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.

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound
Jaffe's original surrender photo

Three years ago, I received a call from a shelter in North Florida who wanted my help.  There was a ten year old Border Collie there, named Jaffe.  Jaffe’s owner had recently passed away, and the family was trying to find a home for Jaffe.  They called the pound, and everyone agreed that Jaffe would be much better off safe in rescue.  I agreed to take Jaffee, especially after I saw how gorgeous he was, and that he was certified Canine Good Citizenship.  Wow!

I wasn’t worried at all about re-homing Jaffee.  Zondra drove to pick him up, and then brought him to me to be neutered by my vet.  During all of this, Gary Jones was expressing an interest in the dog, and emailing me about him.  To make a long story short, Gary adopted Jaffee.  When I sent a photo of the two of them to Jaffee’s original family, they gasped at the resemblance between Gary Jones and their deceased brother.  They were ecstatic about Jaffee’s adoption.

Jaffe and Gary come for a visit

Today Jaffee is 13 and Gary still tells me about how perfect Jaffee is.  “I’ve never had a dog like him in all of my years, he’s perfect.”  So, while Jaffe lost his owner, he really didn’t.

This has happened to me more times than you can imagine.  I know immediately when an adopter walks through the gate of my yard if the dog is going to take to them or not.  The dogs’ reactions tell me where they have been.  China, for example, was terrified of adult women so that told me not only where she has been, but what she experienced.

It is true that male dogs are much more loyal than female dogs.  I would’ve never admitted that years ago, because I’ve always had females, and always felt they made better pets – not true.  Male dogs are loyal to a fault.

We write about how most of our dogs have no history, but after they have been in our foster care, we gather a lot of history!  I can tell if a dog has been alone on the streets for a while, if the dog was abused, or if the dog was recently owned by a wonderful family.  In many cases, that wonderful family will find a country road to drive on, pull over, and drop off their wonderful pet.  Sometimes they drive to a fancy neighborhood and abandon their dog hoping a well off family will take the dog in.  These dogs are caught by either a good Samaritan or animal control and brought to the pound.  Some owners personally deliver their dogs to the pound, and some drop them off under the cover of night and leave them in a drop box (like Bart).

Isn’t is amazing that even though dogs can’t talk or write memos, we can tell their past.

Even though we (rescue) can’t stand to see a dog abandoned, sometimes there are no options.  Financial hardship, sickness in the family, allergies or a unexpected move forces people to surrender their dogs.   There have been times that the original owners have contacted me, explaining that they surrendered one of my available dogs.  They are appreciative and relieved that their dog is safe in rescue, and they are elated that they will be able to follow the dog’s story, see it be adopted, and know that their dog is safe in a loving home.  This was the case with To The Max and Mowgli.  Both of their original owners followed their story until they were adopted!  That’s what I call closure!

I have fostered about a dozen dogs that were so highly intelligent, so emotionally aware that they were convinced their owners were coming back for them.  Those are the dogs that sat at my fence, staring at the road, looking left then looking right.  Eyeing every car that drives by to see if they recognize it.  Those are the dogs that look at strangers in a different way, or they don’t look at all.  Instead of witnessing a happy dog running up to a stranger and greeting them, they take one look at that person, walk passed them, and prefer to stare at the road rather than introduce themselves.

“That’s not my person.”

Jake: Depressed, waiting for his person

When “that’s not my person” happens, I fall apart.  I have so much empathy for that dog and I know that no matter what I do, I can’t bring their family or their human back.  This was the case with Jake.  Jake broke my heart, I adore Jake, and we all know he is living the good life with his new humans!  But when he was first adopted he rebelled and was returned to me the next day.

Dogs to pick their owners.

Now, about Chaz.  We all know that Chaz was found as a stray in Jacksonville.  Like most strays, he had no collar, no tags, un-neutered and not microchipped.  His face was posted on the craig’s list “found” section for a while, until weeks passed and he needed a rescue.  TDL was highly recommended, and Chaz came to me.  Chaz immediately went to the vet, had all of his shots, was neutered and was microchipped.  Chaz always had awesome manners.  He would not jump on people, he was not the type of dog to give you kisses, he was just a very polite dog.  I warned people before they came to meet Chaz that he would basically ignore them… and he did.

Door number one, Door number two or Door number three?

Chaz had one meet where the potential adopters felt that they wanted a larger dog.  Regardless, during the meet, I noticed that Chaz was interested in the woman, but not really interested in the man.  Next!

Chaz was later adopted by a lovely young lady, and for one brief moment, I saw a real spark in his eyes, he liked her.  She took him home and he terrorized her cats… he was returned.  Next!

Chaz then met a lovely couple, who owned an adult Golden Retriever who was un-neutered.  We sat and talked for quite a while, trying to let the two dogs get to know each other…. and Chaz bit their Golden Retriever.  It was not a good day for Chaz.  I wondered if he making sure he was not going home with them that day!

Chaz: Always looking out and waiting

Chaz was estimated to be about 3-4 years of age, even though I thought he was older.  I crate-trained him quickly, and we worked on indoor barking.  He learned very fast.  He was happy at my house, loved the kids and the other dogs, but I can’t say he was joyful.  He was like many other male dogs that I have taken in, that really do not understand where his home is.

From the time Chaz was found on the streets of Jacksonville, until this morning, almost 4 months have passed.  Last week I received an email from a young lady named Rosie who simply stated, “that’s my dog, and his name is Shane.”  I stared at the email for a while, before responding!  We spoke over the phone, and she confirmed for me that Chaz was clearly her dog.  I didn’t know if I should be happy or furious.  I did know that we had a hard time communicating.  She has a heavy Spanish accent, and I talk too fast!

Of course I can apologize now for my tone, but I have to admit that at the time, I was rude.  I bombarded her with questions like, when was he missing, how did he get out, why didn’t you look for him, how did you look for him, why wasn’t he wearing a collar, why wasn’t he neutered, why wasn’t he wearing a tag?  She answered all of my questions with honesty and nervousness.  Poor kid, all she wanted was her dog back.

As a side note, I’d like to interject that just a few days ago, I helped one of our fosters and got two quotes from vets to stitch up a dog who was accidentally cut on the face.  One quote was for $1,500 the other quote was $187.  What?  You heard me!  Spay/neuter is not always affordable in all areas.  You can pay $50 – $60 at one vet, and more than $500 at another.

He wasn’t wearing a collar because he has allergies and scratches (she’s right).  He wasn’t neutered because they can’t afford it (she’s right).  He got out because of a hole in the fence (my Ozzie escapes at least once a month).  I asked her if the hole in the fence had been fixed… she explained that they have since moved and have a perfect fence now!  She explained that they have had Chaz since he was a pup, and their family misses him very much.  She never saw the Craig’s list post….. kids aren’t supposed to be cruising Craig’s list, and her parents certainly wouldn’t be if it was in English and not in Spanish.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

I asked Rosie if I could speak to her Dad.  That afternoon, her Dad called me, and we had a great conversation.  He asked me to speak slowly, as his English wasn’t that good.  He described Chaz as HIS dog.  “He sleeps with me and wife every night.”  Rosie’s Dad reminded me a lot of my Dad, very loving.

This situation was not about doing the right thing, clearly, Chaz is their dog.  This situation was about doing what’s right for the dog.  Sarah White has met Chaz several times, and agreed that while he was content here at my house, he did not express joy.  Sarah and I realized that Chaz was much like a foreign exchange student… not understanding a word I say!

Before making any arrangements, I discussed with Rosie’s family the importance of Spay/Neuter, monthly Heartworm preventative, Collars and tags, and of course, the micro-chip.  Their loss for Chaz was great, and their level of commitment was genuine.  I worked on getting Chaz transported back home to Jacksonville, but everything failed.  I wondered if this was a sign!

My job is not just to find new homes for homeless dogs.  My job is not just to find great homes for homeless dogs.  My job is to find the right home for homeless dogs.

Chaz, now Shane again

Sarah White just so happened to have a planned trip to South Carolina this morning, and volunteered to bring Chaz home.  She arrived at my house before dawn this morning, and Chaz was delivered to Rosie’s father around 7:00 AM.  Sarah described the reunion in detail.   Once she was back on the road again, she posted this on Facebook:  “8am – Georgia: finished the most awesome transport this morning. Every one sobbing, tails wagging, hugs and kisses everywhere. I’m still crying. God is good!!”

What she saw when she pulled into the driveway of Chaz’ home was his Dad waiting for him, his hands covering his face in disbelief, and tearing up in relief that his dog was home.  Chaz, who is really named Shane went nuts!  Sarah said she had never seen Chaz so happy, dancing around in circles, and excited to see his owner.

The father then explained that they have another dog, a dog that Chaz raised from a pup.  The dog is a tripod, meaning a three-legged dog.  “He lost one of his front legs, and we adopted him.  Shane raised him from a pup.”  When the dogs were reunited, Sarah was confident that we had done the right thing.

You need not worry, Chaz is microchipped as a TDL dog, has all of his tags, and should he ever get lost again, I will know about it!  He can run but he can’t hide!

I tried to contact Rosie’s Dad before noon, but he didn’t answer.  He took Shane to the groomer’s as soon as they opened this morning!  I did contact Rosie’s Mom late last night, and I can’t tell you how happy they are to have their Shane back.

"Shane from now on, please!"

So while this is no script for another Homeward Bound movie, I hope it serves as a lesson for all of us, that we should not judge.  As rescuers, we are not God, nor are we judge or jury.  We are to put the needs of the dog first, and in this case, I had nothing to offer Chaz.  I could not make him happy.  Shane, however, made it very clear to us that he just wanted to go back home, and we complied!

Welcome Home Shane!

If anyone would like to volunteer to teach me a few Dog Commands in Spanish, I’m trainable!

One thought on “Homeward Bound

  1. Best transport ever. I really did cry for about a half hour after leaving. Shane was head over heels to be home and the little tri-pod in the backyard was bouncing and barking with joy. Best way ever to start vacation!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


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

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: