8.29.2011

A Home for Capone

 

On April 3, 2011, six special Pit Bull mixes entered my life: Capone, Bonnie, Mimi, Molly, Pinky, and Sissy.. That day, six new dogs became my children, when a county breed ban threatened their safety at the wonderful animal shelter, ARF of MS, and sent them here to Lucky Dog Rescue.

One of those dogs, Capone, would soon become my "right-hand man," as his happy-go-lucky disposition and super-friendly nature made him the perfect pup for temperament testing each new rescue dog. And for nearly 5 months, Capone has been the most popular kid in school at Lucky Dog Rescue.

But the beauty of Capone's spirit is even more amazing... when you know the horrors of his past...

Here's Capone's story:
My name is Capone. A few months ago, I was hurting real bad. I had a badly broken leg, a severe case of mange, and I was slowly starving to death. I cried all the time… because no one would help me. I would use all my strength to limp around, trying to find someone to get me to the doctor. But everyone just looked the other way… no one even cared. I learned real fast that the world isn’t always so nice to pups like me. All I've ever wanted is a family… I’ve never had one before. Please… can't someone just love me? I love you already. Please take me home. 

Saying goodbye to my baby today
I can't even imagine that level of despair... to live life in so much physical pain... to walk the streets with a broken heart.... and to have no one care about you. My heart shatters when I think about him during that time... knowing that this was Capone's reality for so much of his short life.

But looking at my Capone-y now, I see no trace of his past. He's one of the happiest, healthiest dogs I've ever met... there's no sadness or resentment whatsoever for what he's been through. And each day for 5 months, the light in his eyes and the love in his heart have given me more hope and joy than I can convey in words. He's, quite simply, amazing.

Even still... as much as I love Capone, I know that he isn't meant to live here with me. He deserves to have a family of his own. So, for nearly 5 months, I've been hoping, praying, and waiting for his chance at forever to arrive.

And this week... it did.

I was contacted by the perfect family who was looking to adopt a dog, and not just any dog-- Capone-y. As I read through their pet adoption application, I suddenly screamed: "YAY!!!" When the rest of my dog adoption screening criteria was fulfilled, I approved Capone's new family.


And today... they came to take him home.

Daniel McKay and Tara Dickson drove from Starkville, Mississippi to Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi to meet their new baby... my baby, Capone. It was truly love at first sight. 

As always, it was beyond incredible for me... as I watched my special little boy meet his new mom and dad... the family that will love him for the rest of his life. He will soon meet his new pup sister as well, another rescued Pit Bull mix named Kayla.

With a huge smile on his face and a rapidly wagging tail, Capone said "Hello" to forever...

And I said "Goodbye" to Capone...

I gave him one last hug, one last kiss, and smiled through tears as I said, "It's time to go home, buddy."

Then, I looked up at his new family, and said, "Thank you. This is all he's ever wanted."

Tears streamed down my face... as they loaded my baby... their baby... into the car. 

And then... he was gone. 

But... when an incredible dog like my Capone-y is going home for the first time in his life... "gone" never felt so good...

*Capone- For nearly 5 months, your smile has kept me going. Knowing that you're finally home forever... that'll keep me going for the rest of my days. I love you, buddy.



8.25.2011

A Day in My Shoes

What's it like to walk a day in my shoes?  Well, it ain't always pretty. There's a lot of dirt, sweat, and actual crap involved in running an animal rescue shelter. It's hard work, in the heat, every single day. If you've got a weak stomach, you'll likely bail Hour 1... and if you're not big on getting your hands dirty... well... I doubt you'll be impressed. It's far from Hollywood... this is Lucky Dog Rescue, Meridian, Mississippi.

For those who think that I've got some massive animal rescue operation going here, I have news for ya: It's just me... and a lot of rescue dogs. I have several volunteers who come when they can, and I'm beyond thankful for their help each and every time. But most days, it's just me... and some super- awesome pups.

And it goes a little something like this...

Each morning, when I arrive at Lucky Dog Rescue, my crew of peacefully sleeping dogs is suddenly awakened by the familiar sound of my footsteps on gravel... and the excitement and barking begin: "Mom's here! Time for breakfast!" I head for the building, unlock the door, and walk inside my second home: my animal shelter. 

