Do Dogs Remember?

Lady ArabellaOn July 9, 2010, my accountant, Kingsley Shinner contacted me about his mother’s dog.  I’ve known Kingsley since I moved to Deltona in 1989 and every year during tax time, I visited his office.  I had met his parents, and was saddened when I learned that his mother’s health was failing.  Kingsley helped guide me when I created The Dog Liberator, giving me advice and helping me incorporate out business, and put together our Articles of Incorporation to submit our request for non-profit status.  I never dreamed he would need my help.  He told me his mother had a collie, and asked me to find her a home.  From the moment Kelly arrived at my house, my children fell in love with her.  She was a very social and happy girl.  I immediately found a home for Kelly, where she was very  happy, loved, and well cared for.  She was renamed Lady Arabella.

Forgot to mention she is highly skilled!

Forgot to mention she is highly skilled!

Last Monday, however, I received an email from her owner stating that she was in poor health and could no longer care for Arabella.   Yesterday, I drove to Ocala to pick her up.  The last time I saw Arabella was at our 2011 reunion.

Her owner opened the back door of the car, and Arabella, looking a little bit overweight but gorgeous, walked toward me.  It only took one sniff before she recognized me.  She barked and whined loudly, jumped up on me, and showered me with kisses.  She spun in circles with her head up, literally screaming.  Does she remember me?  Her owner said, she did.  “She doesn’t act this way with total strangers – trust me, she remembers you.”  But how could that be?

I drove her home and she cried the minute I stopped the car, and cried all the way to the front door.  Once I opened the door, she immediately greeted Ozzie, Lady Di and China.  Rosie, of course, didn’t want to have anything to do with her!  So what did Arabella do?  She darted down the hallway and went straight to my daughter’s bedroom door, again, crying.  But Sarah is at a friend’s house for a few days.  So, Arabella once again remembered.

I got Arabella situated, and gave her some water, I called Kingsley’s office, making an appointment to see him.  He was not in.  An hour later, my phone rang; Kingsley in back in the office!  I drove just a few miles, and what happened was simply amazing.

My Co-Pilot!

My Co-Pilot!

The moment I opened the door to his suite, Arabella pulled so hard on the leash, I thought to myself, this is a fully trained dog, why is she pulling so hard?  She bolted directly into Kingsley’s office and jumped into his lap.  I don’t think he realized who she was at first, but she knew who he was.  Once again, she screamed with joy, barking at the top of her lungs; the entire building heard  her.  Imagine for a moment, hearing Lassie after Timmy has fallen in the well!  It was that loud.

Kingsley is reunited with his Kelly after 4 years.

Kingsley is reunited with his Kelly after 4 years.

Once a Diva, Always a Diva!

Once a Diva, Always a Diva!

Once Kingsley realized it was her, he was dumbfounded.  You see, his mother passed away shortly after he gave Kelly to me.

But here’s what I didn’t know.  I didn’t know that Kelly would spend her days at Kingsley’s office.  She knew where she was!

Arabella went to the vet, where everyone fell in love with her.  She got her nails trimmed, all of her vaccines, and a heartworm test.  She’s ready for her new home.

Tomorrow will be the beginning of a new chapter for Arabella.  I have promised her that she once again, she will have pretty bows in her hair, boys to play with, parents to love, and she might even get her nails painted.  I have promised Arabella little tiny humans.  These tiny humans might even want to put curlers in her hair.  Something tells me Arabella will be just fine with that!

I believe she will be adopted tomorrow, to her third home; a wonderful family in South Florida.  This family has five children, a one and a half year-old and a 3 year old, as well as, a 13, 15, and 17 year old.  This is a young family who spends their time out by the pool, and going places!  I’m so blessed to be able to give Arabella the greatest gift a rescuer can give –  her forever home.

Later this evening, my Sarah will come home.  I wonder what Lady Arabella will do!  Don’t you?

Going Home!

Going Home!

Update:  My Sarah did come home, and just as I thought, Arabella did remember her!  The next day she was adopted by Angela and her wonderful family!

See Arabella’s photos on her Facebook Photo Album!

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!

