7.09.2011

One Year Later

The days and weeks after Rudy’s death were some of the toughest of my life. Especially that next day, July 9, 2010, when I had to accept that he was really gone forever.

During that time, I let the pain break me; I let the grief change me; I let my spirit die with him. I became so far removed from the person I was before, that I honestly didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I was just… there. And barely.

While so many friends tried to comfort me, my only request was to be left alone. Because that’s exactly how I felt… alone. Abandoned. Shocked. Angry. Heartbroken. Devastated. And alone.

Even still, I was lucky to have so many people who cared about me. I received more calls, emails, and special gifts than I had at any other time in my life. I had messages from across the country, from people I’d never talked to, reaching out to offer comfort and support. Each person also took the time to explain how I had personally inspired them in some way, and those words truly meant the world to me.

But honestly... I couldn’t see myself as any kind of inspiration. I felt like quite the opposite… a complete and total failure.
One night, I talked to my friend Katie. She was trying to cheer me up by reminding me of all the lives I’d saved over the years. But for me, it had all lost its meaning. I said, “I don’t even know if I care anymore. I honestly think it’s best for me to take a break for a while. Maybe forever.” Katie said, “Ash! No! These dogs need you! You can’t take a break! Please don’t quit!” I responded, “My heart is too broken for this right now. I just can’t do it anymore.” And I got off the phone.

In saying those words… the words I’d promised myself I’d never say… I never wanted to give up on the dogs who need me. But after Rudy’s death, I suddenly felt like my heart just couldn’t take it, like every bit of strength and optimism I’d held inside had been ripped away. For so long—but not long enough—Rudy had been my comfort… from the pain of the work I do, from the cruelty of the world, and often, from reality itself. And now, he was gone. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. And tragically. In addition to Rudy, what really died for me… was hope.

Rudy died on July 8th. My 26th birthday was on July 11th, and it was easily the toughest birthday I’ve ever had. I hadn’t left my house in days, and the last thing I wanted was for people to wish me a “happy” birthday. I just couldn’t bear to talk to anyone. I knew how depressing it was to be in my presence, and I hated myself for being the person I never wanted to be. I was suddenly so different… in the worst possible way… and I didn’t want to burden others with my pain.

For my birthday, I ordered a special memorial for Rudy, a small garden statue of a dog with angel wings. It was just perfect for the flowerbed I’d planted over Rudy’s grave. *Remember this part of the story… it comes back later… in a big way. I’ll share that tomorrow.*

On my birthday, Katie called, asking if she could stop by my house. I nicely told her that I didn’t want to see anyone. But she insisted, saying, “Ash, I’ll only stay a second. I have something for you.”

So I reluctantly agreed… but I warned her that the person she’d see when she arrived was not the same Ash she knew and loved. When she got here, I could see the initial shock on her face in witnessing what the grief had done to me. Despite that, she said, “You look good, Ash.” I responded: “I look like hell. But thanks for caring enough to lie.” Katie said, “Hush. You always look beautiful.”

She had a big smile on her face… which I found odd… but I assumed she was just trying to help me feel normal again. Then, she handed me a card. As I went to take it from her, she stopped me… and said: “The day after Rudy died, I started calling everyone we know. I wanted your birthday to be special, and I couldn’t stand the thought of you giving up on rescue. If I’d had more time, I could’ve done more… but in 2 days, this is what I was able to do for you…”

I asked, “Katie, what did you do??” She grinned and said, “Open it.” I opened the card to find more than $600 in donations… which at the time, was unprecedented for me. The card itself held more signatures than I could even count.

I was completely speechless. I sat there, staring at this card… a representation of so much compassion… tangible proof that so many people in my hometown actually love me and the work I do. I’ve often asked myself, “Does anyone here really care about my work… about my attempts to change the world?” That day, I knew the answer. They do care. Many of them.

With tears streaming down my face, I said, “You didn’t have to do this.” She said, “I wanted to do it… for you. And for all the dogs who need you. Ash, please don’t give up. Just look at how many people believe in you.”

That was the first time since Rudy died that I thought, maybe… just maybe… hope still existed.

