Go Potty – Helping Your Abused Dog To Go Outside

Our Borgi Puppies, Adopted 2010

Our Borgi Puppies, Adopted 2010

There are tons of “how to housebreak your puppy” books and videos out there.  And I’m sure there are millions of products that claim will help, but these things are for the normal average dog.  Rescued dogs sometimes come with a little bit of baggage!  Usually, it’s the dog’s former owner who confused the dog, and now the dog is stuck.

This is the case with Buttons Sparkles, Boo BooShy Sharon, Baileys, and dozens of dogs I have rescued.

Many Dogs that Have Lived On Their Own Don’t Want to Go Outside

Recently, Marlo’s new Mom asked for advice – Marlo does not want to go outside.  I find this ironic, since Marlo has been “living off the land” for most of her life, and now she doesn’t want to go outside?  The same thing happened with Brittney’s Mystery.  Once Mystery felt the security of being indoors, she didn’t want to go out!

Dogs that Have Been Mistreated are Afraid to go Potty Outside

In most cases, dogs do not want to go outside because while they were being housebroken by the owners, they were simply abused.  Their owners caught them making a mess too late, they were scolded, grabbed, maybe  hit, and thrown outside.  Now, the dog is afraid of going through doorways, and I can’t blame them.

In the case of Shy Sharon, and Goldie Hawn, the crate sores on the top of their paws showed that they were pulled out of their crates, and because they put on the breaks, their feet got stuck.  Now you have a dog that’s terrified of leaving the crate because each time they did, they hurt themselves.  I put a Kuranda bed in their crates so the step down would ensure them it would never happen again.

Timing is Everything when Training Your Dog

There are many people who believe they should give their dog either a reward or a treat when the dog does its potty and comes back inside… but what that does is teaches the dog to hurry back in!  Those people will quickly learn that they dog will not do their business.  The run outside, and head right back for the door – they want their treat!

Boo Boo Afraid to Go Outside!

Boo Boo Afraid to Go Outside!

What I suggested for Marlo is that her new Mom rattles the treat bag, and let Marlo watch her put treats in her pocket.  Take Marlo to the door, and give her a treat (or praise), then open the door, and as soon as she goes through the doorway, give her another treat.  Enter the yard, and treat again.  Give Marlo constant praise as she spends time in the yard, but do NOT treat her for coming back into the house!  That will send the wrong message.  We want to praise Marlo for going outside, not coming inside!

Treat or No Treat, I’m not Going Outside!

I have rescued some dogs that will put on the breaks and act like they are walking to their death bed!  No treat in the world will convince them that it’s safe outside.  In those cases, I just tug at the leash, and go – ignoring their protest!  Each time it gets easier and easier.

More Tips for Getting Your Dog to Go Outside

If your dog loves toys, take some with you!

Crates Sores on her paws, she was forced out of her crate

Crates Sores on her paws, proves she was forced out of her crate

Always remain calm and relaxed.  If you are tense your dog will be tense.  Sing a song to yourself to get your mind off of it.

Each time you go outside with your dog, make the outing last a little bit longer.

Give a lot of verbal praise after you see your dog is finished doing its business!

If your dog loves the company of other dogs, borrow another dog!  Invite a family member, neighbor or co-worker’s dog for a few days to help ease your dog’s fears.

If your dog did its business outside, give your dog some cuddle time when you come back inside, if your dog didn’t do its business, try again in ten minutes!

Did you Just Adopt Your Dog?

If your yard is not fenced, and you just adopted a rescued dog, know that some dogs DO NOT like to “go” while on leash. This will take time.  Some dogs will not “go” while on a walk!  Be patient!

Make Your Home a Drama-Free Zone for Your Dog!

And Remember to Never EVER feel sorry for your dog!  Your dog wants to be a super star, not be part of a pity party.  Please read Let it Go.


Share your Tips with us!

If you’ve had an experience that worked, leave a comment  here and share it with our readers!

Helping Your Dog Relax

Ginger Doodle

Ginger Doodle

When we first saw Ginger Doodle (now known as Spec) on TDL’s site, we were hooked –  I mean look at those sweet blue eyes! We had been looking to rescue for several years, and found Spec (a Deaf Mini Aussie) to be the perfect fit for us. I work from home, and she has become my best coworker. We usually spend all day together, and she gets me up and away from the computer for walks and fresh air. She is the perfect companion as she can usually be found sound asleep, curled up on her bed.  The hard part comes in when I have to leave the house.

We initially bought a crate and “conditioned” her for weeks – only feeding her in the crate, petting her in there, leaving for 5-10 minutes, etc. After a few weeks we both decided to leave the house while she was crated. We are fortunate enough to have webcams set up around our house (we use a free webcast program) so we can watch her from our phones while we are away. Thank goodness for the cameras, because the first time we left she was barking, howling, biting, and thrashing against the cage within minutes. When I got home it was plain to see that both physical and psychological damage had been done. I never wanted to leave her again – but I knew that I would have to get out of the house eventually! Enter big bills on sprays, treats, jackets, toys, and our dog behaviorist.

We started on a budget, ordering Composure Treats and a Thundershirt . We also stopped by the pet store and grabbed a phermone releasing plug in type device that they recommended. After about a month of conditioning her to the Thundershirt and trying the treats, we started to see an improvement. Because we wanted to be sure we were doing everything right, we contacted a behaviorist for a single session to work on her separation anxiety.

The behaviorist (Paul Pipitone) we used had our dog sitting in the crate (while we pretended to leave) within minutes! I was totally hooked and wanted to learn everything he had to share. He did great work with the dog, but his most valuable lessons were imparted upon us as owners.

Thanks to the behaviorist, we try not to leave for a long time without first going on a long, brisk walk (at least 20 minutes). Once we return and I am ready to head out, I calmly call her to her favorite spot, make her sit, and give her a special treat that she only gets when she is alone. I wave goodbye and that’s that. We leave a fan on (to help her feel less alone, similar to leaving a TV on for hearing pups) and have put an ottoman in our window so she can people watch, and see us getting into our cars. More often than not she is still in the window looking for us when we get back, but she is calm, cool, and collected.

Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle comes into play when we return home. We have learned to completely ignore Spec until she has settled and sits. She is to the point where when we get home she has about 15 seconds of “OMG MOM AND DAD!!!” and then she will sit and wait for one of us to acknowledge her. Our first instinct was to give her all sorts of love and attention when we walked home – she did just spend a couple of hours alone after all – but that was our downfall. Every time we left her she would get more and more excited for our return – because to her that meant playtime, treats, walks, and belly rubs. Now we wait until she is 100% relaxed before petting and playing – and it has made all the difference.

I want to encourage anyone with a dog that gets separation anxiety to formulate a plan. We do our “morning walk” with Spec to a local coffee shop – that way we get our day started with sunshine and caffeine and she gets a nice long walk in with us. It helps her to chill out once we get back home, and helps us to have a more invigorating start to our day! We have also worked hard to let go of our own guilt and anxiety when we have to leave her. Dogs are incredibly smart, and they can sense (and feed off of) those emotions from a mile away. Finally, we always give Spec plenty of love and affection when she is in a calm, laid back state of mind. All of these things were a change for us, but they have all paid off – I can leave her for 4-5 hours at a time now without a single peep! Good luck with your pups, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for advice!

Paul Pipitone, trainer and behaviorist, Dogs Best Friend of Central Florida

Remember, when ordering products from Amazon, bookmark Amazon Smile and your purchase will help The Dog Liberator’s Rescue or visit their Amazon Shop that Contains all of their Recommended Products!

Protective or Scared

Lady Di

Lady Di

When people describe their dogs to me, even people I have never met, for example, while I’m waiting at the vet, they will explain that their dog is “protective”.   So while their dog is growling and showing its teeth at me, and trying to lunge at me, the owner writes it off and gives the dog not only an excuse for its behavior, they give the dog permission to act inappropriately by label the behavior as “protective”.

People humanize their dog’s behavior.  Your Dog is NOT Protective!

What is Protective?  Should someone enter into my home with a knife, or a gun, or an aggressive look on their face, my reaction would be to cover my children, and get them out of harms way.  I would use my body to block my children from this intruder.  I would try to protect them.

A dog that is standing between it’s owner and a dangerous snake, dodging back and forth to block the snake from attacking its people, is protecting.  A dog that lunges at a person who is harming its human, is protecting.

Scared:  Dogs that growl, charge or bite strangers are not necessarily protecting you, they are more than likely scared and because you are not showing your dog that you are in charge – the dog is in charge, and tries to correct the situation the only way he knows how.

