the right, they were very close to the open garage door.  I asked that they be very still and not make any sudden movements.  I start to approach she follows very close behind, I kneel down and she moves in close.  Gisele looks to me and says ” She is shaking…?”.  I reply with, “Yes, she is too close to the door.  She is terrified of being outside.”

Gisele was baffled, I mean just a week ago she was terrified of being inside or near ANY OF US.  Now she wont leave my side and doesn’t want anything to do with being outside.  Before I took her back in I made it a mission to have Ryan, Giseles son, touch her.  If you remember when I first caught her she was very leary of him and she was frightened by him Amazing what a little Trust and CONFIDENCE can do!

*Just wish I had my phone on me during all of this because we didnt get any photos of her while meeting all the strange people…*


April 21st

Today was another cram-packed day for me, so I was in and out most of the day.  I had considered bringing her along, but i just didn’t feel in my gut that she was ready for such an overwhelming adventure.  When I would come home in between errands I made sure to stop for a moment and spend just a moment with her.  Before I knew it the day was coming to an end, it was starting to get dark outside, so I hurried to take her out one last time.

I don’t like to go outside with her unless it is well lit,  so that she can better see her surroundings,  it helps to keep her calm.  We leashed up

OUTBACK for the first time out of her crate!

At the end of her leash =)

(only using 2 now) and out the back door we went.  Just outside my back door is the bottomless crate she has been using to go potty.  Normally she would walk right out the door and straight into the crate, but NOT TODAY!  Today she decided she wanted to go into the back yard instead!  I was still a little nervous, I am still nervous anytime we are outdoors, she still gets scared so easily and she will start to back up and spin.  NOT TODAY!  Today she walked around her crate in through the lattice gate to the small makeshift fenced area (This is not securely fenced, It couldn’t hold a turtle let alone a dog )   she walked around sniffed a little and turned to look at me.

Okay, This is better… I think I’m close enough now!

What Now?

She realized that she was at the full length of the leash, that was short lived.  She sprinted back to me sitting at my feet to look up for what to do next.  I gave her a nice rub and asked her to go potty.  She stood walked two steps to the right and done just that.  When she was finished she returned to me sitting and looking up to me she let out a whimper and then a loooooong drawn out whine, She wanted inside!

Scary over there…

Scary over there too…

We walked back to the door and in we went, but not before we sat outside and took in all the sights and smells.  She needs to touch all that is out there to help her to overcome her fear. When she realizes that those leaves are there everyday and those squirrels aren’t leaving anytime soon, the grass is going to touch her and the birds are going to chirp; it won’t be so scary anymore.  It will take several trips but today was a great start to this next step.  She sat quietly watching listening and smelling in every direction. Making me proud!

We walked back to the door and in we went.  When we come in from outside she knows that I have to be sure the doors are secured (no escape routes for her), and so she comes in and immediately sits, facing me, waiting for the command “okay, lets go!”.   At which time she walks, in a bit of hurry, to the glass sliding door.  I ALWAYS enter the door first (I am pack leader) she will follow behind and then immediately sit so that I may shut the sliding door.  Where we go from there depends on her mood she has been wanting back in her crate lately so I have given her her space over the weekend but TOMORROW is a new week and we are going to work more on laying on a doggie bed/pillow in the living room FLOOR and not the couch.

Before heading to bed my son Jorgen (6) asks me, “Mommy, can I feed Mystery tonight?” and much to his surprise I relied with “Yes, you may!”  He was recently bitten by a dog and now has a fear of them that we are working to overcome.  I explained he needed to move slow and she would take a few bites and then take it away from him, and that when she does he needs to let her have it and close her crate up.  “Okay..”  I filled her water bowl and opened her food for him and he done the rest!  She did everything she was supposed to, she hesitated at first to eat from his hand.

I will take it from here =)


Jorgen waited with patience, and once again patience paid off! I was so happy to see them both face their fears together and overcome them because of each other. Jorgen had a fear of being bitten and she had a fear of him altogether, but because of patience they both realized it was worth a shot. Jorgen whispers “Mommy, she’s doing it! Mommy Look!” Even if it was just for a few short moments seeing them both face their fears head on and to have it pay off in a HUGE reward for both of them was well worth the wait!

From Gisele:  While this story is going viral, please remember that it’s because of your kind donations, donations of all kinds that keeps us going.  We receive donations from our Amazon Wish List, through the United Way, and through Paypal.  Used items are welcomed here at TDL, every little bit helps.  We had a raffle not long ago where TDL made $50.  To us, that’s huge for that pays for a round of de-wormer, some flea preventative, or maybe an extra large bag of dog food!  Every little bit helps.  I want to thank all of you who have donated to help one of our dogs.  Look at how we started, and where we are today.  It is truly amazing, we are truly blessed to have you!  Mystery’s story is far from over, but there are many dogs out there just like her to end up at the pound.  We want to be able to have the funds, and the manpower to rescue them.  Please, help us if you can!

