3.29.2011

It's Your Turn

I was recently asked to guest blog for Dogster.com. I hope this story touches your heart and inspires you to do more. For me, this is what it's all about. Click here to see my feature on Dogster.com's blog, or read my guest blog post below. I beg you to share this story with others, so that it may touch someone and move them to action.

It’s Your Turn: My Dogster Guest Blog
I see a dog, and my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces... that fall at my feet as teardrops.

The dog is skin and bones, and his spirit is completely shattered. The dog has been beaten, tortured, and starved. The dog has been subjected to the bone-chilling cold, the scorching heat. The dog knows all too well the feeling of hunger, pain, and suffering.

This dog has lived his entire existence on a 3-foot chain. Never touched by a caring hand. Never hearing the words, “Good boy.” Never free to run or play. Never able to escape the abuse…

This dog has been beaten every single day... for as long as he can remember. This dog has lived his entire life in a state of sheer terror… never knowing when the next blow would come. Never knowing what he'd do to trigger the next beating…

This dog watched… as his family packed up all of their belongings... and moved away… without him. This dog waited… for weeks on a chain… for them to return for him. They would never return for him. This dog waited… with hopes, dreams, and love… he waited…

This dog ends up at the pound… where he's immediately placed on death row. He's again restricted from running and playing... this time by a cage. He's again terrified for his life… as he should be… he doesn’t have much time…

This dog waits... as day after day, no one stops at his cage. He sees the children run for the cages with the cute little puppies, and then watches the pups leave with their new families.

He sees a family pass him by... to visit the dog in the next cage over. At first, he thinks they're stopping for him, and he goes to greet them, tail wagging. As they play with the neighboring dog, he sits… watching… waiting… longing for his turn. And then... he watches, as the other dog joyfully prances past him, on her way to a new home.

For days, this boy gets up to greet every family that comes past his cage. He waits eagerly by the gate for his turn to show that he’s special. But no one ever stops for him…
Eventually, he stops getting up.

Day after day, this dog waits. He sees the others, one-by-one, heading out the door… but it’s never his turn.  He watches each person pass him by, but he doesn’t understand…

He doesn’t know that his emaciated frame makes others look away. He doesn’t know that his eyes don’t shine due to the years of torture. He doesn’t know that his coat is dull from improper care, or that he smells because he’s never had a bath...

He doesn’t know that he's of a breed that doesn’t stand a chance. And of a color that's all too common. He just knows that he wants to go home, and he's beginning to understand that it will never happen for him.

And so… he waits. With shattered hopes, dreams, and love… he waits… to die.

On the day his time runs out, I arrive for him. As I approach his cage, he doesn’t even lift his head. What’s the use? No one is here for me. No one wants me. Why doesn’t anyone want me? When I stop at his kennel, he barely looks up at me. He's certain that I couldn’t be there for him. No one has ever been there for him.

I look into his cage. I see a dog, and my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces... that fall at my feet as teardrops. I see a soul so wounded, so broken, that he's given up all hope.

On this day, I'm there for no other reason than to save his life. While I know that I'm there to take him... he doesn’t know that. He waits for me to keep walking on to the next dog... but I’m not going anywhere without him.

I open the gate, and say, “Come on, buddy. Let’s go home.” He has no idea what this means. He's unsure, afraid, and heartbroken. For days, he's waited for someone to come for him... and no one ever did. Now, he's waiting to die… he assumes that’s why I’m here.

So, I bend down. I gently touch his head. And I say, “It’s your turn, buddy. Let’s break outta this joint.” As I loop the leash around his head, his tail slowly begins to wag. He follows me... timidly... with uncertainty of where I'll lead him…

On death row, you walk one way to die, and the other way to live. He and I... headed down the path of the living...

And I watched the smile spread across his face... as we stepped out into the sunlight…

This dog… was my Rudy. The dog who would eventually steal my heart more than any other pup I've ever known. This dog, was the most special boy that ever lived. And he was sitting on death row... waiting to die.

Until that day, Rudy had only known abuse, sadness, and heartbreak. From that moment on, he never knew pain again. Rudy’s time with me was so full of happiness... that he never stopped smiling. Every day, he thanked me, with a love so powerful, it will stay with me forever.

