7.08.2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, Rudy passed away. I write about Rudy often, because everything I’ve done since his death has been to honor his memory. But until now, I’ve only given a general overview of Rudy’s passing, and a lot of you have asked me to write about exactly what happened that day. So, this is the full story… of the worst day of my life...

July 8, 2010
For the most part, it was a normal work day. I came home for lunch and walked the dogs. Before I went back to work, Rudy was waiting by the backdoor to go outside. So, I let Rudy and Pepsi out to play, and decided to come back in an hour to let them in. Before I left, I watched out the window, as they joyfully chased each other through the grass. I smiled to myself, and then headed out the door.

I made a couple of sales calls, and then stopped to see my friend Katie at work. As I was leaving the shop, I saw a flyer on the door for a missing dog in my neighborhood. Since I’m always out in the area walking dogs, I decided to call and see if the dog was still missing.

I sat in the parking lot and talked to the family for a while. The woman told me that their dog was still gone, and she tearfully explained that they assumed the worst had happened. My heart hurt for them… so I comforted her, and we talked for a while about dogs and their impact on our lives. I mentioned my dog Rudy, and said I couldn’t even imagine what I’d do if something ever happened to him. Then, I promised to keep an eye out for their pup, and told her I’d be thinking about them. When I hung up the phone, I thanked God that my dogs were all safe and alive, and quickly drove home to hug my babies extra-tight.

It’s ironic that I made that call on this particular day, because it turns out that my Rudy was not safe or alive at all…

This was Rudy's favorite sleeping spot, where he died
I got home, threw my stuff down, and went to let Rudy and Pepsi inside. When I opened the back door, my foster dog Pepsi came running like she always does… but she wouldn’t step foot inside. She was frantic… running toward Rudy’s sleeping spot on the side of the house, then back toward me, then back the other way, as if saying,  “Come! Quick!”

I started calling Rudy’s name, but he didn’t come. The AC unit is right next to Rudy’s favorite spot, and the humming can be pretty loud. So I called his name, louder and louder, as I approached the side of the house…


When I got there, I saw my little angel, sleeping so soundly. I said, “Wake up, sleepy head!” But Rudy didn’t budge. So I walked closer… and in a voice that wasn't quite my own, I said, “Buddy??”

That’s when I saw the image that will haunt me for the rest of my life: Rudy’s eyes were open, his tongue was hanging out, and his jaw was clenched down over it.

And I screamed: “Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I ran to him, and started shaking him, saying “Rudy! Buddy, no! Buddy, please wake up! Buddy, no, no, no!” Of course, he didn’t move. So I tried to pick him up, but Rudy weighed a good 80 pounds, and even with all my might, I couldn’t move him. I ran screaming into the house to grab my cell phone, dialed Dustin as I ran out, and hysterically screamed, “Come home now! I think Rudy’s dead!”

I threw the phone on the ground, grabbed the water bowl, and poured it over Rudy’s body to try and revive him. Then, I started CPR. Dustin showed up 2 minutes later in a panic. We lifted Rudy, loaded him in the car, and frantically drove to the vet. On the way, I sat in the back with Rudy and continued CPR.

...Even though I knew the reality of what had happened, I simply refused to believe it. With every pump and every breath, my heart was fully convinced... that I could bring him back…

When we arrived at the vet, I ran in screaming, “Help us! Somebody please help us!” Everyone in the vet’s office knows me, but they’ve never seen me act like that. They all knew Rudy too, so I saw the shock in their eyes when they realized it was him. When we laid Rudy on the table, I said, “Please save my baby…”

That’s when I heard the words: “Ashley, there’s no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.”
And with all the hope in my heart, I said, “But you can do something, right? We can still save him, can’t we?”
She replied, “He’s gone, honey. I’m so sorry.”

In all my life, I’d never really “lost it.” I’m a pretty calm person… I rarely get hysterical. But at the moment she told me that my Rudy was gone forever, I lost it.

I started screaming “No! No! No!” over and over. I fell to my knees and started bawling on the floor in the vet’s office. That’s something I never thought I’d do in a million years… but that day, I couldn’t do anything else. Head in my hands, I sobbed uncontrollably.

I looked up at the vet tech, tears streaming down my face, and choked out the words, “But I came right back. He was alive when I left. How long has he been gone?” She looked at him, then back at me, and said, “Probably about 30 minutes.”

That’s when it hit me. Had I not stopped to comfort the family with the missing dog, I would’ve been home in time.

And I hated myself.

I got off the floor, and hugged my Rudy. I sobbed into his fur. I kissed him over and over, held him, and smelled his precious Rudy smell. Suddenly, I came to the realization that this was the last time I’d ever touch my Rudy… the very last time I’d ever hold him. I stood there, hugging him and sobbing, for what felt like hours. I didn’t want to let go, because… dead or alive… I knew I’d never see his face again.

Then, they asked if I was ready to wrap his body for burial. With a shattered heart and tear-filled eyes, I said, “I’ll never be ready for that, but I guess I have no choice.”

When we got home, Dustin unloaded Rudy’s body, and asked me to pick the spot for his grave. Through my tears, I said, “I’m not ready for this…” but it had to be done. So I chose a shaded spot under a tree, and then sat on the ground next to Rudy.

While Dustin dug the grave, I clung to Rudy’s lifeless body, sobbing and shaking my head in disbelief. How could this happen? Why did this happen? It was so incredibly unfair. I save dogs for a living; it’s what I do. I rescue them; I give them life. And the one dog I wanted for my very own… was lying there in front of me… dead. I couldn’t save him.

Dustin finished digging, and tearfully said, “Ash, it’s time…” I held onto Rudy, looked up at Dustin, and said, “I don’t know how to do this. How am I supposed to let him go?” Dustin replied, “Ash, he’s already gone. Let’s respect him and say goodbye.” I cried and said, “But I don’t want to say goodbye to Rudy…”

Life didn’t ask what I wanted. Life didn’t ask if I was ready. Life didn’t ask if I could handle it, and life didn’t care that I couldn’t. And so, ready or not, it was time… to let him go.

Over the last year, I’ve relived those next few moments over and over again… the details of my final goodbye. I remember every breath, every tear, and every thought, as I prepared to bury my son. In what felt like slow motion, I leaned down, gave my Rudy one last kiss, and hugged him for the last time. Then, we gently laid Rudy’s body in the ground.

Before we covered him, Dustin asked if I wanted to say anything. I had so much to say, but none of the words I needed. I had tears; I had pain; I had anger and disbelief. But no words.

As I stood over the garbage-bag-wrapped body of my child, a sea of teardrops fell, landing on the body bag… and slowly rolling off… one by one. I felt like I was suffocating, as I searched for the words to say goodbye. This was the best I could do:

“Today is the worst day of my life. I don’t know how to say goodbye to you. You’re my baby boy… my son. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow, and this will have all been a bad dream. But if it isn’t, then tomorrow will be even worse than today… because you won’t be there at all. Today, you were here. Now, you’re gone. And every day after this, you’ll be gone too. You died today, and my heart died too… because I couldn’t save you. I’m so sorry. I hope you know how much I love you, and that I always will. I was so proud to be your mom; it’s the best thing I've ever done. Thank you for changing my life… thank you for everything. The greatest gift I ever got… was you… and I will miss you every single day, for as long as I live.”

As Dustin covered Rudy’s body with dirt, I felt like I was drowning. I asked him to stop several times, because I just couldn’t take it.

When he was finally done… there was a mound of dirt… where my son used to be.
And underneath it… laid my heart.

I sat by Rudy’s grave all night. Staring at the ground, crying, and talking to him. Most of the time, I was completely numb. I’ve lost many dogs and cats in my life… to cancer, illness, and old age. But the sudden, unexpected loss of my Rudy on July 8, 2010, was just enough to break me.

Throughout the night, I replayed Rudy’s little life over and over again in my mind. I was terrified that I’d forget the precious details, so I desperately clung to each memory I shared with the most special dog I’d ever known…

...I saw him starving on the chain, after his family moved without him. I saw him sitting at the pound, waiting there to die. I saw him living in my home, as he healed inside my heart. And I saw him lifeless in the ground, on the day my Rudy died.

All the while, I’d tell myself it wasn’t real. He just couldn’t be gone; it was just too cruel. Then…I’d look down... grasp the dirt of Rudy’s grave in my hands… and let it run through my fingers. In doing so, I could feel Rudy’s little life slipping right through my fingers too.

As the sun began to rise over Rudy’s grave, I finally surrendered, and walked inside. He wasn’t coming back. I crawled into bed and eventually cried myself to sleep.