April 22nd ~ There is such a thing as JOY!I left you with a lot to take in yesterday with all that we accomplished over the weekend.  Monday left me with even more to share!  What a great day it was here.  Morning routine started to take place and it was time for potty breaks (Mystery appears to now be FULLY housebroken).  We walked out back I was curious to see will she go to the crate or will she go to the yard?  Without hesitation she walked into the back yard, YAY!!!  After she finished her business we walked, yes you heard me correctly.  We took a WALK around the back yard,  she has never been more than 3-4 steps inside the gate.  Watch this video you won’t believe the amount of devotion she has to pleasing me.  Just a short time ago I didn’t dare walk her 3 inches outside the door, and we are now walking all over the yard!!!!After our first walk and some bonding time, I had a few errands I needed to run so off I went… I returned home in the afternoon around 3:30.  Upon walking in the door I noticed she was fidgeting in her crate??? This was abnormal she ordinarily wouldn’t acknowledge I was coming or going with anything more than a lift of her head, this triggered a bit of curiosity on my part.  So I approach her crate and I couldn’t believe my eyes!!! I got a tail wag, I got an Aussie speech (whines and whimpers) and I even got a kiss!!!  What did she get out of it? She got Yummy people food! =)  This was very short lived but it was HUGE!!!! SHE FOUND HER JOY!  I don’t think very many of you understand how incredibly happy that made me!  Whatever I am doing (I have no idea) something is right she is learning to be a HAPPY DOG!*The video is pretty dark but you can see the butt shakes and the kisses and you can hear her talk to me*~Brittney~ Proud Foster =)April 23rdToday we worked a lot on off leash walking (inside the house of course) Mystery done well.  Took some coaxing to get her off the couch but once she was off she done well.  We even visited Jaidyn and Jorgen in their rooms to tuck them in for their naps.  Mystery helped herself to Jaidyn’s bed getting her down from there was kind of like getting her off of the couch!   We walked back down the hall stopping to work on our focus and sitting.  She is getting to be pretty good at an automatic sit when we stop!  She is shaping up quickly. Oh! and boy does she LOVE her couch!

We are getting better and better outdoors and going further and further from her comfort zone.  i don’t have a lot of interesting news to share today as I have been giving her time to become accustomed to routine and taking in all the new things she has learned.  I have pushed and pushed I want her to process all of this before we move on!  She is still struggling with other dogs I get a low growl and then she will retreat to the corner of her cage when that is corrected.  She is so sensitive to correction a simple “Ahht!”,  and she is hunkered up in a ball and hiding in the back of the crate. =( poor thing… right?  NOPE!  She needs to learn boundaries and limitations, and she must learn that guidance and correction is a part of everyday life.  When she realizes I am not going to hurt her but yet show her the right way she will slowly start to let go of the fear of consequence.  Of all the things that I have done with her, you will notice, none of them is feeling sorry for her.  We move forward here not backwards =)

April 24th ~ “Are You Insane?”

So this morning after our routine, I got a phone call, I needed to meet Larry to pick up the key to his truck.  Mystery and I were sitting on the couch working on a post when the call came in, I only had 5 minutss to get there (he’s working and was just passing through).  So I asked Jaidyn to go get in the truck and I grabbed 2 leashes.  After leashing Mystery up she ran straight for the glass slider, as that is where we normally go outside, not today!  I asked her to the front door she followed we stepped out she done her business (she will go every time I take her out).  I opened the  door to the truck curious how she will react, I looked down to her only to find her looking back up at me.  “Load up!”  I said, and much to my surprise she jumped straight in.  YAY! Mystery!


I started the truck, she jumped.  I backed up, put the truck in drive, she jumped.  Got out to the stop sign and it was getting a bit warm so i cracked (and I mean cracked) her window and the rear windows, she jumped.  It was a touchy ride for the first little bit but before we arrived to the gas station she had settled down.  I pulled in and parked and she was very scared she started to look around and I kid you not she knew where she was.  She was very nervous and she was using that nose like crazy!  she would watch out of every window her eyes were big almost to the point of CRAZY EYES!  I snapped her out of that real quick, and it was up hill from there.


Crazy Eyes…..

Larry arrived with the key it was now 8:30am I started back home but to get there I have to pass where I originally found Mystery.  Just yesterday the friends at Benson Junction Trading Depot had asked for an update and photos of Mystery, I will do them one better we will just stop in and say Hello.  Benson Junction doesn’t open until 9 so we had a little bit of time to kill, I said “Hey girl, lets check something out!” and I drove her back to the woods where her den was.  She got a little nervous and I could see her mind racing again she was sniffing the air and she knew.  She starts to breath heavier and she starts to pant, her pupils grow and I say “Shht!” and she sits down and looks at me.

looking at her old den…. Does she look scared or is it just me?

No, I don’t want to go back there I want to go HOME!

We did it!  I have complete control over her at this point!  We waited in the parking lot for the employee’s to arrive we said our Hello’s, and she got her “Oh my goodness look at her eyes” and her “I can’t believe how well she is doing.” speeches.  She was unsure but accepting as usual, While our visit was short it was a nice test and was good to see how she would react in HER TERRITORY!  She done GREAT!

This afternoon I had a visitor, a friend of mine has a new baby (human), and she brought him by for the first time.  Of course my dogs were locked up I walked up to each crate with the baby and allowed them to sniff, both done very well.  The baby and I sat on the couch and he laid in a soft fuzzy chair and at one point he laid on Mystery’s blanket on the couch for a moment. Why is that important?  Because, she is going to be on that blanket later and the scent of that baby will linger all new sights and smells and now they are indoors!

