The Dog Liberator™

The Dog Liberator rescues abandoned dogs throughout the Southeast. Based in Central Florida, this non-profit organization fosters all of their dogs in a home environment. Founded in 2009, all dogs are fully vetted, spayed or neutered prior to adoption. The Dog Liberator focuses in rescuing the herding breed, which consists of Border Collies, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Aussies, Collies, and Deaf/Blind Dogs.

A Tale of Two Paths

A Tale of Two Paths

by Sheila Coffman 


It was a decision that came from the heart, but it was time.  The door had opened in our hearts and we were ready.  After a recent loss of our 16 year old border collie, we decided to take the steps in adoption.  This was not going to be an easy journey as we had her 16 year sister still with us.  Should we let her live her life as the ‘diva’ of the house?  It’s not an easy decision, but let me tell you how we made it and the path we traveled.

The internet is a powerful tool.  I took to it with fingers blazing the keys and pictures of fur babies flashing across my monitor. Now if you are a dog lover, you know that each picture captures a piece of you, but there is something not fully describable that we are each looking for when on the path of adoption.  At some point, it can become overwhelming and this is when it is time to step away or in my case invoke The Dog Liberator, one of the pages the internet put in front of me.  I made the call.


“Hi, I am looking to adopt a border collie”, I heard my voice say into the phone.  “Great, tell me a little about yourself” is how the voice on the end started the conversation.  So, I started sharing my love of the breed, but then my hesitations crept into the conversation when I mentioned we had a senior border collie female at home and the adoption needed to be a ‘good fit’.  I was interested in adoption a 4-5 year-old female.

This person, Gisele Veilleux, listened to me and I listened to her and then I heard her say, “I don’t often recommend a puppy, but I think this might be a good fit for your senior female to have a male puppy that does not try to compete and will look to her as alpha.”  I think she also saw in us a family that was open to the hard work involved with a puppy.  Now, trust me, there also came the guidance of insuring the puppy was separated from our senior dog to give her the space and down time needed.  This quick call lapsed into over an hour of exchanges of dog stories past and present.  The passion heard in this voice on the other end was palatable and left me feeling confident of the path we were on.


On a rainy October afternoon, my son and I ventured across town to the home of Cathy McIlroy, a puppy foster for The Dog Liberator.  We were sat on the floor and allowed to interact with the puppy named Samson.  I think perhaps as we were observing the puppy, we were also being observed for our ‘fitness’ as adopters.

There was no rush as we played and fell in love with this little black ball of energy and sloppy kisses.  We brought home our new fur baby and slowly introduced him to our unsuspecting matriarch of the family.

Samson is adopted

Amazingly, she seemed accepting and before long these two were doing the yin yang sleeping position and she was training him to become a respectable member of the family.

You might expect that once the check was written that the adoption was over.  Wrong.  We joined the Facebook page for The Dog Liberator. We were embraced into the family of other adopters with picture exchanges and annual reunions.  We adopted a dog from The Dog Liberator and The Dog Liberator adopted us.

Samson now Kodi and Sydney

‘The puppy’, became the most wonderful addition to our family.  He grew from a 20 pound ball of fur to a 64 pound lap dog that is an intricate part of our daily family life.  He and the matriarch had a wonderful co-existence with lots of slobber faced exchanges on the area rug in our family room. The matriarch lived over a year after the puppy joined us and with heavy hearts and 17 wonderful years of celebrated life, we let her cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Time passed and we found ourselves on the adoption path again.  Of course, we went right back to The Dog Liberator.  We learned of the available dogs and set an appointment to meet one.  But as done in the past, I also went to the internet.

Kodi all grown up

The rescue adoption had been so positive and so I felt confident about the path.  My hesitation once again came from wanting to find the right match for the new patriarch of the family.  This is not about getting another dog, but getting a good fit for all of us including the patriarch.

The morning came for us to have a ‘meet’.  We sat in the home of Gisele Veilleux with one of the most beautiful border collies I have ever placed eyes on (Ziggy).  It is okay to say what I am about to write.  I am comfortable with it and anyone adopting should be as well.

The dog was not a match.  There are reasons which some may be us and our environment and some may be the dog.   Gisele makes it okay to be honest and in fact dictates that matches start off on the right foot.  I hugged her, because remember, she has been in my life for over a year now and I am in the TDL fan club.  We left with a promise to call when future dogs become available.