I woke an hour or so later, as Dustin was getting up for work. In a tiny voice of hope and anguish, I asked, “Is it true?” He said, “Yes Ash, it’s true. I’m so sorry.” I immediately got up, in disbelief, and walked over to the window. And of course… it was true. I saw the mound of Rudy’s grave in the yard… with Pepsi lying on top in mourning.

Rudy & I sleeping, the day before he died
For some reason, despite the fact that I held his dead body in my hands and sat by his grave all night, my denial was so strong. I was convinced that I’d wake up, and the nightmare would be over.

But that next day, July 9th, was easily the second worst day of my life. Because that’s the day I realized... that Rudy was gone forever. That’s the first day… when he wasn’t there at all.

You may think that Rudy was just a dog, but Rudy wasn’t a dog at all. Rudy was my son, and I was his mom. I gave him life… in every way that matters. And one year ago, I came home to find my little boy… lifeless. He had a heart attack at 3 years old.

The person I was before that day died too; I buried her with Rudy. But with a lot of faith, hope, and love, the best parts of me… came back to life…

While I’d give anything to have him back, even for just a day, the last year has surprisingly been the most incredible year of my life. Tomorrow, I’d like to share what happened after Rudy’s death… the events that would lead to the most life-changing —and life-saving— year I’ve had so far.
The year that would lead me… to all of you...

“Where you used to be, there’s a hole in the world… which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime… and falling in at night.  I miss you.”  ~Edna St. Vincent Millay
*Click below to read my follow-up to this post: One Year Later

117 comments:

  1. Ok, this is the saddest story ever. I'm sitting here at work, crying. Thank goodness I have allergies so I can pass off the puffy eyes.

    Ashley, you're words are beautiful. You're love for Rudy undeniably beautiful. I wish you peace on this day, and please, if there's still guilt left in your soul, release it....let it go.

    What you've done since then (and I can't wait to read that tomorrow) and will continue to do, is nothing short of inspiring.

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  2. That was tragic and beautiful. I am in tears for the love you had for your son and the loss you suffered. Thank you for getting up and becoming a champion for animals.

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  3. i love you and will always be with you......no matter what

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  4. What an amazing tribute. I decided years ago that I was not cut out to have human kids. I tell everyone my kids have 4 legs and fur. I know there are people out there that don't understand dog parents. But I'm not one of them. They ARE my children. I give them every bit of my heart and when they have to leave they take a piece of me with them. The last three dogs we have lost have been similar, fine in the morning and gone by night. I was lucky to have a last few minutes with each. And like you holding them and sobbing into their fur.

    The fact that you took your pain and channelled it and Rudy's spirit for good is a testament to the impact he had on your life!

    Hugs!

    Mr. Nubbin's Mom

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  5. I can barely see to type through the tears. I know that kind of sorrow and I hurt for you. I lost my baby to cancer some years back.....most horrible time of my life and yet it soon led to rescue and volunteering....much more to come.
    I look forward to hearing how you loss has come to change you as well.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for your loss. My dog is epileptic and has many other health problems, and this story really reinforced his mortality for me. One day, probably sooner than later, my baby will pass away, too. That will be the worst day of my life.

    This story made me want to run home and cling to my baby. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Rudy was so lucky to have you.

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  7. How very beautiful and touching...I'm reading this through tears for you Ashley, but I know in my heart that you know he's safe and happy and you will one day see each other again. Be happy for him and you must know that he knows and sees all the good you are doing and will continue to do as long as the dear Lord allows. God bless you Ashley for all that you do for His animals...you are a golden soul.

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  8. my Ashley, love never dies

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  9. ...What we have enjoyed,we can never lose...All that we love Deeply becomes a part of us...~Hellen Keller~ much love Marje

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  10. My heart goes out to you as my tears fall.

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  11. God Bless you Ashley! You are a beautiful person for all that you do for the lives of so many dogs! In Rudy's eyes..you were his Angel!

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  12. No words - I mourn for your loss. You have a gift of expression like no other.

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  13. Reading your words, I felt your pain. I have an 11 yr old Golden Retriever and I know we are blessed every day we still have at this point. Im so sorry for your loss Ashley.You gave him a far better life than he had and I know he is watching over you from heaven. And when the day comes for you to leave this earth, he will meet you on the other side to take you home. God bless you for all you do for the animals

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  14. Debi Conwell-HayesJuly 8, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    I feel this way about my babies too. I mourn may past babies the same way you have. They are our sons and daughters too. No one can tell us any different. Thank you for sharing this difficult story of your love for dear Rudy!

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  15. Sorry to hear.... love for animals will never die if it's for a cat you had since you were lil girl. or like for Rudy or other dogs/cats that you had growing up, All you can do is love them more and more. as the time passes you will give more love to dogs as Rudy /cats you had. to fill your heart up more and more each time.

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  16. Ashley, have you heard the song Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World? There's a line that goes: "...And if you were with me tonight, I'd sing to you just one more time; a song for a heart so big, God wouldn't let it live."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pQo9OQlIB8

    I listen to it when I mourn. It helped a lot when I lost my Rottie/Husky cross rescue. It was a crazy situation that I still struggle with today and am consumed with guilt over. I didn't know his history, but he was clearly abused/discarded so much in his 4 years of life that he had no trust for anyone, except me, and he became too dangerous (he attacked my boyfriend at the time twice pretty savagely and unprovoked). We had to make the agonizing decision to put him to rest. I still feel guilty and cry about it. I keep thinking if I had tried harder or have done something differently, thing would have been different...they probably would have.

    Janene

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  17. I can only say I understand losing my two dogs..Clem ( the Momma) to cancer ..had to put her down..and katy ( her duaghter) also a heart attack..I thought I'd never love another dog as much as I did them. Now I have Lucky ( 3 yrs old and sadie 1 year..they are slowly but surely filling the hole in my heart, but I will never forget my girls..who went way too soon..they are our children..they are not just dogs..

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  18. Reminds me of my losing my Emily who died at 12 years old 7/20/08 which started my journey in volunteering and adopting four shelter dogs. I am now the volunteer coordinator with our Humane Society. I probably would not be so involved if Emily had not died. Reading the recount of Ahsley's pain brought back my feelings of our loss. I still miss my little girl who went with me everywhere and remembering her first elevator ride, her love for people and animals. Her dying in my arms and her waiting for my husband to see her for the last time for her to give her last breath. Her being put in her coffin with her favorite blanket and toys. My cat, Abby, giving her last kiss to say goodbye. She was my child since we do not have children. She slept with us and was the most amazing Dalmatian with the bluest eyes and so much love to give. She had several health issues for several years like emphysema, congestive heart problems and then the last year arthritis in her hip and breast cancer. I still go to her grave and talk to her. I tell her about the new dogs playing and living in our house. I tell the new dogs about our Emily and what she would have taught them. I know that on the 20th, I will be still heartbroken and like Ashley, I would give anything to see her again to touch her and smell her. But, she started a new journey of rescuing other dogs who needed a mom. I love them dearly and love their personalities. Shelter dogs are the best.
    Kimber Hopkins, Wichita Falls TX

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  19. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sitting her bawling my eyes out. You are an amazing woman and Rudy will always be with you. He's waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

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  20. A beautiful tribute that had to be incredibly painful to write. A friend of mine lost their dog to cancer last night. I am sending them this link. That dog too was just another black dog. He died in his Daddy's arms. I don't know if your story will help them now. But maybe someday. I too came home to find a three year old dead from a heart attack. Not a day goes by that I wonder if there was something I could have done. That was in 2004. Her name was Copper. I wish life was fair.

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  21. As I sit here in tears...I cry for u and rudy...I know the love people like us have for our animals there is no words... I'm so sorry for ur loss but I know u were his heart too...I know what loosing it is too...my cat trooper who was named trooper because my dad found some men kicking him back and forth like a football and he kicked all there asses ...he promised him if he was still there on his jacket alive after work he would bring him home!!! And he was and he did...this is how he got his name trooper...2 years or so after we moved to italy and my moms friend kept trooper while we were over seas we got him back 4 years later....one day he was laying infront the fireplace and a blood clot lodged in his spine and he became paralized...we took him to the vet and they tryed for 5 dayz to dislodge it....it did not work and his condition was getting worse..we had to put him down and during this he fought the drugs and struggled and did not have a peacefull passing as they went to get another dose...i lost it! My mom had to yank me out side and shake the shit outta me...I was devistated....another short storie...I had a rat named papi...rats only live typically between 2and 2 n a half yearz...well my papi was my babie and even at 4 and a half years old the vet couldent believe he was still alive well the day came where I had to put him down...I couldent be in the room because sence he was a rodent they had to do it differently and they knew I wouldent be able to handle it... well my papi was gone and I was not the same....before he passed I saved my cat fallon and I think god put her there with me for all the right reasons.I still cry for my papi...a women who I worked for who I dident have much respect for said to me while crying in dispare at work..."I know you ain't cryin over THAT RAT!" AGAIN I LOST IT! And let her have it...how dare she! So with that being said one thing always helped me move on and that was that I knew they knew love and a wonderful fruitful life because of me! So u are not alone...thank you for sharing ur storie....you are truely special ashley....u truely are...and ur precious rudy was so special and so lucky he had you. God bless... they may be gone but forever in our hearts!

