Good People

I'd like to believe that many good-hearted, caring people exist in this world. Well, let me rephrase that: I do believe that the world is full of good people. 

But... being "good" shouldn't simply mean that a person doesn't do bad things. That shouldn't be enough. There should always be an active, ongoing effort to do good things... to make a difference.  

I guess that's where I get frustrated sometimes. I know so many amazing people, who are capable of so much good. Yet, there's so little motivation to actually do more with their time. To do more with their lives.

The reality is this: we're all just trying to make it in this crazy world. I get that, trust me. But if everyone just gave a little of themselves, then people like me wouldn't have to carry all the weight on our shoulders. 

Why should the few people who care SO much... be expected to do it all? Sure, I care more about animals than the average person. And yes, I've made the decision to dedicate my life to saving them. I certainly don't expect everyone else to do the same; it's just not realistic. So of course I carry more of the burden than others. That's my choice.

But I can't do it all on my own; I need help, just like every other person who dedicates their life to a cause... also needs help. I do so much... and I do it, because I want to do it. But with more help, I could do even more. We could do more. 

Everyone can do something. Every single person. But it's so disheartening when good people choose to do nothing. Each helping hand makes a huge difference.

Byt when the help isn't there, the entire burden falls on those like me, who are already overloaded and overwhelmed. Because we are the ones who care too much... to do nothing at all.

Instead of reaching out to lighten that load, a lot of people feel comforted... just knowing that people like me exist. So, when help is needed, they figure: "She'll take care of it." ... and those thoughts help them sleep at night. 

It's good to be thankful for those who are out there fighting on the front-lines. But without support, here's what happens: the people who do it all... eventually reach a breaking point. It's inevitable... one person can only do so much. When that happens, everyone loses. The world loses.

This isn't my way of saying I've reached a breaking point. This is just my way of asking for help... for me, and for others like me. This is my way of encouraging all of the good people out there to act. To get involved, to make a difference, and to do something amazing with your life. Allow the goodness in your heart to drive your actions.  

Just do something-- anything. Make your life count. If you're a good person, prove it :)

When you die, what will others say about you? What good did you do with the time you were given? How was your life different... from all the other lives? 

My hope is to inspire every truly good person to have solid answers to those questions. Otherwise... why are you here?

**YOU can do something amazing NOW! PLEASE DONATE!**


And Then There Were None

Brody HATES the camera flash
Often in animal rescue, the happiest days of your life are also the saddest days of your life. Welcome to today for me. 

I'll never forget this day: October 26, 2011. Today is the day that my Brody went home forever. Today is the day that the final piece of a very special puzzle fell into place. Let me explain...

Eight months ago, I rescued a litter of 8 Pit Bull/Boxer puppies from euthanasia. Despite the fact that I didn't have room for 8 new dogs, these puppies deserved a chance. And so, 8 little babies came to live with me. 

Several of the puppies were sick. The rest made huge messes. But every single one of them stole my heart. I'm telling you... this was the cutest litter of puppies that ever lived.

Soon, 3 of the puppies went to amazing homes in Minnesota: Brutus, Duke, and Bam Bam. A couple months later, Darcy and Lexi were adopted in the Northeast. And soon thereafter, Ellie was adopted here in Mississippi.

And then... there were two: Teddy and Brody. 

Teddy and Brody were not only brothers, but best friends. They did everything together, and their relationship was truly special. And I felt special to be a part of it. I felt even more special... because I was their mom. 

I'd basically raised these two since birth, and they'd never known life without me. But as much as I didn't want to know life without them, I knew the time would come... when I'd have to let them go. And then, in August, the time finally came to say goodbye to Teddy, when he was adopted by an amazing family up north. 

Seriously, Mom? Another picture??
And then... there was one... Brody.

When Teddy was adopted, Brody lost his brother and his best friend. Teddy was Brody's hero, and I won't lie... it was heartbreaking to watch Brody searching around Lucky Dog for Teddy. 

I promised Brody that his day would come soon... that he'd have a special family just like his 7 brothers and sisters. But after months of waiting --and for Brody, a lifetime of waiting-- I sometimes wondered whether Brody would ever go home.

With each month that passes, puppies become less and less adoptable. Adopters tend to want either a baby puppy... or a grown adult. The in-between stage is rarely desired. So, if they don't go quickly as a pup, then there's often a waiting game until they're full-grown. 

Such was the case with Brody... until today... 

Following an approved adoption application and home check, a wonderful family here in Meridian adopted my Brody today. He'll have 2 human sisters, and a new mom and dad. 

The family's excitement brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. And the smile on Brody's face honestly meant everything to me. Because for the very first time in his life... he finally knows what it's like... to be home

That was one of the happiest, most heartbreaking moments of my life. The joy was for Brody. The heartbreak was for me, because the time had finally come... to say goodbye to the last baby from my special litter of eight. I just couldn't believe they were really all gone.

Ever since he was just a baby, I've been Brody's mom. But now, my job is done. My baby is all grown up. And it was time to let him go...

So... I bent down, and gave my Brody the last hug, and the last kiss, I'd ever give him as his mom. He has a new mom now. A new family. A new home.

In his ear, I whispered: "You can't understand it right now, but this is why I saved you." And then, I repeated the special quote I've recited to him every day since he was just a sick little puppy: "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." Then... I quietly sobbed as I walked away.

Before I shut the door to Brody's new house, I looked back at my baby one last time. Through my tears, I smiled and said, "Welcome home, baby boy."  

With that, I closed the door to one of the most incredible chapters of my life...

And then... there were none.


Why Do They Buy?

Each day, I'm forced to look at thousands of animal shelter photos.
Each photo contains a desperate pair of eyes.
Each desperate pair of eyes represents a life.
Each life... will soon end.
Often... today.

While millions of pets are killed in animal shelters each year, breeders continue to bring millions of new pets into the world.

Why do they do this? Profit. Greed. Indifference. But most of all: Demand.

We live in a society that values profit and status over morals and goodwill. Sadly, a person's "status" is often reflected in the "stuff" they can buy. If you have a lot of "stuff," then you have a lot of "worth." And if you've got a lot of high-dollar, name-brand "stuff," then you're considered "successful."

Why is this relevant to the pet crisis in this country? Well, here's the deal:

In our misinformed, status-driven society, a purebred dog is often considered "better than" a "mutt" or rescue dog. Therefore, in the minds of many, a purebred dog conveys a level of status, wealth, and worth. So, the ability to buy and own a purebred dog can seemingly make a person "better than" others, because this somehow shows proof of their own status, wealth, and worth.

If this sounds ridiculous to you, consider this example: A designer handbag has the same functionality as a discount purse. In truth, a purse is nothing more than a basic-item-carrier. Therefore, a $2 handbag is every bit as capable of accomplishing the item-carrying task, as its $2,000 counterpart. Yet, in our society, the woman carrying the $2,000 designer purse is often viewed much differently than the chick like me... with the dirt-cheap, hand-me-down bag.

The other woman paid 1,000 times more than I did... for nothing more than a label. Why?? Did she honestly believe that a high-dollar purse purchase was somehow a reflection of her own value? Well... probably... because society said so.

This may seem like an attack on the wealthy. It's not. Because this isn't about how much money a person actually has. It's about the perception of wealth, and what it means to be "wealthy" in our society.

Name-brand items have come to represent wealth. Even if you aren't wealthy... you can be perceived as wealthy --and therefore, slightly-more worthy-- if you buy "these" things. And without "these" things, you're kinda, like... poor.

So, let's go back to that heartbreaking pet crisis... and all of those breeder dogs. With the knowledge that millions of pets are killed in this country, why are people still breeding these dogs? Because people are still buying them.

But why are people still buying them? Because society tells them that they should, claiming: "This purebred dog is better. Owning this purebred dog makes you better. This purebred dog has more value. Owning this purebred dog gives you more value."

Don't believe me? Here's a solid example of societal misconceptions and the desire for status --despite logic-- in the pet market: There are breed-specific animal rescue groups for every breed of dog. Many of these "rescue dogs" ... are actually purebreds... without "papers."

These purebred rescue dogs can be adopted from the rescue group... for a fraction of the breeder cost. In addition... included in that reduced fee, the rescue puppy/dog is fully-vetted, unlike the breeder dog. Further, by adopting that purebred rescue dog, the adopter is supporting a charity, while reducing the destructive breeding/euthanasia cycle in this country... AND saving a life.

YET, even with this knowledge... people still flock to breeders, to pay hundreds --thousands-- more, for those purebred dogs. Why? Well... for starters: people want "papers." Why so? Because the profit-driven kennel clubs tell society that papers mean something. Papers equal value.

And apparently, without papers, the dog is "less-than." To most people, a purebred dog... without purebred papers... is not a purebred dog. Even though, the dog's genetics and physical appearance provide undeniable proof of their "purebred" status...

But people want that "label."
They need that label.

Keep this in mind: the label means nothing. Papers mean nothing.
Labels and papers only provide proof of branding.
Branding is a marketing ploy.
So really, those high-dollar papers... don't mean jack-squat.

Here's the cold, hard truth about papers and labels: they only provide proof that you fell victim to the marketing machine, societal pressures, and misinformation. (It's not really something to brag about...)

In addition to the "papers," there's the misconception that "purebred" means higher quality... and therefore, "rescue" equals lower quality, status, and worth.

"My dog is better, healthier, and smarter. Mine is a purebred."

Here's the sad reality of that misinformed statement: it's not only false... but actually, the opposite is usually more accurate.

More often than not, "purebred" means "inbred."
Does that sound "better" to you?
How has that whole "inbreeding" thing worked out for humans?
Do you want 12 fingers and 47 toes? I think not.

Inbreeding leads to many genetic deficiencies and severe health problems. But guess what? Most breeders don't care. Because that breeder wants one thing: your money. And he'll have your money... long before you ever realize... just how sick your super-expensive, super-healthy dog really is...

If the breeder's purchase price seems high... just wait until you see the butt-load of vet bills that'll result from that "high-quality, uber-healthy" purebred dog he sold you.

In truth, when you buy from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills, you've actually purchased one of the lowest-quality dogs money can buy, in terms of health. And sadly, you just paid that breeder... to keep doing it.

Breeders don't stop... until the profits stop.
Cut the demand, you'll cut the supply.
Cut the supply... and millions of shelter pets won't die.