On July 8, 2010, Rudy died of a sudden, unexpected heart attack. It was the worst day of my life.

But on that day... I stood over Rudy’s lifeless body, and I didn’t see a dog. I saw my son. I saw my child, my heart, my life. I saw a once-forgotten soul, who will be remembered forever. I saw the reason for everything I am, and everything I do. I saw a boy who didn’t die in the pound... but rather lived in my heart.

And so... on every trip to the pound, I look for him. Another Rudy is waiting to die. Another broken spirit has given up. Another lost soul will become yet another statistic.

Unless… we save them.

100 comments:

  1. Your stories truly touch my heart and one day I hope to do the very same thing!

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  2. What a wonderful yet all too common heartbreakiing story! I am in tears! So happy you were able to give him the warmth and love he deserved! Animal abusers are an evil breed I cannot understand how the governemtn does not see that if you can torture hurt starve and or kill and animal with such ruthless brutality than what is to stop you from doing the same to a human?! These poor lil souls I hope one day they all can be saved! :(

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  3. What a beautiful story. What a beautiful soul and person you are. Rudy is waiting again, but this time it's in a beautiful place, not the same as where he came from before you blessed him with happiness. He is inbetween Heaven and Earth waiting for you. You will reunited someday, but till then, God has you here on Earth to continue your beautiful deeds of being there for so many other Rudy's.

    God Bless you Amy.

    Much Love,
    Lorrie S.

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  4. Wow...what a touching story! It brought tears to my eyes. All animals deserve a chance. All animals deserve love. I have never understood how people can hurt them when all they want is to love us and to get a little bit back. So many animals are abused everyday and it hurts me to think that this happens. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of your life! It makes me know that people do care about all of gods creatures!

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  5. God bless you for your selfless heart!! You are truely an inspiration, speaking for the voiceless........

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  6. I am in tears as I read this story over and over. I too know the love a dog can give. It's the best feeling in the world. Thank you for showing Rudy what love feels like.

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  7. Susanne Mc KenzieMarch 29, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Ashley, I lift you up in prayer and praise that God gives you the strength to get up every day so you can do what you do best, save all these battered souls out there , we need more Ashley's in this world ,then there would be no need for shelters anymore. I love you Ashley
    God bless you and provide you will all your needs.
    sincerely your admirer

    Susanne from Texas

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  8. Once again, more teardrops puddling on my lap Ashley! And I've read your story a gazillion times and I cry every freaking time :)

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  9. These beautiful creatures are looking for angels and I hope there are more angels like you everywhere. This was very touching.

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  10. Thank you all so much for caring and doing what you can to help. There can never be too many of us.

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing Rudy's story. I read somewhere that you only get a few special animals in a lifetime. Rudy was obviously one of yours! I'm sure he and my Hunter are having a good time at The Rainbow Bridge. Hunter was my son, a mix between a Weimaraner and a German Shorthaired Pointer. He "appeared" in my yard one day when he was about a year old (give or take a couple of months). He passed in 1999, but I'll never "get over it", instead I've learned to live with it. He was one of my special ones....and there will be more! Hunter was my first special one. Can't see through the tears anymore....Thanks again for telling us about Rudy.

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  12. Beautiful story...Rudy was a beautiful dog, after being washed with your love and kindness...and you are a beautiful person, inside and out !! I'm glad you were there for Rudy, GOD Bless his soul ~ I know he is watching over you and seeing all of the good things you are doing for other dogs that were in his same situation. Keep up the great and inspiring work that you do !

    Amy from FLorida

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  13. Damn girl, I wish someone would put you in charge of running a high-kill animal shelter because I know you would turn it around and make it a no-kill shelter and save lives! You have so much compassion for the animals and you heart is as big as the moon and your soul stretches across the whole universe! I already call you Angel Ashley but I think I need to put the word "Mama" in front of "Angel Ashley" since you take care of so many of the wounded, broken, neglected, and abused dogs. All I can say is don't ever change and I hope you inspire many more people to adopt a lonely and scared dog from the shelter! You're the best mama! Love you! xoxoxoxoxo! Jamie

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  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH3ZrSHtyCw

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  15. Very same look in his eyes. He's been rescued by United Hope For Animals and Sasha Ableson, but I believe he doesn't have a home yet.