Picked my son up from school and after coming back home a friend of mine wanted to come get their mower from my house.  When they arrived and loaded everything up Mystery and I went outside.  She walked out into the garage with NO HESITATION.  Even approached the both of them politely and on her own!  So Proud!  She was insecure about the whole situation but she was GREAT!  She followed commands and she  sat to be petted and only a few times did she stare them in the face (I do NOT allow her to look anyone in the face but me especially when they are kneeled down to pet her. )  She was proud of herself and I was really proud of her!  EXPOSURE!  EXPOSURE!  EXPOSURE!

Home Sweet Home…. You can literally SEE the relief!

April 25th

This morning we woke up continued with our morning routine but when Mystery and I went outside straight to the back yard as usual and then instead of coming to the door we walked completely around the house and entered in the front.  All new territory and she done very well she is starting to get a little pushy with the leash she is no longer extremely fearful of the sound of the tags clinging or the sound of the chain collar cinching up.  However, when she is interested in something she is starting to pull on the leash a little we will work on this over time but, the way she has been progressing, I don’t see any issues.  I allowed her to sniff and explore most of the side yard. She has recently taken up a vegan diet =), Seriously she loves vegetables and anything else green. Before we went inside I wanted to show you all how well she loads up and jumps out.

After our test run with the truck we came inside, just inside the door she sat on her own while I removed her leash.  She, immediately, retreated back to her safe couch.   I left her there off leash.  She was acting very strange this morning, periodically whining and whimpering, she was restless but the heavy breathing she has exhibited from day one has stopped.  Now, we are dealing with whines, restlessness and whimpering???  What is going on? I noticed on the floor there was a baby doll.  She was watching it and she would whine, and toss and turn, at one point she actually scooted her entire upper body off the couch sniffing the baby doll, you could see the concern in both her body language and in her eyes.  So i got up picked up the baby doll and laid it on the couch.  She immediately sniffed the baby, licked it and then sniffed the blanket where the REAL baby had laid yesterday.

So now the question stands is she familiar with babies was that why she was abandoned?  I seen nothing from her that would make me believe she ever harmed anyone.  However I can see her becoming possessive of the baby.  I tested her several times picking up the baby and holding it like a real baby rocking it and cradling it in my arms.  She showed much concern during all of this,I made sure to pick up the baby and lay the baby down again and again.  Several times we did this and each time she would investigate the baby.  at one point she scooted the baby to her never using her mouth she just scooted it.

Now, I haven’t mentioned this to anyone except Gisele and Jen, but Mystery’s teats are a tad bit saggy and her nipples show signs of being nursed.  She has birthed at least one litter possibly more.  I don’t believe she had puppies in the wild as she doesn’t appear to be retaining any milk.  So was she a breeder that didn’t mother her pups well?  Did she have an issue with a newborn family member?  Did she have a majority of deaf /blind puppies?  There are several scenarios that I can play out in my head in just a matter of minutes.  Added to the fact that we believe her to be partially visually impaired in her left eye, I am sure she has been misunderstood, mistreated and mistrusted.  While I would like to know what happened to her puppies and where she came from I can’t let that cloud the achievements we have already made or the rest of our goals.

On a brighter note we go to the groomer in the morning at 9. Pun intended. Cant wait to see how she does walking across that parking lot and in those doors.  To be honest I can’t wait to see their faces when they see her coming in that door walking on leash and following command.  I am going to talk to Serena to see if I cant snap a few pics during her bath.  I am most curious about how she is going to do without me there during a bath with a strange person all over her and even more so the blow dryer. Yikes!  Rest assured just as I done last time, I will  ensure that my girl is NOT taken outside, for any reason.  The only chances to be taken with this girl will be taken by me, I just don’t trust anyone else with her.  Can you blame me?  I mean even Gisele questioned my own sanity just yesterday. =)

Next time you see her she will hopefully be Brighter than bright, smellin’ pretty and CLEAN!

April 26th

We started our morning just as we always do only today is Spa Day!  We carried on with our morning routine and then I leashed her up, double leash.  She knew we were going to go somewhere, I leashed her with the dreaded chain leash. (The sight of the chain leash terrifies her)  We walked out front and loaded up in the truck.  On the way there I continued to reassure myself that this was going to be flawless.  I talked to her on the way there explaining that she was going to be walking out there and she is to walk like a big girl.

Once we arrived I asked my daughter to get out first I handed her my keys and my phone and she started to the door to be ready when Mystery and I got up there.  As I got out of the truck Mystery followed me flawlessly we stepped on the grass and she got a little fidgety and I corrected her.  We continued to walk forward once we reached the sidewalk she froze.  I asked her to come on and she of course complied.  She was hesitant but she listened.  We traveled up the stairs and to the door.  Jaidyn opened the door for us and I walked inside, mystery hesitated but with one “Com’on Girl let’s go!” she followed.  She was glued to my side as the other clients and especially employees of Newman Veterinary Centers watched in awe.  What an improvement from the last visit.  Afterall, she was brought in on a catch pole last time and left being carried out the back door to my truck.  As we started to sit down, Serena noticed us, she looked and looked again, we got several double takes as we entered the office.  What a big girl she was!