I was Just a Kid

Waiting in the lobby, Lady Di makes herself at home

Waiting in the lobby, Lady Di makes herself at home

Yesterday was an amazing day.  I went to the Orlando Executive Airport to pick up two Alabama dogs, Amelia and Bennett’s Boots.  I was also asked to be interviewed for a documentary Tales In Flight.

Bennett's Boots

Bennett’s Boots

When I heard there was going to be a film crew, I immediately panicked, and asked my friend Irma to drive me there.  I was too embarrassed to let anyone see my van, which is rusted out and has missing parts!  Okay, so maybe my hideous van was a great excuse to bring a friend with me to keep my calm!  It worked!  Sarah White-Buxbaum also joined us, and what a blessing!

Once on the tarmac I was very comfortable-not nervous one bit.  Before the operation began, I re-introduced Jeff to my Lady Di.  Lady Di was the first dog Jeff ever flew to us, back in September of 2009.  He remembered her, and I’d like to believe she remembered him.

"I remember you!"

“I remember you!”

The number of dogs and puppies that poured out of Jeff Bennett’s plane was unbelievable.  As I watched rescuers receive dozens of puppies, I didn’t envy them.  Nor was I ashamed that only two dogs on this flight were TDL.  I’ve accepted the fact that our rescue is about quality not quantity.  If we want our dogs in foster homes, we refuse to board them, and we don’t have an actual shelter, our numbers will always remain small.

When Shaggy’s crate was carried out of Jeff’s plane, he was scared.  He turned and hid his head into the crate, and we gave him time to come out on his own.  Eventually, he did, and hid his face under my arm!  Shaggy was Jeff’s 2,000th save, and I informed Jeff that his new name would be Bennett’s Boots.



It took a while before Amelia was uncovered.  Jeff lifted her out of the crate, soaked in urine, and handed her to me laughing.  Poor thing was terrified.  We got the dogs into Irma’s car, left the tarmac and gave them some time to walk around and find their legs!  Then it was interview time.  I met with Director, Michael Samstag and Producer Josh Gildrie and they explained what was going to happen.

one more goodbye

one more goodbye

But before the interview started, Jeff said one more goodbye to Lady Di!

I thought that I would sit down with other TDLers, and an interviewer – but that’s not what happened.  Instead, I sat in a chair and  had a camera film me so close I had hoped that the lens  had a wrinkle filter.  I was completely alone, no one to my left, no one to my right, only a camera straight ahead, and my interviewer was not going to share the screen with me. UGH!

With Lady Di by my side, I tried to relax, but half-way through the interview, she fell asleep at my feet.  I realized as I was answering questions, that I’m a writer, and it’s very difficult for me to answer questions, and express my opinions verbally.  I was nervous and tense just like most of the dogs we rescue!

I hadn’t felt this way since I entered into my 3rd grade classroom, the new kid, in the middle of a school year.  I opened the door, felt dozens of little eyes staring at me, petrified I wanted to be invisible.

The interviewThe interview took place in the airport’s lobby, where electronic sliding glass doors continued to open and close as people went about their business.  I would answer a question, and the doors would shwoosh, and producer Josh Gildrie would ask me to say it again!  Many times, I forgot the question, or had no idea what I had just said!  I could never answer a question the same way twice!  This was not easy for me!

When the question was asked, why did I start to rescue, and where did my love for dogs come from, instead of answering by telling the story of my Reckless, I went off on a bunny trail to when I was about eight years-old – my first dog, Nelson.  Before I knew it, I was sharing stories about my life as a child, and how we moved often, and how many animals I had to leave behind.  I talked about the sadness coming home to an empty house.  I was asked about Lady Di, and because Nelson was also a collie, I explained when she was brought to me, it brought back so many childhood memories of my Nelson, and without warning, I was flooded with memories, and I began to tear up during the interview.  Trying very hard to be professional, and push my emotions aside, I knew I had stumbled onto something that I was not prepared to fully address.

Since Lady Di was fast asleep, and starting to snore, at the request of director, Michael Samstag, we woke Bennett’s Boots up, and brought him on the set.  I scooted over and gave the chair one tap… I didn’t have to ask him twice… and he was in my lap for the rest of the interview.  Having a dog to hold and rub on made me relax and not feel so self-conscious.