Ziggy at the shelter

Ziggy at the shelter

Dogs that do not want strangers in their yard, home, or near their owner are dominating their property.  They think they own the house, they think they own you.  A well-balanced dog knows that you own him.

While my bark at strangers, warning me someone is at the door, when I open the door, they immediately back off.  They know that I am in charge, and I do not need them to make decisions.

Barrier aggression:  Ziggy would act vicious when anyone came toward his crate.  Vicki explained he had barrier aggression.  Ziggy created an imaginary line, and was afraid.  His show of force was designed to keep you at a distance.  Ziggy did not do well with strangers, however, once you met him and made friends he was fine.  Put him back in his crate, and he would repeat the show!

Ziggy with me

Ziggy with me

We believe that Ziggy was owner by an older gentleman.  It was just the two of them.  The owner had become ill, and could no longer care for Ziggy.  I’m confident that Ziggy was the man of the house.  His owner properly never corrected him for being rude to strangers, his owner probably enjoyed his alleged “protectiveness”.  Ziggy was not protective, he was not socialized and was afraid.  All Ziggy knew was that house, and nothing else.

After Ziggy was adopted, I suggested that his owner keep him in his crate when company came over.  Wait until the visitors were seated and relaxed.  Wait until Ziggy was relaxed in his crate, and ignore him!  Once he is relaxed, you can release him, and present him with a treat for good behavior!  It made a huge difference, but more importantly, it showed Ziggy who is the boss.  While he is in his crate, his owner is showing him that she does not need his help.  She is showing Ziggy that this is her visitor, a visitor that is allowed to be in the house, and it’s not his decision to make.

Today, Ziggy greets visitors nicely.  Sure, he barks at the door acting like he’s going to bite your leg off, but once the door is opened, he stops.  Perfect!

Dogs that have barrier aggression are never adopted.  Who would adopt a dog that’s lunging at them from a kennel?  The dog is simply insecure, unsure, and nervous – not aggressive and not protective.

Fearful dogs:  China was the only dog of mine that gave me the impression that she might nip at a stranger.  I am constantly watching and correcting her.  Why China?  She is incredibly fearful, because she is deaf and visually impaired, but more importantly, my daughter Sarah, babies her.  China is the only dog allowed to sleep with her human.  Every once and a while, China thinks it’s her job to protect Sarah, and she is corrected with a simple finger point!

Co-sleeping:  Co-sleeping sends the wrong message to an unbalanced dog.  Co-sleeping tells the dog you are equals.  It keeps an insecure dog insecure.    Co-sleeping does not increase a dog’s self-esteem.  The only dogs I have slept with were dogs that were borderline feral.  Sleeping with them, while holding on to their leash, forced them to experience human contact, showed them they would not be harmed, and it fast tracked their rehabilitation.  But once the dog was no longer afraid of human contact, it did not continue to sleep with any of us.  Can you imagine how many times we get a new dog and my daughter immediately asks, “Can I sleep with it?”


Sarah and Marbles "Can I sleep with her?"

Sarah and Marbles
“Can I sleep with her?”

If there is no harm being done to you, and you are not in fear of anything, your dog is not protecting you!  Your dog is scared.

So if it doesn’t happen in my house, it doesn’t have to happen in yours.  My dogs aren’t special, and I am not a trainer or a behaviorist.  Most of the dogs I foster are broken… they have been abused, neglected, yelled at, and handled improperly – yet they don’t charge strangers in my house or my yard!

When dogs come here, after a very short period of time, they learn that I am in charge.  If I’m not around, my kids are in charge.  All of my fostered dogs do not lunge at potential adopters who come to meet them, for if they did, they would never get adopted!  So why is it that the dogs that I foster, and the dogs that I own do not show this behavior?  Because they don’t need to.  They know I’m going to take care of them, and they don’t need to correct the situation for me.  I won’t allow it.  I don’t need to be protected!

A Protective Dog:  In my 51 years of being a dog owner, there is only one time I witnessed a dog protecting.  I had interviewed an at-home daycare when my son was only 3 years old.  In the backyard were swing sets, and a lot of wonderful toys.  The woman baby sat about 8 children every day.  In the backyard was a huge yellow lab.  The moment I went out the door to the yard, the lab tried to dominate me.  She jumped up on me, and wouldn’t get down.  She wasn’t excited to see me, or didn’t want to play, she just wanted to own me.  I refused her repeatedly and pushed her off of me.

Ozzie, not a protective dog!

Ozzie, not a protective dog!

As we went into the yard, at one point, my son tripped, fell onto the ground and started to cry.  I ran to pick him up, and the dog ran in circles and knocked me down from behind.  The dog continued to run circles around the yard, each time running a wider and wider circle to gain speed, and must have knocked me off my feet at least four times.  At one point, the dog actually trampled over my sons head, which made him cry even more.

The owner stood in the middle of the yard yelling at her dog, and trying to get her to stop but she had no control over the dog.

What I had witnessed was a very noble and loving dog, protecting it’s lamb – my son.  Protecting my son from me, and a dog owner who was clueless.  No matter how noble the dog’s intentions were, you can’t allow a dog to be in charge.  A dog can’t understand that I’m the mother of the child.  The dog doesn’t understand that I mean no harm, the dog doesn’t understand that stepping all over the child is wrong.

My son Ryan was fine, just very dirty!  Needless to say, I kept looking for other daycare alternatives!

Click here to read all of the articles we have written about Shy/Fearful Dogs, Feral Dogs and Fear Biters.


Boo Boo~Adopted

08/09/13 Update:  I changed Boo Boo’s status from On Hold to Available this afternoon.  Her progress has been amazing!  She’s seeing the vet very soon and will be ready for adoption!  She is going to make someone very very happy.

She is going in and out of her crate, without a leash.  She sticks close to me outside.  She doesn’t cower as much anymore, because I’m ignoring it.  She found a stuffy toy last night, and played with it… that’s HUGE!  She has found her joy!

08/19/13 Update:  A few days at the vet for a much needed bath, all of her shots, and spay proved to be stressful on Boo Boo.  I can’t blame her.  The folks at Newman Veterinary Centers insisted that she meet new people, be petted, and get used to getting attention!  Boo Boo did very well.  She proved to everyone how fearful she really is, but she did it… she pulled through, and overall she had a good experience there.  It took a few days for her to recover from her surgery, and feel at home again, but now she is her normal affectionate self.  She adores my daughter, Sarah, and comes to me easily for kisses.

Boo Boo has a long road to recovery, she needs routine, a quiet home where she can slowly explore and gain her confidence.  If pushed, she will regress.  Whoever adopts Boo Boo will find themselves owning a velcro dog!

Showing her love and affection, Boo Boo learns to trust a stranger

Showing her love and affection, Boo Boo learns to trust a stranger

08/22/13 Update:  The stars all lined up properly for Boo Boo Monday night.  I was told there was a blue moon on Monday, it was gorgeous.  So if the expression is true, “once in a blue moon” that’s how Boo Boo’s adoption can be described!

It was so perfect, it’s hard for me to explain!  When Leslie and I talked about possibly adopting Boo Boo I said to her, “don’t expect Boo Boo to come to you, to have eye contact, to take a treat from your hand.  She will be very scared.”


Serena Drake had come over an hour before Leslie arrived.  She spent time with Boo Boo de-sensitizing her.  You see, Serena had bathed Boo Boo just a few days ago, so Boo Boo was a bit familiar with her, so Serena was not a total stranger.  Serena walked with her on leash, got Boo Boo to sit close to her and let her be touched, and practiced taking the leash on and off, on and off.



It didn’t take long before Boo Boo actually fell asleep with her head on Serena’s leg!  It was a great exercise for Boo Boo to learn to trust someone she didn’t really know.

Then, the time came for Boo Boo’s new family to appear in Act Two!  I asked Leslie to sit in “my chair”, her husband Jack sat next to her, Serena had Boo Boo on leash (Serena was on the floor) and I vanished!  I didn’t want Boo Boo to use me as a shield.

When I returned a few moments later, I sat far away from everyone and Boo Boo was on her own to make her own decisions.  I gave Leslie and Jack treats, and much to my surprise, Boo Boo approached Leslie, sniffed her hand, and licked it!