From there... I enter "work mode." Work-Ash moves quickly, efficiently, and without stopping. Anyone who's ever witnessed my kennel routine becomes exhausted, just from watching the process. It's a lot of work, and in short, here's what goes down:

I fix bowls, while an audience of excited barkers demands their breakfast. Then, I greet each of my babies, as I gently place food in each dog kennel. Next, I wait for one, or several, of them to excitedly jump into their food bowl and spill the contents all over the floor. For those extra-neat eaters, I fix another bowl, and as I hand it over, I say: "It would really mean a lot to me if you could keep the food in the bowl this time, and just eat it. Thanks." Sometimes they listen; sometimes... not so much.

When tummies are full, I open the doggie doors to let each pup into their adjoining outside run. Then, I start cleaning all 30 dog kennels.

Here we go: Pick up bowls. Remove toys, water, and beds. Scoop poop. Grab pump sprayer. Spray first dog kennel. Hose-out kennel. Squeegee kennel. Move hose, cleaner, and squeegee to next kennel. Repeat. Clean and squeegee walkways. Spray resulting nastiness down trough into drain. Start fans to dry floors. Wash bowls. Re-fill waters. Wipe down beds. Move fans to other areas to finish floor drying. When floors are dry, place water bowls, toys, and beds back in kennels. Let dogs back inside.

In conjunction with my cleaning routine, I'm also moving rescue dogs in their "buddy groups" out to the yards. Group 1 to Yard 1. Group 2 to Yard 2. Clean more dog kennels. Swap out dogs. Group 1 back inside. Group 3 to Yard 1. Group 2 back inside. Group 4 to Yard 2. Clean more kennels. Start the fans. Swap dogs again.

Then... once the inside is clean (which won't be true for long), I move to the outside runs... which means 30 more dog kennels to clean. If you don't understand what I mean, each indoor kennel has a doggie door that leads to an adjoining outdoor kennel. Those outside runs have to be cleaned as well. Sooo...

Scoop poop. Grab pump sprayer. Spray kennel. Hose-out kennel. Squeegee kennel. Re-fill water bowl. Shut gate. Replace lock on latch. Move hose, cleaner, and squeegee to next kennel. Repeat. Spray down troughs. Finish one side of building. Move cleaner and squeegee to other side of building. Scoop poop. Grab hose. Repeat hose/cleaner/squeegee process. 

Again, in the meantime, I'm still swapping dogs to yards for outside playtime. That alone is an all-day process, because each dog gets outside playtime at least 2 times per day. So... Group 3 back inside. Group 5 to Yard 1. Group 4 back inside. Group 6 to Yard 2. 

I should also mention that, for safety reasons, each rescue dog within each group is taken outside, and back inside, separately (with only a couple of exceptions). So when I say "Group 1 to Yard 1." That may imply one trip. Wrong. The number of trips depends on the number of rescue dogs within that group. If there are 2 dogs in a group, for example, Freddy and Pepsi's group, then I make one trip to take Freddy to the yard, then I walk back inside to grab Pepsi, and I make another trip to take Pepsi to join Freddy. The same is true for their return trip.

Next, I bag up the poop, and undoubtedly make a disgusting mess doing so. Then, I take the poop to the dumpster at the back of the property. I open the dumpster, which smells like pure ass, as it contains actual-ass contents. Next, I clean the pooper scoopers and place them back in their respective locations. I reel up the hoses, 2 hoses inside the dog shelter, and the 2 outside hoses. I re-fill the pump sprayers with water and cleaner and return the squeegees to their locations.

I swap more rescue dogs to and from yards, and then, it's time for walks. There are trails around the property, and each dog gets walked at least twice a day, in addition to their outdoor playtime. Walking time allows each dog to be special... it's when they get the extra love and one-on-one attention they deserve.  

This is where Lucky Dog Rescue volunteers are so helpful. Volunteers can handle walks as I clean, so that the walks are nearly done by the time I'm finished. Plus, this allows the dogs to play with a new friend for a bit... which is really fun for them.

So... each dog is walked and returned to the air conditioned building, then I take another. This process continues until each dog has been walked. Honestly, when the last walk is finished, I'm about to pass out... but it's nearly time for the afternoon routine to begin. If I have time, I'll eat some lunch and check some emails. If not, I just start the process all over again. 

It never fails, some dogs insist on using the bathroom in their damn kennels. They'll go outside and play, then they'll take a long walk... and as soon as they get back inside, they pee on the freaking floor. Soo... I'm always cleaning extra kennels as needed. Just gotta laugh about it.

In addition to the rest of the work, throughout the day, I'm in and out of yards throwing balls and frisbees, giving belly rubs, and refilling water bowls and kiddie pools. Some of my babies love to tackle me, so I tend to have dirt on my face, arms, legs, and usually, my ass too. 

