8.04.2011

Life is Hard

I'm not always proud of me. I'm just not. 

I question myself a lot... some would say: too much. I question my decisions and my actions. I question my abilities. I question the impact that I have on this world. And I doubt myself... daily.

I demand so much of myself... some would say: too much. I demand that I do more... be more. I demand of my body and my mind. I demand of my heart... which in turn, breaks every single day.

I don't take my own excuses, even when they're legitimate. I don't listen to my own wants... I deny my own needs. I can be a real pain in the ass... but even still, I don't take my own crap.

I try not to complain... I'm so lucky to do what I love. And trust me when I say: I absolutely love what I do. But my life isn't easy, and sometimes... it really gets to me. 

My friends and family love me for who I am... but also, they miss me. I miss them, too. When the world of animal rescue continues to demand more and more of my time, these are the people who suffer. They understand, and they accept my reality for what it is, but still, ,they wish that things could be different. I wish the same. I look at them... and I feel immense guilt, shame, and sadness. 

But responsibility is responsibility, and I own up to mine.

So... on Christmas day, as everyone spends time with their families... I'm working at Lucky Dog Rescue. The same goes for Thanksgiving... and New Year's... and Easter... and Mother's and Father's Days. On these days, I work... alone

Dog rescue volunteers are few and far between. On holidays, they're non-existent. So, I wake up, and I work. Then, I fix myself some kind of lame sandwich for lunch, and I get back to work. I have no choice. The dogs need me. They have no one else.

As others plan their vacations, I can't afford to go. Even if I had the money, "vacation days" no longer exist for me. Neither do sick days. Or weekends. 


This is the reality of life in animal rescue. Help is limited. Funds are too. Sanity and normalcy are for everyone else. 

Life is hard. 
Rescue is harder. 

At the same time, I'm a lucky chick. I'm sooo lucky. I save lives... every single day. In truth, I bring dogs back to life... dogs that have been "dead" for years. In return, I receive more love than I can stand... just by showing up. Few people are that lucky.

On any given day, I'm busting my ass for these rescue dogs... and on each of those days, I'm one of the luckiest people you know. Trust me on that.


On my very worst day, I'm surrounded by love. When I cry, I have a dog shelter full of kisses to heal my heart. When I smile, they smile too. Smiles that say, "Thank you," "I love you," and "You have made a difference."


Smiles that say, "Merry Christmas, Mom." "Happy Mother's Day, Mom." "Happy Birthday, Mom." 

Smiles that say, "I am the reason you do it."

I look at those smiles, and suddenly, my questions are answered. My life makes sense... and my body, mind, and soul are replenished.

Life is hard. 
Rescue is harder. 
But nothing has ever been so worth it. 



Click here to donate to Lucky Dog Rescue!

48 comments:

  1. I love you to death ash. and you are so right. not many 'get it' but those that do, are smiling with you right now. we get it too.

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  2. I love you, Pippa. I knew you would understand this one. Thank you for being you... and for all that you sacrifice to be you. I'm so proud of you.

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  3. You are lucky, and you are a wonderful woman. This is what you were sent here to do, and nobody could do it better.

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  4. God bless you for all that you do! Thank you for loving enough to make a difference!

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  5. Awesome. Just awesome. It's so heartening to read that someone, somewhere, gives a damn. What you do is amazing!

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  6. That is probably the most touching thing I have ever read. God Bless you for your sensativity and your strength to take on this never-ending, heart-breaking task. You truly are an incredible person.

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  7. God bless you for all you do for all these beautiful dogs and cats. It also breaks my heart to see them in shelters. I advocate every single day for every one and hope and pray someone will help these babys and give them a loving home. you are a saint in my book. God bless. Marian Olson

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  8. Wow, thanks y'all. Once again, I questioned whether this post may seem too negative. You all made me feel better about that :)

    Chris- Thank you for being you

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  9. You are an Angel sent from above!!!..All of your rescue dogs are LUCKY to have you in their corner!!...What a Blessing!!!!