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  16. What a very sad begining to your story about Rudy but what a joyous and victorious ending....the picture is just so heartbreaking with him looking at life with all lost hope until YOU! Thank God for you and others out there who keep fighting the battle against animal abuse. I am so thrilled to know Rudy got the chance to know love and affection. Un conditional love......all animals want is to make us happy......we must be their voices. Thank you Ashley!!

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  17. OMG OMG OMG SO SWEET IM CRYING MY EYES OUT SO SWEET

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  18. I CAN'T BELIEVE THATS THE SAME DOG, WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD DO SUCH A HORRIABLE ACT OF CRUELTY TO THIS WONDERFUL ANIMAL. ANIMAL CRUELTY MUST BE A TREATED AS A FELONY WITH STIFF FINES FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE...AND I MEAN THE FIRST OFFENSE THEN THERE MIGHT NOT BE A 2ND AND A 3RD OFFENSE...HOW CAN US (THE PUBLIC) MAKE IT HAPPEN?? MY HAT IS OFF TO THE GAL IN THE PIC FOR DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB TAKING CARE OF HIM!!! KUDOS AMD MANY PRAYERS TO HER!!!!!

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing your heartwarming story. Every animal should know that kind of love and devotion.

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  20. http://www.unitedhope4animals.org/2011/03/urgent-appeal-for-lancelot/

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  21. totally in tears.. but it is such an inspiring story as well.. look at rudy's happy,loving and all confident picture in the end.. he looks ready to take on the world.
    i dont understand how people can be so heartless. too many stories of dogs left on chains.. is it too much to drop them off at a shelter or a rescue...! and why beat the dog.. he is a living being, not a frustration boxing bag.
    You are doing great work Ashley.. Keep it up!
    Hugs!
    Richa-Find me a Happy Pet

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  22. Wow powerful brought tears to my eyes.. Very touching story.. Glad he got to know love..

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  23. How beautiful!! Thank you very much for sharing Rudy's story!!! I am so happy that he was finally able to feel that love and joy that any animal should be able to feel!!! Rudy was very special!!! I want to do as much as I can to help!!! No animal should ever be abused, starved, beaten, afraid!!! They just want to be loved and run and jump and play!! That truly unconditional love that only comes from your pet!! They are so precious!!!! And deserve to be treated as such!!! Thanks again for that wonderful, inspiring story about Rudy!!!

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  24. I cried when I read your story. Thank GOD for you. So sorry for your loss.

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  25. This brought on the ugly cry. Snot and tears galore. Bless you for saving him and all of the others. I'm extra emotional over this as I just adopted my first rescue 8 days ago. He's already stolen my heart. I wish more people could give these dogs a change at LIFE.
    HUGS
    Jen

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  26. this was VERY touching. my wife and i have done pit rescue for many years and i know this story too well. i think the best part of this story is that it might inspire some people to find some'rudys' of their own. thank you for that.

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  27. God bless you...

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  28. I LOVE this, Ash. I saw the first pic, and thought, "That looks sooo much like Rudster!" What a sweet baby he was!

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  29. In that photo with you two, look at the smile he has...

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  30. I was truely touched by your story!! I cant hardly see for the tears are blocking my vision. This is so true. He is in a beautiful place now called the Rainbow Bridge just playing, rolling in the grass, running care free and his tummy is so full its about to pop!! When you go he will be waiting to give you the kisses you so deserve for making the last part of his life so filled with happiness. you are truely god sent!!!

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  31. I love your blog! One of my dogs is a rescue and I think we rescued each other.

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  32. This is such a beautiful story, you had me in tears. I wish for the day that NO dog or cat has to go through this. Thank you so much. I hope others will see this story and think before they pass someone like this by. <3

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  33. I am sitting at my desk at work, reading your blog, sobbing silently, tears cascading down my face, my heart breaking with each word, then rejoicing, then breaking again. I don't know how much time you had with Rudy, but thank God you were brought into each other's lives. No animal should have to live life without someone in it who loves them unconditionally. What a moving story!