But I'm actually very proud of every dirty paw print that graces my body... there's a lot of love behind each one... and I'm covered in them.

I try to make animal rescue work as fun as possible. Ask any volunteer who's ever worked with me... A LOT of laughs take place at Lucky Dog Rescue. My pups are hilarious, and I can be pretty funny, too. There's so much love involved... hugs and kisses and positive energy. It's an awesome place to be. 

I should also mention the numerous trips to-and-from the vet each week for basic care. Then, there are the weekly baths, which leave the pups extra-clean, and me extra-dirty. Once a month, each dog is given heartworm, flea, and deworming meds. On that day, no one is happy with me.

At the end of each long day, I take care of Pet Pardons, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog, pet adoption applications, and emails. I won't lie... on the days when I'm most exhausted, I pretty much suck at these computer tasks... but I try my best. I really do.

Sooo... to make a long story short, this is my life (the simplified version), and I'd love some help. If you need to lose a little (or a lot of) weight, I've got a job for you. If you need some free therapy, I've got a job for you. If you want to make a difference, guess what? I've got a job for you. 

Each day, I've got lots of jobs for me. If you're willing, I've got a job for you, too. I'm a cool chick. I've got lots of awesome rescue dogs. Seriously, what are you waiting for??? Email luckydogrescueblog@gmail.com to volunteer! 

8.24.2011

Help

I haven't written in a few days... despite the fact that I've been meaning to do so each and every day. The question is... why?

Maybe it's because I'm stressed, and overwhelmed, and tired. Maybe it's because it's hot... so hot... too hot... and I'm out in the heat at Lucky Dog Rescue all day. Maybe it's because I need some help... responsible help... reliable help. Help that cares. 

I can't do everything on my own, nor do I wish to do it alone. I want help.  I need help. Volunteers. Foster homes. Donations. These things have become as vital to my existence as food. Hell... most days, I'd gladly give up food for a little bit of help. 

I'm human. And while I'd like to give myself credit for being "part-dog," when it comes down to it... I'm just a girl... one person... with a dream. And a mission.  

The mission seems simple: to save the lives of the lost and forgotten dogs... those with no other hope. 

But in order for me to accomplish that animal rescue mission, I have to make it happen myself... and it's A LOT of freaking work. My mission demands intense, manual labor, every single day of the week, every single week of the year. Some of you have asked me if I workout to stay in shape. In short... yes, I do. Every single day... without question. It's my job. I run Lucky Dog Rescue.

I love my job. It's incredible. It's truly the most rewarding thing I've ever done. My days are full of smiles, kisses, and silent thank yous... love, affection, and appreciation. (Well... from the dogs, at least.)

But I need human support; I need help. I need a few caring people to step-up and say, "You are not alone." 

I'm really not asking for me. I'm asking for them... my rescue dogs. They need you.

I've been asked to write a "day-in-the-life" post, and I'll try to do that sometime soon, so that everyone can understand the tasks and demands of running a dog rescue shelter. In reading that post, maybe someone will see what I do, and how I do it, and say, "I want to freaking help that chick!" And even if you can't help me personally, please... offer your help to someone, somewhere. 

Every little bit... every tiny gift... makes a difference. If you think you don't have much help to offer, just ask someone who is desperate for even the smallest offer of help. I can guarantee you it would be huge for them. 

I know it would be life changing for me... 

*I'll write something more inspirational next time. I promise :)

8.20.2011

Lucky Boy

Some days, I'm overworked, overwhelmed, and just plain exhausted. Those always seem to be the days when a new dog needs me most...

On Wednesday, I received a desperate call from an animal rescue friend in Alabama, Kara, who needed my help. Kara had seen a group of sickly, stray dogs at her local bank, and she was determined to help them. 

So, Kara and another dog rescue friend, Marsha Campbell, spent much of their day trying to catch the pups. At the very least, they hoped to catch the most injured dog in the group, a senior Rottie/Shepherd mix... with a broken heart. 

After hours of trying, they finally succeeded. They loaded the older boy into the car and drove straight to the vet. On the way, they named the dog: Lucky. 

The news wasn't good. The dog was approximately 10 years old, and he was very sick. In addition, he had some older injuries that caused a great deal of pain and distress, including a broken elbow, a broken jawbone, and a lip that's detached from his jaw. 

The vet continued... giving a grim life expectancy: only 2 years left--max--and probably less, given his condition. 

And so, euthanasia was recommended. 

Kara and Marsha were in tears. They asked if they could board the dog for a couple of days, to give them time to find a dog rescue who'd be willing to love this boy in his final years.