A few days later, a tagged photo on facebook would inevitably lead to the purchase of Lucky Dog Retreat… and the realization of my lifelong dream. Suddenly, I was beginning to understand why Rudy had to leave me. In truth, the void in my heart after his death was ultimately the catalyst of change in my life. That loss would push me forward… guiding me towards hope and opportunity… and allowing me to reach my dreams.

And so... instead of despair, I grabbed hope... and held on for the wildest ride of my life...

Over the next few months, so many positive things happened for me. Lucky Dog Retreat became incredibly successful, and I was able to save many more lives through Lucky Dog Rescue. One of those special dogs was Annie, and later sharing her story would change my life in a huge way. (There’s another piece of Annie’s story I haven’t shared before… an event after her death that would give me all the hope I needed for the rest of this story to be possible. I’ll share that story tomorrow. It’s unreal.)

Over time, as each new rescue dog came through, I could feel their love slowly patching the holes in my heart. There are far too many dogs to list them all by name, but they each changed me, healed me, and further saved me from despair. And in December, I adopted my dog Riley, who would provide the final piece of healing.

Also in December, we launched Pet Pardons, a small idea that became huge. I didn’t understand at the time just how huge it really was, but it was a total game changer for me personally, and a life saver for so many pets on death row. Pet Pardons has restored my faith in humanity, compassion, and action, and to date, more than 150,000 users have helped us save more than 3000 lives.




  


In January, a friend of mine, Catherine Moore, suggested that I start a blog, and she offered to build it for me. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and while I was nervous about putting myself out there, I didn’t have much to lose.

I decided on the name “Lucky Dog Rescue Blog,” and lovingly dedicated the site to my Rudy. On January 12, 2011, I launched my first post, My Story.

In all honesty, my greatest hope was that a couple of people would read it, and maybe one person would feel inspired to get involved. That was honestly the extent of my dreams for this thing. But I had no idea… that this blog would completely change my life...

I started writing, and people started reading. And more started reading. And then even more joined in. Messages from across the country—across the globe—were filling my inbox, and my heart was so full at the realization that people were not only connecting with my words, but also finding comfort and being driven to action.

Then, in March, I wrote the story that would change everything… Annie’s story. Yes, that Annie. Annie was a terminally ill death row rescue, who lived her last days in my home. At the suggestion of some friends, I wrote about her time with me… hoping it would inspire someone to do the same for another deserving dog. On March 7, 2011, I posted Annie’s story, assuming it would be just like every other post.

That’s when I was contacted by Care2.com, asking to feature the story in their “Rescue of the Week” segment. I was truly honored, but I still had no idea how far Annie’s story would reach. Adopt-a-Pet shared the story, Alyssa Milano tweeted the post, and Dogster.com, BellaDog Magazine, and countless other sites and publications also featured the story.

Suddenly, rescues and shelters from across the country were asking for my help to develop end-of-life programs for terminally ill pets. The fabulous Dr. Pia Salk of Adopt-a-Pet also called me for a long chat about how the story had personally impacted her. Pia and I would later work together on a post for Martha Stewart's blog. In addition, Guarding Dogs-The Documentary decided to make Lucky Dog Rescue part of their upcoming film project.

Before March, Annie’s life had only ever mattered to me. Now, her memory lives on in the hearts of more people that I ever could’ve imagined…

Because, to date, Annie’s story has been read and shared by well over 100,000 people… and growing.

Following that post, major websites contacted me to write guest blogs for their readers. For my Dogster.com guest blog, I chose to write a story I’d shared in the past… but from a different perspective. That story… was Rudy’s story… and it would be the next game changer for me. I sobbed as I poured my heart into the story of my little boy, and the writing process healed my heart in places that I didn’t know were still hurting. But in sharing that post, I had no idea just how huge it would be…

After Dogster’s feature, I was flooded with calls and messages from people around the world who had been touched by the piece… and the outpouring of compassion and support was nothing short of incredible. American Dog Magazine featured Rudy’s story in their summer issue, along with another of my blog posts, and a 2-page feature on me and Lucky Dog Rescue. That's 6 pages in their summer issue. Unreal.
Ahh yes, the "Barbie" photo
Following the Rudy blog, several other posts would hit it big, with an insane number of clicks and shares. Every week, I’m contacted by another site or publication that wants to feature one of my posts. It’s completely unbelievable. I wish I had the words to explain how honored, touched, and appreciative I am for the outpouring of support I’ve received. "Thank you" just doesn't seem sufficient.