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  34. I cried as well. What a lucky boy! I just rescued a pit bull from a local shelter who had been there 1 year and a month. She is black with the same white markings as Rudy. Her name is Sasha.

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  35. thank you Ashley for all you do!!
    May God Bless you & all your efforts

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  36. I have tears pouring down right now. This is so sad. I have been told my several rescues that it is hard to adopt out black dogs. I don't understand it. My Tito is such a sweet dog and he was on death row one day long ago too. I wish I could bring them all home, but I cannot.

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  37. What a touching story! As I read, I cried. I'm still crying. These stories break my heart. Of course all I can think of is getting out there to save them all, which is impossible. Instead, I reach for my Honey and remind her what a good girl she is and that I love her with all my heart. I feel for your loss, I have had four of my "children" taken away from me in five years. An even mixture of death and the cruelty of a divorce. Rudy loved you with all of his little puppy heart, and your next baby will too. Good luck on your search for your next furry angel.

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  38. Another gorgeous post, thanks so much for inspring!

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  39. Ashley, sweet Ashley..thanks for sharing. I wish I had the means and home to do what you do. I have already been crying all day over Save Lennox and the tears are flowing again. Wish I could have met Rudy..he truly was special and all because of you he found love and happiness. You are so special Ashley. Keep on doing what your'e doing. Love and light your way.

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  40. God meant for you to find Rudy and let him experience love in the short time he had left on this earth. I truly believe that God puts people in our paths to help us through out hard times and he also puts people in the paths of some to give them happiness they have never known before he takes them home.

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  41. omg while reading this tears were starting to fall from my eyes it wanted to stop reading because the sadness was unbarable but i didnt cuz am a dog lover n i would hav done the same i get mad wenever i see the dog abuse comercials. wen ever i see a starving dog pass by me i tell my mom if i can keep it or atleast give it food it breaks my heart knowing dogs hav to live threw dis n to think we hav it bad dey hav it way worse..i wish i could hav seen rudy he is so cute but my heart broke wen ever i read dat he died..but atleast he died happy cuz he has loving home n yu

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  42. We need more 'Ashleys' out there. For most in rescue, it usually takes that 'one' dog to turn us from merely dog-lovers, to dog-saviors. Don't ever stop doing what you're doing. You are inspiring others to do the same.

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  43. Beautiful. Soul-affirming and of course I'm blubbing along with everyone else! Thank you for sharing Rudy's story and yours.

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  44. What a very touching story as I am typing with tears in my eyes. I have three rescue dogs myself and my oldest is my chocolate lab Buster who is my old man of 12 years and he is my baby boy. I have no idea what I would do without out him and I am thankful for him everyday. I wish I had the time and the money to help every dog that needs it but I try as much as I can. You are a very inspiring person and there should be more people like you out there, and I know I am trying. :) Live, Laugh, Love, Adopt!

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  45. I cried. Thank you for all you do

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  46. speechless...and full of tears. what is wrong with the human race?

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  47. my heart just aches and my tears are still falling. you were truely blessed to be a part of Rudy's life, I am so sorry he did not get to live out his days as and old man. having a rescued dog growing up and many more animals in my adult life all have been rescued, there isn't a day that goes by when one of them does something that lightens my heart and make the day worth while!

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  48. Got me crying again. I just don't understand how people can be so horribly cruel to God's creatures. Dogs are the most loving creatures on this earth.

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  49. Tears, tears for Rudy and all the others who suffer such atrocities at the human hand. Tears of joy that Rudy got to experience love and life if even for a short time. Tear of shame for belonging to a race that could do that to another being. Tears of pain because I can't take all the Rudy's into my home and my life. Tears of hope that other Rudy's may soon be helped.

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  50. Tears run down my face, tears of pain for this dear dog and of happiness for wonderful angels like you that gave him a chance to be loved.
    I only wish there were more angels like you...
    Please, let's keep working on spaying our pets!

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  51. One of the most heartfelt ...touching stories I have read....