Then... they called me.

Kara, Marsha, & I with Lucky
I'd had an awful day... and I was physically and mentally drained by the time Kara called. Initially, I had my, "I'm so sorry, but I just can't take him" on stand-by, but I was still planning to help Kara find another animal rescue to help.  

That's when she told me his story:

Lucky is a 10 year old dog that has lived his entire life on the streets... begging for food, hoping for water, and searching for shelter. For the last 2 years, he's lived outside of a bank. 

His elbow was broken... but no one helped him. His jaw was injured... but no one treated him. When he was hungry, thirsty, hot, or cold... no one cared.  

For 10 years, Lucky has never had a family. For 10 years, he's never had a place to call home. For 10 years, he's been forced to fend for himself. For 10 years, he's never known love.  

And for 10 years, he's never even had a name. Until now... and it's Lucky.  

Obviously, the word "lucky" is very special to me. I named my rescue "Lucky Dog Rescue" and my dog kennel business is "Lucky Dog Retreat." In addition, the only other dog I've ever named "Lucky" also suffered from a broken elbow and severe neglect. 

This Lucky had lived for 10 years without ever knowing compassion or love. Now, he only had a couple of years left to live, if that, and I knew... that no one else was going to help him...  


When I answered Kara's call, I was never planning to take another rescue dog. But as I listened to Lucky's story, I knew... that without me... Lucky would die, in a vet's office, without ever knowing what it was like to belong to someone.  

Kara was sobbing, asking if I knew of anyone that would be willing to help him. Tears were streaming down my face... as I searched for the right answer. 

I took a deep breath... closed my eyes...  

...and I saw Annie

Then, I heard myself say, "Can you get him to Meridian?"

Today, Kara and Marsha drove 3 hours to get Lucky to his new mom-- me. He'll live with me for the rest of his life, however long that may be. 

When Lucky arrived at Lucky Dog Rescue, he scanned his surroundings... and the big smile that crossed his face said, "It's good to finally be home."

*Annie, this one's for you. I love you.

8.19.2011

Fear

Fear. 
It hinders change... every single time. 

Fear holds us back. 
Fear puts us down. 
Fear tells us, "No." 
Fear says, "You can't."

Fear stifles talents. 
Fear delays passions. 
Fear shatters hopes. 
Fear crushes dreams.

Fear distracts goodwill. 
Fear undermines efforts. 
Fear wastes time. 
Fear depletes energy.  

Fear denies the willing. 
Fear deters the able. 
Fear obscures confidence. 
Fear buries potential.

Fear weakens strengths. 
Fear strengthens weaknesses. 
Fear toughens challenges. 
Fear challenges opportunities.

Fear questions answers.
Fear questions questions.
Fear prevents alternatives.
Fear rejects solutions.

Fear defends lies. 
Fear refutes truths. 
Fear distorts security. 
Fear ensures helplessness.

Fear supports complacency. 
Fear forbids change. 
Fear endorses failure. 
Fear declines success.

Fear. 
It hinders change... every single time. 
And why?
Because we let it.

We fear judgement. We fear the unknown. We fear change... so nothing changes. 

But if you say goodbye to fear, you can finally change your life. 

If they judge you... so what?! 
If you don't know... just try! 
And if things change... that's good! 

A life lived in fear... is a life unlived
You only get one shot.
Make it count. 


*Remember this post. There will be a follow-up.

8.18.2011

Goodbye Teddy. Hello Forever.

This is the story of my Teddy... a story of life, love, and letting go.

For the past 6 months, Teddy has been my baby... especially because I've had him since he was just a baby. Teddy entered my life as a 6 week old puppy, when I rescued his litter of 8 tiny puppies from inevitable euthanasia in a shelter. The reason for their pending deaths: their breed

Teddy's mom was a Pit Bull. Obviously, this makes Teddy a Pit Bull mix. And even though he is every bit as much a "Boxer mix" (which, by the way, is considered "acceptable" by most shelter standards), the Pit Bull label assured his fate--death.  

And so, I rescued 8 Pit Bull mix puppies... and brought them back to life. Several of these pups were malnourished, requiring additional vet care, frequent feedings, and expensive supplements. 

Teddy was one of those sick babies, and out of the 8, he needed the most from me. He was so tiny... and I remember how he'd snuggle his little body in my arms and shower me with kisses as I nursed him back to health. I treasured every minute of those early days with my Teddy, and those memories will stay in my heart for as long as I live.