"Are you here for me?"  ~ Boo Boo

“Are you here for me?” ~ Boo Boo

Then, Boo Boo and Leslie made eye contact and they stared at each other.  “She is so beautiful,” Leslie said.  And something happened.  The connection was made.  Boo Boo took the treat, then Jack presented a treat as well…. wait for it…. and Boo Boo took the treat from Jack’s hand.

I nearly fell over.

The meet went perfectly.  Boo Boo was not afraid, she was curious, she was calm, she was… perfect.  We completed the adoption… now to get Boo Boo through the yard and into Leslie’s car.  That again, was uneventful.  Boo Boo was afraid to get in at first, and I picked her up.  Did you hear that?  I said I picked her up!  She did not snap at the air warning me not to, she let me pick her up.

"Step on it Dad"  ~ Boo Boo

“Step on it Dad” ~ Boo Boo

On the way home, while in the back seat with Leslie, Boo Boo gave Jack, the driver, a kiss. Once they arrived, she and Leslie went for a walk, and as of late yesterday… it’s a match made in heaven!

Boo Boo still has to learn to get along with Leslie’s cat.  She is doing very well with her new Dad, Jack, and I just love getting regular updates!  Woo Hoo Boo Boo!  Oh, and her new name is Bella!

What an awesome save!

Boo Boo’s History:

She looks like an Aussie, but I’m not convinced. She does have a tail, and that happens, but there’s something about her face… I see Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever… is that rare? Yes, but I still see it! And what about those blue eyes?

Note:  I will retract the Duck Tolling comment below!

This young girl has totally shut down emotionally. She would avoid eye-contact, freaked out on leash, and freaked out when she entered my home. She was happy to go into her crate, and she is resting.

Eye-Contact, is a great thing!

Eye-Contact, is a great thing!

She did make progress and took hot dog bites from my hand.  After a while, she did take the bone I offered her, and ate some kibble, but she had to feel safe first. This morning when I made eye-contact with her, she wagged her tail! That’s huge! I’ll give her a few more days so I can earn her trust and let her come out of her shell… on her own time. Emotionally, she reminds me of Les Paul. I’m sure she’ll come around.  You can see more photos of her on Facebook.

She will see our Vet on Monday, and all of these dogs are currently being fostered in Deltona.

Special thanks to Pilot, Ed Golly and his team of volunteers, to Becky Harshman who coordinated the rescue, and to all of our wonderful supporters who donated to our Veterinary Care Fund. This is why we need and depend on your help!

08/03/13 Update:  Becky provided me with a little bit more information about this pretty red girl.  She wrote:

Seriously?  I don't want to come out!

Seriously? I don’t want to come out!

“Second Chance Rescue is a boarding facility that doesn’t adopt dogs, just holds them until a rescue can be found.  They are part of the Butler Co. Humane Society.  Red girl was found in the woods with her sister by a member of the organization and the dog was boarded in a kennel until real rescue was found.”

She hits in the ground in fear

She hits in the ground in fear

This piece of information makes total sense.  This little red girl is our Brittney’s Mystery.  So, I called Brittney and begged her to come over last night.  She did!  You can see some of the photos on Facebook.  Boo Boo refused to come out of her crate, and I had just fed them a large meal with their capstar and de-worming medicine… it was time she goes outside.  The last thing we want to do is set a dog up to fail.


Without any history, we have to be careful.  Boo Boo does not do well on leash so I wanted a harness on her.  Brittney slowly got Boo Boo out of her crate, we muzzled her so that we would all remain calm (a Mystery move!) and we placed a gorgeous leather harness on her.  Realize that this is not something I would do while home alone with my two children!  I needed Brittney!

"You're going to be just fine!  What a pretty harness you have!"

“You’re going to be just fine! What a pretty harness you have!”

While Brittney is very confident about her approach, we are much the same… we are both stubborn!  I would use the no touch, no talk, no eye-contact, while Brittney does the opposite.  Regardless, we both agree that we remain patient, yet firm.  Calm yet assertive.  It’s a dance, it’s a form of communication.  We have to let the dog know, “you’re okay, but we have to do things to help you.”

It worked!  Out in the back yard late last night, while it was dark, the pup licked Brittney’s hand, I got to hold her for a bit and give her a massage on her back, and yes… the pup rolled over on her back, exposed her belly, thus inviting Brittney to rub her!  It was awesome.

This morning, again, she wagged her tail when she saw me.  The harness was there for me to leash her up, and we went outside.  No Problems!

"Now, we are going outside, and we are going to love on you!"

“Now, we are going outside, and we are going to love on you!”

One thing I forgot to mention is that this pup is in heat.  Which puts her at 8 months of age.  If she continues to make progress, we’re going to the Vet on Monday!

Do I think that sharing her story, and telling the truth about her will reduce her chance to be adopted?  Maybe!  But it’s the way we do things at TDL.  We are honest about our dogs, their issues, and we know the type of homes they need to be successful.

Boo Boo really likes it when Petunia comes close, she wagged her tail, licked Petunia in the face, and rolled over to show her belly.  Being with other dogs will be good for Boo Boo.

What I can tell you is that I never saw the dog have the desire to bite.  She is just scared.  She is Les Paul scared, she is Shy Sharon scared, she is Brittney’s Mystery scared.  She doesn’t know if we are nice people, or if we want to eat her!  So, let’s move on, give this girl a chance, and hope for the best!

08/04/13 Update:  I didn’t use the muzzle this morning.  When I walked out to greet the pack, she stood up and was very happy to see me!  She went outside on leash with little resistance but isn’t walking around and investigating.  I hope today she will get a bath.  That’ll be a scary experience for her… but she has to have one.

ACD/Aussie puppy is getting fixed!

ACD/Aussie puppy is getting fixed!

08/05/13 Update:  Last night was amazing.  Brittney came over, and lured Boo Boo out of her crate.  She wanted Boo Boo to do it on her own.  This woman has patience!  I was very impressed with Boo Boo’s progress.  She has joy in her eyes now, and her trust factor has improved at least 50%.  I video taped a lot of the session and took a lot photos that can be seen on Facebook.  But one mystery is solved.  Brittney sees Red Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) and Aussie in this girl, and she is spot on.  I retract the Duck Tolling Retriever comment!

08/06/13 Update: Boo Boo continues to make a lot of progress. She will let Sarah put a leash on her, she will go out of her crate, into the yard and come back into her crate for my daughter, Sarah! Woo Hoo!

08/08/13 Update:  Well, isn’t this a kick in the pants?  My daughter, Sarah, has been letting Boo Boo out every day.  She can get her out of the crate, put a leash on her, let her out, and bring her back in!  Boo Boo is walking with much more pride, and doing her business outside like a good girl.  Her heat cycle is almost over.  She due for a much needed bath, and she will be ready VERY soon to go to the vet.  She’s doing great!

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

Canine Reboot

Nutella, labeled a fear-biter

I’ve done this dozens of times… talked to owners who are frustrated with their dogs.  Wanting their dogs to be balanced, and happy.  Sometimes it’s the wife that hates the dog, sometimes it’s the husband.  Sometimes the dog doesn’t like the kids, or the grandparents.  Dog fights, cat fights… you name it.

One of the questions I HAVE TO ask when someone is trying to surrender their dog to me is, “if I can fix your dog, can you… would you… could you… keep your dog?”  sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no.

With the launch of Canine Connect, a service that I can offer to dog owners who truly care about the dogs, truly want the best for the dogs, but can no longer keep them, I’m asking that question more often.  “What if I can fix it?”

Over the past few weeks, the dogs I’ve fostered have really amazed me.  WiiGo transformed into the best little dog I’ve ever known.

McDreamy & McSteamy

McSteamy and McDreamy, terrified of everything, quickly became accustomed to home life and family living.  No longer afraid to walk through doorways, or put their paws on ceramic tile floors.  With their heads hung low all of the time, they were unsure, slow to trust, and not sure if I was friend of foe.  Just a few days later, I introduced them to the pack, one at a time.  Once they got to meet Lady Di… everything changed.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, and they felt “safe”.  They exchanged play bows, and the heads were held high, tails were relaxed, and the playing began!  After that day they walked with pride, there was a bounce in their step, they greeted me with affection, and their adjustment period was about 48 hours.    Dogs do live in the moment.

Little Grace, being a happy dog!

And recently, Little Grace.  She was adopted yesterday, but before she left I had the pleasure of snapping a photo of her playing with the pack… and loving it!  It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it sure was a big deal to me!  It’s called joy!  If a dog can relax enough, be happy enough, have enough self-esteem, and know that it’s not going to be hurt, there’s absolutely no danger whatsoever, and it’s welcomed… they can play!  Way to go Little Grace… you made my day!