But even still... people keep buying from breeders. How can they justify these high-dollar dog purchases? How can people continue to feel good about contributing to the deaths of millions of pets every year?

Don't you people realize... that with every breeder dog purchase, a shelter dog is killed?!
Do you even care??

Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to you, and maybe you don't care. But either way: if you're aware of this information, and you choose to buy anyway... here's what you have to live with: When given the chance to save a life... you killed one instead.

Does that really impress your friends?? If it does, get new friends! Do murder and injustice really help you feel wealthy or worthy? If so, get some therapy!

If you've purchased a purebred dog from a breeder in the past, I'm NOT blaming you. I'm not judging you. I'm just hoping you'll reconsider... when making your next pet decision. Because your heart is better than that.

Dogs shouldn't represent "status" or "wealth." Dogs should NEVER die, because someone wants to look cool. You wanna be cool?? THEN DO SOMETHING SELFLESS! DO SOMETHING AMAZING! ADOPT A DOG! SAVE A LIFE!

In terms of society, you'll never be "worthy." In the eyes of a rescue dog, you already are. Please, don't let them down... ADOPT!


Humor in Ignorance

Laughing at ignorance
Ignorance refers to the state of being uninformed, unaware, or uneducated. This condition plagues our society, and its impact is anything but "funny."

However, a lot of humor can be found within the words and actions of the ignorant. And it just so happens... that I'm in the mood to laugh today. So, here we go...

I write in an attempt to educate, inspire, and motivate. And despite the fact that my site is called "Lucky Dog Rescue Blog," a lot of non-rescue, non-dog-freak people come here, to read what I have to say. I won't lie... that's pretty awesome. That's how views change, actions change, and quite honestly... the world begins to change.

However, there are those few... shall we say... asshats, that come here just to argue. Now, trust me, I'm totally willing to have an educated debate with anyone who wants to challenge my passion, my knowledge, and my experience.  
Bring. It. On.

But when common sense, rationale, and basic decency are... how should I say this... completely freaking absent, then the "educated" piece of that debate puzzle is... well,  impossible

Here's the deal: If I'm not educated on a topic, then I certainly don't try to prove my ignorance... by forcing a completely ridiculous, childish, I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I debate on the subject. I'll gladly keep my mouth shut... to preserve my dignity. 

But others don't seem to share my views on humility. Instead, they'll wave that Ignorance Pride flag high in the sky, for everyone to see. Good for y'all. Humiliation looks good on ya.

Like it or not, ignorance is alive and well, and I can certainly accept that most people exhibit some level of unawareness in one area or another. But the people who truly amaze me, are those who actually boast about their ignorance. They're not only proud of their limited, misinformed views, but they'll actually state their opinions as fact, in a ridiculous, lengthy argument about something... that they honestly know nothing about. 

And here's the best part: They're too ridiculous to realize... that their uneducated rants actually do an incredible job of disproving whatever useless point they wish to make. It's simply freaking brilliant.  

Let's look at some classic examples of Ignorance Pride in action:

Exhibit A: "I know that I'm right. I found this info on Google."

You're kidding?! Google!!! Oh my goodness... that's totally the same as scientific research! And from what I hear, the ability to perform Google searches requires a very rare level of "experience" and "expertise." You should totally stick that bad boy on your resume: "Googler."

Exhibit B: "I know what I'm talking about. I heard it straight from my friend, who heard it directly from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-grandmaw's-uncle's-brother's-cousin's-sister's-aunt's-mama's-friend-of-a-friend. It happened to him."  

Wow, really?! That's pretty much the truest story of all time! Everyone knows that you can always trust stories... that were passed down from those random, unknown friends, of someone else's grandmaw's sister's cousin's friends. It's so the same as being there to see it. Always holds up in court.

Exhibit C: "I know this is true. It's all over the news." 

Oh my gosh, totally! That definitely makes it true! Plus, watching the news, while eating a Hot Pocket, can totally make you a qualified expert on the subject. Did you see when the media reported that Elvis is still alive? So informative! I also saw Breaking News that the troops found Osama bin Laden... about 50 times before they actually did. I believe it. Then, I heard something about Paris Hilton sleeping with an alien. Slut! She totally did.  

Here's some shocking info for ya: Google does not an expert make. Hear-say does not equal first-hand experience. Media coverage does not ensure truth. 

But ignorance promises ignorance... that's for damn sure. And these folks are certainly well-versed in that department. If only everyone had that jackwagon mindset... we could still be living in those bad-ass caves without power. Bummer.

Thanks to the delusional ignorance of these jink-jankers, the world is way less awesome than it could be. But here's the good news: We're way smarter than them, so the ignorant can never win... unless we let them.  

And in the meantime, we can laugh... 


The Truth About Pit Bulls

The societal misconception about Pit Bulls truly blows me away. In the minds of many people, there are dogs... and then... there are Pit Bulls. They're almost viewed as a completely different species.

Well... I've got news for ya. They are canines... just like every other dog. That's a fact.

Many people have never even met a "Pit Bull." Yet, when asked about these dogs, those same people will provide a bold, descriptive account of "the Pit Bull" and his "personality." Aggressive. Vicious. Deranged. Dangerous. Unpredictable. 