We sat waiting our turn she was nervous a couple of times she was on the chair next to me and I would put her down as she was not invited.  Once she decided my lap was a good place to be and again I placed her on the floor as I did not ask for her to be in my lap.  It was our turn now, Serena came over to say hello and sneak a pet or two Mystery was accepting looking back to me for reassurance.  I explained a few quirks to Serena, she took over the leash and they walked away (or at least Serena did).  Mystery was not liking the idea of leaving my side she fought Serena with every step of the way.  Serena was firm but kind, It was heartbreaking to watch her have such a hard time with leaving us, but she has to learn to trust other people.  She can do this I said to myself as I gathered my things and we left.

Serena called this afternoon and said that Mystery was ready to be picked up.  She reported “She done very well she freaked out about her bath but by the 3rd one she realized what was going on. Oh yeah and she is WHITE! Yay!”  I picked her up this evening because I had plans for after I picked her up.  When I arrived to get her Lani said to me “She looks so pretty!  I tried to pet her but she wouldn’t let me she moved away?”  I smiled and said, “Don’t worry you get her out here to me and I will let you pet her.”  Knowing now that she was being stubborn and treating them the way she had treated me in the wild.  I couldn’t wait to see the expression on Lani’s face when she seen the real Mystery the one that was hiding inside, behind the scared Mystery.  A few moments later Lani went back to get her.  I could hear her practically begging Mystery to cooperate and let her get her out of the cage.  Someone ended up helping her (stubborn? and aussie? NEVER!)  I could hear down the hallway Lani still begging and coaxing her out to the lobby I listened to the struggle long enough and I said “Hey Where are you? Come On Girl!, Mystery” then you could hear her tearing into the tile floors.  Was she dragging Lani?  Sure enough they rounded the corner and she WAS practically dragging poor Lani to get back to me!  I was videoing all of this for you to see (I apologize for the period of nothing but wall and floor, she knocked me down) she got close and Lani dropped the leash and she flew into my lap, Lani continued the video for me so you could see the excitement this girl had!  Lani got to see the real her and sat in amazement as she seen what the REAL Mystery was like, oh and yes, Lani got to pet her too.

Boy do I look and feel better!

We completed our paperwork and headed out.  We struggled a little on the way to the car she was confused and excited and just overwhelmed.  After a few HEY!’s she got it and we walked to the truck got in and we were going to visit my mom!  Unsure of how this would go she has never been here and there are several people over there my grandparents my brother, my mom and her husband.  SINK OR SWIM GIRL!   We arrived I ha`d Jaidyn make sure my moms dogs were outside, and we went inside.  After sniffing everything she crossed paths with she went to greet EVERYONE!  I was proud of her.  She even sat on the couch with my mom and grandmother eating pill pockets (Yes, pill pockets) and string cheese getting compliments on her beautiful coat and how soft and clean she was.  We visited for a while and then we headed home.  She had a BIG day today and handled it well considering.

I was a good girl Mum…

As we arrived home she seen the familiar sight of the trees in our driveway and she stood up in her seat you could see the happiness pouring out of her eyes!  She was THRILLED to be home. I have never seen her this Happy or Excited!  She is JOYFUL! It is so rewarding to know that I have helped her from the Terrified stray in the wild to a prospering family pet! Its amazing what a difference a little leadership and structure makes. =)

We’re almost HOME!!!




April 27th ~ It’s touching me!

It’s touching me!!!

Today was really just a lounge day. The only thing we did today was introduce the girls on leash out of the crates. They done well. A lot of avoidance but avoidance is good. They gave a few sniffs more Lola than Mystery but after a few moments they both sat down and somewhat relaxed! At one point Lola was closing her eyes because Mystery was touching her. Mom! It’s touching me!!! Get it away!!! Okay, If I close my eyes it will go away… Nope! It’s still touching me!




April 28th ~ What A Day!

I had a dinner commitment at Gisele’s house this evening. As I began to gather my things to leave, I thought, Hey! Why not take her. There are going to be a few people there that would love to meet her. So I grabbed yet again the chain leash and called her to come along. Once the leash was attached she remembered where we were going. She went straight for the front door. After getting through the door, she stopped wait for me to get the door closed. She loaded up perfectly, my son asked if he could tag along, she sat quietly in her passenger seat as he climbed in and buckled up (even when he shut his door). As I started the car and began to exit the driveway I thought I would test the waters a little, I rolled the window ALL THE WAY down. Would she try to jump? Would she get scared? How would she react?

She investigated the new sights, sounds and smells and laid down to enjoy the ride. She never lays down for an entire ride she will go back and forth sit, lay, sit, lay. She was especially nervous on this ride because my son was with us. She is,understandably, very unsure of him. He is a high strung six year old boy, who doesn’t always think before he acts. She is an amazing dog! Several times he has ran up behind her and touched her with both arms extended and she will whip around, and just when any scared dog would bite, she spins away from him and just moves away. She has so much patients and just aims to please!


On the drive to Gisele’s I found myself a little anxious about taking her someplace new. What will she do? How will she take to Gisele’s pack? I didn’t notice my level of anxiety until I looked over to her and noticed she was no longer riding comfortably she was panting, breathing heavy, her heart was racing and she was extremely nervous. It was then that I said out loud, “you know what? NEVERMIND all that! We are going to get out of the car and walk up here like a pro! You are going to do fine.” She settled back down and rode the rest of the way just looking out the window.