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  52. I Couldn't Help But Cry Because This Story Really Touched Me I May Be Only 14 Years Old But I Love All Animals Equally And To Hear Something Like That, It Really Breaks My Heart But I'm Also Very Happy You Gave Him A Good Life For A Little While Anyway--Elaina

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  53. A sad, happy then sad ending! Thank you for caring so much for these helpless animals. We need more people like you in this world. I, too, am one of them!! :)

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  54. What a wonderful story. It brought tears to my eyes and thoughts of my Buddy who was the first and only to hold a special place in my heart. I grieved terribly when he passed. Since then I have saved and lived with many wonderful critters, all found a place in my heart but none made it to that special place that Buddy lives and will live forever. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  55. Ashley I had no idea that there was anyone in hhis world to feel the pain of my only son to also die of a heart attack....girl this tore me up, and thought my Zeus camevto me and my husband as a pup that we treated as our son and raised him as such...on this April 2 4 yrs ago we were moving to where I live now so I could bring him home again since I was living in an apt. That would not allow me to have him, the day I was signing lease here to bring him home as I promised him while he looked into my eyes as I was leaving, died of a sudden heart attack.....to this day I miss him so much....I have a boy who will be 4 I. August and I think my husband thought he'd make me stop crying on that oct 3 yrs ago, I live him but the tears will never stop....I also have a new 10 wk old girl.....they along with my rotti mix. Female, have my heart and soul...they own me.....thank you for this story.....crystal s Wallace, Natural Bridge, BA

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  56. Ashley, you need to write a book! I am in tears right now, but they are happy tears that Rudy finally got to know what it feels like to be loved.

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  57. thank you for sharing, for many of us it is hard to communicate in words the feelings these amazing creatures inspire in our souls. thank you for speaking of your heart, from your heart. may this story inspire and induce others to open their hearts, souls and homes to the millions of other creatures in need, who will in turn provide unconditional love

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  58. You are a beautiful person...tears are pouring down my face. THANK you for doing what I am not able to do at this time but someday I will, again. I have 2 pound pups in my life...they are the BEST.

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  59. I, too have tears gushing...THANK YOU so much for rescuing & LOVING sweet Rudy. I know the love you experienced with Rudy & I am forever blessed by it. Thank you for all the lovely work you do & I am proud to help & do whatever I can, too. God Bless You.

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  60. Your story really got to me. I love both cats and dogs, but generally I'm more of a cat person, and I foster them.
    This was a great story from a dog's perspective. You have a gift.

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  61. Bless you and everyone who rescues animals and makes them a part of their families. All of my dogs have been rescues but only one from the dog warden. My Georgie Girl is one of the best, sweetest, lovable and precious pups I have been blessed to share my life with. She is my pound puppy. She is my best friend! I thank God every day for her and all of my pups.

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  62. AS I HAVE SAID TO YOU BEFORE ASHLEY, YOU ARE A ANGEL ON EARTH AND I LOVE THE STORY OF "RUDY" KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK THAT YOU ARE DOING FOR ALL ANIMALS. I CAN'T FOSTER BECAUSE I WITH MY HUSBAND AND OUR 115 POUND ROTTWEILER LIVE IN A 22 FT CAMPER, BARELEY ENOUGH ROOM FOR ALL OF US, LOL. BUT I WANT TO BE A TRANSPORT, BUT NOT SURE HOW TO GO ABOUT IT

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  63. Ok i cant comment

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  64. LOVE RUDY. Ashley, you do so much more than I ever could for these helpless deserving amazing animals. I am excited to tell you that now I do so much more than I ever thought I would, because your words moved me to DO SOMETHING, instead of turn my head because I couldn't bear it. THANK YOU.

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  65. Wow ..It's people like you who make a huge difference.....God Bless You & all that you do..Sandy

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  66. You are such a beautiful person...and are able to write in words exact way I feel about these little souls. I feel that my empathy is almost paralyzing at times. I would mostly shy away from stories like this because I couldn't stand the thought of another horribly unhappy ending, so thank you for making Rudy's ending story happy.
    I want to make a difference too, but how do I start???

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  67. Reading your blog, it makes me smile because my Honey had the same story... I brought her home the day before she was to die. It has only been three weeks and she gives me so much love! It has already been a tough road trying to get her socialized with my other two dogs, but I know in time it will work out. My heart tells me so! Thanks for sharing!