Remember... the vast majority of these people have never actually witnessed this behavior, because they've never even been close enough to a Pit Bull to substantiate --or eradicate-- their claims. 

So, the question becomes: what's the basis for these Pit Bull testimonies? How can someone be so certain of this knowledge, when they've never even had an encounter with a Pit Bull?   

The simple answer: the media

In order to thrive, the media needs stories... and not just any stories. Sensational stories. Stories that grab your attention. Stories that get people talking. Stories that get you to tune in, read, and share their stories... with others who will tune in, read, and share those stories. That's their job.

So, what makes for a sensational story? Well, consider Hollywood. What celebrity news makes the headlines? Scandals. Drugs. Affairs. Drama. The cover story is never about the sweet, responsible starlet who quietly goes to work and back home every day. Why so? Because innocent isn't interesting. Innocent is boring.

Instead, devastation, destruction, and chaos are desired by the media. And if these things don't exist... trust me, they'll create their own story... 

Does a story about a sweet, loving Pit Bull, who enjoys playfully running through the grass, qualify as "sensational?" Not so much. But what about vicious, killer animal roaming the streets for blood? You betcha.

Consider this: millions of dog bites are reported each year... by dogs of every different breed. Many of these bites cause severe injuries, leading to hospitalizations, surgeries, and death. 

But how many of those stories do you actually see on the news? Well, let me rephrase that: How many non-Pit Bull bite stories do you see on the news?

When a Pit Bull bites someone, it almost always makes the news, with a headline such as "Killer Pit Bull Attacks Human." But what about the Golden Retriever down the street, who bit a child and sent him to the hospital? Well, that one never made the news. 

What about the Chihuahua who mauled a kid's face... did you ever see this headline: "Vicious Chihuahua Mauls Child." Nope... that's not a "good story" either. 

If and when these non-Pit-Bull bites are reported by the media, it's never front page news, and the dog's breed is rarely listed at all, simply stating: "Dog Bites Child." 

In fact, dog bites are so common, that the average bite from the "average dog" isn't considered news-worthy at all... regardless of the degree of injury to the person, or the number of other bite occurrences by that particular breed. 

But why aren't these other incidents covered in the news? Well, any media reports about non-Pit-Bull bites would only reduce the "sensational" aspect of their "Pit Bull attack" stories. And trust me, they don't want that to happen. So, in order to maintain the Pit Bull's "vicious" reputation, the media neglects the many other dog bite incidents by many other breeds. Does this seem honest? Justified? Trustworthy?

So, you may be asking, "Then, why the Pit Bull?" Well, that's the deeper issue here... 

Sadly, the inherent loyalty of the Pit Bull has been exploited by humans for sadistic pleasure and personal gain. Dog Fighting. Baiting. Chaining. Protection. Neglect. Abuse. Thus, the Pit Bull's "reputation" is a direct result of the cruelty to which they're subjected. 

However, the truth doesn't matter to the media, because that "Killer Pit Bull" reputation and their assumed "vicious" nature makes for a pretty darn good news story...

The media never shares the back-story of what happened to the dog before he bit someone. Even though... that piece of information is the most critical part of the story. 

Pit Bulls are arguably the most abused, misused, and tortured breed in America. (Keep in mind that the term "Pit Bull" is actually used to describe at least 3 different breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.) 

Their strengths are exploited by humans to make these dogs weaker; their weaknesses used to make humans stronger. Therein lies the problem... the truth behind their "bad rap," and the stimulus for the vast majority of Pit Bull bites and "attacks."

But the media never asks the most critical question: What happened to this dog... to cause him to bite someone? I may not know everything, but I can guarantee you this much: something happened to him

Maybe this dog was chained and neglected for years, with only a few feet of space to call his own. Never able to run, play, or be a dog. So, when someone enters that limited space, the dog may feel threatened, and his natural fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. But guess what? That heavy chain prevents the "flight" option. "Fight" is all he has, and he bites because he fears for his life.

Maybe the dog was trained to fight. Maybe he was praised for attacking others... and brutally beaten when he didn't obey those commands. Maybe he has lived his entire life, so terrified on a daily basis, that he can no longer trust any human contact. Maybe he thought that biting was his only chance to live another day...

Regardless of what happened, the back-story is never told. More disturbingly, when talking to the media, the dog's owners will always claim that this dog was a beloved family pet, who just suddenly "turned" one day. I'm always amazed that people actually believe these owners. 

Let's take a stroll down Common Sense Lane for just a sec...

So... these people claim that they were a "good family" who loved their dog? Of course they say that!!! Do you honestly expect that they'd tell the media: "Well, we beat the crap out of our dog every day for years, and one day, he finally fought back." 

Or "We chained and starved our dog for his entire life... and one day, the neglect just got the best of him." Or "Our child was taunting the starving dog, who then bit her out of hunger, fear, and self-defense." Or "We trained our dog to protect our home, and now we're angry that he tried to do what we asked of him."

If a family actually admitted that they were guilty of animal cruelty, there would be consequences. So, of course they blame the dog! Then, the law blames the dog, and the media blames the dog. And sadly, society blames the dog... for what humans did to him. 

