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.

Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid

Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid
Chaos, February 2010

July 22, 2012:  I slept with one eye open last night again.  Bart was coughing quite a bit, but in just a few minutes, he settled down and was quiet.  I think I heard him cough 10 times throughout the night, but it was only one good cough every hour versus constant.  I think all of the medications are kicking in, the chicken stew is making him stronger, and the humidifier made a difference too.

I fed him breakfast this morning, gave him all of his meds, and we went outside together to enjoy the sunshine.  As I was watching him I did a lot of reflecting.  After all, I have three years to reflect upon and almost 600 dogs in my memory banks to think about.  When I’m worried about something (like Bart) I either clean, or I write.  I cleaned yesterday… today, I write!

You know the ups and downs in rescue is enough to drive anyone insane.  Rescue is not a job like stocking shelves, selling insurance, managing a store, or computer programming.  I know I’m just beating myself up here, but I sure wish I the resources that I have today, three years ago.  Three years ago I was running around from vet to vet trying to save Goldie Hawn.  Try this, try these, we don’t know what’s wrong with her, she’s getting better, she’s getting worse.  I had a vet that was closed on Wednesdays, another that was closed on Fridays and a third that was closed on Mondays.  It got to the point where we were calling it “driving miss Goldie”.  I only wish I knew about all of the medications that I know today.  I wish I knew about chicken stew, and I wish I knew that doctors can’t fix everything, sometimes it’s Mommy that knows better.

I used to be overly emotional when I first started three years ago, but I’m not anymore.  I guess there isn’t anything that I haven’t already gone through.  One thing is for sure, we can’t please everyone, and when you’re in the public eye, you are scrutinized for everything you do, and everything you don’t do.  No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!   It seems that every few months, someone takes a stab at us for some reason.

Twilight and Eclipse, July 2010

I reviewed an old post, Hate Mail and Adoption Fees, and even though it it says a lot, it still doesn’t explain how emotionally vested we are every single day, in our job as rescuers, with our animals, and with our adopters.  At least once a week I hear criticism, and at least once a week, I am verbally attacked over our adoption fees.  Once again, we do not get $19/a month from thousands of donators , we do not have fancy tablets, expensive websites, fancy lawyers, a 1-800 number, we do not drive BMWs or have expense accounts.  We pay vet bills just like everyone else does, buy dog food, pay for gas to transport dogs from here to there, and yes, we make Chicken Stew!

I even reviewed If Dogs Could Write Memos, a story about Rhys.  Again, that post didn’t get my message across.  I guess sometimes I’m afraid to really say what’s on my mind.  I seem to tip toe around hoping people will read between the lines.

Did you know that Bart loves bananas, and even at 4 months of age, he will not wee wee or poop in his crate?  Bart likes to hide and do his business in the bushes where you can’t see him!  Did you know that Shy Sharon won’t eat a french fry?  It’s true!  KiKi felt threatened around little boys, Shy Shannon was a nipper, and Rocco is awesome with young children?  Can you get that much detailed information about a dog on the internet, can shelters and pounds tell you if a dog is housebroken, good with cats, leash trained, food aggressive, or they will bite your hand off if you take their bone away from them?

China, August 2010

When Amber Halsey called me about a terrified Aussie female she had, Amber was upset because the dog had been labeled unadoptable, a fear biter, and was going to be put down.  She described the dog and I knew she was deaf.  Amber asked me how did I know?  I don’t know how I know, I just know!  I asked her to send me a photo.  She sent me a horrible photo of a terrified fearful young Aussie and I realized right away that she was also blind.  Again, Amber asked me how did I know?  I just know that I know!  She expected me to tell her that I couldn’t take the dog.  She expected me to agree with the shelter, and put her down.  I took her, and I was right.  She is completely deaf, and has no vision in one eye, limited vision in the other, and her name is China.  And you all know that I kept her!  Since China we have rescued and re-homed dozens of deaf/blind dogs.