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  22. I too am sitting here..reading this at work and my heart is breaking. I've been at this same place so many times. I'm forever rescuing animals. I have 3 dogs and 4 cats. It's so hard to say goodbye to them when they pass. I never feel that I have to apologize for loving my animals as much as I do. The loyalty and love that they give is incomprehensible. Ashley you have amazing compassion and empathy. I am so sorry that Rudy died so young, but I am glad that you found each other. Take comfort in the fact that you will see each other some day...over the Rainbow Bridge:)

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  23. Ashley,

    While I'm not in a rescue, I have had quite a few furkids over the past 17 years (my wife & I have never had any children). We currently have six (4 dogs & 2 cats) and we have lost six over the years. Perhaps the hardest loss for me was our dear Brody, a seven year old Sheltie. We rescued Brody from a shelter and discovered that he had had heartworms for several years, and that had taken a major toll on him. Our vet said he might live for years or he could go in several months. Brody was so alive and full of life, that I knew we would have him for many years. But just in case, I promised him that I would always be there for him. And that when the time came, I would be there at the end. We had Brody for 8 great months. Then one day I left for work as usual and told him that I loved him and to be good. Then I watched as he turned around and headed back into the bedroom. About an hour later, I received a frantic call from my wife that something was wrong with Brody. I told her to immediately rush him to the vet and I would meet her there. As I was driving to the vet, I got a call on my cell phone from my wife to come home instead. Minutes later I arrived at home and found my wife holding Brody in her arms. Through tears she told me that after we first talked, Brody just laid down and died. Our vet said later that the heartworms had so weakened his heart that one of his valves just gave out. He died quickly and with very little pain. But he died without me being there. To hold him and kiss him and tell him what a wonderful boy he was. And as I read your story about Rudy, I knew exactly what you were going through. It is hard enough when we have to say goodbye, but it is harder still when it occurs and we are not there for them.

    Thank you for telling Rudy's story. And thank you even more for doing what you do.

    Richard

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  24. Thank you all for caring about my pain. You're amamzing.

    Tomorrow's post will make the sadness of today's story worth it. I promise :) You just had to read this one first to appreciate what came next

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  25. Thank you for sharing your story, although there is no happy ending you touched my heart. It makes me have faith in mankind again. You gave Rudy a second chance that many pets never get. He was lucky to have you as his mom. The loss of a pet is never easy....but remember that there are hundreds of animals waiting for their second chance...Please adopt...spay and neuter...and then love, love ,love your animals... :)

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  26. I know! I sat here at my desk crying too and ran to the bathroom...I never want to know this pain, I dread the day I do. i still dont understand how Rudy died though....

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  27. oh wait I see now :(

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  28. When I saved Rudy, he had a severe case of heartworms, which I treated. But it left his heart very weak, and that day, it gave out on him.

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  29. Oh Ashley that's so sad. The 1 year anniversary of my fur-son was Feb 11, 2011 and I couldn't believe how much pain I was still in 1 year later. It hurts me everyday still that I lost him, and I relieve moments from his life, and his dying days (he died at 1.5 years old from intestinal blockage) all the time. What you have done AFTER his death is so amazing, and so inspiring. He is so very proud of you, I just know it.

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  30. pam is crying also now. love, pam

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  31. Oh Ashley, I'm sobbing and my heart breaks for the pain and heartache that you have suffered losing your baby Rudy. It brought back so many sad and wonderful memories of losing my two yorkies only 10 days apart due to our on vets. horrible "accidents" during their teeth cleaning. They were both 13 years old. Their names were Murphy and Pixie. Like you when Murphy died in my arms, I went rushing and screaming into the vets office begging them to please bring him back.....but he was gone. I held him for hours as his little baody went from warm to cold. Part of my soul died along with him. Then Pixie continued to getting sicker and we had to have her put to sleep. Again, she also died in my arms. I have never in my life felt pain that deep. Some people don't understand, but they were part of our family, and yes, it was like I had lost two of my children. Since then we have adopted to dogs from rescue, Maddie and Gus Gus. We also have another yorkie named Oscar. We did not do this to replace Murphy and Pixie, but to continue our deep love that we have for furbabies, Ashley, you have the most amazing talent for writing and making people feel they you are right there with them telling the story. Please never stop being such a wonderful, compassionate lady. Tena

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  32. I am so sorry for your loss, and understand how you feel. This tribute had me in tears. The reason I understand how you feel, is because when I three I got a dog who was abandoned at the house across the street from us, and she was beaten as a puppy. When we got her I was so excited, and when we were thinking of names we thought that the name she had was already perfect for her so we kept her name Brandy. She was with us for many years. One day though when I was seven the front door was left open and she got out and was hit by a car. The worst part is that the driver was speeding, and the person didn't even stop. Later we took her to the vet, and it turned out she had internal bleeding and it was BAD. We could have done the surgery, but there was only a fifty- fifty percent chance she would live. My dad was planning to take us to see my grandma in mexico for the first time, but the surgery would use up all our savings for the trip. So in the end the surgery was up to me a seven year old who just wanted to make people happy, and I wanted to make my dad happy, so I said no. I kept telling my self it was the right choice, but I regretted it and I still do. After that they put her down, and I was absurdly mad we didn't get to burry her. I blamed my self for leaving the door open and deciding about the surgery, and to this day I miss her, but I will always lover her. We still to this day have her collar and tags. She was like a second mom to me even though she was a dog, she knew how to comfort us.
    Eight, almost nine, years have passed and now we have a new dog named Jasper for almost three years, and sometimes I think about that day but I'll love her forever because she changed my life. I know she would love Jasper, but I wish she was still here because I have no doubt about it that she would treat Jasper like a son just like she did with Rufio. The best part of having a dog who changed your life is knowing you will never forget them, and you will always love them even when you are old and in diapers.

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  33. Like all those before me I'm crying and blowing my nose having read your beautiful and so very very sad story. I lost my baby over 2 years ago and still cry when i think of the day she died. I was with her, she suffered a massive stroke and couldn't eat or drink. I think it hit me so hard because it was so sudden where as all of the others were old save one. We had a min Snauzer who had a heart defect but was otherwise healthy and found her hidden behind a couch gone. I've been told that when an animal knows it's dying it will do that to feel safe? I realize how difficult it can be to not blame yourself but it sounds like your baby boy died in his sleep and couldn't have been saved. It was so very unfair that your sweet boy having suffered as he did was taken when he finally founf love and happiness. I doubt my words will help anyone but i wanted you to know that yours have and to thank you for sharing them.

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  34. Your story has brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss of Rudy and for all your pain. I just want you to know deep in your heart that you did save Rudy. I'm sure you made him the happiest dog in the world during the time he was with you. You turned his fate around when you rescued him off that chain. You were his hero. Don't feel guilt, there are so many things in life that we will never understand. You are an absolutely wonderful person for all the work you do and in some way Rudy lives on in all the dogs you rescue.

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  35. Thank you all for these amazing words. I wish you could know what they mean to me. I know so many people can relate to the pain of this story, and that's why I wanted to share it. It's just as real for me one year later, as it was that day.

    But I was able to turn that grief into so much good, and I know Rudy would be so proud. I saved many before him, but the number since his death is more than I could've dreamed. Each and every one is saved in his memory.

    And so, Rudy will live on forever... through me, and through all of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you

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  36. I couldn't keep the tears away enough to read everyone's comments but I did manage to finish this article through blurry eyes. I have my own similar story and the devastation is just horrible. Take Care, thank you for sharing.

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  37. There are no words. I wish I could hug you.