Soon, three of the healthy pups, Brutus, Duke, and Bam Bam, were adopted and transported to Minnesota. The remaining 5 lived with me... healing, growing, and learning. Each day, they became a little healthier, got a little bigger, and learned a little more.

Each day... they changed my life.

Shortly thereafter, Darcy, Lexi, and Ellie were adopted. 
And then... there were 2: Teddy and Brody.

Teddy and Brody are best friends. From the beginning, Teddy has played the role of "big brother" to Brody, and I could always see the admiration in Brody's eyes for his cool big bro. Teddy showed Brody the ropes, and Brody willingly followed Ted's lead. Their special relationship with each other, and with me, has impacted my life more than words can express. When the 3 of us are together, the world is exactly as it should be. Well... almost.  

As much as I love them, I want more for my babies. Families. Homes. The chance to be special. This is my dream for my children. So, for months, I've waited... for one, or both, of them to get that chance.
 
A few months ago, I thought Teddy's chance had arrived. I approved an amazing adopter and set-up transport. But the week he was meant to leave me, the adopter called me in tears. Her insurance company was going to drop her family if she adopted a "Pit Bull mix," and they couldn't afford to switch companies. Just like that... a misinformed corporation stole my baby's chance for a family... 

And my heart shattered. I cried as I told Teddy the news. I apologized over and over again, for something that wasn't my fault, and certainly wasn't any fault of Teddy's. But it didn't matter whose fault it was. Teddy wasn't going home.  

A couple months later, another adopter was set to adopt my Teddy. Then, the morning of the scheduled transport, the adopter backed out. So... for the second time in Teddy's short little life, his chance for a family was ripped away from him.

I was blown away. Teddy is one of the most gorgeous, awesome dogs I've ever rescued. He has the coolest personality, with a happy-go-lucky disposition and a gentle, loving soul. Teddy is simply amazing. 

Yet, he's been "in-waiting" all of his life. Most days, I blamed myself for this, assuming that I must suck at my job if I can't even find a home for this incredible dog. I'd tell myself that I must be the problem here, feeling that Teddy has never had a real family... because of me.

Well... this week, that all changed, when I approved the perfect adopter for my Teddy. Of course, I was worried... considering that his past 2 adoptions fell through last minute, so I tried not to get my hopes up. I scheduled the transport and set my heart on this chance for Teddy's future. 

Today --transport day-- I woke up, said a special prayer, and prepared to let my baby go... to finally send him home. My stomach was in knots all morning, wondering if, once again, bad news would come last minute... and preparing my heart for another potential letdown. 

I loaded Teddy into the car and drove to meet P.E.T.S., the transport company that would get him to New York. I was in constant contact with the adopter, Melissa, and she couldn't wait for Teddy to be on his way to her family.

When we got there, I realized that this was really happening... Teddy was really going home. I could hardly believe it. I did it.

As we said our final goodbyes, Teddy's life played like a movie in my mind. Suddenly, I realized that my baby... the sick little puppy who needed his mama... was all grown up. He was healthy, happy, and ready for his future. Months of my time, energy, and love had made this moment possible for him-- the biggest moment of his life.

In that moment, I forgave myself... for thinking that I'd failed my baby boy. Because in truth, I never failed him... not once. Every time he needed me, I was there for him, and I'm the only reason he's alive today.

Brad & I with Teddy
So, I gave Teddy one last hug, one last kiss, and said one last "I love you." Then, tears filled my eyes as my Teddy left me forever. 

As we loaded him on the transport truck, Teddy couldn't understand why I wasn't coming with him. I'm his mom... the only mom he's ever known, and he didn't want to go. But on Saturday, when he meets his new family, he'll understand why I did it. I did it for him.  

I gave Teddy life, love, and hope. 
Then... I let him go. 
That's what I do. 
That's rescue.

*And then... there was one: Brody.

UPDATE: Click to read Brody's adoption story: http://luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/and-then-there-were-none.html 



8.15.2011

Maddie Update

On June 13, 2011, I rescued Maddie. 

That day, Maddie was completely broken. And sadly... I'm not referring to her poor physical condition. 

Yes, Maddie was very sick. She was suffering from a severe case of demodectic mange, which had forced her to live in agonizing pain for most of her life. In addition, her body was covered in hundreds of ticks, and she also had eye and ear issues. But that wasn't what struck me most about Maddie... 

I was most struck by Maddie's spirit. 
Maddie's heart was completely broken.
And mine was, too.

Little Maddie had been beaten down by the cruelty of the world. For months, she'd waited... on the side of a busy highway... for someone --anyone-- to help her. 