When we arrived to Gisele’s several people were already there. Les Paul was being adopted, and everyone was in the side yard. I heard Gisele ask Les Paul’s adopters if they had been following Mystery, they said “No?” Gisele responds, “There she sits!” pointing to my truck. I waited in the neighbors driveway until Les Paul and his new family left and then I pulled in. As Mystery and I got out of the truck and approached everyone, Mystery stuck to my side. Gisele asked me to pull forward so that Dusty and Sarah could move their cars to the driveway. I handed Gisele Mystery’s leash and asked Mystery to stay. With each step I took to my truck she became more and more concerned. Was I leaving her? Where was I going? Why isn’t she with me? She gave a few whimpers and managed to prance in the sitting position, but never took her eyes off of me. As Gisele stood there with her hand wrapped up in the leash prepared for a rodeo and ready to control with the other hand, I heard her say “She acts just like China!” and she does! China will do whatever it takes to be with her person, who just happens to be Giseles daughter, Sarah. When I started the truck she stood up. Gisele tightened her grip on the leashes. I pointed one last time and said “Stay!”. She did, as I pulled forward and shut the truck off I told Gisele to loosen her grip and just watch. Knowing that they were about to witness first hand just how HAPPY she is when I come back for her! I stepped out of the truck and shut the door and started to walk toward them she stood with her entire body shaking and she even gave another whimper!

We see dogs everyday that have no joy, dogs in the shelters, puppy mills, dogs that weren’t ever family dogs. We see them do miraculous things we see them make changes we never expected but I think all of us, myself included, are in awe about the multitude of her devotion and will to do ANYTHING I ask of her. She has such a STRONG personality and a KIND HEART! She really is a GOOD GIRL! Well now that the show was over, we needed to figure out where we were going to sit. The back yard it is! and we will introduce one dog of the pack at a time. Mystery and I went through the side yard into the back yard and sat down to wait for everyone else. When I chose a chair she claimed the ottoman. Okay fine, as long as you aren’t in my lap that is fine with me. A few moments later everyone came out. With her being in a strange place she cringed when the door opened and when people started out the door she took one good leap and was in my lap with her head buried under my arm. They can’t see her there ya know. I removed her from my lap and placed her back onto the ottoman. We let Ozzie (Gisele’s brainless Border Collie) out the door he walks up to sniff her and she jumps with every sniff. I am correcting but it is too much she can’t handle it she leaps back into my lap yet again. Afraid of her CLAIMING me more than being afraid, I remove her once again, and place her back on her ottoman and ask Ozzie to leave her alone for now. While Ozzie is playing frisbee with my son and chasing squirrels she is watching closely to everything that is going on.

We let BoBo out, she did a lot of the same things but BoBo kept his distance and I was able to prevent her from leaping into my lap. After a little while she looked to me and I called her to my lap (on my terms), she of course accepted the invitation. She sat for some time when Gisele suggested we get a crate and set it out on the porch and let her have the crate for comfort and let her meet the girls of the pack. Dusty and Gisele brought out a crate for her, I got her a blanket and a toy and she went into her crate we let out Lady Di and China. As Lady Di approached the crate I could see Mystery cower but her body language told me she was going to growl. So I gave an “Aat!” She looked at me and I said “Be Nice, NO GROWLING!” She laid her head down and dealt with it. When China approached barking at her (China cant hear herself she is deaf) Mystery gave a growl, I corrected her. Gisele said let her growl. Lady Di approached them head and tail held high, letting everyone know she is LARGE AND IN CHARGE! Moments later Mystery had calmed down a little not as stressed and China approached again Sarah B. watched Lady Di get up and correct China, telling her to leave Mystery alone!

We had many conversations about how I caught her what led up to where we are today. How did I go from a dog who was afraid of her own shadow to this in just 3 weeks? A lot of HARD work and repetition. Stopping behaviors before they start, and reading her body language it requires a lot of attention to subitle messages given by Mystery. Not many people know how to properly read the body language of a dog, it was imperative that I properly read what she is telling me each time, one misunderstanding and it could end in disaster. I was fortunate with Mystery she is very caring and tolerant.

When it was time to eat I brought Mystery to a crate inside the house. She could not see me from her crate from the moment I sat down she whined and BARKED! I remember Dusty making the statement that she barked like a little girl. She does have a rather prissy bark. As we continued to eat I shushed her several times, she would stop for a second and then bark again. Normally when she whines like that she is thirsty, so I gave her a bowl of water, she drank it and then started again. What? Really! Why won’t you be quiet? I happened to glance over at the stove it was six o’clock on the dot! She was hungry! Yes, she still eats at six o’clock on the dot. I got up once again from the dinner table and gave her food, but she wasn’t happy that she wasnt in her crate at home with her bowl of food. The minute I placed the food in her crate she took her nose and dumped it out! She is hungry but, she wasn’t interested in that food (its the same as hers) and she wasn’t eating out of that bowl! I took her outside for a minute and then brought her back in and put her in the crate. What does she do? She lays down and waits patiently for me to tell her it is time to go HOME!