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  38. Sarah WestmorelandJuly 8, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Thank you for having the courage to share yours and Rudy's story. The work that you and all the rescue orgazations all around the world in every capacity accomplish is amazing and truly you all are miracle workers. The loss of a pet is heartbreaking. We adopted our little Boston Terrier Pippy from the MO Humane Society in September of 2003 we gave her a great life. In December of 2009 she was diagnosed with cancer the day I found out I put her sweater on her and took her to the park even though it was bitter and cold to let her get out and sniff to her hearts content knowing it would be one of our last trips. I did everything I could even going as far as speaking with a holistic vet in NY. On Feb 22, 2010 I took her to the our vet she had been very lethargic the previous day and night and wouldn't eat or drink or go outside, I sat on the floor in the vets office with Pippy on her favorite blanket whispering that we loved her and she was a good sweet suagr dog and to take a puppynap while she slipped away. At 31 it was the hardest decision I ever had to make. As you mentioned I relived that moment constantly, for weeks after I mentally beat myself up with what if's then beat myself up some more for all the times we could have went to the park or done this and that and just didn't. As time passed acceptance finally came that we gave Pippy a second chance and we gave her a great life all her basic needs were met she had food water toys a bed a wonderful safe home and a entire family and vets ofc that loved her. After she passed I called the MOHS to find out why she had been there at all. The woman I spoke with stated they really were not supposed to release the information but since Pippy had passed on she informed me that Pippy had been part of an animal seizure from Dittmer, MO that while alot of the dogs that had been rescued were in pretty bad shape she was pretty healthy her opinion was either she was the household pet or had been recently accquired therefore not suffering the abuse and neglect some of the other animals had clearly been exposed to. I thanked GOD right there that those people got there in time and we were the ones that found her and brought her home. In March of 2010 we adopted a beautiful full grown doberman from MIDWEST DOBERMAN RESCUE she was purchased from a reputiable breeder and is AKC registered but her new owners couldnt handle her and she was fostered for a year before we found her, we renamed her Bella she is a beautiful sweet dog and we go on a walk every single day. I know when Bella's time comes and we also have three rescue cats that I can rest assured while my heart is still going to break we are doing the right thing and we are doing a good thing by loving these animals treating them with love compassion respect and kindess. You have inspired me to sign up and volunteer with one of our local shelters here in St. Louis called Stray Rescue they are a no kill shelter and I was always so sad to go to the shelters I never thought I could emotionally handle the work. Now I know I can. Thanks for letting me share my story. To all of the animal lovers out there in any capacity thank you and may you always be blessed.

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  39. I've only read a few of your posts, but the way you write is truly beautiful. I felt every ounce of pain and raw emotion in your story. I can't imagine. I'm convinced my baby girl will be the first dog to live to be 50. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  40. God Bless You! I feel your pain so strongly. I understand. There is nothing that brings me more joy and love than animals and they are not just animals, they are our children. You are Rudy's mom forever and you will see him again when it is the right time. Losing a loved one is never easy, not always expected and there is nothing you can do to change the timing of it all. Just remember that you saved him and because of you, he had love and happiness in his life. He is sleeping now and feels no pain. All he has are the memories of the happiness and love you gave to him.

    -Keri

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  41. Thank you for sharing your's and Rudy's story. I also adopted a dog from the pound with heart worms, and I worry about her too. I also consider myself a mom to my furbabies. I have loved and lost in the past, and each death took away a little part of me.

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  42. Don't worry. Heartworm treatment allows the vast majority of dogs to live long, healthy lives. I've treated tons of heartworm positive dogs over the years, and almost all were happy and healthy for many years. Of course, it's completely preventable in the first place, & that's the safest option. Heartworm preventative every month, without question.

    Rudy's heart was just too damaged... and the previous owners are at fault for all of it, as they never fed him, gave him water, or provided him with any vet care--especially heartworm preventative.

    Those same owners cared so little about my Rudy, that they moved away & left him behind to starve to death on a chain. He was without food and water for weeks before I forced Animal Control to take action. I saved his life twice, once from the chain & once from the pound... but his heart... I couldn't save.

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  43. You are amazing!!!! I am sitting here in tears. I am so sorry that happened and the way it happened. You are truly an inspiration! Rudy is playing up there and I'm sure he is so proud of everything you have done. He will be there waiting for you one day again.
    Zeva

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  44. I am so sorry for your loss, I can't seem to stop crying, It is a s if I had lost my baby who is only 2, I have lost many of my dogs to old age or some one killing them, my heart gose out to you, it will get better as time gose on. Keep up the good work you do and God be with you during your time of need.

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  45. Ashley................. I am so , so, so, sorry about what happened to darling Rudy. Just devastating. I see why you never go in your head to this story. Please don't feel like you were not there for him. I feel your heartbreak so clearly. You honor his life repeatedly and profoundly with a passion born from your love for him. Love this overwhelming is a force unto itself and is shaping our world for the better. His presence is absolutely and unquestionably still with us and it is because of YOU. Cinnamon

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  46. Oh Ashley :-( That is so sad, I'm so sorry to read about what happened to Rudy.

    I know Rudy's life was cut short, but I am so very glad that you found each other - he passed away knowing just how much he was loved and nothing can take that away, or your wonderful memories of him.

    It's coming up to a year since we lost our eldest, beautiful girl, after a very short period of illness and sometimes I'm not sure how I've got through the last year (well it's thanks to my husband and other dogs really).

    Thinking of you.

    Angela, UK
    x

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  47. I could have written almost the same story, but in a little different way for my little Toto.
    I rescued him & he died after 5 yrs with seizures. They buried me with him that day & I didnt think I could or would want to live anymore after he left. But love never dies, You buried Rudy in your heart & there he is today. God bless you, we are a lot alike, your just much younger than me. Love you. Phyllis

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  48. It will be one year ago on August 4th that I lost my 15 year old kitten, Gigi, to cancer. She was my baby and my confidante, and she and her sister were the center of my universe. I still have my 17 year old Ibby, but in honor of Geeg, I have rescue adopted three older cats and a little old beagle, and I transport and foster for different rescues, at one time having 6 foster dogs and 6 foster cats. It is my way of surviving one of the worst things that ever happened to me, but my heart still aches for BabyGirlCat every day.

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  49. The whole time I was reading this, I was bawling. I, too, saved my baby from an abusive situation, and he felt so safe with me. I was told he was a black lab/ chow mix (although he didn't look chow - just had the black spotted tongue) and was about a year old. He had the cutest little lazy eye... and he would follow me everywhere - he was perfect. About a week before he died, my friend's neighbor's dog ran away and we walked all around town putting up "missing dog" fliers... and I told my friend "I don't even know what I would do if I ever had to do this for Toby, I couldn't imagine what I would do without him". A week passes, and I stayed the night at my friends house. I made the 20 minute walk back home in the morning just to check on him and make sure he was okay. When I got there, my parents asked me if I had seen him. "What do you mean have I seen him?"... "he dug under the fence this morning and got out". My friend and I walked around all day calling his name, and eventually that night I came home to check and see if he was there... and I found a note on the door to call a number because they thought they had my dog. On the phone, I asked if the dog was a boy or girl, so I didn't get my hopes up if it wasn't him, and they said "I don't know, I can't tell". I thought "How can you not tell?" - picturing him running around in their fenced in yard, safe. We ran down to see him as he laid in their driveway. It looked like he only had a few little scratches - we thought he had gotten in a fight. What kills me is that we walked right past that house earlier that day, as I was calling his name... expecting him to run up to me. I didn't think to look for a dog laying on the ground hardly able to move. We rushed him home, my mom bandaged up his little wounds, and we layed him on my bed. About 45 minutes later, he started gasping for air. Turned out he was hit by a car and bled internally. Worst day of my life - and it still makes me cry.

    Here's a couple pics of Toby, if you'd like to see them.
    http://tinypic.com/r/sovok7/7
    http://tinypic.com/r/vqhzq0/7

    Let's never think about "what if" they were gone again... that's bad luck. Let's just spend every day showing them all the love we can give.

    You've inspired so many people to make a change in the world of animals, and you're right. Rudy would be SO proud of you. Within the next few years, I'd like to start my own rescue too - a black dog rescue - to help save all the Toby's (and Rudy's) out there that need out of their bad situation and to just feel safe and loved. Thank you, Ashley, for everything you do for these babies. Never get discouraged, because they need you.

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  50. Frankie Taylor FisherJuly 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    ... I'm so sorry ...
    ... it's a pain like no other ...
    ... I know and understand all your feelings ... all too well ...

    God Bless you ...

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  51. Ashley,
    I am so sorry for your lost. He was so beautiful. I have a baby girl her name is Sheba and she is 5yrs I couldn't imagine something happening to her. I do feel your pain. 4 years ago I lost my oldest. She was 14. I rescued her from a woman who was dying of cancer. The story of her death is similiar to yours. To this day I have regrets.

