The Story of Cori: A Special Border Collie

Nov 11, 2020

Migratory Bird Management would like to introduce you to a very special pup, Cole River. Cole River is a 2 year old special needs border collie that is being fostered by one of our biologists and dog trainers, Vanessa. While he has a truly sad past, this pup is a huge ray of sunshine that has a bright future!

Cole River, or Cori as he is affectionately known in his foster home, was found in mid-August next to a river in Tennessee. This place is a common dumping ground for dogs that are no longer wanted by their owners. He was just skin and bones, weighing 30% less than he should, and had been eating stones to try to calm his hunger pangs. He had a massive flea infestation and his skin was a mess of scabs from their attacks. He had intestinal parasites and lungworm. And worst of all, he seemed to have some neurological issue that caused him to stumble, have a wonky gait, a roached back, a constant head tilt, and back legs that didn’t seem to stand properly. It certainly didn’t look good for the poor pup.

Story of a Special Border Collie!
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Cori’s pelvic X-ray at the shelter showed no injury to explain his wobbly back end, but did show stones in his intestines that he had eaten to relieve his hunger.

The rural shelter he was brought to didn’t have many resources for a dog like Cori, so they reached out to Albert’s Dog Lounge, a Wisconsin based rescue that specializes in senior and special needs dogs. Vanessa had been fostering and volunteering for Albert’s for about a year when they put out the plea to find a place for Cori. Because of her work here at MBM, Vanessa has a huge soft spot and love for border collies and couldn’t say no to his adorable face, so on August 24th, Cole River hitched a flight from Tennessee to Wisconsin and became Vanessa’s 21st foster pup!

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Cori’s shelter photo. Those eyes had immediately stolen her heart and she knew she had to help him!

Expecting a scared and sick little stray with no training or manners, Vanessa was surprised to meet a friendly, loving, snuggly pup with a zest for life and a wonderful temperament. Cori was well behaved in the home, housebroken, and besides stealing the occasional sock to add to his toy hoard, didn’t touch anything that wasn’t his. He didn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body and immediately became smitten with Vanessa’s work K9, Bree! Along with that though came one concerning behavior. This friendly little snuggler turned into a terrified cowering mess whenever anyone approached him with something in their hands. Suspicious that he had been mistreated, Vanessa spent a lot of time teaching him that things in her hands meant tasty treats for him and that he would never be hurt again!

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Vanessa and Cori’s first selfie when arrived at her home! His huge smile shows how happy he was. On the road to a better life!

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His first nap on a comfy couch, sleeping the sleep of the dog that knows he’s finally safe.

Albert’s Dog Lounge set up an appointment for Cori to see a neurologist. Because of Covid, the soonest they could get him in was late October. 8 weeks was a long time to wait, but Vanessa focused on just getting Cori healthy. His fleas were treated and he got baths and supplements for his skin and joints. He was put on a good diet that was designed for a healthy weight gain to not overwhelm his poor starved system. As he got stronger, he blossomed into the quintessential border collie personality! He loved his toys and tried to herd anything that moved! He loved his people and brought joy to everyone he met and a lot of social media fans. Because he was on physical rest until they could figure out what was causing his issues, Vanessa focused all of her experience working with this breed into providing mental enrichment for Cori. He got puzzle toys and training time, barn hunt classes and nosework. They went on long, slow sniffing walks and spent time snuggling outside just watching the world go by.

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Cori’s first walk with his whole foster family! They keep the pace slow for him, even though he would love to run!

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Cori loves to chew on his toys. It keeps his young mind and mouth busy!

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Cori is the king of selfies and his smile is infectious!

The day finally came for Cori’s vet appointment. He was in much better shape for his appointment. He was at a healthy weight, his skin had dramatically improved, and his worms were cured. He saw three different specialists who did careful exams and had X-rays of his spine. What they discovered left everyone feeling horrified. Sometime between 6 and 8 months ago, Cori had been the victim of some serious abuse. He had been struck in the back of the neck hard enough that two vertebrae were broken. This trauma likely included his spinal cord, leading to his wobbly gait and wonky body. Based on the size and location of the injury, the vet concluded that this was most likely an intentional action, not the result of something accidentally falling on him. The injury had time to heal, and the vet saw no signs of any treatment or care given. In addition to that, Cori’s eardrums were deformed, leading to untreated ear infections that likely contributed to his condition.

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A nap on a comfy blanket is just what the doctor ordered! It was a VERY long day.

The good news is that Cori isn’t in any pain and the vets were very optimistic that physical therapy, some antibiotics for his ears, and some careful resting healing time would improve his condition and give him a more normal life. He will likely have some permanent impairments, and they can’t rule out the possibility that he may need surgery later on to repair some of the damage, but this ray of sunshine’s future looks brighter than ever! It is incredibly unbelievable to us that anyone would want to hurt this wonderful dog, but Cori has taught us the real meaning of love, trust, and forgiveness. Even though he was so poorly treated, his heart had such an amazing capacity of love and his joy in life is just as contagious as Covid!

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Cori’s heart has an unlimited capacity for love. He is happiest when in someone’s lap, especially if he also has a toy!

While Cole River will never be a goose dog (it’s a shame, because he would have made a great one!), we at MBM believe in second chances and that Cori deserves to have the best possible life! He brings his sunny personality wherever he goes and spreads so much joy, especially during these stressful and scary times! Migratory Bird Management will be sponsoring Cole River’s adoption fee ($250) and donating an additional $750 to Albert’s Dog lounge towards his medical care so that he can have the opportunity to live the best possible life from here on out! Vanessa will continue to foster Cori and begin his physical therapy until he finds his perfect family! If Cori’s story has touched your heart like it has ours, please consider sharing it and joining us in donating towards his care. Donations to Albert’s Dog Lounge can be made here or on their Facebook page. Adoption inquires for Cole River or any of Albert’s other senior or special needs pups can be made by emailing

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Cori’s life has changed from one of neglect and abuse to one of laughter and love! Help us celebrate that and the sunshine that this dog brings to the world!

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