7.06.2012

Another Anniversary

Rudy & I
It's amazing how "anniversaries" can hold so much meaning in our minds and hearts.

In truth, an "anniversary" is nothing more than a date... an annual reminder of the specific day that a certain event occurred, in some previous year.

Therefore, the anniversary date itself... holds no power.
Really, it's just another day of the year.

And yet, we give certain dates so much power over us... (for obvious reasons.)

That's because... on that day... however long ago... something happened... and our lives changed forever.

Sometimes... for better.
Sometimes... for worse.

"Happy" anniversaries provide us with the chance to celebrate, to come together, to reminisce.These are the dates that give us something to look forward to, something to smile about, something to be proud of.

Those "good" anniversaries... have their way of making everything else... seem worthwhile.

But then... there are the "other" anniversaries. The tragic anniversaries.
The anniversaries that simply exist... as painful reminders... of the days we'd like to forget.

Often, in our minds, the devastating anniversaries seem to hold even more power than the positive ones.

Because those particular dates have their way...
of bringing the pain of our past...
into our present.

The anniversary of a tragic life event can take us right back to that day... to the very moment it happened.

And no matter how much time has passed...
No matter how hard we've tried to let go...
No matter how much we've worked to move forward...

Each year, on that anniversary date, we're right back there... re-living the worst day of our lives.

Meanwhile...
We don't want to go back to the pain.
We don't want to remember the loss.
We don't want to accept our reality.

Regardless... that anniversary date says: You have to. It's real. It's time.

Even still... anniversaries are only able to do these things to us, because we allow them to do so...
We give that specific date... so much power over us.
And yet, we just can't help ourselves.

Because...
We still wish it wasn't true.
We still hope we'll just wake up.
We still... miss them.

That's why I'm writing today.

In just 2 days, July 8th will be here...

On July 8, 2010, I experienced the sudden, unexpected, devastating loss of my angel pup, Rudy. Two years later, I still mourn his death.

When I saved Rudy, so long ago, he was emaciated, sick, and broken. Further, he was suffering from advanced heartworm disease, due to the neglect of his past.

Soon, he underwent heartworm treatment for his condition. And... because he was so young, I prayed he'd simply bounce right back, and go on to live a long, happy, healthy life... with me, his mom.

Yet, much of the damage to Rudy's heart was irreversible. Therefore, I was always overly-protective of him and insanely-aware of his special needs.
When it came to Rudy, I did everything I could. I gave everything I had. I loved with everything I was.

Even still... God had other plans...

On July 8, 2010, Rudy had a sudden, fatal, heart attack. I came home... to find the dead body of my son. He was just 3 years old.

I never got to say goodbye.

It was the worst day of my life.
It was the fateful, tragic day... that changed all the days after.

Before that day, July had always been my favorite month of the year. It represented summer, and sun, and fun. Plus, it's my birthday month.

So, in years prior, when July rolled around, I was always pretty-darn excited for my upcoming b'day on 7/11.

However, the past 2 years have been much different for me.
July just isn't the same... my birthday just isn't the same... my life just isn't the same.

Instead, when July 1st arrives, I brace myself... 
Just seven more days... until July 8th gets here.

While I try to avoid the heartbreaking mental countdown toward that date, I just can't help myself. No matter how much I try to distract my mind, I'm always increasingly-aware of the upcoming anniversary of Rudy's death.

As I sit here today, with yet-another July 8th right around the corner...
I just wish I could hit Rewind.
Or maybe even Stop.
Or at the very least... Pause.

Unfortunately... life just doesn't work that way.

Honestly, the anniversary of Rudy's death is so much more than a heartbreaking reminder of the painful events of that tragic day... the day that broke my heart, changed my life, and changed me... so long ago.

There's also the realization... that yet-another year has passed... without my Rudy.
He's really gone... forever.
He's never coming back.

For me, it's the day that somehow makes his death... even-more official.
The day that makes it... real... all over again.
The day that seems to represent the undeniable truths... of the reality I so desperately wish to deny.

And... worst of all...
It's the day when I have to acknowledge...
that I'm so much farther away...
from the last time I held my baby.

For 2 years now, I've been desperately clinging to every possible memory of my little boy. And yet... each day, I can feel him slipping further away from me. 

Today, certain things are a little harder to recall.
Certain memories have become a little foggy.
Certain moments with him... have almost left me altogether.

While these realizations break my heart to pieces... I guess that's just how the mind moves on.
As much as we wish to retrieve every moment, every detail, and every encounter in the past...
We simply can't remember everything.
Because if we held onto every past memory, then there'd be no room for all the present memories...