    It was January of 07 I was getting ready for an interview. She was always by my side. When I went somewhere she went with. We were buddies. I noticed she was kind of clingy which I just thought she wasn't feeling well after all she was old. Before I left I put her in her little kennel cage. She loved especially at the time her sister was just a year so that was her space. She had her stuffed animals, her little bed and chewies. I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her and I will see you in a couple of hours. When I came home I would always say to her "where is my buddy" That day I said it twice usually she would get excited. I didn't hear anything so I slowly, knowing something isn't right, went to her cage to find her lifeless body. I screamed NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! fell to the floor and screamed her name OREO!!!!!! I was numb. Franticly I called my sister in law and husband. I told them my buddy was gone. Long story short My sister law came over and took her out of the cage and wrapped her in her favorite blanket and handed me her. I sobbed like there was no tommorrow. I said why why did I leave her. My husband returned home from work as I looked at him I said she is gone my baby is gone. He just looked at me in disbelief.he was getting ready to take her I said wait we have to put her sweater on. She had a yellow sponge bob sweater.We carefully put it on her. I gave her a big kiss and told her I loved her.All I kept thinking why did I leave and go the stupid interview that I didn't even want to go to. We buried her in my backyard where I can visit and talk to her. She too died of a heart attack. I still cry for her but I know she is in a better place.As Rudy they will always be in our hearts and he is so proud of his mom especially for the wonderful things you do. God Blees you and remember memories are forever.

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  52. Rudy was and is an angel and God does things that we may not understand but all is for a reason, even when that includes our loved ones. I share you pain. But it took me almost a life time to work past my loss and heal to allow another to enter my heart. I get apprehensive when I feel how much I love my babies and fear if I continue to love them so much my heart will burst and that I may lose them...But having them with me now is a blessing, and I don't think they will ever understand who is the one that benefits the most from their love!

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  53. Thank you for sharing this story. As someone who has lost a dog, I can understand how painful it is, and also how hard it is for some people to understand if they have not experience loving an animal that much. I starting reading this and didn't expect to have the emotional reaction I did.

    Thank you for doing all you do for animals in need, and thank you for sharing such a personal story with all of us reading!

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  54. I am so sorry for your loss of your "Buddy", I also lost my buddy a yr ago today. His name was Cutter and he was almost 2, he died of cancer. I had lost animals before, my Allie had died a yr before at 15, so that was expected BUT I had never in my life thought that at 2 he would leave me. So may we all have our memories and smile at the little things that made our babies so very special to us.

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  55. I truly believe all tears that are cried in sorrow and hurt are stored in Heaven. God knows your hurt and pain.
    Ashley, I think you make God smile everyday when you save animals and get them to forever homes. Keep fighting the good fight and keep Rudy in your heart. Trust me, he's in heaven having a great time.

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  56. But Ash - you DID save his heart - not the physical one, but his spiritual core. as you yourself have written, there are SO so many dogs that never get the healing touch and kindness of a loving caring human - Rudy got that and so much more! He regained his soul and purpose! This you GAVE and brought him back from despair. He rejoiced and reveled in the love you gave him - He died happy and healthy with a heart FILLED with love - that which his broken heart never would have known but for YOU!

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  57. I am so sorry for the pain & loss you suffered with Rudy. On 7/7/07 we were on our way back from a trip to Michigan with our worship ministries, & we stopped to eat, etc. I came out of the restroom and found Laura crying. I sat down & asked her what happened. She had a voicemail from our friend who was caring for our dogs out in the country with her dogs, cats, horses, who said she had been reading in her recliner, and every now and then she reached down & petted my chocolate Lab, Dakota, but the last time she did it, Dakota didn't move. Dakota had laid her head on her paws & died.

    Our friend left Dakota there for the next 7 hours till we got back to Virginia, so we could see for ourselves that she went peacefully. We removed her body & took it to our vet for cremation.We kept her ashes for 2 years before we could bring ourselves to go spread them over her favorite creek where she loved to swim. Even on 7/7/11, we still cried. She was a wonderful dog.

    Four days after she died, we got a call from a friend saying there was a mostly black puppy that a lady she worked with was going to take to the pound, & we knew he wouldn't have much of a chance here in Roanoke where they kill much more than ever get rescued or adopted. We brought him home & introduced him to Houdini, our yellow Lab, who is Dakota's only yellow Pup. She mourned for her Mama a long time & she mostly ignored him, but today they are the best of friends. Dakota had cancer surgery, but the Vet felt they had gotten it all. We think it must've come back, but she showed no signs of being sick at all.

    It hurt my heart just as much as losing my parents did. But I know that I will face it again with Houdini and Caliber in the future. These dogs saved my life! They helped to lower my blood sugar & blood pressure. They inspired me to lose 120lbs in the last year. I can never repay them for all they have done for me. My name is Cheryl.

    God bless You & the sacrifices you have made to save these dogs lives.

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  58. So sad, having lost many dogs over the years, the pain never gets easier. I pity those who have never known this kind of love, for as much as it hurts to lose them, the love the give, the kindness, the warmth, the affection, can never be measured. One's heart is never completely full until you've loved a dog. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of your Rudy. He helped shape you into the wonderful caring person you are and paved the way for all the other animals you so valiently save.

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  59. I have felt that same pain. At least, it sounds like my pain. It is the worst thing in the world. Loss. I have had only cats for the past 20 years, but I love dogs just as much. They have all been my children, each one different. In some ways, I prayed that when each of them became sick (all with cancer), that I would just get up one morning and find them "asleep". But, it didn't happen. I would have been thankful for that. On the other hand, I wonder if that is selfish, because you're right. Then they would have died alone. Instead, I promised each one of them in turn when things became hopeless and there was nothing more to be done by a vet, that I would never again bring them to the vet's office, which they all hated. So, I have a vet that comes to the house, and the vet has come and put each one to "sleep" while my husband and I have held them in our arms. These are the worst experiences I have ever had, but at least they were in the arms of those that loved them when they went. It must have been so horrible to find Rudy and have to say good-bye to him at such an early age. But, you know what? Think of the way Rudy had to live before he was your son, and then think of the happiness he had with you as his mom. He had such a short time, but at least he had a real mom for the rest of his life.

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  60. I have lost three dogs since 1997 through 2011. I know how it feels, but to hear another dog pitter patter of their feet on the floor of your home warms your house but does not replace the one you lost but fills the void to love another and share that love till it is time to love another.

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  61. Ashley you are an angel, and we are all blessed to have you here on earth. I had to read your story in bits, taking breaks when the tears blurred the words. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You and Rudy were so lucky to have found each other and shared a part of your lives together.
    xo

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  62. Ashley, you echo exactly how I felt when I lost my rescued Doberman Aiden. I too save dogs for a living, and I couldn't save him. It's plagued me every day for the past 4 years now. And it too is the reason I do what I do. So thank you for sharing your story. It's nice to know I am not alone, even though it is a terrible thing you and I endured.

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  63. beautiful tribute, i feel for your loss as it def made me cry and remember the similar story with my rescued pit.. they can never be replaced but so many other dogs need your love and comfort, and i hope you continue rescuing and doing what your doing its amazing <3

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  64. the dogs that are truly special never stay long enough.

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  65. why oh why do I always read your blog when I'm at work? my heart is breaking for you again and again. I am so so so sorry from the bottom of my heart that you lost your son so suddenly. I am so so so sorry.
    This was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog. Thank you.

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  66. Thank you so much for sharing such a intimate day with all of us...I am sobbing and hugging my kids as I read this...I know I will feel the same when that day comes for me...I am so sorry for your loss and he was not a dog..he was your son...people who don't get that are not worth your time...thank you Ashley for all you do...and although I have never met you...I know Rudy knew how much you love him..and I know..he loved you in the same way..how could he not.

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  67. Oh Ashley I'm sobbing for you and for Rudy and for sweet Pepsi who lost his best bud. How absolutely devastating. I can't even imagine... I too, think of my dogs as my children and I just don't think I could go on if I lost any of my babies. Thank you and Rudy for all you have done and continue to do for the dogs - for our sons and dog-ters. <3

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  68. Yup- I bawled thru this whole story! I've always had animals also- but my 2 dogs I have now are the closest I've ever been with an animal...I have been fortunate to have them as long as I have- my oldest is 10 yrs. and I know someday, maybe soon, I will have to deal with something similar and I am totally not ready! I never had kids (human) and all my animals are my children. I have 2 dogs and 5 cats- and every one of them are rescues.......thanks for sharing your story! God Bless!!

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  69. Dear Rudy, What an amazing boy to merge spirits with your amazing Mama Ashley. Your story brings tears to us that can only know you from her shared memories. Beautiful boy,let your Mama know that you are always with her,every minute,evry day...forever....We love you Rudy <3

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  70. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Rudy thanks you for all you did for him. For the love you gave to him that kept him alive for his short life. He hopes you can help save others like him and I know you will. Bless you and your efforts. And thank you.