So if what if we could simply Reboot our dogs?  If I gave you a list of questions about your dog, would you know how to answer?

  • Is your dog shy, fearful, nervous, or anxious?
  • Is your dog aggressive, dominant or alpha?
  • Is your dog guarding you or protecting you?
  • Do you know why your dog acts like he wants to attack other dogs?
  • Does your dog have separation anxiety, or is he insecure?  Do you think the two are one in the same?
  • Do you think your dog is neurotic or bored?

Snapple, an Owner-Surrender

Snapple, Adopted

What would you think the main reason why people surrender or give away their dogs?

The Dog Liberator has rescued dogs that will otherwise be euthanized, OR at risk of being surrendered to a shelter or pound.

The Dog Liberator will help you rehome your dog through Canine Connect, thus preventing the dog from being adopted to the wrong family, which may ultimately lead to euthanasia.

Remember, owner-surrendered dogs are not protected under stray-hold policy.

Owner-surrendered dogs can and are sometimes put to sleep before their owners have left the parking lot.  


Chaos learns High Five

While I have spent over three years inviting strange new dogs into my home I:

  • introduced them to my family, friends, and neighbors
  • introduce them to new experiences like visiting the vet
  • going on walks
  • teaching them not to be afraid of the crate
  • teaching them to be quiet
  • starting them on housebreaking
  • show them how to properly greet strangers
  • teaching them not to bolt out of doorways
  • correcting them when they try to climb a fence.

My personal dogs have also spent three years inviting strange new dogs into their home, and they:

  • have showed them how to share a space
  • showed them that being rewarded has benefits
  • showed them how to interact with humans
  • showed them how to play properly
  • showed them how to come when called
  • but more importantly, my pack have taught dogs, how to be a good dog.

Deaf China takes Baby GaGa under her care

Dogs can teach another dog what a person can’t:

  • I can not teach a dog that greeting face to face is rude
  • I can not explain to a dog that sniffing the rear is polite
  • I can not approach a dog and correct their attempt to dominate… that’s Lady Di’s job
  • I can not initiate play with a dog who doesn’t know how to play… that’s China’s job
  • I can not show a dog that another dog is not a threat, that is Ozzie’s job

My home is what I used to call Border Collie Boot Camp.  Every fostered dog has had to find their way to survive and cohabitate here, eat side by side, enjoy bones without being growled at, and play ball without being attacked.  The result is probably the best gift I receive in rescue.  Watching a pack of dogs run together, play together, wrestle gently, and have a blast!

Lieutenant Colonel Di, Lieutenant Ozzie, and Private China!


There is no reason for the dogs to be nervous, fearful or anxious.  My pack clearly shows them that I am the pack leader, they can relax, and enjoy being a dog!  The true challenge is teaching the dog owners that their dog truly wants to be… just a great dog!

Maybe all your dog needs is a Canine Reboot!  Email me if you would like information on how we can Reboot Your Dog! TheDogLiberator@gmail.com


Shy Sharon~Adopted

Little Red (Shy Sharon) now Ayra with Andres!

August 23, 2012: It happened! Sharon was adopted last night by Andrew Spilling and his girlfriend Melissa. I had a feeling it was a perfect fit. They live in a small apartment, (perfect) will be using a lot of leash-training, (perfect) and have many friends who will provide Sharon with play dates (perfect). Sharon has used my pack as her shield, not really bonding with her human (yet). While she has tolerated me kissing her, etc., she prefers the company of her pack. I am confident that Andrew and Melissa have what it takes to take her to the next level. I may have turned her into a good dog, but they will turn her into a great pet. It took a while sitting on my couch the first night they met, but once Sharon got into Andrew’s lap, and felt the comfort that Melissa provided, she was quite content sitting with the two of them. She actually fell asleep before this photo was taken!

Andrew has that calm energy that everyone talks about! You know, that energy that is not nervous or anxious (like mine). Sharon will gain a lot from this adoption. I can’t wait to get updates!  You can see more of her photos on Facebook.

Shy Sharon

She’s Ready!  Shy Sharon is ready for her new home.  Three months ago she was a feral dog, afraid of every noise, movement and human being.  She adores other dogs and loves to play.  She is only 7 months old.  She has given me permission to cuddle her, kiss her, play with her feet, her ears and her tail.  She is even coming to me when called and taking treats from my hand with ease.  She has also bonded with several of my friends, and especially, my daughter Sarah.  I do not believe Sharon should be adopted by a family with young children.

There are only two things that set Sharon off, and that’s if she is huddled in her crate and you try to put a leash around her neck.  This triggers a very bad memory for her, and she will let you know how uncomfortable she is.  She also needs to be picked up calmly and slowly.  There is no spooking the Little Red.  She needs someone who has a lot of experience rehabilitating a dog, someone who is patient and understanding.  She should always be treated as a flight risk and will need a very safe environment until she is completely rehabilitated.  I adore Shy Sharon.  I hug and kiss her constantly, and I know that when the right person comes along, they will fall head over heels in love.  I realize it might take months before I find the right person to adopt Sharon, and I’m in no hurry!  If you are interested in her, please email me at thedogliberator@gmail.com

Introduction to Rehabilitating Shy Sharon and her History:    I guess it’s Deja Vu week. Shane reminds me of Charlotte, so much that even Charlotte’s owner, Donnie Smith, couldn’t believe it. Chaz reminds me of Jake. Polly Pocket reminded me of Nutella, both were alleged fear biters… yeah, right!  It’s a real joy to foster a dog that you’re familiar with.  You let them go, with a bittersweet feeling, and when they come back to you, as a different dog, it’s just wonderful!  When I first saw Chaz, I said, “I know you, you’re my McDreamy!”

08/2009 Shy Shannon, TDL’s Icon

But Deja Vu week wasn’t over, and this time, I had to take a deep breath when I saw a photo that Vicki sent to me.   What I saw was a terrified, emaciated tiny Border Collie, with giant ears, and stunning green eyes.  She had that look that I had seen before, a look that I’ll never forget.  “That’s Shy Shannon,” I told Vicki.

Shy Shannon was one of my first rescues, and definitely the first dog I had ever rescued from Alabama.  She came to me with Flash Gordon.  She was known as the Pet Store Inmate, and it took me months to rehabilitate her.  She came with an impressive pedigree.  I couldn’t believe the champion bloodline she possessed.  She was no ordinary pet, she was a true herding dog.  She had never touched grass, had very little contact with humans, never played with other dogs, was trained to relieve herself in the pet store’s bathroom (on the floor) and was fearful.  I still have the crate that she was transported in.  Written in big black letters, “DO NOT REMOVE”  She was so underweight, I couldn’t even get her spayed until she gained at least 12 pounds… yet she was only a few months old.  Shy Shannon, now known as Hannah Banana was adopted by retired Veterinarian, Sherry Lee and is now herding sheep on Sherry’s 65 acres!  While I was making copies of Shannon’s paperwork for Sherry, I’ll never forget how hard I was crying.  But I knew I wasn’t the right home for her.  It was the last time I cried during an adoption, and that was on November 15th, 2009.   If you have any doubt how much this scared little pup meant to me, just look at my logo, or look down on your t-shirt because you’re wearing Shy Shannon!

Click here to read about the charges filed on Shannon’s Pet Store Owner.

Shy Shannon

I guess I never realized until now, how much dogs like Shannon and Nutella have taught me.  Again, I was anxious for the challenge.  Vicki shared that this pup has actually nipped and bitten several people.  No one knows why.  No one knows why she’s so afraid of everything.  My job is to figure it out, and correct it.

Sunday, May 13th:

She arrived late Sunday evening, on Mother’s Day, thanks to transporters William, Michelle and my friend Irma!  When I saw her in the back of her plastic crate, I was ready!  She didn’t have on a collar, and being a flight risk, I had to put a slip leash on her right away.  I spent a few minutes trying to get her comfortable, but who was I fooling?  She was so afraid, she had buried her head down into the crate, and her back legs were up in the air, as if she was standing on her head.  “Please don’t touch my face,” she was begging me.  “Please don’t take me out of this crate.”  She had traveled from Atlanta to Orlando, she had to come out and relieve herself, drink some water, and have a bite to eat before calling it a night.  I offered her some hot dog bites, but she would NOT take them.  I caressed her with the leash, and attempted to slip it over her head, and the inevitable happened.  Bam Bam Bam, She rapidly bit me three times… but did not break the skin.  Now just wait one minute!  It’s Mother’s Day, and today I had a flat tire, no flowers, and now a dog just bit me!!!!  Unlike her other humans, I didn’t back away, I was not freaked out, I was ready.  I did not move my hand in fear.  Then I gave her a gentle poke on the side and said, “Ah Ah!  No!”  I left my hand there for her to bite again, but she didn’t.  I attempted to get the leash on her again, and this time, I was successful.