People actually choose to believe that this Pit Bull just "turned" on the family who fed them, loved them, and cared for them all their life. Is that rational? Of course not! But it makes for a better story, doesn't it? 

So, that's what the media feeds us... and everyone is falling for it... 

If you'd like to hear from someone who has A LOT of experience with Pit Bulls, well... here I am. I've been bitten by a lot of dogs in my life... Labs, Chihuahuas, Spaniels. But out of the thousands of dogs I've worked with, I have never been bitten by a Pit Bull

In animal rescue, I deal with the worst of the worst... and these Pit Bulls come to me in the most broken, fearful, and vulnerable state. If a dog is going to bite someone, it'll most likely happen when they're in that fragile, uncertain state... only because they are terrified.  

And yet-- not one of those Pit Bulls has ever bitten me. I work with them daily --many of them. Do you honestly believe that I'd put my life in danger every single day?? And if they're truly so vicious, wouldn't I have been bitten or attacked by now? If they were really so dangerous and unpredictable, surely I'd be at greater risk than anyone else... dealing with so many of them on a daily basis... right? And yet, nothing has happened. Hmm...

The truth is: Pit Bulls aren't any more dangerous than other large breeds, and they aren't any less loving or deserving than any other dog. Wouldn't you choose to believe someone who actually knows these dogs... over someone who has never even met one???

I don't fear them, so they don't fear me. I love them, so they love me. That's critical. Because when fear is present and love is absent, any dog can become terrified.

Every breed of dog is capable of biting and harming someone, and these bites can happen for many different reasons: excessive energy, improper training, lack of socialization, unmet needs, abuse, hunger, neglect, and fear

When a dog senses your fear, they assume that they should be fearful, too. They don't understand that you actually fear them... they just sense an abundance of nervous energy, causing their defenses to go up as well. Therefore, they become every bit as terrified of you... as you are of them. So when you move toward them with uncertainty and hesitation... they fear for their safety, which can cause them to bite you. This is true for any dog. 

The most feared dog... is the Pit Bull. People tend to fear Pit Bulls more than any other breed. But does it seem logical that those same people don't fear other large breeds --who are equally strong and capable of harm-- such as Boxers, Shepherds, Labs, and Standard Poodles? Does this make any sense whatsoever?

So, why do they fear the Pit Bull? Because of the media. Because of dog fighters. Because of misconceptions and lies and abuse. Stop buying into these stories! Stop blaming these dogs for dog fighting! Stop believing the lies you are being fed!

The media has a lot to gain from these stories: ratings, readers, and money. Dog fighters have a lot to gain from dog fighting... and even more so, when society blames the dogs, instead of the people. 

But ask yourself this: What do I have to gain here? If you think I'm getting paid to write this, you're wrong. If you think someone is paying me to save these Pit Bulls, you're wrong. If you think I have anything to gain by presenting the truth and seeking justice, well... you're wrong.

Actually, I have a lot to lose here... everything, really. If I'm wrong about these dogs, I risk my reputation, my work, and quite honestly, my life. But... I'm more than willing to put everything I have on the line... because I know that I'm right, and I know that they're worth it. 

The media has everything to gain... and nothing to lose. I have nothing to gain... and everything to lose. So... the question becomes: Who do you choose to believe??



Don't give yourself any excuse to be less amazing than you are. 

Don't use your genetics, your experiences, or your misfortunes, as a means to limit your future. 

Your past does not define you. Your relationships don't define you. Your finances don't define you.

You define you.

Life events shape your experience. Your experience writes your story. Your story becomes your life.

But your best life can only happen... when the best you is present for it.

In life, there will always be the things you can change... and the things you can't change. But no matter what you can't change: You can always change you.

Every experience can either be used... as the motivation to push you forward... or as the excuse to hold you back.
Motivation leads to growth, success, and fulfillment.
Excuses lead to complacency and mediocrity... self-destruction and despair.

Bad things are going to happen... to all of us. But every negative event can be turned into something positive. Heartbreak can lead to love. Trauma can become motivation. Death can give way to life.

However, it's much easier to turn those negative events into excuses. Those excuses can then be leveraged... to deny our potential, limit our progress, and prevent any happiness.

Excuses build a stairway to regret. That stairway leads to a less amazing life... thanks to a less amazing you.

Never give more power to any life event... than you give to yourself. The event itself has no power. Experiences don't make you, or break you. You do.

I didn't become the person I am today, because I've had an easy life. Not even close. Many bad things have happened to me... and each of those events presented me with the opportunity to make excuses... and do less with my life.

But I'm better than that. I'm stronger than that. I deserve more than that. And so do you.

Your experiences are very much a part of you, but those experiences should never define you. Maybe you can't always choose what will happen to you, but you can always decide how you handle it. 

In an instant, your life can change, forever. You can change, forever.
But how you change... is up to you.
When something bad happens, acknowledge it, work through it, and learn from it.
Then... let it go... and let you grow. 

When you make excuses for why you are the way you are... you deny the person you could be.
There's only one you.
You have only one life.
And your life is happening now.
You can make every excuse not to live it... but is there any excuse that's worth it?? 

YOU are amazing. Start acting like it. No excuses.