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  71. That is the saddest story I’ve ever heard. It took me forever to read it. So heart breaking. I cried all the way through it. I’m not a dog lover but I do love a few dogs that are close to me. I’ve had many cats and dogs die. I’ve always thought pets are just humans in fur. I have 4 kittens right now and I feel they are my kids. I don’t want to even think about a day when I won’t get to see them. The thought breaks my heart. I am so very sorry for your loss. :-(

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  72. Dear Ashley...I am so sorry. I sit here sobbing in PA as I read your story. I cannot imagine your pain. My precious boy, CoCo, is also my son. As I wasn't able to have children, I know what your sweet Ruby meant to you. My sweet boy has a breathing disorder at 14 years old, and I just LOVE him all that I can each and every day. He is truly my Angel on Earth. I have no idea what I am going to do when "the day" comes. All I know is that I LOVE him so very much every day that he is with me. Lotsa Love to you on this day and I thank you so much for all of your great work and love for the animals. <3 Lisa

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  73. This is the most heartbreaking story I've ever read, I've cried through the whole thing; I'm glad I'm at home. When you described what happened at the vets office I came unglued as I went through all that, including ending up on the floor sobbing when my Misha was put to sleep 3 months ago. You have been blessed to have such love in your life, to give it and receive it. Someday you'll be together again.............

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  74. I can't stop crying. The 4 year anniversary of my miniature collie, Lady, will be September 3rd....She died in my arms on the way to the vet after she had had a seizure(also in my arms)....She leaned back to look at me as she lay cradled in my arms like a baby, her tongue turning gray, her breathing labored.... I told her I loved her and that she could go....and she did. She took her last breath a mile before the vet's office. She was 17 years and 4 months old.

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  75. I have 3 wonderful dogs that are my children. It is a concept that some people cannot grasp, that these furry little heartbeats at my feet are the center of soul. The idea of losing them devastates me to my very core. I am so very very sorry for not only your loss of Rudy but also the out of the blue sudden nature of it. My heart bleeds for you and Rudy.

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  76. Ashley, I am so sorry for your loss & the unexpectedness of it. I have had many people & many pets that I have lost over the years & although I was able to be with most of them when they crossed over, there were 2 that I was not with when they died. So many feelings flowed through me, however I never doubted that they knew how much I loved them & that I gave them the best life that I could for the time that we had together. You must know that this was true for Rudy as well. Thank you for sharing this with us in such a beautiful & heartfelt way.

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  77. Hearing about all the people who are cruel to animals these days and all the sad stories about them-I love to hear the ones with people who love their pets so unconditionally. It gives me hope that there are animals out there who have a fighting chance at living a real life with a caring owner.

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  78. Your story finds me sobbing - for you and your baby boy, Rudy. I lost my girl, Belle, nearly 7 yr. ago. She was fine the day before but the next morning I let her out and she went out the door and laid down on the concrete at the foot of the steps. It was Halloween morning, quite chilly, and I immediately became alarmed. She was very lethargic and we rushed her to an emergency vet service, which was the only place open on a Sunday morning. We got there, they examined her and found nothing wrong. So they said to leave her for 3-4 hr. and they would do blood work to see if she had any infection starting up. We arrived home and within a few minutes the phone rang and it was the vet telling me Belle had passed away from cardio-pulmonary arrest. I was hysterical. My husband and daughter and I screamed and cried and just wanted to die too. My son went to get her to bring her home for burial. I ripped the garbage bag off her and cuddled her limp body in my arms, crying hysterically, telling her how much I loved her and begging her to open her eyes. Even as I was doing this, her body was stiffening up. We found a plastic bin and put the bedding from her crate in it. We laid her in her bed and put her leash and several of her favorite treats in with her. Then we covered her with a small blanket and covered the bin and buried her. I have mentally beat myself up over these past years because I should have stayed there with her and not listened when they said to go home. She died in a scary place, among strangers who were poking her with needles and prodding her. I think of how terrified she must have been along with not being able to breathe, and it makes me feel like i'm going insane. Belle was 8 1/2 yr old and otherwise very healthy. She was a Bichon Frise and she was terrified of thunder. Belle was,and always will be, my little girl. So you see, Ashley, I fully understand what you feel and you have my complete sympathy.

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  79. Ashley, I lost my daughter what will be 5 years ago Sept.21st, to canine cancer. She was my little love. Reading your story, and knowing your pain, I cried uncontrollably.Despite the many years that passed, I still long for the way she'd snuggle up with me on the sofa. I am sure that you long for many of the wonderful moments with Rudy.
    Know that your son will always be with you, and as the years pass,you'll be able to remember him with smiles, and fewer tears. You gave him a new life, a happy life and for that I thank you. The wonderful work you do is a tribute to him, and there couldn't be a better one!

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  80. I experienced essentially the same thing when my first cat died- from your story I assume Rudy died of some kind of heart failure, as did mine, and which is one of the only things that causes sudden death like that (as opposed to protracted decline) I too had regrets for having an innane conversation with a neighbor who I hated. Had I not had that conversation, I would have arrived in time to save my cat who was still warm... so I tld myself. But truly with this kind of death the poor creatures could not have been saved if we were there. Part of me died too that day, some has come back but not all. Its possible to be forever changed. Ten years later I still cry like I did the day it happened. Good luck to you and thank you for everything you do to help animals.

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  81. I have sobbed my eyes out reading this. What beautiful expression! I have 3 two legged children and 3 4 legged children and we are all one big happy family. I have come home to the horror of a lost family member and there is no feeling like it not having the closure. You keep asking yourself, did I yell at him, did I hug him, does he/she know how full they made my heart?? Ashley, I am so sorry for your loss. There are no words of comfort. I have a 15 year old cat, Founder, who I know is on borrowed time. He has been my best friend through every heartache....God Bless you. Rudy was happy to have those few years of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special....

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  82. What a story. I understand the heart break. I can do loss better than almost anyone because I've had so much of it, including my beloved rescued lab Ozzie. We went through so much together. I fear the day my Callie girl goes, but enjoy every single day we have together. She was a rescue as well, thrown from a car in a fast food parking lot when she was eight weeks old. Some people watched it happen, picked her up, took her home, helped her and then brought her to me. She is the greatest gift of my life. She is three this year...my little girl, my favorite and best friend ever. I am sorry for your loss. I look forward to the rest of your story because I believe when our hearts break it makes room for us to love more.

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  83. I am finally able to comment (had problems before). Aww, Ashley, I was crying there with you. However, you must remember Rudy as being happy. He spent time with you; any dog would be ecstatic! Thanks for making his short life special and I'm sure he made yours super special. Hugs.

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  84. Stephanie HolkinsJuly 8, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Ashley - Your words are as beautiful as ever.

    My Mom had AKC high-end pure bred dogs when I was growing up. I knew nothing about rescues or cats. About 15 years ago, at the urging of my friends, I rescued my first cat, Harley. She is/was the love of my life. Your story about Rudy's death parellel's the story of my Harley's death in January 2004. It took me a long time to forgive myself for not being with her when she died.

    Her baby sister, Patches, is still with me - she will be 11 in September. And many others have come and gone. Leo, 2, is now a part of our family and we just adopted Cherokee yesterday.

    I chose many years ago to not have human children. 15 years ago I found out that I was meant to be a fur momma. They are my children. Most people do not understand and that's okay.

    I chose to leave the corporate rat race and now spend my time volunteering with a rescue group and two shelters ... I found your Pet Pardons site and hope to be posting animals to it soon. Leo is also a Hope Hospice volunteer with me - the residents get so excited to see a kitty, as usually only dogs volunteer for the therapy program.

    Thank you for all that you do! You are an inspiration to all of us!

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  85. Your love for Rudy is truly beautiful. I think so many of us understand those feelings. I lost my Buddy 7 years ago in June and can't talk about him without crying - I was oh so grateful to have him! He was almost 14 and it was my daughter's birthday party and he didn't want to get up to go out before we left for the party. I was torn if we should go or not, but he seemed ok, other than not wanting to get up. I loaded the kids in the car and for some reason came back in the house and gave him a kiss and told him whenever he was ready to go to Jesus that he could, and he had died while we out, but I think that it was his time to go and he was ready - wow did I love that dog! I read your blog all the time and want you to know that you are such a wonderful young woman! Many blessing as you continue your rescue work in honor of your Rudy!