I know that Rescue is an Effort, not a Science, but for one day I’d like to carry a spray can with me that I can just use on negative comments, negative thoughts, and negative people.   People say we only rescue beautiful dogs.  They sure are beautiful after we’re done with them!  We don’t have a magic wand, we invest in our rescued dogs, as if they are our own dogs.

Did you know that some of our fellow rescuers think I pulled Bart because he was sick?  Rumor has it that I took him for donations.  

Bart at the Shelter

Hollie Miller sent me an email that was loaded with catahoula pups, and one little collie.  My reply to her was “I want that collie pup.”  She called me immediately and laughed at my one sentence response, and we worked on transport right away.  A few days after Bart was pulled and in her foster care, she noticed he had runny stool and she called me right away.  Hollie was nervous, and maybe she expected me to back out.  “I want that collie pup!”  On transport Sarah White told me he had vomitted and it smelled  metallic.  Bart was taken straight to the vet, and tested positive for Parvo.  It was several days later that he developed Pneumonia.  Bart went straight to the vet.  I drove to the vet to meet him, and met with the staff, and said, “I want that collie pup!”  Even thought his chances for survival at that time were not good.

Sometimes you rescue a dog just because you want to rescue that dog!  Vicki Truelove worked throughout the night with TDL folks to rescue Huckleberry.  She wanted that dog!  Khaz was going to stop at nothing to get Athena and Eos.  And I was going to stop at nothing to have Shy Sharon and Bart.

We have re-homed approximately 600 dogs in three years, and many of them had expenses that were triple the cost of their adoption fee.  Rescue is a money pit.  Just recently,  BB alone cost over $600,  Goldie Hawn cost over $3,000.   I can’t even begin to tell you how much veterinary care we spent on pups that we lost to Parvo.  I have no idea how much Bart’s expenses will be, but the donations that we have received for his medical care has saved his life, and I am forever grateful.

Goldie Hawn's Shelter Photo

I am not ashamed to admit that in reality, Bart and Shy Sharon rescued me.  The major blows and rumors that our rescue suffered several months ago put me in a state of defeat.  I shut down, while Vicki and Khaz watched me experience the pain that others inflicted upon me.  I will not apologize for having feelings, and caring about people, and being hurt when they lie about me and my rescue.  Shy Sharon brought me back to a time of pride and joy, like I remembered when I had Shy Shannon.  Bart has brought me back to a time of hope and love, when I had Goldie Hawn.  For years I have forgotten the joy that I once had when I started this rescue.  The minute Shy Sharon came to my home, she reminded me of the joy, the excitement, and the pride that I once had.

Bart and Sharon truly rescued me, and I can’t thank them enough.

People ask all the time isn’t the hardest thing in rescue giving them up.  The answer is no.  These dogs are a gift.  I am honored to have had all of these dogs pass through my home, my life, and the life of my children.  Dogs like Jake, Rhys, Shannon, Goldie, Bart and Sharon are a gift.  The greatest gift I have been given these past few weeks, are the emails that I’ve received from people who remember Goldie Hawn.  Their memories were sparked when they heard of Bart, just like mine was.  The moment I saw him at the vet I felt Goldie from my head to my toes.  And to know that she is remembered by others, if truly the best gift ever.  Her burial marker reads “you are not alone”, and I know she isn’t.

I want to have one day where I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, where I can be proud of what we have accomplished.  Even as I look at Bart, and marvel at his recovery, his intelligence, his love, somebody had to ruin it with a rumor.  Why must people rain on my parade?  Bart is my parade!

What’s that you say?  Don’t worry about what other people say about you, your rescue, your methods, your dogs?  I will stop, when people stop believing what they hear.

And Bart truly loves Bananas!



Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid ® is an Album by Collective Soul 




10 thoughts on “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid

  1. i know what it’s like to be saved by a dog, and not just one but several. i am not a rescuer organization but i have personally adopted four dogs in two years from four different rescue groups. one locally, one from out of state, and two from in-state. when i saw each dog’s photo and info, i knew i wanted these dogs in my life, my home, my heart. can’t explain, i just knew and when you trust your intuition, the other stuff like adoption fees, distance, gas in driving, finances take a back seat to what the heart and head know. my adoption fees ranged from 150 to 555, up to 16-hour round trip drive to bring one new baby home. i am an adopter and keep them for life. my last three rescued dogs had passed over to rainbow bridge and i lasted about 10 months before i was ready to find a new companion and another and then the rest. one of ours is a foster currently but i treat her just like she is my own. so dearest gisele, i know on a small level what you feel because the courage and determination to keep life going for those dogs who are in need of our help and care needs no explantion nor defending to anyone except to our higher selves. those that question the fees, motives, methods, etc when it’s you who have put in the effort, time, tears, concern and your investment to rehabilitate a dog for someone else to take as their own, they will always be around trying to get something they are not yet ready for. these dogs deserve the best from now on and deserve a lover who doesn’t question minor things but recognizes the quality of wellbeing brought forth and given by each dog’s rescuer…please know you are valued in the dogs’ lives and that matters so much more than some rumour…don’t let the attackers take up one more second of space in your day or in your head. xlucy’s mom

  2. Hi! I just wanted to share a couple of things that came to mind after reading your post.

    From our personal experience of having adopted two collies from local rescue groups (one being TDL), was Laika’s/Priscilla’s adoption fee higher – yes, considerably. However, our “bargain” dog, Akela, was adopted out lacking full shots, worm infested, intact AND heartworm positive! The fact that he was incredibly fearful was never even mentioned – he was just a sweet shy dog tied to the front of a garage when we arrived. On top of all of that, this woman had the nerve to ask us to sign a paper that if we didn’t have the dog neutered, we would be liable for a penalty fee! (I could rant for hours on end about this organization & their “non-profit” shenanigans… Some groups might call themselves a rescue, but it’s because the dogs need to be rescued from those organizations!)

    When it came time to look for another dog to add to our family, needless to say we were slightly gun-shy but a lot more savvy when inquiring into rescues. I can’t recall exactly how I ended up at the TDL website, but do remember being immediately impressed with the professionalism and depth of information & involvement in each animal. Aside from the knowledge that our dog definitely had all her basic medical issues addressed – more importantly she had been in the care of several wonderful people along the way, so any behavioral red flags would be noted & shared. We also loved the fact that your group followed up on how the dogs were doing long after their adoptions!

    And if Laika’s fee was more than the actual cost of her care, so what – peace of mind is priceless and anything additional was obviously going to the care of other TDL dogs still waiting for homes. With 600 dogs adopted in 3 years, I’d say we are not the only pet parents who felt the same way!

    While I appreciate that the economy is tight and everyone is looking for ways to save, it always baffles me that it’s assumed that rescue/shelter equals cheap pet. The true financial commitment required for owning an animal – any animal, kids included! – is way more than that of an initial adoption fee! Our first dog, a sheltie mix from the Brevard Animal Control, cost all of $35… but after two bouts of cancer, we figure that we spent over $12,000 by the time she passed away at age fifteen. (We lovingly refer to her as the world’s most expensive mutt – and she was worth every cent!) Sure this might be an extreme example, but even basic yearly vaccinations, preventive meds and food can add up.

    It sounds to me like the protests are either from prospective adopters who might not be ready to fully commit to the responsibilities related to pet ownership… or more than likely – other rescue groups that are unable to raise funds like TDL, because they lack the same level of professionalism and/or confidence from their own prospective adopters.

    Either way, their opinions shouldn’t take one iota of pride & accomplishment away from every single person affiliated with TDL – and I’m confident 600 furry families would agree!
    ( :

    P.S. ALL dogs are beautiful, this isn’t a Toddlers and Tiaras competition!