All in all, I think I fumbled through most of my interview.

When I returned home, there was a lot of work to be done.  All of my dogs had to be cared for, Claire Bear needed her Tofu and Lentils, and my new dogs needed to be introduced to their new temporary  home.  Too tired to cook for my own family, and too exhausted to go out to eat, we got pizza!

My Nelson

My Nelson

I called Sarah White later that evening, and was able to share and process my unexpected melt down.

While I have mentioned Nelson in passing to friends, I never truly shared his story with anyone.  I actually named one of our rescued collies, Nelson, two years ago, but I still never really shared his story in detail.  Maybe it was too painful for me to share?

One of the first dogs I remember as a child was a purebred Collie named Lord Nelson of Baltimore III.  I don’t know where my Mom bought him from, but we got him as a puppy.  He was the most gorgeous puppy I had ever seen.  It didn’t take long before he was HUGE!  He was kind, gentle, noble, loving and easy to train.  He was my brother’s dog, however, once my brother left our nest to go into the Air Force, I made him my dog!  I remember laying on the floor and kissing his long nose and hearing his tail thump!  He loved the snow and he loved to run!

I remembered that warm feeling coming home from school to my Nelson.  I didn’t have many friends, moving around a lot prevents lasting relationships!  I only had one brother who was eight years older than me, and big brothers really don’t “play” with little brat sisters!  My parents worked and were always busy, but none of that mattered, I had my dog.  I guess my relationship with Nelson is very much like my daughter Sarah’s relationship with her China.  It’s tight!

I don’t know why I was surprised when my parents announced that we were moving again, this time back to Florida.  I never dreamed that Nelson wasn’t coming with us, but he wasn’t.  It wasn’t until just a few days before we were leaving that my Mom told me Nelson was going to Canada to live with my cousin, Victor.  But that wasn’t true.  Victor couldn’t have a dog, so Nelson was going to live with Victor’s Grandfather.  I didn’t know these people, but I was assured that Nelson would be loved and well cared for, and he was.

Despite my parents’ assurance, I protested but it had no effect.  I sat in the back seat with my arms crossed, pouting, crying, leaving my home, and knowing I would never see my dog again.

Just a few short years later, we got the news that Nelson had died of cancer, he was only five years-old.  I remember feeling angry that I couldn’t be there with him when he died.  I wondered if he knew that I didn’t want him to leave me.  I wondered if he knew how many nights I cried for him.  If he was in heaven now, surely he knew how I felt.

But how could I be with him when he died?  I was in Florida, Nelson was in Canada, and I was just a kid.  I must have been around 13 years old when I realized that I had never been given the pleasure or the honor to have a pet until it died of old age.  All of my animals were either left behind, or given away.  I tried not to grieve over the loss of Nelson, after all, he wasn’t my dog anymore.  But something happened yesterday, during that interview, and I cried.

Maybe this experience makes me a better person with regard to feeling empathy for owners who have to surrender their dogs to us.  Maybe because I have felt their anguish, their pain, I do not judge them, instead I assure them that their dog will have a good life, as was the case with Mic.  When Carol came to adopt Mic, I called Mic’s former owner, and gave him the good news.

I was just a kid

I was just a kid

Maybe Nelson is really the reason why I love dogs, and why I love to rescue.  Maybe after all of these years I’ve been working to right the wrongs.

This morning, I used a step-ladder to get into my closet, and I climbed up to where I keep very old photo albums.  I found it.  The album dates back to 1970, and it only contained a few of his photos.

I have finally given myself permission to grieve over his loss today.  Yes, life goes on, but I always missed him.  He wasn’t given up by me, yet I had to surrender him.  I protested, I begged, I pleaded, I got angry, but there was nothing I could do, because I was just a kid.


See all of the photos taken during this transport on Facebook.


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  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.



Lady Di Revisted

Goldie Hawn at the Shelter

Goldie Hawn at the Shelter

Four years ago today, Lady Di and Goldie Hawn were flown to TDL via Pilots-n-Paws.  I had only been in rescue for a few months, and what I learned from these two gorgeous collies I have carried with me.  I never realized that a dog that I rescued could die.  It just wasn’t something that I was prepared for.