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  86. The past few years I've learned over and over again that my animals are the best friends I will ever have. I have respect for animals of all kinds, and a few find their ways into my heart. In my life I've fallen in love with dogs, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and one rabbit.
    I have a somewhat similar story. A month ago, I had plans to go see a movie with some friends, which I rarely do anymore because of the expense. Before I left I looked in on my bunny in passing, and she made it known that she was anxious to get out and play, so I told her tomorrow we'd play. When I came back from the movie around midnight, I went to feed her as I always do before bed. She couldn't stand up. I immediately took her to the emergency vet where (after charging me a $100 emergency fee) she was diagnosed with a broken femur. To this day I have no idea how she broke it. After x-rays, pain meds, surgery, and way more money than I could really afford, I had to euthanize her because the surgery failed. And when I held her as she went to sleep, she was suffering.
    If I had stayed home that night and spent that time with her she would've been able to express her energy playing, in a way that didn't fracture her femur. I cried for days without ceasing, and I still cry.
    Ironically, just before I went inside that night, I was talking to my friend about how I'm so tired of my life sucking, and I was scared of what would happen next.
    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

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  87. God Be with you Ashley. I cried reading your story and reminded me of my Brandy (had 14 yrs) and I thought I was going to make it without him. he was my baby; he passed in 1992 and I can remember Every detail...since then I have had a cat for 13 yrs (passed in 2005) same yr.as my Dad...Now I have Samson for 4 yrs...so Ashely I so relate to your pain and will be praying for you. God Bless you for keeping on going on!!!! Thanks for sharing your story.. a lot of people thought I was crazy for being so upset over a dog... Ashley, you are an Angel for all that you do and I'm so sorry your heart is breaking again.. god bless

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  88. Oh we are just bawling our eyes out over here. Ashley, I just want to reach out and hug you. You have achieved so very much in Rudy's honour. Rudy is shiny down on you from his star and I know he is so proud.

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  89. Your story is such an inspiration for your love and devotion to Rudy and also the love he had for you. It is heartbreaking to lose our four legged babies, I still cry thinking of my dog Oliver, 15yrs old and my cat Tiger, 17yrs old, both rescue animals....I miss them terribly every day....only animal lovers can understand how we feel....we are so proud of your passion to help these animals who without you could never know the love that each animal deserves...keep up the great work and Rudy was so lucky you picked him that day and you gave him a lifetime of love in the time you had him and you were so lucky to have a heart dog like him....my heart dog is Dodger who is 91/2 yrs old..I can only imagine how i will be when he goes...I really feel your pain in losing Rudy but I know he is looking down on you and is proud of what you've accomplished this year..thank you for sharing the worst day of you life.....I'm still crying

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  90. This is horrible. I had a pitbull named Chaylie for 2years. I called her Jessica Simpson, because she was pretty but she was kind of out there. One of the gentlest, sweetest dogs I have ever met. Loved my two small kids, and got along with everyone and everything. My ex-husband had her and my other dog which is a black lab, one weekend and when I got that phone call telling me he found her dead in the backyard, I couldn't believe it. I could barely stand to see her laying in the yard. I can still feel her velvet head and her big ol' tongue. Makes me cry everyday. Had I picked them up, the day before I'd still have my girl. I know how you feel, and it is just like loosing one of your kids. I'm sorry that happened to him. Chaylie, had just turned two. Rylie, my 6yr old lab was also affected by her death. He mourned her for a couple of weeks. She was his buddy. I'm glad theres someone like you, who'stepping up and taking care of these poor animals that are beating and abandoned. Good luck, with this site and your group.Sincerely Erin Miracle

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  91. You have to be a weak person to cry for a animal when it dies. I am so happy to know I am not the only weak person that cries. My baby died in January, and as a 55 years old man I am not supposed to show weakness like that. So I want. But thanks to people like you I can find a place like this and share the sadness in my heart and know there are others that feel the same way.
    I have four dogs under the table right now as I write this. Your story made me think about one of them. His eyes as he looks at me. I can see the love he has for me and I know that to him, I am his world. And the same for the other three.
    When it comes to a loved one, we cannot help being weak. And when that loved one walks on all four, at lease we know their love is true.
    Maybe Rudy was there to greet my baby when she went on? maybe Rudy is now doing good works in heaven just like you are doing here on Earth. And maybe it's okay to cry and be weak, when we lose a loved one.

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  92. RIP Rudy.. sweet boy. I love you, Ash.

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  93. Ashley, Many people think of them as just animals, If you have never had an Dog who stole your heart, well you have no idea what you are missing. Rudy reminds me of my Spike. He was a Jack Russel terrier. I had been asked by my brother in law if I wanted a puppy, and I told him yea right away. I hadn't even seen him or touched him, but already I began preparation for the new addition to our home.
    Just shy of 4 and a half weeks old I got the drastic news that his mother stopped feeding the puppies. They told me that if a miracle didn't happen we would lose him. So I immediately went to the nearest Walmart and I got a puppy nursing bottle and some of the milk for my baby. Then I went directly to get my baby. I fell in love with him immediately. I took him home and began the first day with my baby Spike.
    He was weak from not eating that day yet he kept fighting. He had a half a bottle every hour and a half. It was like having a child there beside me. If I wasn't on time he would let me know with a gruff woof.
    He began getting stronger and as the day arrived that he would be six weeks old he had already graduated to Gravy Train.
    Huricane Lily passed through Louisiana and My husband and I decided to Move back to Kentucky.
    There my daughter waited to meet Spike and Droopy another Jack Russel mixed breed that I had also saved that same year.

    Carol

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  94. I just ran outside and hugged Champ, Charlie, and Lucky! If i had one wish I would wish my dogs died when I die! I couldn't handle them dying and they probably couldn't handle me dying. They would think Where's Libby? She's not come to see us! Where is she????? It'll never happen but I hope some scientist finds a way to do that before one of my dogs pass! It will KILL me!!!!

    -Libby

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  95. wow I'm in tears I lost my dog due to a tumor 2 years back she was 13 but still young and healthy her name was Casey. She had gotten struck by a car (I wasn't there)but got up as if nothing happened and continued running and playing I didn't take her to the vet because i thought it must have been a tap. three months later she had a lump on her head and sure enough it was a tumor resulting from the crash. Immediately they operated her but it was two late 5 months afterwards the tumor got bigger and she began to eat her own feces. The worst decision in life had to be made I took her for her favorite snack ice cream and I took her to the vet to be put to sleep. She knew, the way she looked at me and the way she ran outside the vets office told me she knew. That day I lost my baby and it was all my fault. My heart goes out to you I know how you feel. RIP Rudy and Casey.

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  96. Ashley, You are an amazing woman and your story about Rudy brought me to tears. I think all of us have been there at one time in our life, where we lose a beloved pet, and feel that life can not go on. Thank you for all that you do and know that you gave Rudy more than he had ever had, when you took him in and gave him is dignity back.

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  97. I truly understand your pain, 2 years ago on June 9. I lost a special family member. Her name was Dixie. I was taking my daughter to her Karate class when I received a call from my husband. He said I needed to get home. It was lighting and thundering outside. I knew in his voice something wasn't right,I said whats wrong?, he would keep replying Just get home. I said, what is wrong?. He then said its one of our babies, They were hit by lighting when outside using the bathroom. He said it was Dixie. I went numb all over and said no no. I rush home and cried all the way home,it felt like i couldn't get there fast enough. My husband said he was in his room when he heard a big bang that sound that a shot gun was at the window and he thought that the lighting was coming down on the house. He glazed outside and saw Dixie laying on the ground, He told our youngest son to watch out the window and call for help if needed.My husband put his shoes on and despite of his own safety he went to get her. But when he did , she was gone.We all just couldn't believe it.Why we would ask.The next day I called the local radio and animal shelters and told them of our lost and asked that they tell and warn people to make sure there babies were put up so this wouldn't happen to them. My older son built a casket and we had a family funeral for her. We still miss her deeply and will never forget her and the joy she has given our family. Every year we take and put flowers on her grave underneath a Mimosa tree where we can look out our window and see her.
    I pray this never happens to anyone.Please if you can put your babies in a safe place at the time of storms. Every time it storms now, I don't let my dogs out and storms scare me.
    I know some people may think we are crazy but I feel our 4 legged friends have feelings to and want to love someone as they want to be loved. May God bless you Ashley for all you do in finding homes for these babies. Blessing to you all. Cyndi D

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  98. P.S
    May all our 4 legged family that has passed,
    May they RIP
    We will truly miss them but they will never be forgotten
    R.I.P
    Dixie
    Blessings, Cyndi D

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  99. Ashley, My thoughts and prays are with you and my heart goes out to you. I know exactly how you did feel and how you feel now. God had place you and Rudy in each other lives for a reason. All you can do is just be thankful for the time that you and Rudy did have together here on earth and know that someday you two will be together again. I feel the same way you do about animals. They are our sons and daughters and are a huge part of our lives. I wish I could save all the animals in the world. I think about it all the time. One day I can home from work and my husband had a card taped to my computer that read: "You can not save the whole world of animals but you are the world to the animals that you have". You were the world to Rudy. You are a wonderful person. God Bless, Debbie

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  100. beautifully written..as always. no pain like this. it never goes away. i'm sorry, ashley. my daughter lost her 2 yr old baby pittie 3 weeks ago today. i was 1100 miles away. listening to the guttural, primal screams of my 27 year old child was heartwrenching. i flew to ohio from florida the first chance i got (3 days later)and drove her and her other pittie back with me. i know your words have helped her. thank you, from the bottom of my heart for sharing your pain,thank you.

