9.14.2011

One Year Since Heaven

One year ago today, Annie joined my Rudy in Heaven. 

Annie was a terminally ill Pit Bull that I rescued from death row last September. When I went to the animal shelter for Annie that day, I never planned to adopt a dog. I simply hoped to save her life. But little did I know... that Annie would actually save mine. 

Annie was a very sick girl, and I soon realized that she wasn't strong enough to make it through the necessary treatments to save her life. So, I altered my dog rescue mission: from curing her illness... to healing her heart.

And for as long as I live... I'll never forget what happened next... 

Annie's transformation was the most incredible change I've ever witnessed. I watched... as the fear slowly left her eyes... as the sadness gently left her face... and as the pain finally left her heart. 

I watched... as a dying girl... came to life

That week, Annie and I smiled, and we laughed, and we played. That week, Annie and I healed. Before we met, Annie was broken, and I was broken. Together, we were whole. Together, we were family.

All the while, I knew that Annie was dying. I knew I'd have to let her go, and I knew the immense pain I'd endure when that time came. But I also knew the alternative for Annie. Death... before life. 

So I gave her life... before death.

No pain has ever been more worth it. 

On a fateful day last September, I walked into the animal shelter for Annie. I never planned to adopt a dog that day. I only hoped to save one. It turns out... I did both. 

One week later, on September 14, 2010, I held my Annie --my baby-- as she went to Heaven. She died... in my arms. But only after she lived... in my heart. 

I let her go, because I loved her. She died smiling... because she loved me, too.

One year later, I can still feel Annie's love as strongly as I did  last September. I can feel her presence with me each day. I can see her joy in each dog I save. I can see her impact on my journey... every bit as much in death, as in life. 

Because Annie didn't really die that day. She's been living and breathing through me every day since. 

Our loved ones never really leave us when they die.They live on... in our hearts. They live on... through the memories. They live on... through their stories. Annie's story lives on through me. And now, she lives on... through you. 

It's just more than she ever dreamed possible... 

*Annie, not a day passes that I don't think of you. There's never a day when I don't miss you, nor a day that I don't love you. But there will be a day when I'll see you again. I can't wait.
-Mom

65 comments:

  1. That is the sweetest story. I'm so glad Annie finally felt love. What a gift.

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  2. That is amazing, what a touching story.

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  3. I lost my beloved yellow lab Annie in 1996 and I still think of her everyday. What a wonderful story. Thanks for posting this.

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  4. you gave her one week of love ... i cant stop crying. so precious. Annie

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  5. You gave Annie the best week of her life!!! Ashley, you are a true blessing!!!

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  6. A moment in time, a memory forever. Heartfelt story...such a gift. Blessings )O(

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  7. im also a pitbull lover , i have 3 of my own, i try my best to make a difference with the rumors and bad things said about pitbulls , i think what you do is absolutley amazing :) goodluck with your journey in rescuing our beloved pitbulls :)

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  8. Thankyou for giving this dog the love it deserved. I am so thankful there are people like you, and get so angry at the millions of other dogs that are not so lucky.

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  9. If people only knew the angels who live in dogs. If only they knew, they would never have even a bad tought towards them. I love your story because it makes me think about mine. Bless you. K

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  10. Sitting here in tears thinking about the amazing gift you gave her..the feeling that she was so loved before she died. I'm sure that made her whole life worth living, just that short time and those few moments you gave her :)

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  11. I remember Annie through your postings - she was how I first came to know of you and your mission. Annie will live in the heart of many....Until we meet again Annie.........<3

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  12. I commend you for your hard work, tireless efforts and eternal compassion...you have set a fine example for animal lovers everywhere! Thank you for letting your passion get the best of you! There are many little hearts here and in heaven that are praising you! :)

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  13. All too familiar to me, had to do the same to 2 of my cats that were 12-13 years old. Loved them, but the pain was too much let them go through so they had to be set free and release their pain, but they are in my heart and memories

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  14. This Halloween will be one year since my Flash passed. She was a rescue who had had it rough. I hope I made her last few years blessed, and that she was comforted by my presence at the end.

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  15. Thank you for posting this beautiful story..

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  16. You are an absolutely wonderful human being. May God Bless you and all that you strive to do for all animals. My prayer would be that we have more and more humans in our world like you.

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  17. What a beautiful story. You are such a special person and I hope you know how much you changed your little girl's life if only for a week. She at least died knowing you loved her. You gave her the greatest gift of all " to be loved" It is the hardest thing to lose our furry babies. I know deep in my heart I will be reunited with each and everyone of them.

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  18. If and when more humans find the logic to understand that humanity is 100% dependent on the lives of other earthlings and especially dogs for our own frail survival; then we might begin to see a change which will effect the lives of other earthlings as well.
    You and Annie gave each other what you needed as oppose to what you wanted and this is the crux of where life begins in your experience.

    Live on and keep doing what you're doing. I read you everyday and am part of a rescue group here in Texas.

    Our work can't be measured in any trade of a dollor or commodity.

    Michel La Doucier
    Dallas, Texas

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  19. You are truly amazing. May the Lord continue to use you for these special animals. Thank you for sharing this story. It truly touched my heart

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  20. I so know what you went through, we had a sheperd mix named Princess. We got her in 1990 as a puppy she had been with us for 15yrs. may 27, 2005 memoreil week end she had a sezier I knew when we took her to the vet she wasn't coming home. We sat with her while she took her last breath. most people until they go through it don't understand what we feel.

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  21. Love is not measured by length of time. You can experience love deeply in a very short time, other times you can live parallel to a being, never touching. I am thankful for all the loves of my life. My six dogs at home, each give me degrees of love. The ones we had to lay to rest, took a bit of my heart with them, but at the same time, left a bit of their hearts with me. Annie is basking joyously in the warmth and glow of your love, under the tree by the bridge. She will recognize you immediately, even though you were together only a short time. She has had no other love to tarnish or diminish or outdo or compare to your love. She was loved. She is whole. You are her love. I am glad for her. I am glad for you. Because loving her made your heart soft, inviting and welcoming for other loves to enter.

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  22. I am so glad Annie got love in her life from someone who loved her so much.I am so sorry it was so very short.

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  23. There was a quote in my high school year book... I don't know who wrote it. But it has stayed with me for many many years.... "To live in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind is not to die."

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  24. WOW, Absolutely Amazing Story! Touched My Heart in a Huge Way, Warmed My Soul & Brough Tears to My Eyes!! I am Incredibly Passionate Absout Animals and it is Soo Phenominal that U were Able to Reach Out and Let an Amazing Animal LIVE out Her Last Days to the Fullest w/the Joy and Happiness and Give of yourself to get the , most affwctionate loving dogs..i greatest gift in return despite the pain!! I am Thrilled for you both and the fact that you can embrace her peace and love in you inspiring!! I Miss My Angel Sheba Everyday..She lost her Battle w/the Cancer at 19, She was a Tough Cookie and My Best Friend..I Followed her everywhere as a toddler! I Love pitbulls, I had one named Princess, they are the sweetest!

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  25. God bless you for all you do! I wish I had just an ounce of your courage and strength. I don't know know, yet through your compasion for those broken animals I feel connected to you. I don't think you realize the impact you have not only on the hearts and souls of the animals you touch, but also on the hearts and souls of the humans you touch! Thank you for giving me hope!

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  26. Ashley, your post brought many tears. My sweet 14 yo Charlie, a Sheltie, died in my arms last December. I was heartbroken - still am, to a certain extent. Thank you for all you do.

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  27. ...while pouring out my heart to a friend who subscribes to the negative stereotypes of bully breeds, I sent him a link to your blog. I asked him to find a story or a photo that speaks to him w/the hope his eyes may be opened to the wonderful world of bullies! Then I read today's blog, and WOW! I've been reduced to tears many times reading your blogs, but today in particular was special. I lost my sweet Yorkie to cancer 4 years ago in March. And not a day goes by when I don't think of him & miss him so terribly I have to have a good cry in remembrance. But it's not always sad. I'm grateful for the time we spent together & for the joy we brought into each others' lives. You were Annie's savior & best friend. You gave of yourself unselfishly knowing she had little time left. God knows who belongs together...& the two of you will forever have a piece of one another's heart! God Bless!

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  28. DEAREST ASHLEY--THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THESE BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN MEMORIES. YOU WERE A BEAUTIFUL ANGEL TO ANNIE-AND TO MANY MORE--HOW VERY SPECIAL.
    MY HUSBAND HAD A BLACK KITTY --SPOOKY WAS HIS NAME AS HE WAS BORN ON HALLOWEEN--SPOOKY WAS AROUND13 YRS OLD AND THIS PAST APRIL GOT VERY SICK--WE TOOK HIM TO THE VET AND HE HAD AN ULCERATED MOUTH AND SYSTEM FAILURE --HAD TO PUT HIM DOWN--THIS WAS THE DAY BEFORE MY HUSBAND BECAME VERY ILL AND HAD TO BE HOSPITALIZED 3 TIMES BEFORE HE FINALLY SUCCUMBED TO COLON CANCER AND AGGRESSIVE LYMPHOMA CANCER IN THE SMALL INTESTINE.
    YOUR REMARKS OF LOVED ONES LIVING ON ARE SO VERY TRUE--THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS YOU DEAR ANGEL.

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  29. A truly inspirational, beautiful story that is so well written. You can see the smile on Annie's face that she was loved and she loved you. Thank you for saving Annie and for being such a wonderful mom. If only more people would open their hearts.

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  30. there are guardian angles in our lives and sometimes only for a moment but as long as we recognize and do something about those moments do we have the priviledge of appreciating those times. Annie was a guardian angle that came into your life and will always have an impact on your life ... but sharing this story with us gives us a moment to appreciate what we can really do if we just take a moment.

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  31. this is my favorite post of yours yet, Ashley. that was a selfless act and you changed Annie forever. She is smiling in that picture and no doubt in heaven. bless you both! thank you for what you did. Simply beautiful and should stop anyone from being a hater. (:

    Sarah (fan in NYC)

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  32. Get me some tissues!!! That was beautiful!!!

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  33. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Us fellow animal lovers know how you feel. Thank you so much for saving this girl and giving her some happiness, peace and contentment in the last days of her life. You are an angel...

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  34. How beautiful, your such a special person God has given you a gift<3

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  35. Lucky Dog, indeed! What a special person you are, Ashley - Annie was special, too. I'm glad for both of you that you found each other. I don't believe there's any such thing as coincidences; things happen because they were *meant* to happen. And you were meant for each other. Blessings.

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  36. Amazing story! Brings tears to my eyes! Im glad you all found each other!

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  37. The world's a better place because of hearts like yours... thanks for saving Annie and telling us how in doing that, your own life was changed. Animals are such a gift, no matter how they're 'packaged'...

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  38. The tears are rolling. his is so beautiful and it brightens my heart to know others feel the same way I do about animals and care as much as I. Your a true inspiration, a kind soul, a good person, loving mother, and someone I look up to. Thank you for all you do and for sharing all these beautiful moments. XOXO

    Emily - Toby & Bradeys Mom. Houston, TX

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  39. Theresa Goble-BraccoSeptember 14, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    We did something similar with a senior Saint Bernard. We only had him in our home for a month and a half before he passed, but he became a totally different dog. He was such a love and I bawled just like I always do. I am grateful for you and people like you. The animals are even MORE grateful!

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  40. that's so beautiful. thank you for giving of yourself to this sweet soul. i weep for your loss but rejoice in your memories and her last week :)

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  41. Mad me cry. Very heart felt story, and through annie you will always have the strengh to help so many animals in need. You both were ment to have a life together and a life that will always be inseparable. through life and the after life, she will always guide you and be there for you. Until you both meet again. She will always keep you company and look out for you through your journey.

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  42. you are a wonderful and kind person i saw that smile on that dogs face, thank you for putting it on there GOD BLESS YOU

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  43. I never really cry to anything but this Annie brought the tears out. It was really hard when my dog died because he never really had the life he deserve. Im very happy and glad that Annie got to experience life and then death. I never seen anyone love a dog as much as you. God bless you and Annie.

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  44. beautiful,just beautiful. God Bless you, and you will see Annie again, she is waiting for Mom at the Rainbow Bridge.

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  45. I have tears rolling down my face as I type this so if you cant read some of the words please forgive me because it is like my Sasha Marie I rescued her and she passed away on September 14th a few years back so it is hard for me on that day because she was my baby.

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  46. youre a very wonderful person..thanks for sharing.. :)

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  47. Beautiful....tears r blinding my eyes. Our pets give us so much love unconditionally. When in a good home after being abused it amazes me how they can forgive us humans. You live in my heart now Annie. Take care of my babies Bailey, Buca, Buddy & Harley. xxoo

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  48. My heart aches for you and Annie as I read this. It is so hard to have to make that choice for your pet but when they are suffering with no cure in sight it is the only humane thing to do. I have tears in my eyes both for sadness for losing her and for the love you shared and gave her in her last days. It takes a special person to do what you did and I am thankful for the kindhearted people in this world like yourself who take care of pets as they are their own children. God Bless You.

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  49. As your Annie is to you, my Lucy is to me.When I got Lucy little did I know that she had Bowel Syndrome Disease. The numerous CBC's done, medications etc. She was 8 yrs. old when I got her and had to let her go on August 8TH of this year. She was 14. The tears keep flowing because I feel your pain and joy. God Bless You for the dedication that you give to these precious animals. You are a ANGEL.

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  50. This is continued from the above comment. Now I have adopted Rocky who has heartworms and is currently under treatment. He is also on HW prevention. We have a long road ahead of us, but he now has a forever home and all the love I can give.

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  51. Whomever doesn't know the greatness of the gift of animals on this earth doesn't know true grace. Any animal I've ever saved or lived with has given me much more than I've given them. I wish I could say that about humans. I can,t even though I know many salt of the earth folks.

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  52. Beautiful, beautiful story. Rescue is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done too. I just lost my little poodle pie Fendi on Sept. 2, 2011. My heart aches -and will continue to for a long time. You are right Ashley - there isnt a day when I dont think of her, there isnt a day when I dont miss her and there isnt a day when I dont love her. I adopted her at 9 1/2 years old and I lost her two months before she would have been 16. One of the best dogs Ive ever had the pleasure to know and love. Many blessings to you and to the work you do.

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  53. GOD BLESS YOU ASHLEY FOR BEING ANNIE'S GUARDING ANGEL HERE ON EARTH!!... NOW IN HER PASSING ANNIE IS YOUR GUARDING ANGEL FROM HEAVEN!! SHE WILL BE GUARDING OVER YOU THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY OF LIFE!!!...WHILE YOU & YOURS CONTINUE TO WORK YOUR MAJIC IN SAVING THE LIVES OF SO MANY ANIMALS & TOUCHING THE HEARTS OF SO MANY OF US THAT ARE LEFT BEHIND WITH GUARDING ANGELS OF OUR OWN!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS,COMMITMENT & LOYALTY YOU GIVE TO US ALL EACH & EVERY DAY!!! REST IN PEACE ANNIE!!! WE WILL ALL MISS YOU!!!.....YONKERS,N.Y.

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  54. Annie was very lucky to find you and I feel very lucky to have found your blog:) you have touched my heart as my dogs could tell you now because in tears I type this with one hand and hug them with the other. Thank you for your wonderful heart:)

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  55. Ashley I cried & I laughted & I know what that kind of love is for both a pet & us humans,My prayers & thoughts are with you in all that you are doing & my smiles are with Annie for the love & freedom she has now, Happy & whole & playing with all the sweet angles that past before her. I do believe that our pets will be at the gate waiting for us when our time comes.

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  56. Thank you soo much for such immense love you gave and continue to have for our four legged friends..I could hardly finish reading as the tears filled my eyes...We have a couple of rescue pit mixes, two cats, ad two gerbils that had 4 babies..My family wouldn't be complete without our "babies" and the love they give to us...Unconditional to say the least...God Bless You Always!!!

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  57. you discovered first hand that a relationship with a loving companion animal is perhaps the purest most genuine you will know in this life...and they always seen to know when you have saved them... losing them is wrenching, devastating... but the experience of their love will remain with you for life, and as the years roll by, likely be one of your clearest memories... you’re doing a wonderful thing, both for the little beings so in need of love, as well as those who might for the first time, discover the unconditional love they receive when they bring a companion animal into their lives... GOD bless and take care...

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  58. Amazing post. You brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. God bless sweet Annie. Dogs are a gift from God. How they bless our lives and touch us in ways we never thought possible. God bless you. Yes, we will see our beloved pets again one day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us.

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  59. This story is for anyone who doesn't believe that lives can be changed forever in such a brief space of time, or that miracles are possible.

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  60. This is such a sweet and loving story! Annie was and will be a bond between dog lovers and their passion!

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  61. I loved your true story about Annie I lost my Dusty about 4 years ago & i still miss him & cry when i think about him it seems like he is still here & i know he is in sprit thanks for sharing your Annie' story with us

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  62. I think you are a great lady for doing what you do i know it must be hard at times but Thank you two bad there are not more people like you.Love BO and my Mom.

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  63. Just read Annie's and Rudy's story (which I shouldn't have at work). You are truly an angel on earth to do what you do. My dog, Jack will be held extra tight tonight. Thank you for sharing these stories.

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  64. Ashley,
    This is one of the most beautiful examples of compassion, kindness, and love I have ever read. Thank you for being Annie's angel, what an amazing gift you gave her, and she, in turn, gave you back. I hope sharing your story will inspire others to do similar things for doggies on death row- Dog Hospice Care- what a great idea :) Thank you for all you do for the dogs, all of the hard work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all the love, all the care, all the frustration, and all the ignorant people you handle so well. You are amazing!

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