Shy Sharon on Transport

My son and I lifted the crate out of the truck and placed it on the drive way.  I opened the door, and slowly pulled on her leash and until she came out.  She was terrified, but Sgt. Pepper, the puppy who was her transport buddy, came up to her and soothed her.  We gave the dogs some time to do their business, but the shy red girl would not relax enough.  So, Christopher, Irma’s friend, took the shy pup around the house and talked softly to her.  Within a matter of minutes, he picked her up (without being bit) and carried her to my front door.  We gave her some time to meet my Ozzie, and it was time to come inside the house.  We opened the door, and she and Ozzie came in together.  She resisted the leash quite a bit, but I had to move forward.  I brought her to my bedroom, where her crate was ready.  Not a plastic crate, but a wire crate.  I was told that she never leaves the safety of her crate.  Maybe a wire crate would help socialize her rather than a plastic crate, which isolates her.  When I began to put her in her crate, she peed on the floor.  I suspect she peed out of fear.  Again, Christopher spoke to her in an assuring voice.  I put food and water in her crate, and just a few minutes later, I went to bed.  I never heard a sound out of her, but in the morning, she had peed in her crate.  I guess I didn’t wake up early enough?  I noticed that she had not touched her food.


“I’m not budging!”

Monday, May 14th

That Monday morning, when it was time to take the dogs out, again, she resisted leaving her crate.  I noticed that her fear escalated when her front paws left the crate and felt the floor.  I gave her time to leave her crate, but I had to execute.  I could not allow her to flea back in.  When her front paws left the crate and onto the carpet, she peed again… fear.  I lead her to the door, and I let my pack outside into the backyard.  As I sat on the porch, I noticed that she would not leave the cement slab.  When the dogs ran around the yard, happily barking, she cried as she stood on the slab, afraid to leave it, afraid to put her front paws on the grass.  She peed on the concrete!  I called on Ozzie, and attached her leash to his collar.  Ozzie walked her around the yard, where she did her business in the safety of his presence.  Irma and Christopher came over to check on the little red girl, and Christopher noticed her gate, and we wondered if she had sustained an injury to her front legs.  I called my Vet right away, and made an appointment for Thursday.  Again, I offered her some hot dog bites, and she would not comply, however, Ozzie was thrilled to take what she refused.  It was time to come in, and when I opened the door for the pack to come, she bolted through the door and dove into her crate.

Shy Sharon & Sgt. Pepper

I saw a bit of an improvement on Monday evening.  Again, I tethered her to Ozzie, and she did well.  Once I fed all the dogs and let them out in shifts, my kids were fed, the dishwasher was full and running, I sat down on the couch with the remote control and thought to myself, It’s Time!  I got a blanket, asked my son Ryan to hold her leash.  I guided her out of her crate, again, she freaked out once her front paws left the crate and landed on the ground, I handed Ryan the leash, and placed a blanked around her, and picked her up.  I thought sure she would try to bite me again, but she didn’t.  I sat on the couch and placed her on top of me.  She was NOT happy!  She shook in fear, constantly looking around with incredible nervousness.  I rubbed her body and felt which areas made her shake more, and which areas helped her to relax.  Definitely the back of the neck and the base of her skull was her favorite place.  At times I had to hold her tight, to prevent her from escaping, but she did very well.  After about ten minutes, she relaxed, and I felt that I had succeeded.  I wasn’t going to push my luck, so I let her go and she eased over a bit on the couch near Ozzie, and they placed kissy face for about 20 minutes. But before leaving, she had to eat.  I got some canned food, put it in a bowl, and asked my daughter’s friend, 9 year-old Danielle to give the pup the bowl.  Danielle is a very soft, patient child.  She moves slowly, and respects the dogs.  She did very well helping me socialize Polly Pocket last week!  She presented the bowl of food, and the pup wouldn’t eat.  I asked Danielle to turn her back to the pup, don’t look at her.  The moment Danielle ignored the pup, she cleaned her bowl!    I let the pack out later that evening for their last run, and she did well, this time her feet left the concrete and she ran around a bit!  Before coming in for the night, my neighbor came over to the fence and I asked him to tell me who this pup reminded him of.  Immediately, he shouted, “That’s Shy Shannon!”  I knew I wasn’t crazy!  You see it’s not just what she looks like, it’s her condition, her age, and her demeanor.

Later that night I called Vicki, proof positive that I know what happened to this pup, and why she must bite.  It was obvious to me.  Vicki agreed, it all made sense.  The pup gave me all of the clues, I just had to put the puzzle together… and in my opinion, all of the pieces fit.  I’m waiting for Thursday for the vet to confirm or deny my suspicion.  But one thing is for sure, I don’t blame this pup one bit!  I also called Khaz, asking about the pups interactions with the people at K9 Coach which confirmed my suspicions even more.


Tuesday, May 15th:

Tuesday morning I decided that I will no longer guide her outside by her leash.  I will open her crate door, and she can come outside when she’s ready.  I also did not use Ozzie.  I let the pack outside, and eventually she left the safety of her crate, ran back to it, left it, ran back to it again, until she finally walked out the door.  She bolted freely around the yard.  It wasn’t long before she was running like the wind.  Greeting every dog, and inviting them to play.  Sgt. Pepper was at the vet, so she had to find another playmate.  My volunteer, Emily Kennedy came over for a visit, and wanted to help, so we cut up some hot dogs, and with time and patience, the shy red girl took a hot dog from her hand.  That was a huge step.  I decided that very soon, I would leave the crate door open for her, so she can come and go as she finds her courage!

Those Green Eyes

Tuesday evening, I watched her run just like Shy Shannon.  As if she just got brand new legs, had never used them before, and thought they were awesome, so awesome that she was really going to try them out!  She invited each dog to play with her, and this time China joined her!  I lost count of the number of play bows the two of them exchanged!  This pup so desperately wants to be loved, get attention, and be accepted, but only by dogs, not by humans… yet.  Once again, everyone had been fed and let out in shifts, and it was time for America’s Got Talent.  I figured it’s time to take this to the next level.  I opened her crate door, and let her exercise going in and out as she pleases.  Realize that my place on our couch is right next to the crates, so I never miss a thing!

I watched her take one step into the living room, then dart back on the porch, then two steps, peeking into the kitchen, and fearfully running back in the porch and diving into her crate.  This went on for twenty minutes, and I couldn’t take it anymore.  I couldn’t sit there and watch this little pup’s insecurities and fear get the best of her.  She was stuck and she needed help.  I picked up her leash, and guided her onto the couch again.  Realize that I ask my fosters not to allow dogs on the furniture!  Woops!  This time, she made herself comfortable immediately!  She stretched out and relaxed.  There was a pillow next to her that she used as a shield, and that little pillow made her feel safe.  Ozzie jumped up for a few minutes, they played kissy face again, and he disappeared.  She was very content, I even stretched out next to her, her face right next to mine, and she sniffed me quite a bit.  Again, I’m not going to push my luck.  We watched the show for a bit, as my kids took turns sitting next to her, being careful not to make eye contact, and extending their hand toward her so she could sniff.  At one point she licked Ryan’s hand.  Several times she leaned her head back and sniffed my face, and I even began to play with her snout, and she play bit my hand a bit, very gently.  It was late, and time for bed.  I guided her off the couch, and she dove into her crate.  I think it was a very good day!

I don’t think she will bite anyone in my home, but her visit to the vet is Thursday.  It will be a test.  I have specifically asked for Dr. Oliver, and hand picked my Vet tech, Sean.  I think Sean has the energy she needs.  She has shown me that she is not as afraid of men as she is with women.  When I bring her home from the vet, I will decide if I will tie her leash around my waist to help her get to the next level, which is housebreaking.



It’s Wednesday morning, as I’m writing this.  I knew that so many things would happen so fast, I had to write it down before my Mom-nesia kicks in and I forget everything.  So what’s the point of sharing all of this?  Do I think that my honesty about this little pup will prevent her from being adopted?  No!  When I started this rescue, I wanted to give as much information about each of my dogs as possible so adopters can make informed decisions, not impulsive ones.

