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Well, the dog isn't really being abused or mistreated. Yeah, it's certainly not how most people on this forum would choose to care for their dogs, but its not neglect. The owner of the dog probably thinks her care for him is just fine, and if she is as 'protective' of him as you say, she probably isn't going to be too open to you taking him. The only way to know is directly, but politely ask if you can buy him. If he is a toy aussie (which isn't a real breed, and is most likely bred purely for money as a "designer dog") she probably payed a good chunk of cash for the dog. She won't give him to you for free. If you ask her to just give the dog to you, you will most likely offend her and she probably won't let you play with the dog again.

If she won't let you buy him, just stop asking. Bottom line, its her dog. She can keep him as she pleases as long as he is getting food, water, and shelter, no matter how much we may disagree with it. You can ask, but be prepared to let it go.
 
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