Goldie Hawn

I didn’t have a specific vet at the time, and not knowing what to do, Goldie Hawn visited vets almost every other day.  One vet was closed on Wednesdays, one vet was closed on Mondays, and every vet had their opinion on how to treat.

Goldie would stay at a vet for a few days, and then come back home to me… only to get worse and repeat the journey.

Professional shelter folks from the outside knew that Goldie wasn’t going to make it, but I didn’t.  They watched as I tried everything to keep her alive, knowing I was not going to win.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I knew that I was up against the impossible, I would’ve still fought for her.

Lady Di 2010

Lady Di 2010

While I remained in a state of panic, trying desperately to get Goldie back on her feet, Lady Di took a back seat.  She too was just a pup.  At the time of her rescue, we assumed Lady Di and Goldie were mother and daughter.  But now that I look back, and realize how small Di was at the time, she must have only been six months old which means it was impossible for Goldie to be her pup.

I wonder sometimes if I had Goldie today, if she would’ve made it.  Knowing what I know about how to treat kennel cough, and pneumonia, would things have been different.  Obviously, our success rate, Bartholomew and Meredith, are two examples that would indicate that Goldie might have had a better chance if I were to rescue her today.  But maybe Goldie’s declining health was due to a genetic problem that couldn’t be seen, therefore couldn’t be diagnosed, and couldn’t be fixed.

Today I realize that you can only put so much responsibility on the shoulders of your veterinarian.  When your dog is sick, you have to be the Mom, and do what Mom’s do.  Medicine doesn’t cure everything.  Homemade stew, de-worming, and using the right medicine at the right time is paramount to bringing a dog back.

Princess Lady Di

I had promised a TDL volunteer that he could adopt Lady Di, but he never did.  After Goldie Hawn died, I decided to keep Di.  I only had Ozzie at the time, and I had always owned two dogs.  Even though I decided she would be part of my new pack, I never really bonded with Di.  I guess I was overwhelmed with not only grief, but utter failure.  Lady Di was a constant reminder that I had failed Goldie.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Di, but there was a part of me that wouldn’t allow her into my heart.

Lady Di 2011

Lady Di 2011

Two years went by, and a friend who was visiting noticed how often Di would come to me wanting affection and attention, and he mentioned that it appeared that I wasn’t accepting her as my dog.

Di Di was always coming to me as if she was saying, “Pick me!  I’m your dog, pay attention to me, I want to be yours, give me your heart!”

That was a major ah ha moment for me, and I realized that I had to forgive myself and move on.  I looked at Di differently after that day, and she felt it!

I know now how people feel when they say to me that they are not ready to adopt.  Their heart is broken and they haven’t let go, and won’t give themselves permission to love again.  I’m confident that if someone feels that way, eventually, their new adopted dog will slowly work their way into their hearts and help them overcome their grief.

Lady Di 2012

Lady Di 2012

But you can’t lie to a dog.  They know.  They know the exact moment that you fall in love with them.

I see this a lot when a wife wants to adopt a dog, but the husband doesn’t have a say in the decisions, or a husband adopts a dog without the wife’s input.  It sometimes ends in disaster, unless of course, the dog wins over the disinterested person like Lady Di won me over.

Today, Di Di truly is my dog and she is amazing.  She is the alpha of the pack, she corrects the new foster dogs, she tells me if a dog is not balanced, she teaches new dogs to submit before allowing them into the pack.  Much like me, puppies annoy Lady Di, but eventually, she warms up to them.

Lady Di and China 2013

Lady Di and China 2013

For a while, two years ago, Di Di and China battled over Alpha position.  Being smart, China gave it up, and instead she follows Lady Di’s lead.  They are truly partners!

Today, Di Di is loved by many, and much like my Reckless who passed away in 2009, Di loves all people.  She is a horrible watch dog, and would invite anyone inside to sit and chat with her!

I don’t know how to thank this gorgeous girl for doing what she does for my family, for our pack, and for all of the foster dogs that she comes in contact with.  She is truly an amazing gift! She’s my Alabama girl!


Flash Back to 2009

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.