Thus, our current reality... would cease to exist.

Which means... no matter how much we try to hold on...
At some point... the past begins to slip away from us...

Regardless, my love for Rudy will never waver, never change, and never leave me.
I'll never stop needing him.
I'll never stop missing him.
I'll never stop wishing he was here.

Honestly, even as I write these words today... it's so hard to describe the way I truly feel... about my Rudy, and the loss of my baby. He is, was, and always will be... everything to me.

But... here's my best attempt to explain myself:

I save dogs for a living. That's what I do. Animal rescue is my passion, my drive, my purpose. It's my life. For me, my dogs are my children.

I rescue them; I love them; I provide them with hope, homes, and futures.

In doing these things, my heart breaks, on a daily basis. I'm forced to see things, to experience things, and to overcome things... I'm not quite ready for.

And sometimes... it's just too much.

Through my work, I have to let go of my "children" ... the children I love so deeply, in order to send them off to their new forever families.

Despite the pain, I always sought refuge... from my own son... my angel dog, Rudy.

And yet... no matter how many dogs I tried to save... the one dog I wanted for my very own, was taken from me, at such a young age.
Now... he's gone.
I couldn't save him.

While our time on Earth with our pets is never long enough... most people are blessed to spend many, many years with their beloved dogs.

And even though I was beyond blessed to experience Rudy's love... if even for just one second of my life... I can't help but feel like I was cheated... and like he was cheated, out of all those future years we deserved to have together.

He deserved that.
I deserved that.

For 2 years now, I've been forced to spend each day without my Rudy. If he were still alive today, he'd only be 5 years old.

He was so young.
It was too soon.
There was no warning... no time to prepare... no chance to say goodbye.
It's just insanely unfair.

And yet... as I've said many times before, the void in my heart after Rudy's death... was ultimately the catalyst for change in my life.

I'd always had BIG dreams...
Of saving more lives through rescue,
Of owning my own business,
Of being, doing, changing more...

But... in truth, while Rudy was in my life... I was so happy, so loved, so content. At that point in time, there was no need to reach for more. I had Rudy. I had everything.

Back then... I did my best to rescue as many dogs as I could, with what I had, from my home...
But no matter what I did, or didn't do-- I had my Rudy.

Then... at the moment he left me... everything changed.
I almost had to reach for something else... for something more... just to occupy my time... to distract myself from the pain.

The result?
Lucky Dog Retreat, Lucky Dog Rescue, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog, and Pet Pardons.

Today...
Almost 2 years later...
As I look back on my life...
I can't ignore the truth...

Any dream I've ever had for myself... has come true...
because Rudy lived,
and because Rudy died.

But mostly...
Because I loved Rudy.
And because Rudy loved me.

Nothing... not even death... could ever take that away from us.

*Dear Rudy,
In just 2 days... it'll be 2-full-years... since I last saw your face.

Every day since... I've longed for you.. I've wished for you... I've hoped for you.

For me, those feelings will never, ever go away. No matter how long I live... no matter how much time passes, there will never be a day when I don't need you anymore.

Even still... since your death, SO MANY lives have been saved... simply because you lived. I'm constantly in awe of your impact on my life... and on the lives of so many other deserving rescue dogs.

While there will never be another YOU on this Earth...
I'll always live... through you.
And you'll always live... through me.

Because I'm your mom, and that's what moms do. They love... forever.

I'll be there soon, baby boy.
I can't wait to see you again.
Love, -Mom


*Check back later for my follow-up to this post!

CLICK HERE to read all of my blogs about Rudy

36 comments:

  1. DON'T WORRY BOUT ME ASHLEY. I AM IN A PLACE OF SPLENDOR, IN A LUSH GREEN FIELD WITH MANY OF THOSE THAT HAVE COME AHEAD. WE RUN, PLAY, AND ROMP WITH NO PAIN, FEAR OR HURT. IT IS HEAVENLY. THIS IS A GOOD PLACE. ANGELS FLYING THE DAY LONG. I SEE YOU EVERYDAY. I LOOK UPON YOU AND I SEE THE PAIN, SADNESS AND HURT. BUT PLEASE BE HAPPY FOR ME BECAUSE YOU GAVE ME LOVE, TENDERNESS AND PEACE IN MY LAST DAYS WITH YOU. YOU HELD ME LIKE NO ONE HAD EVER HELD ME. I LOVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU GAVE ME. YOU ARE THE GREATEST AND I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN ONE DAY. UNTIL THAT DAY, DO FOR OTHERS WHAT YOU DONE FOR ME. THIS IS WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY AND I SMILE WHEN I LOOK UPON YOU AND SEE THIS. REMEMBER ME AS I AM THE RAINBOW IN THE SKY, I AM THE GENTLE BREEZE OF SUMMER ON YOUR FACE, I AM THE WARMTH AND RADIANCE UPON YOUR FACE WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING, I AM THE SMELL WHEN THE FLOWERS BLOOM, SEE ME WHEN THE CLOUDS FLOAT BY. I AM THE SUNSETTING AS I LAY TO SLEEP. I LOVE YOU. I AM YOUR RUDY.

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    1. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL <3 THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME READ THIS THAT WAS FOR ASHLEY.
      IT MADE ME THINK OF ALL MY BABIES I'VE LOST OVER THE YEARS. I HAD TO PUT MY BABY BOY BROWNIE TO SLEEP THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. IT WAS SOOO HARD TO DO, BUT SOMETHING I HAD TO DO FOR HIS SAKE. HE WAS IN PAIN. I COULDN'T KEEP HIM FOR MYSELF KNOWING HE HURT. I HAD TO LET HIM GO. BUT I KNOW ANIMALS ARE IN HEAVEN TOO. AS SOME DON'T BELIEVE. I DO! I WILL SEE ALL MY BABIES AGAIN ONE DAY AS YOU SAID. SO THANK YOU AGAIN FOR LETTING ME KNOW THAT HE <3 THEY <3 ARE THE BREEZE IN MY FACE. THE FLOWERS IN BLOOM, AND THE SUN SHINING ON MY FACE. <3
      LOVE TERRI

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  2. Oh man, I'm crying as I read this. Thinking of you.

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    1. me to, Asheley is such a wonderful person, GOD bless he r for what she does , i can relate to her story, i lost my pug 9-11-2002 ,i still mis s you casey girl love u, she would of been 4 10- 12 -2002.

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  3. Oh Ashley , I completely feel your pain. I lost my first doggie 2 years ago right before Christmas, and I still feel as though, I will never get over it. I miss him so much, but he taught me a lesson that I will never forget.... to LOVE and SPOIL my other furbabies every single day, because we dont know how much time we have with them. Love ya Ashley, thank you for all you do!!

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  4. I have been wanting to retire into rescue. I have 6 of my own and vol at local shelter. I will never get the bucks to do it myself. Thinking of Dogtown or a place like yours. The only catch is that I need enought for food and a roof over my head. Where is your rescue from?

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  5. I am reading this with tears running down my cheeks. I just lost my baby Zina to cancer just 2 weeks ago, and I am feeling and thinking all these same things that you have written. Zina's cancer was very aggressive and was sudden. From the time she first showed symptoms to the day I had to let her go, was only 2 weeks. I miss her so much! I think it's so unfair. I hope that my Zina girl found your Rudy boy when she got to Heaven and that they are running and playing without any heart problems or any cancer. May God bless you every day and help you to carry on without Rudy, as I hope He will also help me carry on without Zina. You are doing great work in Rudy's memory, and I have been thinking how much I would like to do the same thing, in Zina's memory. I know you will never forget how much you loved Rudy, and he you, just as I won't forget the love Zina and I shared. He is watching you now and guiding you in life, your own personal Rudy Angel.

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  6. Wow, reminds me of when I lost a very special cat I rescued from the shelter, Sugar Plum. A nice, sweet, VERY badly abused cat who was starved nearly to death, beaten, and scared to death of women, and who I took home and he became my buddy and was always with me, and I miss the heck outa him. I am sorry for your loss Ashley and it is so special to find and rescue animals, I know you will find others and they will make you happy to. :) and I only wish someday I could find a girl as nice as you, it is so hard to find someone who feels as deeply and who loves animals as much as someone like you, so whoever the man in your life is, I hope he knows how lucky he is. :)

    James

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  7. Tami Forcellina-TrautmannJuly 6, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Ashley... god bless your work. I totally understand your feelings. I will be in touch to see how I might help your causes.

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  8. Aw, sweet boy! I wish that Rudy could have had a longer life in your care but he was loved and he got to give his love. He was happy and that is a full life, no matter the years. And look what you've done because of him! The result is visible. It's the result of true, real love.

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  9. Ashley I am crying again. You are a real inspiration of love and compassion. I understand you because I feel the same way for my baby Latte. God bless your heart, but Rudy is still alive inspiring you to save so many lives in need who suffering in silence in cruel hands of criminals and ignorants are on the streets. You Ashley won the heaven already and you are doing a big work and making of this world a better place to live

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  10. It was hard to hold back the tears on this one because I know the pain you are feeling. I have lost several cats, one who was only 2yrs old. His heart exploded the Veterinarian told me & just couldn't be saved. It was sudden & right in front of me. You know that Rudy is just so happy now, no more pain, no more suffering. But best of all, you gave him in his last days what he longed for his entire life. Love, security, warmth, happiness! He passed a very, very happy puppy! I just can't stand it when people treat animals like this. I keep saying that God put these poor, defenselss creatures on this earth for us to take care of. Not to hurt & destroy! These people will have to answer to him on their judgement day why they did these things to these precious animals that God loves so very much. I wish I could be there to see each & every one of them squirm. I too am a rescuer with an organization for cats. I've rescued, fostered, & I do other volunteer work for them. I know how hard & painful it is, but Rudy wouldn't want you to be sad all the time. He would want you to be as happy as the time you spent with him. Just think about the good times you had with him & those are the memories that should get you through. You will be in my prayers Ashely!

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  11. Dear Mom; I was a "lucky dog" to have you in my life. All dogs should be so lucky. I have to say, it's not the end of my life but a new beginning. For you it's "Lucky Dog Rescue". For me "it's a journey I have to take all by myself... unitl you can catch up". Until then, I won't be alone, there's a Higher Power, stronger and with more love than all of us put toghether to keep me company. Until then......I will be waiting, and may the same "Courage and Love" you gave to me keep you going strong. Love always, Rudy aka;Harley.

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  12. I know,exactly how you feel my little boy lucky was shot to death by some lowlifes He was a beautiful black kitty I beat my self up over,for a long time if I hadnt let him out that night he would still be with me. Every anniversary that rolls I get heartbroken all over again but I thank god for the time I did have with him Rip Lucky and god bless you ashley for all you do

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    1. I was feeding a stray tuxedo cat who I'd become attached to and some lowlifes shot Salem with a bow and arrow. He lived but the injuries were so severe that I had to put him to sleep. Still breaks my heart because Salem was a lover kitty and someone threw him out into the streets (We found his owners who'd thrown him out because the wife was preg and didn't want to change litter boxes). Angers me to no end so I feel your pain.

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  13. I know how you feel,I've lost 7 of my family pets.They are always in my heart we had so many beautiful yrs together.I did not want to let go,but nothing could be I'am missing them more than ever.I'am so sorry about Rudy.
    God Bless you for helping all this wonderful pets.

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  14. I believe God brings animals into our lives for a reason. Rudy came to you with a purpose. He fulfilled that purpose and God chose to bring him home, no more pain no more tears he is watching over you as you do the work he chose your for. Celebrate his death as you did his life. He cries when you cry, make it tears of joy!

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  15. I always love to read your blogs. Ashley, you speak for so many with your words, thoughts and feelings. Thank you for putting into words, what my heart feels and cannot express. Thank you for being here. <3

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  16. Finding words to express how I'm feeling after reading your blog is not the easiest thing.....especially since I have my two baby boys sitting right next to me as I was reading and leaving this comment. I thought I was the only one with so strong feelings toward my babies (especially when your family members think you are crazy)....but so happy to come to find out how many of me are out there. My heart goes out to you and though I don't know you, may you always be blessed for all your kindness toward all those frighten little animals that you have helped.

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  17. I too lost my baby ... July 21,2011 . I have rescued two others from abuse and puppy mill in her name. She will always be on my mind....

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  18. Big hugs and lots of love to you... Rudy is is proud of his momma. <3

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  19. Ashley, I had a Golden Retriever I felt the same way about, his name was Buster and I was his Mom.
    I wrote this when he passed.

    I lost my best friend today. Jan. 10, 2008
    I knew he loved me.
    He never wanted me to be lonely
    He never wanted to be alone.
    I lost my best friend today.
    He would listen to me when I was sad.
    He would kiss me so genital on the hand
    Or cheek and let me know it was okay.
    He loved me when I didn’t love myself.
    I lost my best friend today.
    He knew when I was sick.
    He wouldn’t leave my side.
    He knew when I was tired and he would
    Lay at my feet.
    He just wanted to be in the same room
    I was.
    He listened, loved and comforted me.
    He truly was my best friend.
    And I lost him today.

    BoBo, Buster, My baby I will always love you.
    Rest in peace my sweet heart.
    You have wings now. So fly my BoBo. Fly!
    Thank you and God Speed.
    You were my best friend and I lost you today.

    I still have a hole in my heart.

    That is why I do not understand how someone can mistreat an animal if given a chance they can give more then you could ever give them!

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  20. We share the same birthday month... actually the same week! I hope you have a blessed birthday this year. Know that you are doing wonderful, amazing things that so many other people can not do. You truly inspire me and many others. Rudy would be so proud of you. I know he is looking down every day.

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  21. I can relate to how painful it is to lose and miss a pet, particularly a dog. I'll be thinking of you on the 8th!

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  22. I hope I have as much love and compassion when I die and have people that love me unconditionally. You are a blessing. The lsat years of my life I felt like a stray. I am lucky that I am pretty (that will not last forever), I hope to get a degree in the animal field so I can be an inspriration like you. Thank you for your love and kindness to the little ones,

    Susan

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  23. Ashley,

    I understand how you are feeling, I lost my baby girl princess 3 years ago on April 22nd and every year on that day I post on my FB page how much I miss her and what she truely meant to me... Rudy and Princess looked exactly alike and when I read your posts it brings me to tears because all that you say is exactly how I feel...I have now rescued another amazing pit bull, HOPE, and although she is my world now I know she will never have the part of me that Princess did....

    Thanks for all you do :)

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  24. Ashley, your writing never fails to bring me to tears. But never more than when I read stories about your Rudy. I believe you and he fulfilled each other's lives, and made each other better.

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  25. Ashley,

    Although I had my baby (a cat) for a long time, my Khuma was my rock, my baby, my son, my best friend for 14 years. He passed away 3 years ago this October and it still hasn't gotten easier. He's only a thought away and those thoughts make me want to cry. I miss him so much! I think back on what I may have done to save his life (he got sick toward the end and died before I got to the vet to see if he was ok or if I needed to put him to sleep). He saved me the pain of the choice of putting him to sleep in his old age but the pain still doesn't go away because I wanted him to be with me forever but as pet parents, we know that's not possible yet we do it anyway, no matter how long we have with them. Thank you for your blog. It reminded me how lucky I am to have had my baby for as long as I did and how blessed I was to have chosen to be his mommy. I am sure Rudy is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge just as my Khuma is waiting for me.

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  26. I'm truly crying while reading this, I remember when we had to put my dog Cappio down (one day after the Virginia Tech shootings, in 2007), I had her all my life, and it felt so weird without her, and it was sad, I'm still sad to this day, yes in late 2010 we adopted two new dogs (not at the same time), I truly do love them with all my heart, but, I still miss Cappio.

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  27. Ashley reading your posts I am always crying for the loss the you endure, the lives that you save and the babies that you rescue. Rudy was that angel that was sent you to in order for you the realize the greater plan that the universe had in store for you. Though you had to loss Rudy, it was the loss of Rudy that put that plan into action. Trust me Rudy is your four legged angel watching over you and making sure that those who need an angel themselves find their way to you. Keep up the awesome work that you do.

    Are you ever looking for volunteers, I'm not from the area but would love to come and help out sometime. Let me know by PM on facebook.

    Lori Bowman
    https://www.facebook.com/lori.bowman.942

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  28. I unexpectedly lost Tia 4 months ago on May 9th, she was only 5. Time doesn't make the pain go away, only knowing I'll see her again someday really helps.
    Here is part of what I wrote for her:

    R.I.P. my little girl. Please forgive me, WE know it’s not your fault for getting out of the gate. I want you to forgive me for this cruel way you had to leave me, I really thought we would grow old together.

    I was preparing to come see you when you passed...I really thought I'd get to see you and bring you home soon..

    omg I miss you so.. you were my rock. ♥

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  29. Rudy is running with my Rocky, who crossed Rainbow Bridge on October 17, 2011. Rocky was 8 years old, and lived 7 years longer than anyone thought he would. He had seizures, and was on medication daily which ultimately destroyed his liver. My whole life revolved around my little man, he was my world, and I cry each day. Even with all my other fur children who love me, and who I love, there is a hole in my heart that will never go away.

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  30. ...each day, I can feel him slipping further away from me.

    It is Rudy's way of telling you it is time to move on with him, him incorporated in you. He does not want you in pain because he lives within you, at a cellular level. It's called love, so you two go out and share it with the world

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  31. I have heard a psychic say that animals reincarnate as well, and often come back to us in another of their lives. I'm sure Rudy will be coming back to help you again, Ashley - he helped you move to your current purpose, and he will be there to help you keep it going. I hope you will be able to recognize him when he comes back to you.

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