Finally! I could sit down and finish my dinner. I had to hurry though I had other plans and Mystery wasn’t going to wait patiently, forever. I finished my dinner and said my goodbye’s. Outside Dusty and Sarah were able to pet her and tell her goodbye, she stayed close to me but was happy to get a pet or two from the strangers. She has done so well today, with the new environment, and all the new people/dogs touching her. We loaded up in the car and off we went.

I had to stop at Autozone on the way home, I didnt think they would appreciate her joining me inside so I asked my son to get out first and then I snuck out. She watched me through the store window until I disappeared and she began to pace back and forth, back and forth, front seat, back seat, passenger side to driver side. My son watched her from the window as I grabbed what I needed practically running through the store.


I did it!

With the employees looking at me like I was absolutely NUTS, I explained the short version of her story they were amazed! She acted as if she had been with me forever, once she regained sight of me through the storefront, she settled back down and waited patiently never taking her eye off me. We completed our purchase and my son and I left the store trying to figure out how we were going to go about getting back in. I asked him to wait until I got in and got ahold of her before he opened his door, he did just that and it worked flawlessly. She is very observant in the car and she doesn’t miss a beat! We neared our STREET and she sat up, I’m almost Home!!!

Inside she was more than ready to retreat to dinner in her OWN BOWL! What a Day we had, but a GREAT DAY!

April 29th ~ Getting to know you…


Today we worked a little more with introducing Lola and Mystery!  We lounged around the house, we are still working on laying on the floor and not on the couch.  Don’t get me wrong she will at every given chance LEAP onto the couch and hide her face.  If she buries her head in the blanket its okay because I wont see her, Right?  She is getting pretty good at getting down when I tell her to, a big improvement from before when I had to literally pick her up and move her.  The girls have done very well over the last few days and today, I will take a big risk and I am going to turn them out and see what happens.

Finally starting to relax!

April 30th ~ Remind me not to do that again!

Coming soon! Update coming in the morning.


May 1st ~ Patio Picnic, Anyone?

Coming soon! Update in the morning.


Sarah and China, Fall of 2010

Recap Mystery 05/10/13:  Gisele here!  I’m stepping in here, to write a bit out Brittney and her Mystery.  If you have been a TDL follower for a while, you know the story about China, and my daughter Sarah.  You’ll remember that  on Christmas day of 2010, I gave China to my daughter as a Christmas present – meaning she was no longer available for adoption.  It was the only time that my family used the word “keep” and I listened.

While in foster care, China truly created an incredible bond with my daughter.  Even though Sarah asked me several times a day if we could keep China, it wasn’t until I saw this photo that I realized that it was my daughter that needed the dog, almost as much as the dog needed my daughter!  China gave Sarah self-esteem, and unconditional love.  Even though three years have passed, Sarah adores her dog, does everything for her, and we love her.

Brittney was working at Newman Veterinary Centers when I brought China in to be spayed.  She remembers how scared China was, and Brittney fell in love with her.  Months later, Brittney and I became friends, and she came to my home to meet China again.  China was still afraid.  It took several visits before China trusted Brittney, and of all of the gorgeous dogs I have had come through my home, China is truly one of Brittney’s favorites.  Is Mystery Brittney’s China?

The Keep Look!


When I was looking through Brittney’s photos last week, I saw it.  That one photo where the dog’s expression (Mystery’s) was that look I have been waiting for – the “Keep” look!

Oh sure, I tease Brittney about keeping Mystery, and we have discussed it a few times, but no decision has been made either way.  However, last night, I really pushed the envelope.   It’s time for Brittney to give this a lot of thought, just like I did three years ago!


05/12/13 Happy Mother’s Day!  It is official. Mystery is Brittney’s for keepsies. “I could never let her go. I thought many times about how an adoption would go and all I could think about was Dale’s Winter and Sarah’s China… I just can’t do it! We built each other… and she is, believe it or not, an inspiration for me!” Brittney said this morning.

Brittney, her Mother Brenda, and her new dog, Mystery!

Here is Brittney, and her Mother Brenda, and her new dog, Mystery!

Welcome to The Dog Liberator Mystery!

From time to time, we do update Mystery’s Photo album on Facebook, so for the latest updates, visit her album!

08/29/13:  Completely off leash in a strange area with nothing but thick brush and dunes surrounding us! Mystery did great! ~ Brittney Myers

08/29/13: Completely off leash in a strange area with nothing but thick brush and dunes surrounding us! Mystery did great! ~ Brittney Myers

Let it Go – Stop Feeling Sorry For Your Dog

This article explains why it is unhealthy to pity or feel sorry for your dog. No matter what your dog has been through, pity will create behavioral issues. This article explains that most dog-owners, especially those who have adopted a rescued dog, don’t realize that feeling sorry for your dog does emotional harm.

All Dogs Should Be Expected to Behave


I was listening to Cesar Milan on a radio station a few weeks ago trying to answer the question, “why do you think so many dogs get returned from shelters and pounds?”  What Cesar tried to explain was that people feel sorry for the shelter dog, and when they bring the dog home, they treat it with a tremendous amount of pity, they treat it like an orphan, and let it get away with very bad behavior.   They won’t correct the dog, because it has been through so much. As I was listening, I realized that he really wasn’t explaining it well enough for the average person to identify with.  I felt that people listening would say, “oh, I would never do that,” when in fact they do!  I don’t think people truly realize what they should and should not do when they bring a dog home.