My blog also led to another amazing event this year. A few months ago, one of my blog readers, Michelle Sathe, author of “Pit Stops,” added Lucky Dog Rescue as a stop on her cross-country book tour. In May, she finally came to visit, and it was one of the highlights of my year by far. Also, the blog post Michelle wrote about her time with me was one of the most wonderful pieces ever written about this ole Mississippi girl.

Today, six months after my very first post, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog gets more than 55,000 page views per month… and growing. I’ve received messages from readers across the world, in more than 30 different countries, and I’ve connected with more people than I ever could’ve imagined. Each day, so many special readers take the time to tell me how I’ve inspired them, changed their way of thinking, or driven them to action. After reading my posts, people are suddenly stepping-up to volunteer, foster, and transport… and those very readers are truly changing the world. It’s just more than I ever dreamed possible.

Because... if I’m being honest... I’m still shocked that anyone at all is reading this thing…

Last month, Lucky Dog Rescue received its official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. That was another huge game changer. At 26 years old, I achieved my ultimate goal in life, giving me the chance to save so many more lives going forward. On that day, I felt Rudy, right there with me, saying, “You did it!” But I never would’ve done it, without him. His life inspired me beyond belief… and his death motivated me like nothing else ever could.

Receiving my tax exempt letter was a major accomplishment and the perfect ending to an amazing year… or so I thought. But just before the year ran out… the final piece fell into place. More on that later, but it’s the biggest game changer of all...



One year ago, my life changed forever. And every day since, it’s changed forever too. But the biggest changes only happened, when I altered my mission… from mourning Rudy’s death… to honoring Rudy’s life.

In doing so, I opened my heart, I followed my dreams, and I fought my way back… to hope.

And wow… what a year it’s been…

*Rudy, I love you so much. Thank you for changing my world as much in death... as you did in life. I hope I've made you proud, buddy. When I get to Heaven, I expect to see a long line of dogs waiting to greet me. Please make sure you're first in line. I miss you.
-Mom

**Next, I’ll share one of the most incredible moments from last year, the event after Annie’s death that made this entire year possible. Click below to read that post (Part 3):

75 comments:

  1. Oh Ashely
    I know we don't know each other personally. Your story is so heartfelt.
    As I read, I just couldn't believe how much your story was like the one me and my family went though on June 9,2009 When Our dog Dixie was hit by lighting 10 days before my daughters 17th birthday. She and I both was so devastated and it felt as if we had died our self.
    Every time we went outside and walked pass where we have buried her underneath a Mimosa tree,we just cried and say "why?" My heart goes out to you and I know in time God will heal our pain. Our babies may be gone but they will never be forgotten.I know they have left a great impression on our heart and others.
    I want you to know, I'm thankful you didn't give up on all those babies that desperately need a loving home. Please know Rudy is looking down on you and I know he is smiling.
    Blessings to you, Cyndi D

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  2. That was such a heart touching story! I cant wait for tomorrows story!

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  3. thats an awesome story. looking forward to reading more.

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  4. Ash, I had to comment, because there are too many similarities, and because the tears are streaming. My name is also Ash, though not Ashley. I lost my boy, Shunka, 2 years ago, June 19th, and my birthday was June 25th. I wish I could do what you are doing, but I am seriously chronically ill. I'm looking for a new addition, though no one can ever replace my boy. I thought you might like to read what I wrote for the 2 year anniversary, which was a very healing thing for me. All about what he - and his passing - taught me. It's called "Looking into my soul."
    http://wolfdreams.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/two-years-ago-today/

    Many blessings to you!

    Ash

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  5. This is truly a testament of what just one person who cares can do to make the difference for so many little lost, abandoned or just in need pet souls! Amazing! I get greif all the time about why I care so much about dogs, why do I love them so much...because their love is unconditional and non judgmental! They give you hope and inspire just like Lucky has for you! =) I can't wait for tomorrows story!

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  6. Wow. Thank you all so much. Honestly, none of these amazing, life-saving events would've ever taken place if Rudy was still here today... because I was so content with my life as long as I had his love. So, that void really was the biggest game changer for me... and for so many of the dogs I've been able to save.