Now this is the part of the story where we step onto another path-not The Dog Liberator.  As divine intervention sometimes does, it comes when least expected.  My cell phone rang as we were headed home that day after our meet.  It was another rescue organization that I had viewed on the internet.  I was invited to come visit and told there were 10 dogs available for adoption.  We set our GPS and were on our way.

As we parked the car and took in our surroundings, we did not see 10 dogs, but did see one in the yard.  This dog immediately came to the fence to greet us and we took in the most beautiful expression filled brown eyes ever seen on a freckled white and black face.  We opened the gate and the dog brought us a ball to play.  He engaged us in his world.  We were soon greeted by the man from the phone and he told us the dog’s name.  We called out to him and he came immediately and leaned on us as we offered ear rubs.  In lessons learned from our previous adoption experience, we knew to ask questions, spend time with the dog and watch him interact with others.  Remember, we had the patriarch at home and he would expect we had done our due diligence in the newest member of the family.

Now you might think this is another success story, and I assure you it is,

but it is important the story be told in truth.

The new dog was filthy.  I am not offering that he was dirty, but he was the level of filth that involved long neglect.  I will also share that the dog was emaciated.  The definition of the word offers loss of fat and muscle due to severe malnourishment and starvation.  We did not just feel the ribs and hip bones with our petting, but it was plainly obvious to the eye.   His under belly was red which we were told was due to staining from  impurities in the water.  We watched the dog scratching and recognized inflammation and I don’t believe it to be from his water.  He’s a rescue.  Right?  This is a rescue organization.  It might be accepted that this dog had been rescued recently by this organization from bad circumstances.  WRONG.  The dog had been in their care for 8-EIGHT- months.

We had just walked away from a beautiful border collie from a reputable rescue.  Were we really considering adopting this dog?

The man provided a back story on the dog.  We listened.  He offered some paperwork which held enough truth of the story to provide documentation of health prior to owner surrender showing heartworm negative, up to date vaccinations and general health.  Does this mean the current state of the dog occurred during his time in rescue care?  I will let the reader connect the dots, but will tell you that we felt our hearts made a connection with the heart and eyes of the dog.  Those eyes shined and that ball filled smiling mouth asked to be taken home and given the life deserved.  We completed the paperwork, wrote the check and put the car in reverse quickly.  My husband, son and I all agreed, we had rescued the rescue from the rescue organization.

Doubt is a heavy burden.  We carried it wondering if we had made a decision with our hearts alone.  I called Gisele to let her know we had adopted.  True to her character, she listened and supported.  Her goal is to support rescues and owners.   I made an appointment with Gisele’s vet to get a full assessment of our new boy.  Gisele was there with us as she had wanted to meet our new boy.  The good news is that he is heartworm negative with no parasites or major health issues.  He does, however, have a yeast infection in the ears and his red belly may be allergy associated.  Obviously, he needs to gain some weight, but these are all hurdles we can jump.

Jake and Kodi napping

What upset everyone is that what the dog weighed 8 months ago when he first arrived at the rescue was his current weight, 51 pounds.  Even though he was terribly emaciated, the rescue had not put one pound of weight on him.  The dog was skin and bones, and he tested negative for internal parasites.  He has already had two baths which is a heck of a welcome to the family.  We are working on the weight gain with a balance of selected dry dog food, can food and the words of Gisele to ‘get cooking’.

The ending to this story is the beginning of another which we hope to be the ‘tail’ of two dogs who live long, healthy and happy lives.  The two dogs have acclimated and in recent days started to enjoy tug of war and co-napping space.  The patriarch is showing the new dog the area rug in the family room and its main purpose as the wrestling ring just as his mentor had shown him.

Our new baby is gaining weight and loves checking his food dish often always with great expression of gratitude when he finds it full AGAIN.  We are on our way and appreciative that this experience turned out as well as it has thus far.

My final words to offer-not all rescue organizations are the same.  The standards of The Dog Liberator do not resonate with all.  Adoption fees for both my adoptions were the same, but I could see that the money spent with my TDL dog was actually used for the welfare of him and those that followed.

no more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Adopt!  Adopt at the pound, a rescue or humane society.  The end result is the first day of the rest of their lives as a member of your family.


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