Be Proud of Your Dog

If you think about it, and you purchased a pup from a phenomenal breeder, you would be proud of your new pup, showing it off to everyone and bragging about its bloodline, the titles its parents have won, and your dreams for your new pup.  But that’s not how people act or feel when they bring home a pup from the pound; a pup that is emaciated, maybe is full of worms, has runny poop, cries all night long, and is confused.

Do Not Reward Fear

People who see a dog cower at the sight of as human hand for some reason want to embrace it, pet it, tell it it’s okay, and that just makes the dog even worse.  The dog has actually been rewarded for being afraid of the hand. I have had many people come to my home with their adopted dog, asking to adopt a second dog from me to keep their dog company.  Many times the potential adopters discuss in detail the horrible conditions that their dog originally came from.  They treat their dog like it’s still being abused, in other words, carrying the pity that they have for their dog in their heart and on their sleeve.  It doesn’t take me very long to realize that their dog is neurotic, and stuck.

Don’t Make Excuses For Your Dog’s Behavior

What I witness is a very nervous and unsure dog.  The owners make up excuses for their dog.  Their dog may growl at another dog, or show it’s teeth at me, and they make excuses for their dog.  Their dog may be food-aggressive, and they make excuses for their dog.

Is Your Dog Stuck, Living in the Past?

A few times, I’ve literally asked the couple to leave their dog with me, “go have lunch and leave me alone with your dog for an hour so I can properly introduce the two dogs to each other,” I beg, because I know that it’s their energy that’s preventing the dog’s joy.  They refuse to leave, they refuse to give me a chance, they refuse to give their dog a chance, because they enjoy seeing their dog needy, confused and unsure so they can be their dog’s savior. Their dog is stuck living in its past.  To the dog’s owners, he’s always seen as the pathetic, needy, starving dog they brought home from the filthy pound, and that’s NOT what your dog wants – and that’s not what your dog is today.


Make Your Dog’s Pity Party Brief

Since I recently worked with Winter, Shep and even before then Shy Sharon, I go overboard with potential adopters explaining to them that under no circumstances are they to feel sorry for their dog.  Even in the worse cases, like Bart and China, for example, I too feel a lot of empathy for the abused and neglected dogs that I rescue… but only for 24 hours.  After that dog is with me for a day, I brush it off and the dog and I begin a new day, begin a new journey, and the dog knows that there is not one ounce of pity in my heart for him any longer.  Those days are gone, it’s time to move on and be proud.

They call it tough love

Only on a few occasions I’ve allowed someone to adopt from me not knowing that they want the dog because they felt sorry it-it always ends in disaster.  Yet people are more attracted to the damaged dogs than the perfectly fine dogs.  Dogs like Chaz, for example, has never been in a pound, he was never abused or neglected, he’s just a great dog.  Yet 99% of potential adopters want to adopt the sad abused and neglected dogs, like Shep. While I was trying to explain this to a friend last week, I used an analogy that just came out before I realized I had just had a major Ah Ha moment.

Tiny Dancer

Your Dog Is Not an Orphan Anymore

As a young teenager, I was quite a handful.  I was disrespectful and rude to my parents; I thought I knew everything.  I didn’t appreciate how hard they worked for the family, and how lucky I was.  Every heated argument ended with my Mom or Dad saying, “if it wasn’t for us, you would have died; we saved your life.” Those words always ran through my veins like ice.  Instead of being grateful that they adopted me (a sickly three month-old baby abandoned by her mother and given to a catholic orphanage) it did the opposite-I resented it.  I did not ask to be there, I did not ask to be adopted, and at three months of age, I certainly had no say in selecting my family.

My Collie, when I was just a kid

My Collie, when I was just a kid

The statement itself infuriated me.  Why?  Because I did not want to be seen or treated like that pathetic and unwanted orphan.  I wanted to be appreciated for who I had become.  I did not want to be a sickly orphan, I wanted to be their healthy yet combative teenager daughter! I remember thinking to myself, if they were so unhappy with me, why did they adopt? Today, of course I realize that this was normal teenage rebellion and if we wouldn’t have fought about that, we would’ve fought about something else!

But I do understand that when a dog is adopted, he should be adopted because he is wanted.  He should be adopted because he will add to the family, not give the family a sad story to hang onto.  Stop the Drama!


If you have ever met me, and met China, you’d understand my energy.  China is probably one of the most abused dogs I’ve ever rescued, yet when I introduce her and show her off to people, I do it with great pride.  I don’t dwell on her past, I don’t want people to feel sorry for her, I want people to see her beauty, recognize her intelligence, and more importantly witness her incredible loyalty and joy. Yes she was unwanted, abandoned, surrendered to a kill shelter, scheduled to be put down and deemed un-adoptable.  Yes, she was beaten and took months to rehabilitate, but that shroud does not follow her because we will not pity her.

I work very hard when I rescue and foster a dog with a horrible past to close that door and lock it permanently.  If you are thinking of adopting a dog from a shelter, rescue or pound, or if you are getting a dog off of Craig’s list, or a parking lot, realize that if you’re stuck in the dog’s past, your dog will never grow emotionally, because of you.

