A golden retriever shot twice and left for dead has made a remarkable recovery and is headed home for Christmas.

Orphan Annie, as members of the nonprofit Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota named the 2-year-old dog, will be released from the intensive care unit at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital at 11 a.m. today, said Joan Barnes, a volunteer with the organization.

Annie's release does not mean her medical issues are over. She still has pneumonia and may need a blood transfusion later. But for now the swelling in her legs has gone down, wounds from the two bullets that passed through her body are healing and she has a healthy appetite.

She also has lots of well-wishers pulling for her full recovery, including several people who have contributed money to pay her medical bills, which could exceed $15,000, Barnes said.

Annie's tale began Dec. 15, when a man driving near Glenwood in Pope County spotted the retriever lying in a snowbank at the end of a driveway. The dog had been shot. One bullet passed through her stomach. It fractured a rib and punctured her diaphragm before exiting her chest. A second bullet entered her neck and passed through her esophagus.

The good Samaritan brought Annie to a local animal shelter. The dog was transferred to the University of Minnesota, where she underwent a complicated operation that included removing 20 percent of her stomach because of damage and infection.

For days, Annie struggled to survive, but she's now off oxygen and tubes have been removed. She's wagging her tail and is eating hamburger for dinner.

When Annie is released, she will go to a foster home for several months as she recovers. After that, there is a growing list of people who want to adopt her, Barnes said.