    I could've easily let Rudy's death take me out of the rescue game for good. I almost did let that happen. But I would've suffered, and the dogs who need me would've continued to suffer. Flipping that switch from despair to hope, and inevitably, to action, was life-changing for me.

    It's all because of Rudy. Rudy runs through every sentence of my story. He is, without a doubt, the greatest dog that ever lived and died.

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  7. I just love you...... it is possible to love someone u have never met! Loved ur storie as I always do!.... you are the highlight to my dim days... god bless.. britt

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  8. You are such a darn inspiration Ashley. I know that losing one of my boys would completely and totally break me. No question, but to pick yourself up and do THIS with the next year is extraordinary and a testament to what an amazing person you are. I am in awe.

    PS - embrace the Barbie. Seriously, I think someone should contact Mattell and ask them to build a Rescue Barbie based on you! Imagine if little girls had a Barbie role model like that? Awesome

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  9. I have a major depressive disorder and have been so afraid how I will handle it when my 11 year old boy, Tundra, leaves us. You have given me some hope and something to work with when the time comes. You have touched sooo many lives. You have no idea.

    Ellen

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  10. The day I read Annie's story, I knew I had to help, do something, anything. Donating just money wasn't enough for me and now being able to work with you and the dogs each week has enriched my life in so many ways! You are truly an inspiration and I am going to be devastated when school starts back in a few weeks knowing I won't be able to spend as much time with y'all. Not only are you changing the lives of the dogs, but you are changing a lot of our lives and I thank you for that!

    Love ya,
    Maygen

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  11. Maygen, you are my heart. I love you. You have no idea how much help and hope you've given me by volunteering. I'm so thankful for you every day. Mostly, for your friendship.

    Brittini, that means more to me than you'll ever know. Thank you.

    Jodi- Haha I actually do embrace the Barbie. And I love you to pieces. Honestly, your blog about me did more than I can tell in words. I was every bit as awestruck by you as you said you were by me. Thank you.

    Ellen, thank you so much, and I'll be thinking of you. You can get through it though, I promise.

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  12. Your writing is phenomenal! What a treasure - allowing all of us to share in your aches and joys. Putting into words the gut-wrenching hurt we feel upon losing a piece of ourselves. Although we can never really prepare for the demise of our "children", no matter how serious or long the illness, when it's sudden - the pain is so much more intense. Imagine really being alone, and having had to carry and bury, Rudy, by yourself. We find the strength to carry on, all the time wondering how, and eventually learn to love again. Unfortunately... there's always more waiting in the wings.

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  13. Several months ago Ian Somerhalder shared your blog through a tweet. I went there and I read the entire thing, with a box of tissue near by and a mug of tea I spent the evening with your blog. You inspired my staff at the farm, as well as myself, to get active in ways we hadn't before. Since that evening we have raised $3,000.00 for local shelters and for that the animals and people thank you. We thank you for sharing your story. For making the impact that you make on a daily basis to all the animals and people alike. Sometimes when you save an animal, you save a human in the process and that is the greatest gift anyone could ever give. And Ashley, YOU are the greatest gift to every animal you save. You are also a gift to every human you inspire. Thank you so much for that. You are such a blessing.

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  14. Ashley,
    You truly are a gift to this world. Your will, hope and strength is just amazing. I only got found Pet Pardons adn Lucky Dog Rescue Blog a little over a month ago but its changed my life for the better. You've inspired me to start volunteering, something I've always wanted to do but never actualyl commited to.

    Dogs truly can change a person's life, ever since I adopted my two I've slowly become more and more aware of how important rescueing animals truly is and now by finding you and your words its only pushed me forward further. Thank you for the wonderful things you do and keep on posting amazing blogs.

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  15. Thanks for sharing, Ashley. We've never met but I feel that, in your Lucky Dog Rescue blog Pet Pardons, we've become sort of friends. I'm so glad you have continued your great cause even though life has thrown you so many curve balls in your young life. Again, thanks for all you do.

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  16. Just thank you....and God bless.

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  17. TRULY THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO .

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  18. You are such an inspiration to me. I am 19 years old and animals have been my love and passion for as long as I can remember. After seeing a program on TV about a rescue group when I was 10 or so, it's been my heart's dream. What you do is exactly what I wish I could do someday, and my heart is burdened with the welfare of all God's creatures. I believe this passion is something I was born with, and for a reason. Although I am a "dog person" at heart, I hope to be able to rescue and find homes for animals of all kinds: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, pigs... My heart hurts for them all.
    It is comforting to me to know that someone else understands the depth of love I feel for these creatures, because in my life I've never known anyone that did. I've had plenty of people judge me though.
    Thank you for allowing your heart to remain open to these animals that desperately need you, despite the pain that comes with loving them.

    <3
    H

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  19. Ashley, you are one incrediable awesome angel that ever walked the face of the earth in your young life. You are an inspiration to everyone. But mostly, you are the highest gold in the world to your dogs, You are "MOM"...You are priceless !!! I love your storys and I love your young heart that you have for you dogs.. I wish all the lost, lonely, sick, hurt and abused dogs in the world had an Angel like you. There are few, but not enough. You are a Special person Ashley and I commend you....a friend Jo Ann Plopper

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  20. i adopted a puppy with parvo who wasnt going to make it. i had him for 26 hours before he decided to stop fighting the virus and he passed away. he impacted my life dearly and its great to see that other people are impacted like this too. you inspire me

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  21. only one word! breathtaking! you are an amazing person, thank you for not giving up and honoring the memories of your "Rudy".

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  22. Stefani Layman; Roscoe, ILJuly 9, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Amazing! I'm in tears thinking of all the great things you've made possible with your talents and drive! My first pitty adoptee is 13 and dread the day he physically leaves my world. When I lost my very first adoptee (rott/lab), my world stopped, too. Thankfully, remembering the wonderful life I - who turned into we during Teva's life - gave her kept me afloat. While coming home from the pound with our last two adoptees (a month apart), the thought of "why in the hell am I going to put us through this again in ?? years?" raced through my mind. Then, both times, I looked at our latest family 4-legged baby & answered my own question...because the unwanteds deserve great lives with great families. Losing them is pure hell. But providing them with love and even the basic neccesities of life they would not have gotten, is so worth it! Stay strong & keep on doing what you're doing! I admire you in so many ways! :)

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  23. Kirsten aka mcgaelicgalJuly 9, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Moved beyond words (rare for me!), so I'll just say - again - THANK YOU!

    Bright Blessings, Ashley. ♥ Kirsten

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  24. sandra christianJuly 9, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Ashley, your story was touching. I have 2 pitbulls and 5 other dogs that we rescued. I am the one who has a brother in Meridian and hope to come see you soon. It was so appropriate that I read your story today. This would have been my uncle's 76th birthday. He died last yr. He loved animals and was a vegetarian. I hope you have a better birthday this year! So much has happened to you in a yr. Love, Sandra Christian, Huntsville, AL

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  25. I only just came upon this the other day and when i got done reading the story i had tears rolling down my cheeks. memories of the animals that i had lost came to the surface and i had a small insight of what you must have been going through. i wish i could participate in the same field as you but i don't have the room in my tiny apartment. i had a dream about having a foster or rescue facility myself. who knows maybe i still will one day. however for now i will read these blogs and pass them on to spread your message to others as well. good luck with all the work you are doing now and in the future. thank you for sharing you tearful story with us.

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  26. Ash, I am so glad you had the strength to keep helping the animals after Rudy's death.. Just look at how many dogs you have helped!! You are greatly loved and appreciated by the 4-legged friends.. and the people who love them.

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  27. Hi Ashley
    I am an animal lover. I have a rescue and have had many other animals.
    Words can't express what a beautiful, unselfish, person. Your heart is more than huge. Thank you from the bottom of heart and soul for what you do for animals.
    I go to advocate for animals and just weep at some of the stories, but I hope and pray my advocating helps.
    You and an angel. saying thank you seems so little to say to you. But God Bless you and in all you do and thank you.
    Peggy and my sidekick Jeffery

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  28. I left out words. I meant thank you from the bottom of MY heart and soul. I meant words can't express what a beautiful, unselfish person you are.
    Peggy and Jeffery

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  29. It's so hard to lose a dog.