Shannon Today

My point to this post is to help others who just might be thinking about adopting a shy fearful pup, or rescuing one from a pound, or maybe taking in a terrified stray.  Give yourself time to observe, ask yourself a list questions, and wait for the dog to answer them for you.  In the case of Shy Shannon, she had not been abused physically, but she was not valued or respected.  Shannon was a commodity, she was revenue.  Her breeder sold her to a pet store, and left her there for months.  Why?  Was her split face not desirable?  Seriously?  If Denise Pruitt Hoyle would not have purchased her from that pet store, in an attempt to buy her freedom, I don’t know what would’ve happened to Shannon.  Her muscles were starting to atrophy, she was consumed with worms, and terrified.

This little red girl, whom I’ve named Shy Sharon, was owned, and her owners had high hopes for her, yet surrendered her to Vicki Truelove.  I can not share any more details about her past at this time.

“And that’s all I’m going to say about that”  Forrest Gump

Does The Dog Liberator take in dogs that bite?  We do not take in adult dogs with a bite history.  All of our dogs are carefully evaluated and temperament tested before we rescue them by our awesome volunteers.  But in this case, this is just a young pup, not even six months old.  This is what rescues do!  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Sharon is a treasure!


Wednesday, May 16th:

Shy Sharon has big ears to fill!

I’m almost up to speed documenting the events that have happened so far.  This morning, I opened her crate, and let out the pack.  Again, she ran around with joy, initiating play and if no one wanted to play with her, she ran anyway!  This time, when I let the pack inside, I did not close her crate door!  It has taken an hour, while I type this post, for her to come all the way to my computer, but she did it!  She sniffed around, and managed to get past the couch, to join Lady Di and China who are at my feet!  Now she has retreated to her crate for a nap!  Today should be a blast.

Toward the end of last year, this rescue suffered quite a bit.  It seemed like a black cloud was following me.  While I may appear tough on the surface, I’m really not!  I took almost three months off just to grieve, and have a pity party.  Fostering Pippa was my first day back to work, and she was a big help.  She brought me joy, but not purpose.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my foster dogs, but fostering Shy Sharon is my calling!  Everything else I do running this rescue, is my job, but rehabilitating a dog like this is the real reason why I’m here.  We all want to be needed, wanted and appreciated.  Finally, because of Shy Sharon, I’m in the zone!  Some dogs are just clearly TDL dogs, and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

~Stay Tuned!

Wednesday evening was no picnic.  Mom always said be careful what you wish for!  Sharon has found so much joy, it’s created more work on my part.  Tonight, the pack didn’t want to go outside, it was raining.  But Sharon did.  The problem was getting her back in.  I guess Sharon decided to play tag.  She ran back and forth, around and around, looked back at me a few times, and asked me to chase her.  After an hour of this I said, ENOUGH!  I used treats with no success, so finally, I asked Ryan to stand watch, and ran around Sharon, copying her, darted inside the house, and she followed as Ryan quickly closed the door!


Thursday, May 17th:

Ozzie, a true friend

It’s vet day!  I got everything ready, and at the last moment I decided to take Ozzie with us.  What a life-saver he is.  Sharon was not nearly as stressed having Ozzie with her.  I picked her up and put her in the back seat without any problems.  Getting her out of the car, however, was not that easy.  When I sent to pick her up, she did her quick sharp look, and thought about biting my hand before it got too close to her.  I corrected her, and she got out of the car on her own.


At the vet, she did very well.  Ozzie just stretched out on the cold floor, and she did the same.  When it was my turn, Sean and I walked down the hallway to the weigh scale.  It’s a very confined area, and I expected Sharon to freak out.  She hopped up on the scale, a whopping 14.8 pounds.  Dr. Oliver estimated her age to be 5 months.  He thinks she is stunningly gorgeous.  She is very underweight, and we will schedule her spay maybe next week.  Sean and George did a fecal, and she tested positive for hook worms.  I started her treatment and I also asked for Mirtazapine tablets to increase her appetite.

One thing we did discuss was her front feet.  While Dr. Oliver confirmed that they have not been broken in any way, and she is not experiencing any pain, her front feet are extended a bit.  I believe that she was handled roughly while being removed from her crate, her front paws got stuck, and caused her quite a bit of pain.  This explains everything.  Why she does not want to be physically removed, why she only feels safe while in the crate, and why she desperately does not want to be removed from the crate.  Whatever happened to her, it created quite a bit of trauma.  Once I noticed her fear of being removed from the crate, I put her in a crate that has a Kuranda bed in it.  This helps her transition from crate to floor.  It’s working!

She was awesome Thursday evening.  She ran with the pack and ate very well.  When it came time for me to sit on the couch and relax, she slowly approached me, looked at the couch a few times, wondering how she could participate in her nightly routine of sitting next to me.  She didn’t have the courage to just make herself at home and jump up, so I guided her with the leash, and when she was close to the couch, she willingly and happily jumped up.  This girl gets it!  She is smart as a whip.  When I offered her some hot dog bites, she ever so gently removed them from my fingers.  I could not believe how softly she took treats, which clearly tells me she doesn’t mean to harm.  She will accept Ryan but she has not yet accepted my daughter, Sarah.  Every day is an adventure!


aka Little Red

Saturday May 19th:

Friday was very uneventful, except that I can’t get her to really eat, even with appetite stimulants.  UGH!  She is getting out of crate with more ease, and following the pack nicely.  Saturday morning, however, I woke up, opened my bedroom door, and was greeted by my daughter Sarah, and Shy Sharon, on the couch together, watching cartoons!  Sarah… she’s one determined little 9 year-old!


Monday, May 21st:

Marjie Wolfe brought KiKi today.  When we finished taking pictures of Kiki and talking about her history and medical status, Marjie wanted to meet the little red girl.  I brought her up on the couch, and with patience, Marjie got to pet her.  We chopped up some hot dogs, and even though it took almost an hour, Marjie managed to get Shy Sharon’s to take her medicine.  This little girl inspects every bite she eats, and spits her pills out with precision!


I just love her!

Wednesday, May 23rd:

What the heck happened?  I worked all day on the computer yesterday, letting dogs in and out all day long, but something happened.  Shy Sharon is almost right back where she started from.  I invited her on the couch to share our evening routine and she was scared, nervous, and unsure.  She acted like she has never seen me or Ryan.  I was devastated.

I called Paul Pipitone this morning, and it’s time to tether her to my waist.  As I write this, she is wearing a leash, that’s attached to a leash which is tied around my waist.  She’s not happy about it, but let’s give this time.  I’m not giving up on her.  Paul could not believe that she was so terrified and only 5 months old.  I CAN turn this around!

Noon: I had a handful of left over turkey, and a few steak bites (my son Ryan rarely lets leftovers survive in the fridge) and I sat down and…. TAUGHT SHY SHARON HOW TO SIT!!!!!

that little fox look

Wednesday, May 30th:

So much has happened so quickly. Sharon enters and exists door ways now, she wanders freely from her crate to the living room. She has jumped up on the couch without coaxing for her regularly scheduled human cuddle time. She has been getting my attention when she needs to relieve herself (great sign). She has snuggled up to Sarah, putting her head in her lap and falling asleep. She has nuzzled herself between me and the couch, sticking her nose in my armpit, and snoozing for an hour or so. She is NOT afraid of thunder, which is awesome.  She is still afraid to quick movements, and loud noises made by people, but it’s getting better.

At this point, Sharon’s desire to run is unbelievable!  She will need a lot of land to play in, should have one or more dogs to help train her, and should only be adopted by a family with older children.   I absolutely love fostering her!

Saturday, June 2:

Emily and Sharon!

I got it!  A wag!  Sharon wagged her tail for quite some time yesterday, while playing with Ozzie and China in the living room.  It was awesome.  She is also really starting to play with her ball, and of course, I’m playing with her too!  She gets very nervous when people walk up to her too quickly, but once the person sits down, she’s okay.  I think seeing people so tall, intimidates her.  She is checking out the rest of the house slowly, one room at a time, and doesn’t hesitate to get out of her crate to explore!  It’s all good!  She met with Emily again, and this time after a noise scared her, she landed in Emily’s lap! So the trust factor is in the works!