Trixie Belle Revisited

Very shy/fearful at the shelter

On November of 2009, I rescued a gorgeous little border collie from Chilton County Humane Society named Trixie Belle. I remember Becky’s email saying, “she is very scared, she needs you.” I took her! Trixie was a lot of fun, and she arrived with a great pack, including Tim Tebow. What I remember about her the most was she would decide when she was going outside – meaning, she would jump right through my windows and break my screens! What’s bad about that is that she taught all of my dogs to do the same.



Kim came to meet Trixie, and her husband joined us. Her husband had been traveling for hours, found my house, and while Kim was having a hard time deciding whether or not to adopt Trixie, her husband was telling Kim, just take her home already!

It appears that Trixie is very sweet on Kim’s husband! Here’s an update from Kim about our sweet Trixie Belle, a dog that my family will always remember and adore!

Trixie Belle – 2013

Gisele:  Thought you’d like to see how well Trixie did this past weekend at our agility trial. Although, her 10 year old “brother”, Seth beat her by one “Q” (qualifying run). I have to do some work with Trixie on getting her contacts. She wants to fly off the A-frame and dog walk 🙁 But she is SMOKIN’ FAST!! Once we get her contacts and weaves solid, she will be unstoppable 🙂

I am particularly proud of Trixie. I have a friend who was running her for me for the past few weeks at practice because of facitis in my foot. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run my dogs. Joan was looking forward to running Trixie in the trial. So Joan ran Trixie in Jumpers class. Not only did they qualify, they got first place So very proud of both of them. ~Kim Sullivan Dahan

Farewell Sydney

As I posted on Facebook this morning, it is very sad that I share the loss of Sydney Wilson, Jen & Bill’s red Aussie girl passed away suddenly this morning. We are all so sorry for their loss. Anderson Cooper took to Sydney, following her around, and learning from her while he was being fostered by the Wilsons. Her death is a tremendous loss. RIP little girl, you will never be forgotten.

The Wilson Pack

My Sarah saying goodbye to Nitro on November 29, 2009

On November 24, 2009 a gorgeous Aussie boy, that I named Cool Hand Luke, was surrendered to me by his owner.

After he was vetted and neutered, on November 29th, I posted his photos on Facebook.  I immediately received an email from the Wilson Family.  They dropped everything and drove to my home me meet the dog and arrived within the hour!

At first, I was concerned… this 12 month old Aussie was big, strong, and had a lot of energy.  I viewed him as a handful.  But the moment Bill met him, he was in love.  “I’m surrounded by women, I have a daughter, a wife, and two female dogs at home… I want a dog that can play with me, be rough, and watch football games with me!”  It was done!

It was about two weeks later, Bill notified me that they had renamed him Nitro… Nitro Wilson.  Nitro has been a gracious foster host ever since!  Here’s a closer look at the Wilson family through the eyes of their daughter, Kierstin:

Written by Kierstin Wilson:

My parents both grew up in Daytona beach, where we currently live. I am their only child, so naturally I have always had pets. My freshman year of high school, my mom found Nitro on The Dog Liberator page, through a mutual friend. We had already had 2 Australian Sheperd dogs, and we felt the time is right to love another.

Nitro Wilson

My parents warned me about going to meet with Nitro- typical parent stuff. “Don’t get attached he might not like us, we might not adopt him today..” etc. But of course, all of us fell in love with nitro as he did us.

On the ride back home to Daytona I sat in the backseat with Nitro, happy and excited! Nitro quickly took to our other dogs, and things became normal. About a year and half later my mom and I started to pay close attention to The Dog Liberator’s page, noticing Lethal Whites (blind/deaf) Aussie puppies.

These dogs were so beautiful yet their stories were laced with stories of heartbreak. My mom and I fell In love with Baby GaGa(So gorgeous), but the timing wasn’t right.

About 3 months later my mom spotted Fiona on Gisele’s page.  Terry Watts, rescued Fiona.

Kierstin and Fiona

Gisele put us in touch with Terri, and the deal was sealed!  My mom and dad drove about 4 hours, in the middle of the night, to Tallahassee Fl to get Fiona and transport her home.

