Last June, I got a call from an animal rescuer in Illinois named Patti. Patti found my name on the Dogs Deserve Better website, and she needed my help. She’d just learned that a distant family relative in Mississippi was severely neglecting and abusing his dogs.

Patti, a woman who dedicates her life to helping animals, couldn’t bear the thought of someone in her own family doing such a thing.

So, Patti called me and said, “Ashley, I’m so sorry to bother you on a Sunday, but I’m praying you can help me. There are 2 dogs who need your help now! Please, please tell me that you can help them!” 

One of the dogs, a female Husky named Lola, was living in a crate 20+ hours a day… inside a trailer with no air conditioning. The crate was 2 sizes too small for the dog, which inevitably stunted her growth, and caused her legs to splay outward.

Each day, Lola would try as hard as she could not to potty in the crate… because she knew the consequences if she did. But after 23+ hours... sometimes she just couldn’t hold it any longer... and she'd have to go.

Then, the man would beat the crap out of her for making a mess.
And when the horror of the abuse caused her to potty on herself during the beating… he’d beat her all over again

I'll share Liberty's story tomorrow
The other dog, a black puppy with no name, was living outside on a chain with no food, no water, and no shelter. She was also suffering from a severe case of mange, and she was completely emaciated.
Patti was devastated to learn about these poor babies. She didn’t know the relative personally, but she couldn’t let the dogs continue to suffer in his hands. So she begged me to help them, and she cried... when I said I would.

After the man agreed to surrender his dogs, the race was on.... to get them out, before he changed his mind.

The dogs were in Liberty, MS, about 4 hours away from me. So, I started working to find someone who could meet me halfway. Within a couple of hours, Michelle Lombas offered to drive to Liberty, to pick-up the dogs... and get them to Jackson, MS. From there, my friend Chrissy drove the dogs to Forest, MS, where I met her to bring the pups to Meridian.

When I met them, I saw 2 broken little babies… full of love... and hope. Lola the Husky was beautiful, loving, and special, and I immediately knew that she’d find a wonderful home very quickly.

The puppy was a different story. She was truly pitiful… and in her condition, I knew she wouldn’t find a home for quite some time. We named her “Liberty,” after the town from which she was saved, and also due to the fact that she was finally free from the chain and the abuse she’d known all her life. Liberty had a severe case of sarcoptic mange, which is contagious to other dogs, so she had to be separated from the others for several weeks. Even at such a young age, I could see that her spirit was already broken… as she’d been wasting away on that chain… slowly starving to death.

So, Lola and Liberty came to live with me. I called Patti to tell her the news, and she was overwhelmed with gratitude. Patti posted several sweet notes on facebook, thanking me for making this happen. Then, she started collecting money to send for their vet care.

I immediately posted Lola for adoption, and the requests starting pouring in, as I knew they would. It turns out that Lola’s abusive past would actually work in her favor... which is rarely the case.

Because that under-sized crate didn’t allow her body to fully mature, Lola’s growth had been stunted. Therefore, she had the look of a Husky... but was half the size of the average Husky. And while that breaks my heart to pieces, it actually made her more adoptable.

But even with all the adoption requests, I still hadn’t found the right family for Lola... just yet.

As each new dog comes in, I’m able to see their amazing personalities and get an idea of their individual needs. Then, I develop a picture in my head of the perfect family for that particular dog… and I wait for that wonderful adopter to contact me. My goal isn’t to simply stick every dog in a home, regardless of whether the family is right for that dog. My dream is to place every pup with the family that best meets their needs.

Since Lola had spent her years in a tiny crate with no attention—other than the daily beatings—I wanted her to have a family that could dedicate all of their time to being with her. Lola was very calm, gentle, and loving, and she was most content right by my side. So, I pictured her with an older individual, who was possibly retired, that could be Lola’s constant companion. This was my dream for her... but of course, dreams don’t always come true. 

Yet... within a few days, my dream for Lola did come true… when the perfect family contacted me.

I got a call from Sabrina Williams, who I know personally. Her father, Barney, lives across the street from Sabrina, and he was the reason for her call. Barney was having a hard time dealing with the pain of his wife’s death, which occurred the year before. Then, a few months after his wife passed, his beloved dog passed away... and he was truly devastated. Sabrina knew that her father needed another loving companion... to share his life and his love with, and when she saw Lola, her heart just knew that this was the perfect girl for her dad. My heart told me the same.

And so, Lola’s family was chosen.

Lola and I shared an incredible bond. So when it came time to let her go, I was beyond heartbroken. I was the first person in Lola’s life that had ever shown her love… and she was extremely attached to me… so I knew it wouldn’t be easy for either of us to part. But the day I took Lola to meet her new family, I could see the instant connection between Barney and Lola… and it made everything okay.

Even still... I warned the family that I would cry when I left, but I wanted them to know that I was so happy for Lola… and my tears were only because I loved her so much. They promised to keep me updated with pictures and stories, and I knew they would.

 As I went to leave, Lola tried to go with me. I wiped away the tears as I said, “No, baby. Stay here. This is your family now.” She cried and tried to scramble out the door behind me. So... they had to hold her back, in order for me to go.

With a broken heart... I walked to my car... with my head hung low and tears streaming, as Lola cried out for me from inside the house. In the driveway, I sat in my car and sobbed for about 5 minutes, hating myself for making Lola cry. Then, I put the car in drive ... and cried all the way home.

Sabrina would later send me a text, saying that Lola whimpered by the door, for at least an hour after I left.

As I cried myself to sleep that night… missing Lola and hugging my Rudy, I had no idea... that it would be my last night with Rudy too…

Lola got adopted on July 7, 2010. Rudy died on July 8th. I was still dealing with the pain of missing Lola... when I found Rudy’s body that day. And suddenly, my world didn’t even make sense anymore. Later that night, I sent Sabrina a text to check on Lola... and to tell her the news about Rudy.

Sabrina immediately called me in tears, feeling awful that they had taken Lola from me, the day before this happened to Rudy. She said, “Oh Ashley. I can’t stop crying. You lost 2 babies in 2 days… you don’t deserve this. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do??”

I was a sobbing mess, as I said: “Yes. You can love Lola for me.”
Every day after, Sabrina would send me a text, to update me on Lola and Barney. I really needed the reassurance during that time, because Rudy’s death made me question everything.

It turns out that Lola would truly repair Barney’s heart, and he would do the same for her. Lola is so happy and loved, and my pain was so worth it... to give that to her. Today, Barney cooks Lola breakfast every morning, and takes her for walks every afternoon. She's truly spoiled rotten, which is exactly what she deserves.

I’ve actually been able to babysit Lola twice, when her family went out of town. One weekend, she came and stayed at my house. As they turned down my street, Sabrina said that Lola’s head perked up, and her tail began to wag uncontrollably, as she spotted my house. 

Then, Lola jumped out... and immediately gave me a big bear hug that said, "Thank you for what you did for me."

We had a great weekend being together again, with walks and playtime and lots of love. 

The second time, Lola stayed with me at Lucky Dog Retreat, where she was one of my very first clients.

Both times, the smile on Lola’s face told me that I did the right thing. And even though Sabrina and Barney have always felt extremely guilty about the turn of events last July... in my heart... I know... this was meant to be.

Because... as I’ve always told them: “Lola was never mine… she was always your’s. God just asked me to get her to you.”

*In a heartbreaking turn of events... Rest in peace, Lola, my heart. I'll see you in Heaven.


  1. Amazing, few people I find that have the heart to give love so openly. I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Rudy but he so obviously had the most amazing life with you. Thank you for what you do..it means the world to many many precious animals!!

  2. That "person" who was abusing the dogs isn't a man at all and I wouldn't refer to him as such. He is the real animal here- I place more value on th innocent dogs than him. Whoever this jackoff is he deserves the harshest penalty legally possible (which still wouldn't be enough). I truly appreciate the people who rescue these poor animals. You are their savior- their literal lifesaver. Thank you : )

  3. What a sad and horrible start to Lola's life. I will never in my life understand how people can be that cruel. But thank God for you and for finding her the best forever home she could ever have.

  4. You had me in tears!! What a great story! =)

  5. Read, and once again....I am in tears!! You are AMAZING!!!

  6. I couldn't stop crying for Lola. I wish I could help animals like you do. How do you get started into something like this. I am still crying. I lost my dog in April that I had for 16 years and it is still hard on me, so I know how you feel. I hope Liberty's story is as good. Can't wait till tomorrow.

  7. I love your posts, they are always well written and tell us everything that the poor animal has suffered thru . You are truly amazing and beautiful for how you care for these dogs. God bless you always.

  8. Bless Lola and you. What a difference you make in the world.

  9. Brought me to tears - I found your blog yesterday through Polaris Husky Rescue and will continue to stay updated even though I'm in CO. It's beyond inspiring to hear about your life, your great choices, and your strength. My boyfriend and I adopted a puppy from a shelter and as much of a little monster as she can be, I wouldn't change a thing - so glad we did it. Dogs have this spirit about them, and you truly see that and understand it. It is rare that human beings have that same spirit - and you do. Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you for being who you are... Hope you are told that enough and know it. It's passion and love like yours that remind me there are others out there doing the small things, the important things to create positive change in this sometimes seemingly broken world - and it's amazing.

  10. The ability to express your feelings in your writing, and to wring out your emotions in full view so as to further the cause, is awe-inspiring. And losing a dog, for whatever reason, is incredibly hard - having been there many times myself. I am really glad that I found your page, and can read and share these events with you and others. Whenever you feel alone, we've got your back and are willing to help raise your spirits.

  11. I love, love this story! My first official "rescue" was a husky I saved from being euthanized at a vet clinic I interned at has a junior in high school. She was extremely aloof (like many huskies), so even though she was beautiful and young (9th months), they couldn't find her a home. When I started interning there, I spent a lot of my free-time and breaks with her. She warmed up to me almost immediately and I ended up adopting her at the end of my internship. I had her for 11 wonderful years, and my heart was crushed when she unexpectedly passed from bone cancer.

    This story really does sum up b eautifully how sad yet wonderful dog rescue can be at the same time.

  12. what a beautiful story of rescue and unconditional.....you truly are amazing and wonderful,ashley.....sorry to hear about rudy.....he is in heaven i'm sure....and watching over you as you continue to save animals who may not have gotten a second chance....god bless you

  13. I love your blog, and all the amazing work you do! I am a psychology student and you've inspired me to do my senior honors thesis on Animal Assisted Therapy, and the physiological and psychological benefits it could have in a clinical psychotherapeutic setting. You've also inspired me to get more involved and save lives with my local rescues, via pet pardons!

    Thank you SO MUCH for all that you do! It makes my heart smile!

  14. I will keep saying thing over and over. You need to get these beautiful stories printed. You can become the face of dog rescue in the country. You could inspire so many. Be bold and great forces will come to your aid.

  15. God Bless you Ashley, as i wipe the tears

  16. I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU Ashley!!! You know I do! I was SOOOOO shaken by Rudy's passing too, as you know. GOD BLESS YOU Ashley! Dustin too! You both will always hold a special place in my heart!

  17. Ashley, I admire your inner strength to endure the heartbreaks and other difficulties you continually face and overcome because of your unwavering dedication to these precious souls.

    On a humorous note, Lola has the coolest looking eyes! At first, I though you might have photoshopped them because they look cartoon-like! She reminds me of the dog in the Disney movie UP: http://popculturenerd.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Dug-up.jpg

  18. Ashley I am so sorry for the loss of Lola, my heart aches so deeply for you and this poor sweet baby . Thanks to you she at least got to know what love was before she left this world

  19. Oh Ashley....the world is a better place with you in it! :0)

  20. All these abused babies don't have long lives unfortunately. The cruelty is taking a severe toll on their bodies. How tragic. I am so sorry to hear that Lola has passed away, but she is now in God's arms who are soothing and comforting her for an Eternity. RIP little girl. And Ashley, by strong, you are needed. Your work is wonderful, you should be proud of yourself. One day you will be a Big Star. You are so special

  21. With a broken heart & tears streaming down my face, I'm so sorry to share the news that Lola passed away. She's with my Rudy now... forever.
    Thank you for caring about her story. She was truly special... and I'm truly devastated.

  22. RIP Lola! You are truly a blessing to every life you touched during your short time on earth!

  23. Thanks for sharing her story. Reading her (and your) story, something must have told you to share her story with us. It was your final show of love for such a wonderful creature. Thanks for all that you do.

  24. So very sorry to hear about Lola :-(


  25. Aww i was so happy to hear u saved her,, im sorry for your liss! She was a sweet girl who deserved the best and thats what you gave her, the only normal ahe ever knew:)

  26. Thanks for who you are to these sweet babies!!! Sorry for your loss:(

  27. I fully realize before I read one of these blogs I will end it crying.....but yet I read it because it makes me realize there are people out there making positive changes in the world.....and I need to be one of those people.

  28. So Lola went to heaven, I hope she gets to meet my Kuku & my Pringa, Russo too I hope she tells them I miss them & love them so much, & that there's not a day I don't think about them,I can relate to the pain of losing a friend, a son, or a daughter(since that is what animals are to me), I live it every day,but when I see the eyes of my Chester & my Sky, they let me know that my angels loved me too, & that they are waiting for me, that where they are there's no pain, no abusers, no evil & that one day we'll be reunited again, I hope to meet you too Lola.

  29. You showed her love, without you she would never have known that. She lived out her last year in paradise because of you. You are, as ever, simply amazing. Thank God for you.

  30. My two "rescued" dogs just turned around and gave me a worried look because I am wailing in pain for you, for Barney, and for all the sadness this world causes for animals. I have said it before and it is still true...You are amazing! I couldn't do what you do, my heart could never take it. But, I do what I can for the animals I call mine and I stand up for the animals that need to be heard. I wish I was stronger, richer, and better emotionally capable so I could do more, but alas, such is not my fate. Blessings on you Ashley, now and always.

  31. the gift you gave lola and the gift you gave rudy, that is what makes this work go on. we can go on because of the Lola's and the Rudy's of the world. imgaine had you not come along for these two and how they would have died otherwise. their life was changed because of the work you did. you made a difference in lives. you changed the world.

    that is why we do it

  32. God bless you! I'm sorry for your heartbreak and the loss of Rudy.... you are an angel to these precious souls. The world needs more people like you. Lola was so blessed you found her! God bless you!

  33. Stephanie DeThomasJuly 1, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Balto, Sky and I are very sad to hear of the passing of Lola. I'm sure Rudy met her as she galloped over the Rainbow Bridge.

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