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  10. Diane Apostolides-VonderliethAugust 4, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    God will bless you Ashley, even though there must be many times when you may not believe that there is a God. You are indeed a VERY SPECIAL PERSON to do what you do. You are someone I admire greatly and wish I could be as strong a person as you are. God bless and keep you always. You said it best "Life is hard... rescue is even harder... and yes it is worth it! I nominate you as a saint. Awesome Great Person that you are. Thank you, thank you thank you. xxxxxx 00000

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  11. Thank you for all you do for dogs. As founder and running a cat rescue, I can relate. It is still wonderful to read how my life is anyway. To see that others get the same joy, love and trust from animals for what we do for them. If only there were a whole heck of a lot more of us! Bless you. Bear hugs, Frankie Kangas, FIV Cat Rescue, Fort Bragg, CA

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  12. Thank you Ashley for ALL you do!!! I advocate daily and appreciate your dedication. Without you. . . don't even want to think about it!

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  13. Ashley, this was the most perfect blog! I love that you write about things straight from your heart and show us what you deal with and how you cope with your daily life.

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  14. Thank you for being there for these beautiful dogs... they all need a good loving home and a chance for a better life.. you are their angel Ashely.,.... thanks for being there for them. lol ros and dazzy xx

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  15. Ashley, I wish all my family and friends would read this and UNDERSTAND. I am grateful to be able to play the small part I do in rescue. I'm thrilled to have one of your babies as a foster. I am also surrounded by love from my own babies (rescues all). I willingly give up vacations or trips in order to take care of them. I wish I lived close to you, because I could then volunteer every day at Lucky Dog. You have, once again, gotten to the heart of the matter. Life IS hard, and rescue makes it worth it! Love you! Gail

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  16. What you do is amazing. Thank you. Nothing much more to say than that... just amazing.

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  17. Call me soft, but I started crying while I read this! It's a beautiful page, and God bless you for everything you've done for the dogs!

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  18. It takes a very special person to do this. You truly are an angel. I can't believe the amount of work you put into making sure these dogs feel loved. They may not have an owner, and they may not have a family or a forever home, but they have you. And that's better than anything else they could ever want.

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  19. THANK YOU! Thank you for making those sacrifices, thank you for helping those that can't help themselves, Thank you for taking in sick and hungry. Thank you for making a difference! We need more angels like you in this world! I wish you best of luck with anything that you do!

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  20. Wow. I was blown away by your hearfelt words. So insightful and inspiring. You are the difference for these dogs, you are their miracle.

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  21. Wow this post is beautiful, amazing. This inspires me to do more that I am, I am going to volunteer, and work hard for those who can't speak, especially for animal testing, its wrong, I want to do something.

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  22. With each and every post you write I cannot help but wonder if my mental/emotional twin is living in Mississippi. Thank you for putting my thoughts in writing in ways I cannot. :)

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  23. I thought it was spot on ... Not negative at all. It's truthful. It's a 24x7 365d/y gig.

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  24. If only you could know how much each of you inspire me. Wow. Thank you all.

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  25. wow you are a awsome woman .......and you and what you do inspires me .....I have been a animal lover my whole life ....what you are doing is great

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  26. Yes Ashley, you have been chosen. But remember too, you are also human. And everyone questions, doubts, second guesses themselves. But unlike a lot of other people, you also know full well, your blessings. Missing out on family stuff, well, if you can't go there, why can't they sometimes come to you, unless of course they are ill or can't travel, or some other viable reason, which, there must be, sense they raised you to be who you are. I can see that the best gift all of your friends could give you, is a vacation every now and then. Everyone needs time to recharge and replenish, even you Miss Ashley. Every time I read one of your articles or blogs, I am totally in awe and gain more respect for you every time.