I stayed up of course and out of the car popped this little white fluff ball. All of us were fairly nervous because owning and deaf/blind dog was never something we planned. Outsiders have this vision that all deaf/blind dogs act differently or feel differently than other dogs, but we have come to know more than anyone that they certainly do not- and they certainly LOVE the same.

Fiona quickly took to hand motions and movements and trained very easily. Today, triple the size the little fluff ball once was, she is a typical mommy’s girl.

Bill Wilson and Puppy Fiona

After having Fiona and leaning more about our true love of deaf/blind dogs, we agreed to foster, Chance and Indy (Dundee and Irwin).  We saw photos of these dogs, our hearts hurting. Once cleaned up they too took to our pack like it was no big deal.

Dundee, now Chance, was adopted by my mothers parents in the same week – who can stop love!

Indy was also adopted a few weeks, which was one of the hardest moments of my families life.

We had never truly fostered a dog, trained them, fell in love with them and have to watch them go. It was heartbreaking, but the feeling you get when you see a dog happy because of you is like no other. But things didn’t work out with Indy, and he was returned.  We decided never again, so we’ve kept Indy!  He is Fiona’s (and my dad’s) best friend.


A short time after we rescued Shrek ( AKA Falcor).  My mom and I drove a little while to meet him and take him home. The poor guy had a bladder infection and peed- EVERYWHERE.

Regardless, Falcor was one of my favorite dogs to foster, When he first came to the Wilson ranch he had no idea what a bed even was, and after the month with us, he became a bed hog!

Seeing him be adopted hurt a lot less; not only was he happy, he made his new family happy. My mom still gets the cutest pictures with Falcor and his forever family!

My parents and I have fostered many others for the Dog Liberator, (Lilly, Knish, Delilah), and just recently my mom and I rescued Anderson Cooper!

Jennifer with Anderson Cooper

The day we met him was a life changing moment. Sitting in a dirty, loud, smelly animal control office was definitely short of a good time. It was heartbreaking. I sat outside with Anderson for about an hour, while my mom wheeled and dealed with paperwork so we could bring this guy home for a bath- which he needed BADLY.

Anderson was a little defensive meeting other dogs, but he got used to them, and was trained (and washed) very well. He was adopted a few weeks ago, and I’m hoping he is having the time of his life with his new family. Deaf/blind dogs are no different than other dogs and I’m wishing people would understand that.

While at the shelter with Anderson, a man came up to me and made the comment,  “He’s a sweet dog, but you can tell he’s deaf so…”  SO what?  This should have no impact on a dogs life whatsoever.

I am going to be attending college next year and I plan on becoming a vet, and saving these animals will always be in my family’s heart. While it can be a tough thing to do, fostering, adopting, donating, ANYTHING you can possibly do help and animal in need is the most rewarding experience. A dogs love is the best-because if you love and help them, they love and help you right back.  ~ Kierstin

More About Fostering:

You may or not realize that while all of the dogs that the Wilson’s have fostered may have been able to be fostered by me personally, the fact that they weren’t allowed another dog to be fostered.  While Anderson Cooper was safe with the Wilsons, I was able to foster other dogs!  In rescue, it’s all about funding, space, and foster experience.  Space is valuable in rescue.

I don’t think that on that day, back in November of 2009, the Wilsons thought they would ever be fostering, but look at the impact that they have made.  They have not only saved these gorgeous and deserving dogs, they have made many families very very  happy!

Today, Jen and I are working on adding new four-legged members to our rescue!  We’ll have more news in the upcoming days!  Stay tuned!  ~ Gisele

For more information about Deaf/Blind dogs, click on “the Chosen Ones“.

Now Available, “Deaf Dogs Hear with Their Hearts” by Gisele Veilleux

Also, Visit “Preparing your dog that is going to be blind or deaf” by Cesar Milan.

Read about ALL of our rescue’s Deaf/Blind Dogs!

Donate to Rescue a Deaf Dog!


A Paw Print on Weeble and Wobble

We really do have the best adopters!

Weeble and Wobble

In mid February of 2011, we received a litter of pups, Weeble, Wobble, Wiggle and Waggle.