    I admire what you do! Keep up the good work.

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  30. ashely, sharing your wise words was a blessing to us all, I hope people will read this and think about caring for animals-and saving them. I agree you are a unselfish,beautiful person and I wish everyone could be just like you. I wish everyone could understand and have a big heart. Being with any kind of animal makes me happy. And I wish I could make a change in the world just like you did. Enough about my wishes and me. YOU! you're just unbelieveable, In the best way possible. Thanks for making people see in the life of a dog. And in the life of a perfect person. - this is coming from an 11 year olds mouth. Cameron.

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  31. I wonder why the death of a loved pet is what it takes to kickstart people into action? I also had to lose a loved dog to push me into volunteering for a gsd rescue. So now, whenever I am transporting a dog out of the kill shelter, I have to think of my big Diesel dog, who died, and because of that, so many dogs have lived. it is especially emotional when the dog i get didnt have much time or was not going to be put out in the adoption area to be given a chance for someone to find him. So, thank you Diesel, more than you will ever know. Ashley, you are a very talented writer, and wonderful person in general. Love you, and all you do.

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  32. Hey Ash--After reading your heartfelt blog and everyone else comments its kind of amazing how many of us have gone through similar experiences but were not ready to talk about it till you shared your story and we realized that we are not alone. And that is comforting to me and to so many others. A dogs love is special, a true blessing from God above and no-one can ever take that away. It helps us to become a better person through patience, understanding, and their total unconditional LOVE. My Prissy girl ruled my heart but I know she would want me to love like that again so I keep pushing forward and I think of her and I smile. She will always be with me, guiding me just like Rudy is guiding you. Keep saving as many poochies as you can . Each one has a little Rudy in them and you can look at them and remember that special angel and smile. God loves you and so do we!!!Julie

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  33. I'm speechless. Tears are streaming down my face. I don't even know what to say or how to say it. This blog only changed my life because of all of you. I owe you each a million thank you's for restoring my faith in humanity... for caring about me, reaching out to me, and loving me. It's unreal. It's absolutely incredible.

    Tracey, I don't know if you'll see this comment, but if you do, please send me an email or a private message so I can say THANK YOU for that incredible comment.

    To all of you, each and every one of you... I'm inspired by you daily. Thank you for the wildest ride of my life. It's far from over... it's just getting good.

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  34. Hi Ash,
    I love your blogs and feel so much hope for the world because people like you still exist in this superficial, politically correct mess. Although I'm a cat person, the feelings are the same. Our pets all go to Heaven and, fortunately, some haunt us (waiting or don't know what's up with that) until we pass on. My Beana jumps up on the bed again (the Queen Bean) and sleeps behind my head. When I go to pet whichever kitty that is, there's no one there. At least, no one with an actual body... but I am validated by my other cats suddenly chasing up the stairs and crying when they try to follow her through walls and bounce off. She was my hero during some very rough years, so handling this loss was hell. I want you to know, pets do to Heaven and they most certainly can be ghosts, Thank God.

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  35. I have to agree with so many people here that love your blog. I have always loved dogs, but it was laid on my heart 3 years ago to rescue. I started reading and researching not knowing at all how I could help. You see, Frank, my dear puggle... I blindly "adopted" him from a woman who turned out to be a back yard breeder. He was the last puppy and at 12 weeks old just wanted him gone. In the moment I arrived to pick him up, I knew any other dog living in those conditions needed help. And so it began... when I found your blog about a month ago, I haven't missed a post. I've gone back and read every post - some twice. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and I so connect with your writing, stories, challenges, and renewed hope. Crossroads Dog Rescue is now my passion, future, challenge, and hope. I thank you for lifting me up on days when rescue challenges seem at their worst. I hope that all of us that share your passion can lift you up when you face challenges. You are a treasure, Ashley. Never stop. As a voice from the dogs, "THANK YOU!!" ~Stephanie

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  36. Ashely

    I wish I had your drive and Passion....Never Ever give that Up...!!!!! God Bless Jim Hovde

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  37. Ashley,

    I can honestly say that you have changed my life. Ever since I was little I would beg my parents to stop the car so I can run out and rescue a stray dog. That's as far as it has gone...
    I started reading your blog back in Febuary. Each week I can't wait to read your blogs, they truely inspire me. I've always had a passion for animals, but you ingnited a spark in me, and now I'm finially doing something with it. Im a 19 year old college student, and while everyone around me is off living the college experience, I am always looking for ways to save dogs lives, because of you. Im fostering my first dog now, because of you. Im speaking out to family and friends, trying to spread the word of dont breed and buy while shelter pets die, because of you. I never knew what I wanted to do with my life, until I came across your blog. My new dream is to have a rescue just like you, and I thank you for that.