It matters not where your dog came from, it’s up to you to undo the past, and help your dog find joy.

There is no joy in pity.

I was Just a Kid

How to Adopt From Us

Our Favorite Things

The Chosen Ones

Read our Reviews

Amazon Gives Back

Ebay Helps Rescue

Hate Mail and Adoption Fees

About Gisele

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Dogs

Remembering Harry Elliott

The Dog Liberator receives donations from individuals from time to time.  Many times, donations are received from people we do not know, people who have not adopted from us, people who may never adopt from us; people who just want to help.  Some donations are $5, some are $100.  What matters is people want to help, and they help in anyway that they can.  It all adds up, and every dollar makes a difference.

What’s important, however, is the story behind the giving.  Why people make an effort to be “paying it forward”.  Last week, I received a donation for Shep’s care via paypal.  The comment read:

Harry Elliott

Gisele:  Although I can’t adopt a dog (we rescued a border collie who had been run over with his farmer’s tractor) and a feral kitten wandering in the neighborhood, but I still want to help you do what you do best. Don’t listen to those who send hate e-mail. They are probably sending hate e-mail to more than just you. If that is all they have to do, then just feel sorry for their families and spouses. They have a mental problem. This donation is in memory of my Dad who died this year before seeing our rescued animals. Please help another animal make it to a good home. Those of us who benefit from rescuers hard work appreciate all that you do.   Sincerely,  Susan

I emailed Susan, thanking her for her donation, and asked her to elaborate a bit.  Here’s what she wrote:

Hi Gisele,

My Dad, Harry Elliott, was a WWII veteran who was wounded in action in Europe at the Battle of the Bulge.  He loved animals and looked forward to our getting a dog after he and Mom moved in with us.  However, he was sicker than anyone knew and needed so much care.  I would look online for a border collie at PetFinder.  Dad would look at the dogs I found as I sent the candidates to his computer.  He was really looking forward to having a pet again.  But, as it turned out, he didn’t live to see us get Lance.

We had been looking for a few years since we lost our last border mix somewhere around the age of 14 years.  She was a rescued dog, also.  But I hurt too bad to go get another right away.  Turned out to be the best thing as both my parents needed to come with us and we needed to renovate their house to sell it.  No time for a dog.  But as things settled down and the house was up for sale, the hunt began again in earnest.  We would put in for a dog and never hear another thing.  Although, our neighbors and vet had been checked out.  The dog would disappear from online and it was gone.  (Adopted, I hope).  We had people from a border collie rescue come to our house and deemed us worthy.  But we didn’t have one when Dad suddenly took a turn for the worse and was taken to the hospital. 


The weird part was that while Dad was drugged and delirious in the hospital, he spoke about how wonderful it was that we finally had our dog after all that looking, and that HE was a wonderful, beautiful border collie.  We had only been looking at females. He genuinely thought we already gotten a dog.   I just went along with it and didn’t tell him we had no dog.  Dad died last February.  

A few weeks later a male border collie showed up in NJ and was being shown at a Petco about an hour from our home, having been shipped from Virginia to a rescue group here.  This is unusual because here we are inundated with pit bull terriers and don’t find many border collies.

We drove to see him with all of our credentials and paperwork with us (even a Google Earth printout so that they could see where we live is rural).  They liked us so much that they loaded Lance into our car and we drove him home with us. 


Dad was right.  He is a beautiful wonderful dog who is smarter than we are.  He is training us very well.  It took him a few months to recover from all the stitches and his wounds.  He doesn’t look anything like he did when we got him.  His fur was thin, as was his body.  He has filled out with the most beautiful border collie long flowing hair.  His personality went from fearful of kids, strangers, and anything that resembled a stick in any way, to a mostly socialized dog who looks forward to the neighbor kids throwing Frisbees for him.   We love the breed.

Did Dad know?  Could he see Lance?  Was it coincidence?  We will never know.  But we have a wonderful dog.  And I couldn’t have asked for a better Dad.  


Have a great day!  And thanks for all you do to save these wonderful animals.  They aren’t really dogs, but aren’t quite kids, either.  Somewhere in between are border collies and aussies.   Sincerely,   Susan

The purpose of this post is to publicly thank Susan for her donation, but more importantly, thank her for sharing her story with us.

You may not always get the dog you want, but you’ll always get the dog you need.

Irreconcilable Differences

The Battle for the Heart & Soul of America’s Animal Shelters, by Nathan J Winograd

The battle lines have been drawn: No Kill advocates on one side. Those who kill sheltered animals on the other. Can’t we all just get along? Irreconcilable Differences says we can’t because shelters act in ways which are the antithesis of the values most Americans hold dear. We are a nation of animal lovers. But the shelters we expect to save animals are instead needlessly killing about four million of them every year. Thankfully, animal lovers all over the U.S. are increasingly rejecting the excuses and blame shifting of shelter administrators used to justify that killing. And it is that rejection of the status quo, propelled by the American public’s great love of companion animals, which is explored in this book’s essays.


If you get this book, and read it, I beg you to leave your comments on this blog post so we can share each other’s thoughts!


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