And for months... no one stopped for her.

Eventually, Maddie lost all hope... and she waited to die. By the time help finally arrived, Maddie's spirit was already dead. 

When she came into my home, I quickly began the process of healing Maddie's mange... but my primary focus was to heal Maddie's heart. And while the opportunity to witness her physical transformation has been truly amazing... nothing has been more incredible than watching Maddie's spirit come back to life...

Maddie's road to recovery wasn't easy. She was in a great deal of physical pain... but it was the ever-so real pain in her heart that caused her to cry out in sadness much of her early days with me...
 
But I showered her with affection, and soon, Maddie learned to trust. She learned to smile, to play, and to dance. She learned from me, and she taught me, too. Together, our hearts became whole. 

Today, Maddie is a tribute to the transforming power of love. Love alone healed Maddie. Sure, mange baths and meds healed her skin. But love healed Maddie's heart... so that her spirit could return.

And wow... what an incredible spirit this girl has...
 
Maddie loves love. Maddie loves other dogs. Maddie loves playtime, and breakfast time, and toy time. Maddie loves yards for running, and couches for napping. She loves hugs, kisses, and special snuggles. 

Today... Maddie loves life.

So now, my greatest wish is to give my Maddie Moo the family she deserves. And even though my heart will break to pieces when she leaves me for her forever home... the time has come to make her final wish come true...

Maddie is spayed, up-to-date on vaccinations, and heartworm negative. In addition, she's housebroken and extremely well-behaved. I've rehabilitated a lot of pups, but I'm honestly blown away by the amazing dog Maddie has become. In truth, she's perfect.

Most of her life, Maddie waited on the side of the road for someone to help her... for someone to give her a chance to be special. Now, Maddie waits again... for someone to take her home.  

Please... help me make Maddie's dream of a family come true. Show her that she's truly special by sharing her story. On June 13, she needed me, and I was there for her. Now, she needs you. Please don't let her down.

If you're interested in adopting my Maddie, 
CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT THE ONLINE ADOPTION APP!

8.12.2011

Become a Lucky Sponsor!

Lucky Dog Rescue Blog is now accepting sponsors! If you'd like to donate to charities... while also helping your business... here's your chance! For more information about sponsorship spots on my blog, please send an email to luckydogrescueblog@gmail.com! 

I've been lucky to have several amazing companies offer to sponsor my dog rescue efforts, and I'm so grateful for their kindness and generosity. Today, I'd like to feature my incredible sponsors, who have offered to donate to charities out of the goodness in their hearts! I'm asking each of you to support their work! In doing so, you'll also support my deserving rescue dogs!

Careington
Careington is a discount dental plan available across the country. Careington saves its 8+ million members between 20% to 60% on dental costs.  What's more... there's no waiting and no exclusions!  Sign up online today, and you can go to the dentist today!  Rates begin at only $6.95 a month for individuals and $15.95 a month for the entire family, Careington saves you money at the dentist!  Plus, out of the kindness in their hearts, they support the work of Lucky Dog Rescue! Visit http://www.Careington.us for more information!

Momentum 18
Momentum 18 is a graphic design firm that thrives on elevating the branding of small and medium sized businesses. Founder, Matt Chansky, is a multiple award-winning designer and recent recipient of the American Graphic Design Award. Time and time again, Matt takes weak or obscure company branding, and makes it truly noteworthy. All of Matt’s design awards have come from working with virtual unknown companies. Through these awards, those company names are soon placed alongside household name brands. Matt has also used his success to give back to Lucky Dog Rescue, which has truly been a gift for my rescue dogs. For more information on Momentum 18, visit http://www.momentum18.com/
Visit Matt’s web design page: http://www.momentum18.com/web-design/page-1.html

Visit Matt’s graphic design page: http://www.momentum18.com/graphic-design/page-1.html

Poochie Freak

Poochie Freak is a pet photography firm with an animal rescue focus. Poochie Freak Founder, Angela, is a photographer and rescuer in the United Kingdom. Angela’s passion for photography grew from her obsession with dogs. Today, her amazing photography business allows her to save the lives of many deserving dogs, including many Senior pooches in need of loving homes. 
For more information on Poochie Freak Photography, visit http://www.poochiefreak.com. For more info on Angela’s efforts to find forever homes for Senior dogs, visit http://www.oldies.org.uk. Greeting cards are also available: http://www.hiddencottagecards.com.