In My Words 2

Here are some of my thoughts this week... in my own words:
*Today, I'm going to be positive. I won't let crappy things or stupid people ruin that for me. So, to all the day-ruiners out there: Look elsewhere... because today just ain't your day with me.
*Sure, there are at least 2 sides to every story. But if one person is sane... and the other-- completely insane... then I'm thinking sanity trumps fairness in that dispute.
*The people who really change the world are those who challenge the words "You can't" with "Watch this."
*There will be good days, and there will be bad days. There will be ups, mixed with downs. But, when the tears drown your smiles... fight to smile through those tears. Because if you can smile... you can make it.
*In life, you're going to fail sometimes. When you do, you may feel worthless. But down the road, you may feel burdened by success. And in between, trapped by mediocrity. Just remember: none of these feelings can ever define you... without your consent. You can only be a failure, if you believe you can't succeed. You're only mediocre, if you fail to strive for more. Success will be your burden, if you deny its opportunities. Life doesn't make you who you are. You do.
*If everyone who truly cared about something, simply acted on that feeling, the "some day" we all talk about... could be today.
*The past is in the past. Sure, what happened in the past helped shape who you are today. But if you're still holding onto it --then I hate to tell ya-- but it isn't your past. It's your present.
*Don't waste all of your energy on the not-important-people around you. Because inevitably, the MOST important people in your life will begin to feel not important. Those people are irreplaceable.
*As a kid, you want to know everything. As a pre-teen, you don't care to know anything. As a teenager, you think you know everything. As a young adult, you realize you know nothing. For the rest of your life, you'll repeat this same cycle over and over again. Seeking knowledge, avoiding truth, assuming wisdom, and surrendering to reality. That's the journey of life. You'll never know everything. Try anyway.
*I was once a little girl with big dreams. Although I grew up... that little girl stayed with me. She's still there, inside of me... fighting for those dreams. When life says "No," she says "Yes." When the world says "You can't," she says "I can." When they say "Stop trying," she says "Never." By keeping my inner child alive, I kept my dreams alive. And then, my dreams came true. That little girl never stopped believing that anything is possible... and she was right
*All quotes written by Ashley Owen Hill


Foster Back-Outs

Pinky was once in a foster home
There's nothing more rewarding than fostering a dog. That alone should be reason enough to do it. 

But in addition, all costs are covered by the animal rescue organization. The foster family gets the love, the joy, and the rewards, while the rescue group takes care of the food, the vet care, and the pet adoption. To me, that sounds like a pretty amazing deal.

But for some reason--that I just can't understand--no one wants to foster. Or, the few that do, often back-out shortly thereafter. You may be thinking: "At least they offered to help, even if only for a short time. It's better than nothing." Well, let me explain the bigger issue behind those short-term, suddenly-can't-foster-this-dog-anymore, foster back-outs

When a family offers to foster for Lucky Dog Rescue, it's a truly amazing act. First of all, fostering presents an incredible opportunity for the rescue dog... a chance to have the love and comfort of a home environment-- often, for the very first time in their lives. Further, foster homes are able to provide the dog with one-on-one attention and socialization... the critical elements needed to improve their chances of pet adoption.

You may ask: "But can't the dogs just get that stuff at the animal shelter? Why do you need foster homes for that?" Well, many rescue dogs have endured years of horrific abuse, leaving them with broken hearts and various issues. These dogs need extra-special love and attention, the kind that foster families can provide them. 

Most animal shelters and rescues are overwhelmed, with many dogs to care for and little help to do so. But foster homes are able to take in one dog at a time... and with a little extra love and care... those hearts begin to heal. Honestly, this means everything to that dog, and it prepares them for pet adoption and an amazing future. 

Missy used to live in a foster home.
Further, the animal shelter environment can be very stressful for some dogs. The isolation of a dog kennel can make existing issues worse... or cause new issues to develop. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it's detrimental. Because eventually, they go "kennel crazy." That's the heartbreaking reality of shelter confinement, and once that happens, no one will adopt them.

If you lived in a tiny cage for an extended period of time... trust me, you'd go crazy, too. Dogs are meant to walk, and run, and play. They are not meant to live in dog kennels forever, and over time, they slowly lose their minds. But foster homes can prevent this problem...you can prevent this problem. (Note: Lucky Dog Rescue pups get plenty of walks and outside playtime, to prevent "kennel rage" from developing. But so many rescue dogs... just aren't that lucky.)

Okay... so, I've given you lots of reasons why fostering is important. But there's another amazing aspect of fostering, from an animal rescue standpoint. When a rescue pup goes to a foster home, a dog kennel opens up at the animal shelter. This is crucial, because now we have room to save another life. And trust me, at Lucky Dog Rescue, there's always another broken dog ready to fill that spot... immediately. 

So, when someone opens their home to a foster dog, they also offer hope to another dog as well. Pretty amazing, right? Cool dog. Free love. Healing hearts. Saving lives.

Well, yes... until that foster home decides that they can't keep the dog anymore, and suddenly brings them back to the animal shelter. At that point, there's no longer a spot for this dog. There's no where for them to go. As soon as this foster dog left, that dog kennel was immediately taken by another pup with no other hope. Sure, rescues could choose to reject all other dogs, for fear of foster back-outs... but then, no other lives could ever be saved.