  3. Thank you for the wonderful work you do. I found TDL last year when our last dog passed away and we were looking for another. We ended up adopting from our local shelter but I’ve been following TDL ever since.

    I’ve been so impresed with your organization, how it’s run, the dogs you rescue and the great information you provide on your dogs. I also was drawn to your love of the collies/herding breeds. We had an amazing Border Collie/Aussie mix for 16 years. We found him crossing a highway and when we couldn’t find anyone claiming him, he became ours. Just an amazing dog who touched our lives in so many ways. He looked so much like your Ozzie. 🙂

    Keep doing what you are doing so very well. You are truly a blessing to these dogs. It is obvious you are doing what you were put on earth to do and following your passion. I can’t wait for the day that we can adopt our very own TDL dog.

  4. I was born an animal lover and advocate, it is truly the reason I was put on this earth. As a little girl I would find stray animals, bring them home and find them a home. I remember how heartbroken I was…back then…..the first time I realized not everyone was like me. As I get older, I realize just how few people are like me.

    It is difficult to explain to someone who does not share your passion

    Most will admit it is painful for them to witness a case of animal cruelty..however most people are able to see a dog in need, resolve to themselves they are not able to help the dog, and go about their lives as if they never saw the dog in the first place.

    Well lovely lady… are incapable of doing that. The image of that dog will slowly eat away at your soul. You look harder and take action when others turn their heads. You don’t live in a bubble where everything is okay, you know it’s not and do everything in your power to change that.

    You are a voice for those who cannot speak….and you are a voice to be reckoned with. The animals need you and in most cases, you’re their only hope.

    When you think you can’t do it anymore, just look at the dogs, those precious souls, living a life they never knew was possible. Before you, they never encountered kindness on any level….and look at them today…..don’t see any anger, no self pity, no resentment…..ONLY the desire to be loved. This is truly the most incredible thing I have ever witnessed and I’m sure you would say the same.

    Please don’t allow the pain associated with rescue even come close to the joy I’m sure it has brought into your and your childrens lives. Look at it as the heartbreak it can cause daily is healed by the love of those you have saved. Remember they make you smile, laugh and feel ever so comforted by the unconditional love they give.

    They make you feel alive.

    And with each you save, let your faith be strengthened, your heart made whole and your soul awakened!!! These are the things to focus on, NOT the negative people and their comments.

    I have met a select few beautiful, wonderful, loving people through rescue and feel very blessed to have you folks in my life. “You all” are appreciated every day more than you know!!

    And you said it…because what most people don’t understand is this:

    I am not rescuing them, they are rescuing me.

  5. I’m the transporter that Picked up Bart. This wouldn’t be the first or last time a dog has had intestinal issues on transport but when symptoms started coming together (specifically, in a crate in the back of my car associated with a retching sound) I called G. Both of us were worried and knew he had to go straight to a vet. I can tell you, we were expecting a healthy collie pup and what transpired in my car threw all those plans in the air. Bart being sick shocked us all, but thank GOD his is ok.

    Additionally, on the whole fee thing, they may seem high, but it is worth it. The dogs get vetted and spayed/neutered, they are keep in fosters not kennels where they can begin settling in to real home life. I recently adopted a dog from a shelter, only 100 for her adoption fee, but as others have said “bargin” dogs aren’t always a “bargin.” I love my girl, but in the first week home she racked up a $300 vet bill (ouch!). TDL dogs rock and it comes with a network of people who are willing to help you or help you find someone who can. Heck, my girl isn’t even a TDL dog but I’ve already gotten so much help just by being a volunteer with TDL.

    If you hadn’t had a chance yet you must attend one of our reunions. Meet our adopters (or other adopters like you!) and check out all those happy waggin tails. Their adoption fees made it possible for the next dog to be pulled from the shelter, or in cases like Bart, when stuff hits the fan, it can help provide a cushion, but it is a small cushion. (Parvo treatment is EXPENSIVE).