Wiggle and Waggle were adopted on 02/19/11 to separate homes, Weeble was adopted on 02/23/11 and Wobble on 02/26/11.

It was about six months later, we learned that Weeble was going to be returned by his family, because they simply weren’t ready for the bounciness of an adolescent dog.  Although we offered many suggestions to burn the young dog’s energy, the family could not meet the dog’s needs, after all, they were a very busy family.

It doesn’t happen often, but when a dog is returned, our hearts sink.  We feel like we have failed.  Common sense dictates that we can’t be everywhere all of the time for our dogs.  We trust that if there is a problem, we’ll receive a phone call, but there are times where owners are embarrassed, discouraged, or afraid to contact us.  By the time we do get that call, the owners have already made up their minds.  We are then faced with the fact that what’s best for the dog is for the dog to be re-homed.  Heavy sigh.

The first thing we did was contact the families who had adopted Weeble’s litter mates, and Wobble’s family strongly expressed an interest in her.  Not only did they adopt Weeble, the two pups, now full-grown are… well… let the photos do the talking! See their album on facebook.

Our adopters are truly amazing, and we are so blessed.  Thank you Huth Family!

Barbara writes:

Just wanted to send you recent pictures of our Hawaiian Sheps – Ipo (Wobble) and Mahalo (Weeble)!!! We can never thank The Dog Liberator enough for rescuing these beatutiful girls and giving them the chance to find their forever home!  You guys truly make a difference!  We are so blessed to have them and we love them – and they love each other – so much!!!

Barbara Huth

Mr. Breeze-Good things come to those who wait

Breeze, January 2010

Have you ever been in public, and seen someone that you know you know? You think hard to try to remember their name, but can’t. You literally hurt your brain trying to remember how you know them, where you met them, and it’s driving you insane, because you know you know them? That’s what I think my rescued dogs do when they see me after a while, especially during our reunions.

During our last reunion, I could tell that Shy Sharon did not really remember us. She didn’t try to bite me when I tugged on her collar, trying to get her near me so I could pet her, but she wasn’t “sure”. Bart did the same thing. While he’s a friendly fellow to begin with, he too wasn’t sure. Maybe they have a familiar memory, but they don’t truly remember.

Flash Gordon, 2010

It’s not like in the movies where a dog comes running toward your voice and leaps into your arms, and totally recognizes you. Even in 2010 when I saw Tim Tebow again, he clearly didn’t remember me! Ironically, in 2010, Flash Gordon did!

Maybe it has a lot to do with the dog’s age, how long they have not seen you, and how long they were with you. Not that many dogs remember me in an instant, except for Mr. Breeze! I don’t think it matters how many years go by, Mr. Breeze will always remember me, and after you read what he went through, you’ll understand why!

Breeze, November 2010

The last time I edited his page, was in 2011.  I called him the big goof! Mr. Breeze is very animated, he talks with his feet, his mouth, and his eyes. He’s very much a clown!

His photo album can be viewed on Facebook.  What follows is his the story of his most Excellent Adventure!

Canyon, December 2009

Breeze came to us from Becky Harshman through Chilton County Humane Society on January 1st of 2010. He was just a pup! Back then his name was Canyon. He was adopted on January 17th, 2010.

When his owners suffered a job loss, they lost their home, and returned Breeze to me on October 15th, 2010. Even though they had no choice but to surrender him, they did so with a heavy heart.

Breeze was returned to The Dog Liberator, and was transported to Clearwater where he was fostered by Lynn Deal and Mark Whalen.  It didn’t take long for Breeze to find his new second home.  On November 8th, he was adopted again, by a family near me here in Deltona.  On November 9th, I received an email from Matthew George, he wanted to adopt Breeze, but it was too late.

They Call me The Breeze!

Breeze lived with his second family for a few months, when they noticed that their female dog was antagonizing Breeze.  Because Breeze wouldn’t stand up for himself, and submit, he became very shy and withdrawn.  This was not good.  The family could not afford a behaviorist for their dog, and they were up in arms with what to do.