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  27. May I just say that you are one the most wonderful persons I have ever known about, you make me so proud, you give me so much hope, (im tearing up), you are an amezing human bieng, a true angel, you inspire me and I'm honor to be sharing this world with you and if there was only one more like you on this earth life will be so much fair. God bless you, I pray for you and those dogs every night, you've touched my soul. Tons of love and respect...

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  28. You are such an inspiration to so many.
    For me, you make me try that much harder and push that much stronger. But most of all, to never give up, as we are all they have! For that, I thank you.

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  29. God bless you!
    He knows what you go through to save his creatures.
    Follow your heart and he will be there for you too:)
    I wish I had some money or time to give you...Your work is wonderful.

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  30. I can't describe the admiration I have for you and all the work you do for 'the dogs' I thank you a million times from them. I love all animals, but dogs are the one who pull hardest on my heartstrings. I have a 'rescue' and know the thanks they give you with the look in their eyes. Keep up the good work, Ashley, you're truly a blessing.

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  31. I am in awe of you! I could never do half the things you have been doing and so i donate..and I follow your blog and I pray for you and all the lives of the dogs you saved and will be saving...may God give you more strength..There is no doubt about it, you are Loved and Blessed.

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  32. Brenda J - Terre HauteAugust 4, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Ashley, you are truly blessed as well as being human...Feel free to vent anytime to us. We support & love you. If I lived closer to you, I'd be helping you as much as you'd have me, but as I don't I help you out by advocating daily. Thank you for being the voice for animals that have no voice.

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  33. Ashley, this moved me to tears. I get it. Rescue is the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. There are no words that can say what you mean to these animals and to so many people who, like me, have never met you, yet are so inspired by you. You are loved and appreciated beyond belief. -missy ickes in ohio

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  34. You are such an inspiring person and fabulous writer. This post was not negative. Just truthful and from the heart. Thank you for all you do. Your animals are lucky to have you!

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  35. As I sit here stunned by what I have just read. I am in awe. This has to be one of the most wonderful things I've ever read. I to am a huge animal lover and could only wish to be able to do the things that you're doing, or wished I lived closer to come and help. I can't imagine much else being more rewarding! May God Bless You, guide and always give you strength! Thank You for all that you do. :-)
    With Love, Warm regards and many many hugs!
    Heather Hampton in Minnesota.

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  36. Writing from the heart, as you have so beautifully done, could never EVER be negative. Thank you, from the bottom of my own rescuer's heart, for putting into words what so many of us feel and think and go through on a daily basis.

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  37. I love u for the things you do and for who you are I have always wanted to be able to help dogs. I did get that chance makin a long story short a h.society I went to help out decided the dogs were too sick and was not gonna help. I had been going everyday out to that place to calm their fear to be able to catch them and help them. On mother's day and weekends I found out they did not go because it was holidays and such. I even went around town and took up donations to help buy weiners instead of dog food so I could get them to come to me and trust me. I got with the sherriff here and he ask me if I could catch them and I immediately said yes and he ask me if i could go get them and so I had already fed thru the fence that mornin as the h.society said I could not go in there without one of them since i was not a member. I went out the next mornin and was out there about 4 or 5 hours by my self and was able to get 3 out of 4 of them caught and had to head straight to the vet with one that was on her way out. They started out with approximately 14-17 dogs out there and just let them keep dying instead of takin them to the vet. Well I ended up spending 400.00 out of my pocket and the vet chipped in and the vet clinic had an emergency fund that they helped me with but I sat up 24 hrs. a day for first 3 or 4 days giving meds and fluids to her till I could get her back up like she was to begin with. I had to take her to the vet 2 different times so they could put fluids just under her skin which helped me some on catching a knap while she would be sleeping. Setting alarm clocks to get up and check on her. my daughter lived with me and she helped when she came in off of her truck run or would call me make sure I was up. It was a real touch and go for a while with her but she made it. She thanks me every day with unconditional love and I still have one of the others and she is also so thankful. You can just tell. I let them sleep on the bed with me and if any of my children come in and I am the only one at home they do cut up. I do not believe they would let anyone near me. I did let the h. society pick one of them up said they had it adopted out but then I found out they never even did a follow up on the dog. So I have no idea how she is and I did try adoptin these 2 out 1 of them once and 1 of them twice the last time I had most of the town helpin me look I walked everywhere she was seen took 6 days to find her. I have not tried to adopt them out since. They seem to have a faith and trust issue. So I still have them and our h. society will not help a pitt bull at all. Thank you for who you are and what you do I wish I lived close by I would definately be there everyday helping. My children has always said my dogs are gonna be the death of me but, I am disabled and they keep me busy, where if I didn't have them I would not have any interest to do anything.

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  38. Noone is more awesome then you! I wish I had your strength and dedication. I do what I can but not nearly as much as you. You are beautiful inside and out and I applaud you!

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  39. You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. I know it's a hard life, but you are so very lucky. I would give ALMOST anything to be able to do what you do. Think of all the lives you've changed!! You have the most heartbreaking and satisfying job on earth! We both know all the heartbreak is more than worth it, though. Bless you, Ashley

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  40. I am going to tell you this Ashley, and I hope you hear it every day : "YEAH ASHLEY, YOU GO GIRL". I am one of your biggest cheerleaders up here in Vermont. Although I cry everyday I post the dogs in danger, I do it. I have 4 rescue dogs, but have rescued many more who have passed on. I love what you do, but I know its hard and sometimes thankless (except from the dogs). Love from Vermont.

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  41. I respect the hard work you do very much! I also wanted to tell you to be careful. Burn out is very real in the helping professions, and if you never give yourself a break or take the necessary time to care for yourself, you are much more susceptible to it. I hope as your reputation grows, more volunteers will step up and allow you to take a day (or even two or three) off. That isn't selfish. It's crucial for your well-being, and hence ability to continue in this profession.

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  42. What a wonderful post! I feel like that every day, but you just put those words perfectly!

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  43. Your humanity, sacrifices and devotion are very overwhelming! You are indeed, a woman of a greater talent to give so much of yourself to these poor defenseless animals. I have a great respect for you and what you do, too bad there's not many like you in this world, for the world would be a better world. God Bless You!!! =)

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  44. Thank you for not only saving the lives of these wonderful animals, but for sharing you experiences. You ARE an inspiration to me, and I'm sure, to others. Doggie kisses are the best!

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  45. I hadn't thought about your working on Christmas day, on Mother's day...I don't know what I thought happened on those days - I just didn't think about it! You are even MORE amazing than I'd realized. thank you! bless you! You ARE making a huge difference on earth. x Sarah (a fan in NYC)

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  46. If it wasn't for you who would these beautiful animals have. You stand beside them, you speak for them, you help them when they need it.To see these precious ones have another chance, that is a reward in itself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so compassionate when others weren't and helping God's animals. The world is a much better place with you in it Ashley!

    From New Jersey

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  47. Ashley - Thanks for all that you do. It amazes me that several times now you have written on subject that I needed to see to give me inspiration, courage, or just laughter at just the right time. This article was just what I needed today to 'get it'. I volunteer for a small, rural no kill shelter in WNC. I do the background work, sit on the board, help w/ FB posts, research opportunities, post on Pet Pardons, whatever it takes. With a full time job and a husband's job that requires my attention as well, I don't get to volunteer at the shelter to directly help the animals. But, I do know what I do is important to their well being. Thanks for lifting my spirits today and making me realize that any work for the abused, neglected and stray animals is important.

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  48. You may have given up holidays and weekends in this life, but just think, when you get to Heaven and thousands of happy dogs come running to meet you at the gates, it will be so worth it! Plus I'm pretty sure there's no dog poop to clean in heaven. ;)

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