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  38. Anonymous @1:15am,
    I am sobbing right now. Good tears. Amazing tears. I never in my wildest dreams thought so many people would say they had gotten involved because of me. I'm speechless. It honestly just makes my whole life worthwhile. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    To everyone else here who said they got involved in some way because of me... you have each made dreams on top of dreams come true for me. I don't even know how to explain the appreciate I have for those posts. Wow. Thank you for all of the lives you are touching and saving. You are each changing the world... and that's just incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ashley, we share a birthday and I'm honored to do so. I so look forward to reading your post tomorrow. Thanks for all you do!

    My hubby co-founded Friends of the Walton County Animal Shelter this past year and your work is so inspiring to us. Our next project will be our own personal foundation, Allie's Rainbow. Allie was a 15 year old or so bichon- a puppy mill rescue who blessed our lives for two short years. I'll share that story with you sometime. It's all about miracles!

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  40. God bless you Ashley. There are those of us who love our dogs as much as we love our own lives. We look upon the sad stories of abuse and loneliness and shake our heads, wishing we could do something. But you're actually doing something. A BIG something. You're an inspiration to dog lovers everywhere. Thank you. I'm sure Rudy is in doggie heaven bragging to everyone that you were his person. :)

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  41. ashley, you are an angel to all the animals you help. thank you. you are my inspiration.

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  42. I read this and one thought kept coming into my mind....A sort of parallel if you will.....The story of the foot prints in the sand.....How the man was upset that during the hardest times of his life he could only see one set of foot prints.....because Jesus was carrying him during those times....I think if I were to look upon your beach during the last year....Those rough times when tears probably ran dry from not understanding why he was taken from you......if you looked at your beach of life in the past year you would simply see paw prints.....Rudy was carrying you Ashley......and he is still beside you in each and every thing you do....I feel Rudy is up there with Annie, with Lola with all the dogs who don't make it into Lucky Dog and he is telling them that it didn't have to be that way.....So Rudy has a new job because he knows his momma has this realm covered and he is going to tell them to wait for you....Wait for his Momma who will show all those pups exactly what it means to be loved......Because Rudy has faith in you......and I do to Ashley....you all have wings.....you just use them in different spaces.

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  43. My Katrina rescue, Toby, had to be put to sleep in January after his heartworm preventation failed. It brought me down HARD and laid me low for weeks but good came out of what he showed me in his life. Dogs love with all they have because that is what they know. I showed him my love to him the best I could but I knew his could never be matched, so I started a small time charity in his honor. Toby was a rescue that my father found the week after Katrina, wandering around a backyard that was a mile from the coast and was completely full of debris. Toby was only a few weeks old but my dad willed him to live. He was tucked into my father's shirt to keep his soaked little body warm and two days later dad made came home from the relief effort with Toby and that sick little puppy hung on with us for 6 years. He opened my eyes and gave me the will to help those who had a bad start as he did. My little charity fed all of the MARL dogs one day when they had no food at all. That was the first sign that Toby's legacy would live on. Thank you for being an inspiratio also. We all have faith in you Ashley!