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  68. This story inspires me to take action..your my hero:)
    Andrea Cohen

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  69. For all you animal rescuers out there, thank you.
    If you prefer homing cats (as I do) please think of getting black ones, as they are victim to stupid superstitions, or the ones that hiss and cower, they've also been abused like Rudy.

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  70. On Rudy's behalf: Thank you. He is watching over you, and every day, for the rest of your life, he will be sending you all the love that you gave to him.

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  71. That is so beautiful, you are an angel,we have 3 pit bulls and they are the most wonderful dogs, they are not vigious like so many people say,it is how you bring that dog up is what becomes of them, just like bringing up your own children. I was in tears of your story,I wish I could take all those lonely precious babies in the pound and give them a loveing caring home.We spoil our children to death (we call them children) our home has 4,2 girls and 2 boys.Thank you for your story, hopefully it will touch many to help adopt not only the small cute ones but the ones that you know have been hurting from abuse,,,,, God bless you,,

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  72. Ashley, thank you for being so loving and caring. I was raised in your hometown. Now, I am across the country and I am a dog trainer. However, I usually keep 1 or 2 rescue dogs here in rehab preparing them for their forever home. Everyone that has cried here CAN DO something. It may not be to adopt or to foster, but rescue can be helped in so many ways. Donations of cash, food, transport, dog care items, helping with vet bills, the list is continuous. There is no one that cannot do something. If anyone is touched with your story, they can help. The more resources there are for these forgotten and abused ones, the more that area saved. Please everyone band together and DO SOMETHING! GOD BLESS YOU for saving Rudy. Dogs are living, breathing, feeling, thinking, loving and spiritual beings. They are totally without a say in their lives. They are the innocent ones. It is for us to make a difference. "God is to man as man is to animals" from the movie Jack Bull....... I believe it. Please everyone HELP RESCUE in some way no matter how big or how small.
    Please turn tears into help for these in pain.

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  73. Thank you for caring. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care!!!

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  74. You reminded me on why to get a rescue dog and not a puppy and you reminded me that dogs are better than many humans and you reminded me how much I miss all of my rescue dogs that have passed over the rainbow.

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  75. Thank you for all you do...the world needs more people like you. The tears are flowing...such a touching story. You were an angel to Rudy...you showed him what it was like to be a dog and to be loved. You are amazing...God Bless you.

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  76. Tears are pouring down my cheeks just now...bless you!!!!

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  77. Thank you so much for giving the kids their second lives , to live , to love , to dream , to remember.

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  78. Ashley, God Bless You.... (I can not type more than this few words).

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  79. As the mom to 4 rescue dogs (one has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, he was 14.5 years old), I thank you for a beautiful story. Sometimes I wonder what happened to my babies before they came to me and other times I'm glad I don't know because I don't think my heart could take it. Thank you again.

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  80. I too cried as I read this story, as well as the comments here. I am SO thankful for people like you, that work SO hard each and every day to make such an amazing difference. Your love for animals is both touching and inspiring. I am so glad that I found you through Pet Pardons on FB.

    The song "Angels Among Us" by Alabama came to my mind just now. Ashley, you are truly an angel!

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  81. What an incredibly sweet story. Rudy may have passed on but you gave him life....life he otherwise would have NEVER known!! I rescued a dog that was skin and bones just about a month ago. I knew my husband would be FURIOUS at me for bringing home another dog, but I just couldn't leave this dog. I'm so happy so say that just 1 month later, he has gained about 7-10 pounds and is happily running around on our 6 acre ranch with the other dogs. It makes me so happy to know that I have made a difference in his world. He's not quite sure how to take the horses yet, but I'm sure he'll get it before long.
    Thanks for the heartwarming story!!! I also read your blog about the "Haters." Those people have no idea what unconditional love is all about....they are just that...haters!!! Don't waste your time or energy on them. You are doing a FABULOUS and necessary job for all those beautiful animals who need you. Keep up the GREAT work!!

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  82. Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

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  83. u are a very specail person i love what u are doing and ur stories touch my heart to tears and i really cant say much nemore cause there are no wordsd to descxribe the love i have for what u are doing...theresa

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