Diamond needs another foster home
I'm an honest person, so I expect honesty in return. When I'm told, "Yes, Ashley, I will foster this dog until his forever home is found, " I believe it. And then, I use that spot to save another life. 

So, when a foster dog comes back, for no real reason... it's beyond frustrating and stressful for rescuers like me. Of course, we'd never turn away our own rescue baby, so we're forced to make space... where there is no space. We're forced to do more... with no more to give. And we're forced to question the reliability of every single person that offers us help

But also... we're forced to mend a heart re-broken, when that foster dog feels abandoned, once again.

And ultimately, fewer lives are saved... because there are just too few foster homes. That's the heartbreaking reality here. If every animal lover would just foster one dog, MILLIONS of lives could be saved every year.

But without fosters... millions die. If you don't like it, do something about it. Foster.
And please, don't back out.  


Lucky Dog Rescue Loves 1-800-PetMeds

*If your dog suffers from any stress or anxiety issues, this one's worth the read. I may have a solution for ya.

Animal rescue doesn't come cheap. Trust me. Before pet adoption can take place, all rescue dogs must be fully vetted-- which is really expensive. But in addition to that, a list of monthly medications is required for each shelter dog to be truly healthy and happy. And believe me, those costs add up.  

So, I started looking for more cost-effective medication options for Lucky Dog Rescue. That's when I found 1-800-PetMeds.

With 1-800-PetMeds, I can save money on all the meds my babies need. That's huge for me! When it comes to animal rescue, cost savings ultimately lead to more lives saved, and 1-800-PetMeds allows animal rescue groups to save more by spending less. 

Also, the company has been so great to donate some much-needed products to Lucky Dog Rescue (and so many other rescue groups)! I'll always give a thumbs-up to companies that help animal charities!

Chance loves Comfort Zone!
So anyway, I have to tell y'all about one of the donated products in particular, because I wish someone had told me to try it a long time ago. On the PetMeds website, I ran across a product that I've been DYING to try: Comfort Zone for dogs.

Comfort Zone is an outlet diffuser created just for dogs. By releasing a calming, stress-reducing pheromone, Comfort Zone helps to control stress-related dog behaviors such as excessive whining, destructive chewing, panting, and anxiety. 

If you've ever dealt with these issues, then you know exactly why I couldn't wait to try this product. Sure, Lucky Dog Rescue is a super-happy place, but even still, the animal shelter environment can be pretty stressful for some dogs. So, I'm always looking for ways to help my animal rescue dogs feel happy, safe, and secure. 

So, 1-800-PetMeds offered to donate some Comfort Zone to Lucky Dog Rescue!

Of course, Comfort Zone is not an immediate fix, nor does it claim to be. Efficacy increases with time, and some additional behavior modification training is still needed for maximum benefit. I think most people expect to plug it in and have all of the dog's issues vanish immediately, but that's really not how it's meant to work. 

But by following the product instructions, I'm beginning to get some results. And in just a short time, I've already seen a difference for the pups in my animal shelter. The reduction in anxiety is slowly helping with some of those destructive behaviors, and the calming effect has started to put my rescue dogs at ease, which puts me at ease. I want what's best for my babies, so providing them with a sense of comfort is always at the top of my list. 

Like I said, I'd always wondered about the Comfort Zone products, but I just never knew if they were worth a try. But I finally went for it, and I'm glad I did. My dogs deserve to feel comforted, even when I'm not there, and I feel like this is really helping them.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with y'all! I'm also providing some links below so you can try Comfort Zone and 1-800-PetMeds for your pups!




A Penny for Your Thoughts

Meet Penny. Penny was an Owner Surrender.

When she was just a tiny puppy, Penny lived in a happy home, as the treasured family pet. Back then, she was small and cute and cuddly. Back then, she was special

Back then, Penny was the children's best friend. She was their super-awesome secret keeper, super-fun playtime pal, and super-snuggly bedtime buddy. They loved her... and she loved them.

But the children grew up... and Penny did, too. And suddenly... she wasn't so special anymore. Her life of love inside the home... was replaced with a life alone outside the home.
Bedtime snuggling was replaced with a concrete porch.
"I love you" was replaced with "Ew, go away." 

Her best friends found other best friends... and then... they forgot about her altogether. The secret-telling stopped. Her cuddles quickly ended. Playtime was no more.

Through the window, Penny would watch the children... as they smiled and laughed and played... without her. With an innocent grin and a wagging tail, she'd wait for them to notice her. With desperate eyes and a hopeful heart, she begged to join the fun. But even when they glanced her way, it was only to ignore her. Or even worse than that... to wish her away.

Penny couldn't understand. What happened? What changed? Did I do something wrong? Most days, they forgot to feed her. Some days, she had no water. Every day, she barely existed... to the family she loved so much. 

But even still, Penny never blamed them. Because she couldn't have imagined... that they actually meant to forget her

So... being a very smart girl, who loves her family, Penny thought, "Hey! Maybe they don't even know that I'm back here!" And that's when she learned to get out of the fence, run around the house, and wait by the front door for her family. 

In her heart, she truly believed that this would please them. She assumed they'd be excited to see their special Penny again. So, she'd wait... by the door, for her family to get home... thinking they'd finally invite her back into their lives. 