    When all is said in done, people talk a lot, both good and bad. I’ve been giving pups rides for TDL for almost 2 years now, and have seen all sorts of situations from surprise pregnancies to parvo. I know I can’t speak for everyone and trust me I’m not trying to, but I have always been proud of the way things have been handled. Were there bumps? Heck yeah, rescue is pretty much a massive bumpy road with small smooth patches. But ya know, TDL is 3 years strong with 600+ happy tails (tales). I think it speaks for itself.

  6. I too, follow your site, and dream of the day I am retired and I can take a trip to Florida and adopt a TDL dog of my very own!

    Your work is awesome, there is no more to be said, your compassion shines through in every story, and every post you write.

    A little comparison on fees- I adopted my current, stunningly beautiful Border collie mix in Delano California at the Delano Police Department animal shelter. My Husband and I drove 5 hours from our home in Northern California at 4 in the morning to be there when they opened, because I knew he was the one, and my husband loves me enough to do things like this!

    There are two people; Glenda and David, who do volunteer work at this shelter 7 days a week, before they started it had a 100% kill rate. They are saints. They work tirelessly to get dogs that end up there homes.

    The shelter has a $10 adoption fee. They were so grateful to us for coming for Chappy that they waived it.

    Chappy looked perfectly healthy and was as sweet and friendly at that first meeting as any dog you would ever find. He was an unneutered 7 to 9 month old puppy. By the time we finished with the routine neutering, and shots, and then worked the entire summer with the vet to cure a chronic gastrointestinal issue, and then payed for the behaviorist, to deal with his fear based aggression, and the doggie day care, to have a safe place for him while he worked through his separation anxiety when we were at work, we had spent $1,500 in the first three months.

    Would I do it over if I knew before hand what was going to happen? Absolutely!

    SO Dear Giselle- keep up the excellent work, block out the haters, and let people know what a bargain it is to have you take those wonderful, beautiful animals out of the shelter and deal with all of this and more for a very reasonable price!

  7. I think you should consider doubling your fees.
    Then,You have a red velvet rope policy to only work with people who are very nice and need what you offer and would gladly pay your fee.
    I got this from Michael Port.He’s “the guy to call when you are tired of thinking small” top business go to guy fro the small to medium service business or non-profit.
    I want to get a herding breed someday,and I love to help rescue dogs and cats.So I come to your site on occasssion and want to connect…and can’t really.I think Michael Port can get you turned around and humming.He has promoted the idea that you always want to have something to invite people to.say a once a month teleseminar,or weekly sharing he does with anyone who wants to dial in…
    Well,I’ll leave you with another person’s wise counsel to people.He was Job M. Evans,and wrote the book,Counseling Dog Owners.”Zingers” are one liners you learn and say at those times when you really need an hour to sit someone down and talk,but you don’t have the time! So,here for example is what i said to a Doctor’s wife whose daughter had a golden retriever in my 4-H dog club.She said(at a busy event)in passing,I think we are going to breed Goldie,What do you think? I said,after an explosion went off in my emotions,” I think i will try to talk you out of it!,and you can get her spayed anytime in the class period and I will work with her to get caught up on the lessons.” Nothing else was heard from her until she was spayed! Wow,these Zingers work! It made her stop and think,which is the purpose..
    Bye now,I’ve fostered and done rescue enough to know how hard it is,and I’m always looking for ways to do things,faster,smarter,and cheaper.To fail faster next time,and to fail better as another business guru shared.
    Lisa Keller

  8. Gisele,
    I would like to add a different view to keep in mind when the haters get you down – you help more dogs and people than you know. My dog Lassie/Cassie came via a Sheltie rescue you were assisting. Thanks to your cross-post a few years ago, we were united, and she’s an awesome dog. However, your rescue is so much better run, financed, organized, and prepared, that there is no comparison. So, by helping out another rescue, you helped other dogs, and also reinforced why adoption fees are appropriate, and necessary. So, when you get one of those downer emails, remember that you have helped even more than 600 dogs in the past few years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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