Friday, June 15th:

Two days ago, I realized that I’ve had Sharon for one month.  I still see three steps forward and two steps back,but there are a lot of improvements in certain areas.  I had a lot of the kids’ friends over lately, and she is getting used to strangers and mayhem!  But with BB out of the woods, KiKi and Jubilee adopted, I’ve had more time to spend with Sharon, so it’s back to my bedroom every night (on leash of course).    She did really well the night of the 13th.  At one point, I felt her paws rest on my hands, and she stayed close to me.  Again, last night, she slept with me, and this time, I didn’t hold the leash.  She was quite happy being close to me.

We still have our own personal time every single night, on the couch.  We watch shows together, and she watches as people travel throughout the house, still a bit fearful.  Megan, my dearest friend from Boston, spent a few days with us, and Sharon accepted her without any hesitation.   Wow!  Danielle and Emily have visited as well, and it doesn’t take long for Sharon to remember them.  One thing is for sure, she is madly in love with my Ozzie, Lady Di and China.  Without my pack, she would’ve never come this far.

It will take a special person, with experience, to adopt Sharon.  I don’t think we’re just dealing with an abused shy fearful dog here, I think she was feral, and we are both traveling down a road, one that we have never been.  I’m confident that we’ll get there and I’m enjoying every minute of it.


Monday, June 25th:

It was last week that I noticed Little Red was really coming around.  I’ve been calling her Little Red, I guess to prevent myself from getting too attached…. it hasn’t worked one bit!  Little Red has been sleeping with me every night, getting closer and closer, and sleeping with ease so I know she’s not scared of me at all.  She has jumped up on the couch without being dragged over to it.  She has slept on the couch with both my daughter Sarah, and her friend Danielle, and she no longer gets jumpy when my son, Ryan stomps into the room and plops on the couch.  In short, she’s okay with us.  But what I realized was when I looked at the calendar, it had been seven weeks.  Somewhere seven weeks meant something to me… but what?

It took seven weeks exactly for my China to let me touch her.  During those seven weeks she stayed hidden in my daughter’s closet.  So maybe seven weeks is a magic time frame that a dog needs to feel safe?  I’m not sure.  Regardless, Little Red is ready.  Is she fully rehabilitated?  Absolutely Not!

Little Red needs a special home, and must be adopted locally.  I have made a lifelong commitment to her, and like all TDL dogs, she will not fall through the cracks.   It’s time for her next Vet visit, and if I can afford it, I’d like to have her DNA tested!

I love Little Red.  She has this softness to her that is hard to explain.  When she takes a treat, she is the most gentle dog I’ve had.  When she leans her head back onto you, asking for her neck to be rubbed, she is genuinely reaching out.  She even exposes her belly for a rub now, it’s so cool!  All she needs is a few minutes when meeting new people, and if you give her time and patience to figure out for herself that you mean to harm, she is fine!

I’m in no hurry to re-home her, but it’s time to start interviewing prospects, she deserves the best!


Shy Sharon with our newest pack member, Rocco

Saturday, July 14th:

I knew that once Little Red felt safe here, her progress would be fast, and it really has been.  She has not had the courage to visit the right side of the house, the long hallway where my children’s bedrooms are.  But Sarah thought it was time, so she took her into her room, and Red loved it.   What’s more important is that Red felt safe, and now she has conquered the entire house without being harmed, so her self-esteem sky rocketed through the roof!  That night she ran all over the house, playing catch me if you can, with my pack, jumping on the couch, off the couch, and taking hide and go seek to a new level!  It was the first time she played in the house with ease and freedom, and I know that she felt joy, real joy.  Even thought she has a long way to go, I think she’s ready to bond with her new human, and adjust to her new home!  Woo hoo Little Red!



The Mystery of #0215 – Gilligan

Adoption Update 10/03/12:  Hey Gisele! Hope all is well!

Indi is free and clear of heart worms, he was just tested a few months ago at his annual. He is still coming out of his shell, he has started rolling on his back to get belly rubs and pushes us with his nose for attention. He is very affectionate, but only in certain rooms. I think it is a comfort thing. He loves his sister to pieces, he naps with her constantly and followers her around the house. You can tell by his body he is no longer on edge, doesn’t jump when you touch him, he is finally feeling safe and relaxed. He is such a good boy.
We will not be coming to the reunion. We will be with my parents before they head to spend the holidays with my brothers and family.  Plus Indi is still skittish around new people. That is something we are still working on with him. 🙂

Gilligan is just a young boy. I saw a photo of him sent by Hope Master at Floyd/Rome, GA Animal Control. He was laying down. Hope said he was scared, but they’re all scared.

So, Megan goes to pick him up off of transport last night, passes him off to Melissa, the CSR at Val-u-Vet. He was terrified, more importantly, he had to be picked up off the floor, because he’s too scared to walk.

I gave him some food, water, and yes… a brand new beef marrow bone, put him in a comfy crate with a Kuranda bed, and left him alone. I thought that by this morning, the shell shock of being nailed by animal control, (possibly with a catch pole), thrown into a pound, then transported across the state by various people in various cars would wear off. It usually does by the morning, but not this morning.

Nope. He sat in the corner of his crate, would NOT come out, would not have eye contact, trembled so bad I thought his fur would fall off, and he would not come out. Not even with hot dog bites as a bribe. Nope, this little boy is terrified.

Looking at his little short legs, I don’t know what he’s mixed with, but there’s a lot of Border Collie in this cute little guy. Is he a Borgie? Wouldn’t that be nice, to have another Borgie!!! So, I put a leash on him, and figured, if I start walking, he will too. After all, I am the pack leader right? Wrong again. He slid across the floor and would not get up. Oh boy.

I picked him and put him the car… he flopped. I brought him to Val-u-Vet for his shots and neuter. I called them, told them I was out back, and I needed George! George came out to meet me and Gilligan, wrapped him up in a blanket and carried him to a crate.

On the way home, I remembered the trembling, and I haven’t seen him “walk” so I called Meagan and asked her if she ever saw him walk, her answer was no. I asked her to call the transporter, and he did say he saw him walk out of his crate for a second, then he plopped onto floor. Melissa agreed that he did not walk, however, he did stand up briefly to pee. Is the trembling be because of pain or fear?

I had a flash back of Nutella. When I first got her, there was no doubt in my mind that if I would’ve stuck my hand in her crate to get her out, she would’ve nipped me. I know that look when a dog is thinking about “fight or flight”. He could of nipped at Megan, and Melissa said she had to literally pull him out of his crate, so the opportunity to nip was there. He could’ve nipped me this morning easily, but he didn’t. This tells me he wants to trust, but just can’t. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but he’s so afraid to be hurt. Then I remembered Shy Shannon and Goldie Hawn, neither of them had ever been outdoors. Maybe he’s afraid because he’s never been outside.

So, tomorrow he will be examined from head to toe. I’ve asked the staff at Val-u-Vet to let me know if anyone catches him stand up in his crate. But the question remains, what has happened to this little boy that he is too afraid to walk or stand up? He shakes when you touch him.

Note: The vet did call me with an update that I really didn’t want to hear. He is heartworm positive. Doxy and Prednisone will be started right away, and he will go on Heartgard March 1st.

The dogs that I’ve rescued that were this afraid, I believe, were beaten because they were not house broken. But once you scare a pup to death, every time to go near the animal, he urinates out of fear. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

I don’t know what’s happened to him, but I’m sure we’ll find out… eventually. Gilligan is one of many who have been abused in some way, including Nutella, Bailey, China, Shannon, Tuck Me In, just to name a few.

02/12/11 Update: Two things, I love being wrong, and we named him right. He definitely went on a three hour tour and got lost. This little boy’s problem? He’s been attached to his owner, had an incredible dependent relationship with his owner, and doesn’t know what to do now, he’s lost. We believe he got up every morning, jumped in the truck, and went to work every day with his owner, spent very little time outdoors, except maybe to do a tinkle, and spent the evening watching tv on the couch! He is fine with the other dogs, he doesn’t really acknowledge them. He spent the night sleeping between Megan and my daughter Sarah on the couch, and has no desire to play.

So while I don’t feel he’s scared because he’s been on his own and unsocialized, I think he’s scared because he’s only known one owner, one apartment, one truck, one routine, and he’s not adapting easily.

He is absolutely not going to growl, show teeth, or bite anyone for any reason, he’s really a very gentle boy that loves to be held. He has not wagged his tail yet, therefore, he has no joy, but we all know that’ll happen in time.

I’m going to be introducing him to different people just to see how he reacts. He will tell me who his former owner was. Once we know that, we can move forward to finding him the right home.


02/14/11 Update: Paul Pipitone has offered to foster and rehabilitate this little boy, and we jumped up and down screaming with joy! Updates soon.