After numerous phone conversations, and emails with Breeze’s second family. Inundated with medical issues within the family, they asked me what I thought was best for Breeze. Sometimes loving a dog, giving him food and water just isn’t enough, especially for the herding breed. Intelligent dogs with high energy need physical exercise, training, and a job to keep them occupied. The family simply can not meet his needs at this time, no fault of theirs. I suggested they surrender Breeze to me; I wanted Breeze back.  On February 8th, 2011, 12 months after he came to my rescue, Breeze came back to me.

Breeze and Kudos

Breeze stayed with me for a few weeks, until I arranged transport to Clearwater, where he was fostered by Mark Whalen.  He was very comfortable here with me.  He remembered where everything was, he remembered the pack, and even though he was double in size, he was the same!

After Breeze was transported to Mark to foster, his true color was seen. He was happy go lucky, the main instigator for play, adored Mark’s pit and of course, Kudos. Kudos and Breeze quickly became best buddies.  Breeze was no longer submissive and withdrawn.  He was the big goof again.

I was in the process of posting Breeze on all of the adoption sites, and revamping his video for the third time when I received an email from Matthew George expressing an interest in adopting Indian. Being that four months had passed, I did not recognize the name and assumed that Mr. George was new to me! I was wrong.  

While informing Mark Whalen that Breeze was coming back, Mark was elated! Our conversation quickly focused on Indian. I explained to Mark that Matthew George was interested in meeting Indian this weekend. Mark asked me for some background information about Mr. George. I did a search for his email address and located the very first email that I had received and it wasn’t dated February 2011, it was dated November 9th, 2010. I opened the email and read it to Mark allowed:

Dog Liberator,

Please let us know if Breeze is still available, we are looking for a Border Collie that is around a year old. We currently have a Shetland / Border Collie mix that could use a friend and having years of experience with a herding dog, we feel that we will be an excellent home for a dog like Breeze. We live in Tampa and would be willing to come see Breeze at your convenience.  ~Matthew George

Needless to say, I got chills! Mark suggested I hang up and make a call to Mr. George notifying him of Breeze, and I did.

Now, I know strange things happen in my rescue all of the time; things that we just can’t explain. I know how hard we all work to save, transport, rehabilitate and rehome these dogs, but sometimes things happen, like this, that leaves us speechless.

Mr. Breeze, 2010

I called Matthew George, and asked him if he could remember when and why he first contacted my rescue back in November 2010. His immediate answer was “because my wife fell in love with Breeze, and we wanted to adopt him.”

“What if I told you that Breeze was back?”  I asked him.  Matthew did not respond.  I knew that he couldn’t believe it.

I said it again, “Breeze is back, would you like to meet him?”  Matthew couldn’t wait to tell his wife!

Stephanie and Matthew George drove to Clearwater, and they met both Indian and Breeze.  I wondered if Breeze was meant to be with them in the first place.  I wondered if that first email from Matthew was supposed to come to me earlier, or if his second adoption was supposed to be delayed for some reason.

Matthew did adopt Breeze on February 16th, and named him Coltrane.  Indian was later adopted on February 20th, his  adopters were originally interested in Breeze!

So here we have one very lucky pup who was trapped in a shelter in Alabama, and transported to me in Deltona, Florida.  He was adopted two weeks later, and returned to me 10 months later, and transported to Clearwater to be fostered.  While in Clearwater, he’s adopted again, only to be driven back to Deltona two months later, where he lived with his second family for several months.  Then, he is returned to me again, and fostered in Clearwater again.  Then, Matthew George adopts Breeze, and Breeze is back in Orlando.  But what’s up with Breeze now?

Mr. Breeze has his own baby girl



In 2011, Matthew updates that Breeze has his own new baby girl!  I had the pleasure of seeing him and his new baby at our reunion in 2011, and he was a happy go lucky big goof!




2011 – Breeze recognizes me, and Lady Di protests!

He followed me around most of the day, sitting at my feet, ready to do whatever I said.  “No Breeze, you’re not coming back to me.  You have your own family now!”  I’d tell him.

Today, Breeze is in Colorado with his forever family, and he’s loving it!  Thanks Matthew!

Breeze, now Coltrane, enjoys the snow

Good things come to those who wait!















Second Adoption Video,  including Trainer and Behaviorist, Paul Pipitone:


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