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  44. Ashely, you keep telling me how much your blog means to you and how it would have never happened if it weren't for me suggesting it, but the truth is......YOU are the one that has made an impact in MY life! Wow. I can't tell you how much this post moved me! I'm in awe of you and in tears. You are one special person. I'm so glad you didn't give up, but honestly, I know that feeling and I've been there many times in the past two years. Maybe I'm not in the same "business" as you....but the feelings are the same. And, you spoke to me and reminded me that altho we may not see the big picture when we are in so much pain, it all works out the way God intended it in His Will and Plan. He's got this, Ash. Don't ever step out of bed wondering how you'll make it thru another day of seeing those babies in pain.....cast it all on Him and He will carry you thru it all. Keep up the writing and the good work. I'm so honored I was a part of your story and feel so blessed that we crossed paths!
    Love you!
    xoxo, cat

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  45. Ashley, thank you and thank you, Rudy...tears, no words...love to you <3

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'm glad that you kept on rescuing lifes, as you experienced, you are not alone. There are more than a milliard people that care for animals just like you do! The trick is to get out to them and let them know how to help. The pet pardon facebook application is one of the better ideas since many people use facebook every day. In fact, I wouldn't have been here writing this comment if it hadn't been for that application.
    Through internet you are connecting more people than anyone have ever done before. All of us should thank Rudy for what great role he implicitly have had in saving animals from death, giving them a better home. So, I will end this comment by saying: " Thanks Rudy and Ashely for everything you have done and will do."

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  47. Your blogs always make me cry and want to change the world too! My goal in life is to open an animal rescue for all animals, big and small. Reading your blogs and seeing what you do everyday to help as many animals as possible makes me want to do the same. I have always loved animals and always knew that that is where my heart is. Thank you so much for not giving up, there are so many animals that need your help, our help. You are my inspiration. Keep on keepin' on.
    xoxo-Brittany

    ReplyDelete
  48. Ashley! I grew up on a farm and took care of many animals, many not my own. Friends families would get rid of their unwanted kittens, cats and dogs with us figuring we had the room. We spayed/neutered out of our own pockets and fed up to 30 cats and 7 or so dogs at a time. I grew up saving butterflies in parking lots and spiders that anyone else would just kill. I would make family/friends stop to check boxes or bags that were disgarded on the side of the road to make sure they didn't contain animals as that's what I heard others did to get rid of them. I foster and provide transport for animals but I was hoping to hit this overpopulation problem on a grander scale. Is there more we can do on a legal aspect? I was thinking of having gov't run vet facilites that provided FREE spay and neutering. Instead of them providing vouchers that have dwindled, why not free spay/neuter clinics? Maybe I'm rambling, but I know that even tho many people are openning their hearts/homes to adoption/fostering, the problem is still there.

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  49. CONGRATS Ashley Owen Hill and all of your puppies. You deserve it.

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  50. I dont know how people dont understand the pain that animals feel. They feel love given to them. Animals are so giving, sharing, lickinglol love bundles of fur. I am so moved by your story and how you ended up being tax exempt and being able to move on to bigger and better pet help. I have also the desire to help and do what I can. I LOVE all animals, but dogs are my weakness. I have started my own page to try to get out the word of what is needed. That instead of doing nothing do something. Every aspect of life can help. If you dont know how to help ask someone who is working with rescues..I'm sure they will help you. Any, I am going to leave you my page and please feel free to send whatever you want shared. Thank you for taking care of all that you do. <3 https://www.facebook.com/ForAnimalsInTrouibleAndNeedHomes

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  51. Wow...as always, amazed by you Ashley! Thank goodness for you! My dream is to accomplish something even remotely close to what you have. This dream will have to wait until I have finshed the RN program...so I can begin to build my dream into a reality. I definitely plan to continue following Lucky Dog Rescue blog for inspiration! Thank you for everything you do...for your sacrifices, the security and love you give these rescues! I am so glad those select lucky dogs find themselves in your care! You should be very proud of the way you have memorialized all of your dogs...especially your Rudy!

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  52. AWESOME STORY/So very proud of you and all you went through and all you do and are doing/I have stories to/I also had a non profit in CA for 5 years some 25 years ago/even went to jail over trying to keep it/Zoned wrong and the city finally won cause I was keeping their shelter from making money on dead dogs they sold to rendering company's/mine was NO KILL/Long story I have to finish writing my book one day about it all/still hurts a lot to talk about/Pollyanna Thomson is my dogs FB page to help all the animals I can right now as I have no income and can only give my time/but someday maybe be in better position to start another no kill place myself/The death row animals I post all day everyday just break my heart and Pollyanna hears me cry often and licks my face/She will be 8 in AUG and I am so scared to lose her ever/she is my BFF and life partner now/God Bless You!!Colleen <3

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