02/15/11 Update: After reflecting Gilligan’s time with us in rescue, I’ve realized that at first, he was terrified of being at the pound, then transported by multiple strangers, then taken to the vet, neutered and vetted. But, I think when he saw me, he really shut down. Was it my voice? My long brown hair? I triggered something in him that really freaked him out.

He did well with my dogs, but to be honest, it was too soon for us to expect him to react. Maybe he was still sore from surgery, I just don’t know.

When we put a harness on him, instead of a collar, he did better. When he left my home, and went to Megan’s, he spent a few days just resting. Megan’s house is very quiet.

When Paul came to pick him up, Megan explained that he was just starting to get better with regard to his fear. Paul is providing updates daily, and I’m confident that he has the experience to explain Gil’s behaviors to us. Gil is lucky to have Paul, and so are we!

Day 1 Playlist:
Gilligan is doing really well on a walk! He WAGS HIS TAIL and gives Paul’s neighbor a kiss! Megan and I both believed he was owned by a young man. This is amazing for Day 1!!! Thank you Paul!

Day 2 Playlist:
A lot of improvements. Gilligan seens more relaxed, he eats, and takes a treat from Paul’s hand.

Day 3 Playlist:
Gilligan, now Skipper barks, is attentive, and learns to trust.

Day 5 Playlist:
Gilligan, now Skipper is doing awesome!

Day 6 Playlist:
Skipper has an adoption meet, and plays with Roxy!

I’m Keeping China – About Deaf/Blind Dogs

I have found my true calling!

To read China’s story, click here.

To learn more about Asia, now called Kiss click here.

To learn more about Velveteen, click here.

To learn more about Sassafras, who was adopted, click here.

To learn more about Skate, who was adopted, click here.

Here are the Facebook comments that were posted on Christmas morning.

So China is home, and I am a foster failure!

Chris commented on Kiss’ (Asia’s) blog post last week:

Chris c. said…

My wife and I adopted Luddy (formerly skate) who also is a Deaf white Aussie. I must say he has broght us more happiness then we could ever imagine. Unless you call his name you would never know he is Deaf. He has been easy to train and is super smart and loves to just be were we are.

Working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for the past 5 years it is sometimes heartbreaking to see how isolated they feel from the hearing world as if they are in a box, yet how much love they have to give!

The same is with Deaf dogs they can feel isolated as they may be passed over for hearing dogs. I ask please let them out the box you will be amazed at the love they have to give!! You should see the smiles of our dear Deaf friends who meet Luddy and find he is Deaf as well it is an instant connection. Anything you may have read negative about Deaf dogs I can assure you is not true. I hope that someone will open their heart and home to beautiful Asia you will not regret it. Currently Luddy knows about 20 ASL signs, if you do adopt Asia and need help with ASL signs I would be happy to assist. I belive Holly has my email. Oh btw Deaf Dogs Rule:)


Learn more about Deaf Dogs by visiting http://www.deafdogs.org.

China, the little Aussie Girl, Takes Down Dah House-Adopted

I don’t know where to start, but here is her photo album and all of the comments on Facebook, more details to come, and I’m sorry, but I’m too busy observing her to post! Everybody wants her! China has met the pack, she enjoys Ozzie, and Lady Di has already established “how to play”. China enjoys chase around the trampoline, and is settling in very nicely!

08/17/10: I suspected it, but had to confirm, her left eye is blind as well. When knocking on my daughter’s door this morning, China lay still asleep and no noise that I made would wake her up. She only feels safe with my children… she has a 2 foot rule, she won’t leave them for more than 2 feet!

Today, my children are at school, their first day back, and China went to my daughter’s bedroom, retrieved a tshirt and a sock, and brought it into her crate. She does not leave her crate, even though the door is wide open. Her crate is her safety place. It’s underneath a large computer desk. Every once and a while, when I am far enough away, she darts out of the crate, and stares out by the front door… waiting for their return. Considering she has been shall we say, abused by adults, she does not care for men or women, I’m astonished with her good temperament. She is housebroken, great with the other dogs, she is just afraid of me, which breaks my heart. She did let me pet her, after of course I gave her steak bites from last night’s dinner, and she eased her nose to mine.
I was hoping for a kiss, but I’m not pushing it! When Holly and I discussed what we were going to name her, I guess I didn’t realize then, during her first 10 minutes with me, how fragile she really is, fragile emotionally. I’m usually not the type to write with emotion, I am a technical writer, and truly it’s Holly that writes with her heart, with flair and with humor. This dog has captured my heart, hook, line, and sinker, and I thank God that Amber thought to call me that morning. I will never forget the panic in her voice, for she knew that China was not considered “adoptable”.
When a shelter is full, they’re full, and there are no exceptions. Many of my close friends work for shelters, and I see what it does to them, and how happy they are when just ONE gets out. China was the lucky one. I will wait for as long as it takes until I can find her the perfect home, and this time, it will be for as long as forever lasts for her. ~Gisele
China Update 08/28/10: Random thoughts about this delicate little girl. She has a strong herding eye. She is still fearful of adults, but wants to soooo bad to trust them. She retreats to her crate if I move too quickly. Last night, I decided to start taking her to a new level. Here’s what happened, in her own words. “Uh oh, she’s putting a leash on me. Here comes the gentle tug, but I’d rather stay in my crate. Oh well, okay, I’ll follow you, but where are we going? In your bedroom? No, No, No, you don’t understand, I only sleep with children, I don’t like adults. I am not comfortable here, and I don’t want to be next to you. What? You want me to jump in bed with you? Well… I feel that tug on the leash, and as much as I’m terrified of you, I do want to comply, so I’ll jump up, but I’m not getting too close. Okay, I’m up, you pet me, now… I’m outta here… Woops, I feel that tug again. I guess I’ll stay for a minute or two. Ahhhh, I love having my ears rubbed, let me get a little closer. Kiss my nose? Are you crazy lady, that’s way too close for me. Well, okay, just this one time. Let me accidentally roll over on my back so you can rub my belly. Wow! You have finger nails, that really feels good. Okay, I guess I can kiss you back. This is fun!”
China rolled over and fell asleep, pressing her back against mine, and maintained close contact with me until about 4:00 AM, when she tried to jump off the bed again. I held the leash, and she settled back down at my feet.
At 5:00 AM, I decided she had done well, and I opened my bedroom door, and off she bolted into Sarah’s room.

We will continue this game of trust, and I’m confident that the progress will be swift. We must be strong pack leaders, but at the same time show the dogs that they are safe. The affection is their reward. In the meantime, China has created quite a collection of stolen items in her crate. It started with Sarah’s t-shirt and a sock, but yesterday, she found a rather large wicker basket and put it in her crate. She is collecting balls, blankets, towels, and dog toys. And by the way, she loves the tennis balls! I think playing ball with her might help her get out of her shell. Ryan is anxious to do a video of her playing outside with the pack, she is quite impressive. Maybe that’ll be on my list of things to do this weekend. ~Gisele

Update 09/21/10: China, China, China. You have fallen madly deeply in love with the ball! You are sniffing strangers, even allowing them to pet you sometimes, but you need time to evaluate before you jump right in. You’ve learned that when I walk to the kitchen, I just might open the fridge and give you a chicken hot dog! And to be honest, I think you’re starting to like me! Last week, I stretched out on my bed (suffering from a cold) while my Sarah was in the tub… you sneaked into my room and peeked up at me. I tapped on the bed, and much to my surprise, you jumped up and cuddled… for only a minute, before something told you to be afraid, and you bolted. Oh well, I’ll take that 60 seconds! It’s almost time for you to be brave my dear, and go to the vet to be spayed and completely vetted. You are such a flight risk, I wonder if the vet can give you two micro-chips!!! You’re not ready to be adopted yet, as as much as I’d love to keep you, I’m painting a picture in my mind right now, of what your forever home will look like. Don’t worry dear, I won’t settle for anything but the best for you. And when that family comes, I’ll know it.

12/27/10 Update: I waited and waited for China’s family to show up. Some were interested but the home wasn’t suitable for China’s quirks. China appears to use Ozzie as her compass, not wanting to move into new situations without him, and using Sarah as her comfort zone, we have decided to keep her. On Christmas morning, after all the presents were opened, I told Sarah that China was hers to keep. Sarah didn’t believe me at first, and questioned me, but I assured her that China is NOT available for adoption any longer. Here are the Facebook comments that were posted on Christmas morning.

So China is home, and I am a foster failure!


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: