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.

The Christmas Collie

The Christmas Collie
waiting to feel better

Last night, December 12th at 5:30 PM, I received a local call from a gentleman named Phil. There was a slight urgency in his voice and I prepared myself for the typical, “he’s such a sweet dog, and I’m moving.” Not this time. Phil told me that on Saturday, December 10th, he was renovating a rental property and he saw a collie in the middle of the road. “She was on Saxon Blvd., and that’s a very busy road. It took me some time to catch her, and I brought her into the back yard. We placed an ad on Craig’s List, hoping her owners would come forward, but they have not. I even searched Craig’s List for lost dog ads, and I didn’t see  a missing Collie,” Phil explained.

I wasn’t convinced that Phil had a purebred Collie, as those are very rare in Florida, even more rare in Deltona. I asked Phil to describe her for me, and his answer was simply, “Lassie.” Phil then described her medical condition. “I think she has the mange, I think she’s deaf, she has sores all over her body, ear mites, and she’s emaciated.”

I still could not believe that a stray Collie, was found in my town, less than one mile away from my home. The first thing I thought of was to alert Val-U-Vet and get an appointment to see Dr. Oliver, it was only 5:30 and they close at 6:00. I shared with them what I knew, and made an appointment.

I called Phil and he asked me several times if I’d like to see her, and even though I had not made dinner for my family yet, and I was exhausted, I called Megan and asked her to go with me. I left abruptly, telling my daughter Sarah that I’d be right back. “What is it?” She asked. “It’s a collie,” I replied. “What’s wrong with the dog, Mom?” She yelled from the front window. “That’s what I’m going to find out.”

Eating for Megan

The fear that this dog could be heartworm positive was more than I could bear. How do you treat a Collie with ivermectin? You don’t. Most vets believe that heartworm disease is a death sentence for a collie.

I brought a can of prescription dog food with me, and the moment I saw her, I was in shock. Her ears were swollen, her hips were so thin her bones literally protruded. Phil was right, she was totally deaf, and we believed that she only saw shadows. Megan started to feed her from her hand, and her appetite was unbelievable.

Phil described the dog’s condition on that Saturday.  “I checked to make sure she was alive, she wouldn’t move, and I made sure she was still breathing.  I had a bacon and egg sandwich, and I gave it to her, she took it so gently.  I’ve been feeding her twice a day, and her recovery is remarkable, so while you think she’s in bad shape, you should have seen her last Saturday.”

Skin infection due to fleas

As Megan and I talked with Phil, we tried to unravel the mystery of this Collie. We agreed that it is impossible for a deaf and visually impaired dog, of this size to be a stray for very long in Deltona. There are police cars on every corner, code enforcement vehicles driving by and the traffic alone would not allow a dog to survive on the streets for any length of time. Stray dogs in Deltona do not have wooded areas to hunker down. It’s not like rural Georgia or Alabama.  Deltona is a bedroom community, and stray dogs are either picked up by Animal Control, taken in by citizens, or hit by a car.

This Collie has not been a stray for long. It wouldn’t surprise me if she lived in the area in which she was found, close to Phil’s rental property.  Therefore, there are only a few possible scenarios:

A good Samaritan opened a gate, or untied a chain, and gave her freedom from starvation, she was left behind in a foreclosed and abandoned property, a maintenance worker for the real estate company released her from the property, or her owners were simply done with her, possibly all of the above.

Regardless, whoever did this should be prosecuted.  If you are reading this, and you know who owned this dog, please contact Val-U-Vet Deltona, you can remain anonymous.

I asked Phil to bring the Collie to Val-U-Vet Tuesday morning at 10:00 AM.  When I returned home, my children waited for details.  I shared with them the photos from my cell phone, and they started asking questions.  I told Sarah that I didn’t know if this Collie would make it.  I told Sarah that it was up to Dr. Oliver to tell me what’s wrong with her, and if she can survive.  I told Sarah that this dog is not adoptable because she is old, and very sick.

Sarah went to her bedroom and brought me one of our favorite books, The Christmas Collie.  The story about a young boy who receives a Collie for Christmas, who later gets his young son a Collie for Christmas.

“But Mom, if she’s not adopted, and she dies, she can’t go to the rainbow bridge,” Sarah said to me.  “We have to keep her.”

I didn’t sleep much last night, waking up every hour wondering if I was going to have to euthanize the Collie, wondering what I was going to tell my daughter.

Phil and I arrived at the vet at the same time.  The Collie was greeted by the staff, and they were outraged by her condition.  What’s really sad is that this Collie is not my worse case.  Jackson Browne, Collie Gisele, Shy Shannon, Maureen’s Hope, Goldie Hawn, Frances, and of course, Stella are some of my worst cases.  I called Maureen,  told her about my situation, and promised to call her after I had some definitive answers.

Waiting with rescuer, Phil

This was not my first rodeo, and I kept telling myself I can get through this.

I was introduced to Sean, a new Vet Tech, and thought to myself, this guy is brand new, and he is going to have me as one of his first clients, and one of the hardest cases?  This isn’t the way to start your new job!

I immediately asked for the dog to be scanned for a micro chip.  I was so hoping we would find one, so I could locate the Collie’s original owners.  Sorry, but I was hoping for a little bit of vengeance.  No chip was found.  Sean and I began to  review the different procedures that would be necessary for a treatment plan, but I wanted a heartworm test first.  Forget everything else, let’s get her tested first.

As we waited for the heartworm test results, Sean examined the Collie’s teeth, and much to my surprise, they weren’t as bad as I expected.  Her skin condition was probably the worse I have ever seen, she smelled of infection, a chunk of her ear is gone, and very swollen.  There were crate sores on her back paws, and severe hair loss and swelling around her neck.  Sean weighed the collie; 36 pounds.  Phil said his cat weighs 30 pounds!

“I didn’t want to call Animal Control,”  Phil repeated.  “I knew she would’ve had a chance then, they would have no choice but to put her down.”

Sean checks her out

The results were in… she is heartworm negative.  I covered my eyes and fought off my tears.  I couldn’t believe it.

Dr. Oliver walked in, and like I have seen  many times before, he leaned on the counter top, crossed his arms, and looked at the Collie, just like Dr. Susan Wayne did when she met Jackson Browne over two years ago.  “You did say you were ready for a challenge, right?”  I asked him in jest.

Dr. Oliver examined the Collie from head to toe, estimated her age to be nine years.  He provided me with a treatment plan, which includes fluids, antibiotics, Vitamin B, Medicinal Baths, fecal check, ear treatment, and full blood work.

So now we wait.  The Collie is in good hands.  She has a great chance of recovering and living a normal life, but who would adopt a nine-year old deaf Collie?  I think about all of the deaf dogs, and senior dogs that we have successfully re-homed, and I believe that if I give this Collie a chance, someone will also give her a chance.  In the meantime, once again, Maureen has offered to sponsor her treatment, and foster her.

Lady Saxon

I don’t know what we will name her, but for now, we’re calling her Lady Saxon.  It’s hard to be patient waiting for the results of the blood work, but I know that she is safe, and every day will be a better day for this Collie, thanks to people like Phil, Maureen, and the people at Val-U-Vet.

If Phil found me on Google, her owners could have found me just as easily. She was found only two miles away from my home, and all of her suffering was unnecessary.





It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of our Christmas Collie. While she was making some progress, months without food and water left her in a very weakened state. She knew she was loved by all of us, especially me! I ask that you visualize her playing at the rainbow bridge with our dogs that have passed on, the dogs that we loved and miss so very much. She is home for Christmas, with our Creator. ~gisele

4 thoughts on “The Christmas Collie

  1. What a tear jerker. Who would allow a dog to end up in this condition…especially an older dog like this one. I’m glad Phil reached out to you, Gisele. He knew Lady Saxon needed an angel.

  2. Oh how could they…don’t they see her soul through her eyes? They didn’t deserve a sweetheart like her. My heart is breaking just thinking of what she has been through. Now she is safe. If I had found her, I would have kept her. I believe collies are the greatest dogs, the most gentle. I miss my sweet collie girl who has crossed over the rainbow bridge. Good luck Lady Saxon!

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