Glimmerdog.com 
Glimmerdog sells printer supplies and hardware, and the site will soon add pet items that fit into the line. This amazing company gives a minimum of 5% of their profits to animal rescue causes, though they've been able to donate to charities beyond that goal this year. Glimmerdog also has a program where animal shelters and dog rescues can earn money through purchases made on the site. 
To make purchases that will benefit Lucky Dog Rescue, visit http://www.glimmerdog.com/. When setting up your account, enter LUCKYDOG in the Rescue Code box. From that point forward, Lucky Dog Rescue will receive a percentage of each purchase you make!!!


Inspire Vibrance
Inspire Vibrance was founded by the amazing artist, Derek Russell. Here’s a quote from his site about his support of my rescue work: “Derek has teamed up with Ashley Owen Hill of Lucky Dog Rescue to support her amazing animal rescue work. When you buy an original, inspiring, high energy painting, whether of your pet, family, or a special place you hold dear, Derek is certain to capture the moment in pure vibrance. For any person referred by Lucky Dog Rescue, Derek is donating 20% of his sales back to her and her rescue dogs.” Please support Derek’s work (and Lucky Dog Rescue!) by visiting http://inspirevibrance.com/. View Derek’s original paintings: http://inspirevibrance.com/photo

8.10.2011

Pet Pardons Reaches 10,000 Pets

As many of you know, I'm the Co-Founder of the facebook application, Pet Pardons. When asked about my proudest accomplishment thus far, my answer is just that: Pet Pardons

This week, the 10,000th animal shelter pet was posted on the app, representing a massive milestone for Chris, myself, and so many deserving rescue pets. With each life saved, with each pet adoption, and with each shelter pet smile... all of the craziness is worth it. 

I'll share more about that special pet in a minute... but first, I'd like to give you a quick look behind-the-scenes at Pet Pardons...

In December, 2010, fellow Co-Founder and friend, Chris Hoar, and I launched the Pet Pardons app. The idea was simple: utilize the sharing power of facebook to save the lives of pets on death row in animal shelters.

In creating the app, we wanted to give animal shelters, animal rescues, networkers, and volunteers the ability to easily post pets in need of help. We wanted to give the public the ability to get involved in saving those lives. And most importantly, we wanted to give these deserving shelter pets the chance to live.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well... in theory, yes. But trust me, when it comes to the day-to-day operations, things can get a little... um... crazy...

Each day, Chris and I work tirelessly behind-the-scenes at Pet Pardons, busting our asses to save as many lives as possible. Contrary to popular belief, there's no "Pet Pardons Corporate Headquarters." We don't meet in some fancy office, with big desks, lush couches, and computers that always operate as promised. 

Chris lives in California; I live in Mississippi. We work from our own crappy couches, using crappy, crashing laptops and even crappier, busted cell phones. This makes things... well... interesting...

My cell phone has a little, um... water damage-ish. It dies daily... and right now, I can't afford a new one. But as you can probably imagine, this makes it pretty difficult for Chris to reach me about issues with the app, and he can get a little irritated at times. Well... sorry dude. I'm pretty irritated too. My cell is a piece of shizz. 

When things go wrong, as they often do, Chris and I scramble to make things right--and fast. But of course, there's a 2-hour time difference between Chris and myself... and my 2 hour gain isn't always appreciated by Mr. Hoar in the early morning hours...

I try to remind him that I hate mornings enough for the both of us, but that never seems to help my case. The interruption in sleep can make Chris a little pissed, which makes me a little pissed. Or a lot pissed. This man acts as if I invented the time difference?!?! 

But instead of being professional and serious, I choose to tell inappropriate jokes to make him laugh. That's the only way we get through most days, considering that our "job" is to look at images of pets on death row in the animal shelter. Laughter keeps us sane.

So, clearly, things don't always go as planned. There are days when all of the facebook apps crash for no apparent reason... which is always super-fun for us. There are other days when those ever-present facebook errors decide to be extra-awesome by temporarily disabling most--or all--of our app's features... and we really appreciate that.

When this happens, Chris and I bust our asses a little more... and with a lot of effort and some offensive cuss words... we somehow manage to make things right again. 

And even though I give him a hard time, I'm honored to work with Chris on Pet Pardons. We're great friends who truly love what we do, and we're inspired by the lives of the shelter pets we're able to save each day, as well as the amazing pet adoption stories.  

Because to date, 10,000 pets have been posted on Pet Pardons, and more than 5,000 lives have been saved because of our work. That's huge. 

So, back to that special 10,000th pet. Her name is Emma, a brokenhearted American Bulldog awaiting her fate at Nacogdoches Animal Shelter in Texas. Emma was surrendered by her owner when he was called to serve overseas in Iraq. Now, Emma is waiting... in a dog shelter... with a dream of the pet adoption that will save her life. Please... help us save her. Click the link to Advocate for Emma NOW!


CLICK HERE TO ADVOCATE FOR EMMA!

*From the bottom of our hearts and those you've helped save, thank you for using Pet Pardons to make a difference in this world. These shelter pets need you, and you're always there for them. That's nothing short of incredible. 

8.05.2011

A Better World

The world is changing for the better. I promise you it is. 

These changes are slow. They may seem trivial... at times. But even the smallest grain of sand... is still a grain of sand. And when you pile enough of those bad boys together... you've got yourself a mighty-nice beach. 

Change is change, no matter how small the shift may be. Positivity is positivity, no matter how much negativity surrounds it. And making a difference is making a difference... it always matters to someone, somewhere.

Knowing these things, I choose to believe that the world is changing for the better.

It may not always seem that way. I certainly have a hard time believing it, with all the suffering I witness each day. 

But I have to believe that things can change. That they will change. And that they already are changing.  
I have to believe. 
Because that hope is all I have most days.

How do I remain hopeful? Why do I believe? 

I'm hopeful... because you're all here, reading this. I believe... because you'll each go out into the world... and do something about it.

So, how is the world changing? Or better yet, how will it change even more?

Well... it will change with me. It will change with you. It will change... with us

And without us... it won't.   

The suffering won't end, until we end it. 
The killing won't stop, until we stop it.
The laws won't change, until we change them.
The tables won't turn, until we turn them. 

The lives won't be saved... until we save them.

The world needs you. I need you. They need you. 
  
Every giving act changes the world for the better. If you volunteer, you change the world. If you foster, you change the world. If you adopt, donate, transport, or advocate, you change the world. 
 
If you wait for the right time to start, it'll never come. If you wish you could do more, you can... today. If you think you've never made a difference, change that.

A few caring people are already changing the world for the better. Join us. 

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!

Favorite Quotes

I just wanted to share a few of the quotes that keep me going:

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For indeed, that's all who ever have." ~ Margaret Mead

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world... are the ones who do." ~Apple Ad

"What matters more than the feeling is the action it stirs. Focus your sadness into something positive. Let it stir the best in you." ~Unknown

"Sometimes, change is too much to bear, but most of the time, change is the only thing saving your life." ~ Unknown

"I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter... the cast-offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love & hope, fear & dread, sadness & betrayal. And I was angry.'God!' I said, 'This is terrible! Why don't you do something?' God was silent for a moment & then He spoke softly, 'I have done something,' He replied, 'I created you.'" ~ Unknown

The Reason 
By: Kim Senke-Rocka

I would've died that day if not for you.
I would've given up on life if not for your kind eyes.
I would've used my teeth in fear if not for your gentle hands.
I would have left this life believing that all humans don't care
Believing there is no such thing as fur that isn't matted
skin that isn't flea bitten
good food and enough of it
beds to sleep on
someone to love me
to show me I deserve love just because I exist.
Your kind eyes, your loving smile, your gentle hands
Your big heart saved me...

You saved me from the terror of the pound,
Soothing away the memories of my old life.
You have taught me what it means to be loved.
I have seen you do the same for other dogs like me.
I have heard you ask yourself in times of despair
Why you do it
When there is no more money, no more room, no more homes
You open your heart a little bigger, stretch the money a little tighter
Make just a little more room...to save one more like me.
I tell you with the gratitude and love that shines in my eyes
In the best way I know how
Reminding you why you go on trying...

I am the reason
The dogs before me are the reason
As are the ones who come after.
Our lives would've been wasted, our love never given
We would die if not for you.

8.01.2011

I'm Me. Who Are You?

I write.

Some preach. Some dance. Some sing.

I write.

When it hurts... I write.
When it's good... I write.
When I think... I write.
When I wish... I write.

I write... because it's what I do.
I'm a writer.

I rescue.

Some fight. Some research. Some cure.

I rescue.

When I see despair... I rescue.
When I feel pain... I rescue.
When I encounter suffering... I rescue.
When I witness injustice... I rescue.

I rescue... because it's what I do.
I'm a rescuer.

Who are you?
Does the "who" in you match the "what" in your actions?
Are you the "you" that you want to be?

Each day, I do the things that make me... "me."
And so... I'm me.
That's something no one else can be.

Are you "you?"

If not... what are you waiting for??

No one else can do it for you.
There's only one you.
Be you. Do you. Live you.

Become you today.