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  101. I just want to say thank you for sharing your story about Rudy. Almost 2 weeks ago my husband and I lost our 10 week old puppy suddenly, and we still don't have a lot of answers from the necropsy other than it really wasn't our fault and there probably wasn't anything we could have done. We only had her for 3 weeks, but it was enough for her to wiggle her way into our hearts for good. Reading your story was like reading my own, right down the emotions. I was horribly guilty, especially because she was just a puppy and I felt responsible for keeping her safe and well. I felt like I would never be happy again the day she died, and I was depressed for several days afterward, not eating and crying a lot. I've lost pets in my past, as well, but never suddenly like this. I felt very helpless and angry, wondering why my angel was taken from me. I just wanted to let you know that your story has helped me and inspired me to continue my blog in her memory, and you have made me realize that we are not crazy for loving and missing her as much as we do. A lot of people don't understand having these intense emotions for an animal, but I can't imagine not feeling this intensely. My pets are like my babies, especially since I don't have any children yet, so losing one of them is heart-wrenching. I hope you have let go of the guilt and have let your heart heal.

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  102. Oh, Ashley, I'm still crying after reading your horrific ordeal. It only brings back my own memories of 18 mos ago..I've mentioned this before, but not the details. On Christmas Day 2009, while I was 3000 miles away, I'd left my 5 dogs boarding at the vets office...someone I've trusted for the last 20 years. My baby Red had been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy that May, but I'd immediately started walking her, giving her supplements, so, against ALL odds, in December she was still running in the yard and still getting off the floor using her own strength. I had built her a wheelchair in October to support her when I took her for her walks. I knew that sometime that next year I would be faced with the decision of putting her down to preserve her dignity..she was a proud baby. Unfortunately, in March of that year we had lost Rowdy (also a girl), Red's companion of all her life. I was so overwhelmed with Red's diagnosis that I failed to see how much Red had been mourning...the symptoms were there, I just didn't put 2 and 2 together. So at 10:15 Christmas morning I get a call in my hotel room and hear my vet's office owner on the phone...and the words came out of her mouth..Red's dead, she died in her sleep. Your story reminds me sooo much of mine..I started screaming, nooo, nooo, now is that possible. In my case, after much anger and hurt (which I still feel every day), I began telling myself that Red and God had done me the favor of taking the decision of putting her to sleep out of my hands, but I will never get over the fact that I wasn't there to hold her, and kiss her when she died. You see, because I could not return to town for 3 days after the fact and she was so heavy (and I had no one to help me carry her), I had to decide to cremate her, so I never got to see her again! Of the 10 dogs I've lost, she's the only one cremated. I've always been there for my babies, holding them, kissing them...it's so much harder when it's like this! To make matters worse, I lost another one the following April, also while I was out of town, but I was able to return and pick her up. You don't have to worry about the memories...they will always be there. Sarah Ortiz

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  103. Thank you for sharing your story. Please know that what you do inspires others and that Rudy didn't die in vain. I've always adopted my dogs from shelters or rescues, but after reading your stories and following pet pardons, I decided to do more. Now I'm volunteering with rescue groups and helping in whatever ways I can. Thank you for inspiring me. Hugs to you on this difficult day.

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  104. Thanks for sharing your story , I know how hard it is to loose a your babies. A Yr. ago one of my babies got cancer and we fought for him to live so hard everything I could do,And then my little FunnyFace just would not eat anymore he was slowly dieing and the vet said it was not fair for him, The hardest thing I have evre done in my life was hold his hand and let him go to the rainbow bridge and I still cry to day, And exactly a yr and two weeks to him dieing his sister YoYo just died on me in her sleep woke up and there she was and all the feelings you had I had them again,I questioned what I missed not to see she was sick or needed me , was I too busy what My heart breaks but the other kids help keep me a little sane . My heart breaks in knowing I have two 16 yr. olds that time is running slow for them but I try not to think about it. I am so sorry foryou loose and my prayers go out to you and your baby it hurts.And Thanks for doing what you you I wish I could my heart is getting tired of breaking so we close the doors with each new death. Bless you

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  105. Thank you for sharing your story.... I lost my kitty Kahlia far too young. It's horrifying to be reminded of the mortality of the ones we love.... Kahlia was only a year and a half, and in spite of all my best efforts to keep her safe, she slipped out our back door and was killed by my dog. It ripped my heart out, not just because I lost my kitty- But because my boy was involved. We think he wanted to play- When I was around, he wouldn't get over excited around the girls, but outside playing with his buddy, the two boys were over excited, and 30 kg of Lab mix are simply no match for 5kg of cat.

    I hated myself for not being home that day- My mum and I had gone out for an hour to buy a new clock, our old one smashed the night before.... I didn't particularly want to go.... But I did. Even now, i wonder- Would she have slipped out if I'd been home? I will never know.

    Since Kahlia's death, I have thrown myself into doing what I love- Helping animals. I'm not in a position to foster sadly, so I assist a cat rescue in fundraising duties, and I work to share every animal I can. We have since adopted three lovely kittens, who I adore- But every day I miss my sweet, sweet Grey Lady.

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  106. I'm so sorry. I know the pain all too well because I've had Furry kids my whole life. Most recently I lost my 38 year old horse. I've had well meaning friends ask me why I continue to adopt and have animals in my life when it hurts so much when. I lose them? My answer is simple..the lives of all my furry kids has enriched mine so much that to not have had them, to not have shared my home and my heart...well I would've been the loser.
    Thank you for your heart, thank you for your love, thank you for all you do for the furry kids.

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  107. Ashley,
    I too know that pain very well. My son Ziggy, If he couldn't go any where, I wasn't going except for work. I walked around with this hole in my chest,hard to breath. When he died. Each year the feeling got a little bareable. I have more dogs I love very much, but not like Ziggy. The only thing bad about loving a pet, Is saying GOODBYE forever.

    Deb from Tampa Fl

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  108. I'm at work right now sobbing my heart out over this very sad yet touching tribute to your furson. I've tried imagining many times what I would do if one of my furchildren were to die and I end up in tears every single time. I too am like Nubbin Tails above, I decided years ago that I was not cut out to have children, was not the mommy type, yet when my Chewy & Lilibell came into my life all of a sudden I became a Mom, Mom to two wonderful, loving and beautiful furchildren. I can never imagine my life without them beside me.

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  109. Melissa SchlechtJuly 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Dear Ashley,
    Last year, June 4, 2010, I lost my baby. He was only two and it was the hardest thing that ever happened to me. He was my little boy and I was a Mommy. The feeling of coming home from school and him being so happy to see me was amazing. It was like I had been gone forever and he was seeing me for the first time. He followed me everywhere and couldn't stand to be away from me. This story really touched me and it helps to know that people feel the same way about their pet-children as I did about Trooper. I wish you the best and thank you so much for doing what you do. :)

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  110. it's heartbreaking to lose a dog like you did. My deepest condolences.

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  111. so sad :( i was crying my eyes out :( its like reversed karma you did something nice for someone by comforting them and thats what happens... well it was obviously meant to be :'( i was crying the whole time my wishes to you

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  112. stephanie carvinoAugust 8, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Hi ashley My name is stephanie I am a facebook friend of yours ans I pet pardon everyday. you are an inspiration to many. iim crying at my desk at work as i read about beautiful Rudy and Im so sorry for your loss..You gave Rudy a life again a home ,.you took away the fear in him..you made sure he always had food and water again..you were his mom..you gave him him life once again you were his guardian angel.

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  113. As the tears are flowing, reading this story. I can relate so much to this. I am the mother of a rescue and I can not imagine my world without her. I hope that you find happiness and joy for your future. Anyone that looks out for out precious animals should feel that always.
    My respect and love.

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  114. Oh man this is so painful to read... but you are an amazing person and my true hero.

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  115. This was a beautiful tribute to Rudy
    Thank you for all you do to help these dogs
    I wish there were more people out there in this world like you
    You are an angel

    Lauren

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  116. TEARS are falling.... I too will have a day soon that will forever be known as my worst day... August 13th will mark the one year without my soul and heart.... I lost my baby girl that day just as I lost myself. Ashley, the love you shared with Rudy will live one in every dog you save. Find strength to continue, Find comfort in knowing He will greet you in heaven, as all the dogs you ever saved and loved will. I would shorten my life to have my Disney back. I mean that!! IN one year my life changed so much, in her honor I stepped into saving more lives, I feel closer to her when I do that. THe pain will never stop, my heart will forever be empty, and my love for her will never waiver. I am truly lost without her and I feel your loss for the day you lost Rudy... I'm so so sorry. Colleen Byrd NC

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