But they didn't invite her inside. Instead, they yelled at her, beat her, and threw her back into the yard. Her heart was broken... she just couldn't understand: I thought they wanted me. I thought they needed me. I thought they loved me... like I love them.

I thought they'd be as excited to see me... as I was to see them...

Every day, Penny would repeat the same process... escaping, waiting, and being tossed back into the yard. But Penny never meant to misbehave, or run away, or upset them. She just wanted to see them... even if only for a second. Even if that second... would only result in yet another crack... in her already broken heart. 

For Penny, it was worth it, to wait by the door, all day long, for her family... to endure the abuse and rejection upon their arrival. For Penny, it was worth it... just to see her family today

But Penny's family didn't want to see her, and soon, her "behavior issues" caused them to hate her. So, they decided to dump her at the animal shelter, where Penny was to be killed immediately... because of her breed: Pit Bull.

On the day they planned to dump her--the day she would've been killed--the family mentioned their plan to a neighbor. Then, that neighbor called me.  

I quickly called the family and told them the deadly consequence for Penny if they dumped her at the pound. Sadly, they didn't care. I asked them to give me a little time to find a foster home. They said No. I said, "I'm telling you that your dog will be killed today, and I'm offering you an alternative! You don't think she deserves that much??"

The next words out of this woman's mouth... weren't new to me. I've heard this many times before, and I'm certain I'll hear it again. But the coldness behind those words... never shocks me any less. And every single time, my heart stops.

She said, "The shelter can kill her... or we will shoot her here. Either way, that dog's going today!"

I didn't have room to take another dog that day. I never planned to do so, either. But I wasn't going to run the risk of Penny being shot and killed by her family. My heart was so broken, at the thought of Penny seeing her family come outside... and excitedly running toward them... thinking they were finally coming to play with her... finally coming to invite her inside... finally coming to say "I love you" ... 

And then, I pictured the heartbreaking disbelief in Penny's eyes... as the family she loved so much... pulled the trigger to end her life.

It took me all of 2 seconds to say I'd take her. And just that quickly... on the day she was meant to die... Penny became a Lucky Dog, instead.

That day was months ago. Each day since, Penny has waited for her family. As she stares into the distance... I know she's watching out for them. In her heart, I know she truly believes that they'll come back for her one day soon. And in her eyes, I see the unimaginable love and devotion... for the family who wanted her dead.

Penny can never go back to that home (Thank God, right?). And even though she's so loved here with me... her heart won't fully heal, without a family to call her own. For now, "home" is only a distant memory for Penny. Please, help me change that for her. Share her story.

*Penny is a 2 year old, Pit Bull mix. She loves other dogs, children, and all people. She's such an adorable girl, with a super-fun personality to match. Penny is spayed, up-to-date on vaccinations, and heartworm negative. Transport can be arranged to approved adopter.


Owner Surrenders

Melody: Owner Surrender
When a pet owner willingly turns over their pet to an animal shelter or animal rescue group, we call that an Owner Surrender. 

Pet owners make this decision for many different reasons: pet has behavioral issues, pets aren't getting along, puppy grew up, new baby on the way, family is moving, not enough time, allergies, and on and on. Nine times out of ten, these issues can be resolved with just a little time and effort. 

But sadly, these owners --who are so quick to dump their family pet at the animal shelter-- are rarely willing to do anything to fix the problem... nor are they willing to admit that they are actually part of the problem. And far too often, the "problem" is nothing more than an excuse.

Our society makes it very easy to "get rid" of your pet. Honestly, it's even considered acceptable by many, which is highly disturbing.  But I often wonder if this happens because people don't understand or accept the heartbreaking reality for the surrendered pet... and what it does to them.

If you've ever given up on a family pet, I think you should know what happened after you walked away. Or if you've ever considered it... then you should know the truth before you do. It's not about "how hard" it is for you. This is about them. I challenge you to care enough about them to hear their side of the story. It's your choice, of course... but it's a life-or-death decision.  

Penny: Owner Surrender
So, first of all, dogs don't want to be crazy. Pets develop issues when their needs aren't met, when proper training isn't implemented, and when we unknowingly reinforce their negative behaviors. Most of these issues... are pretty much your fault. Are you really willing to dump them for something that's your fault?? 

Other times, an abusive past may be to blame for your rescue dog's issues. But even still, you can't completely absolve yourself of any guilt, because it's your job to help them work through these problems. An unwillingness to do so... well, that's your fault, too.

Okay... so sometimes, behavior is the problem, but there are many other reasons for Owner Surrenders. For example, maybe there's a new baby on the way. This is a common excuse... that makes about zero sense. Why in the world does having a new baby mean that you must dump your old baby?? When you have a second child, do you dump the first? Do you really only have enough love in your heart for one other living being at a time? Honestly... all your pet wants is love...is that really too much to ask??

There are so many Owner Surrender excuses; it'd take hours to list them all. And again, most could be resolved with just a little effort... or even a lick of common sense. But for now, I'd like to focus on the dogs... on what "Owner Surrender" means to them...

I've rescued a lot of dogs. The neglected, the abused, the sick, the maimed, the elderly. In short, the walking dead. But some of the saddest cases I've ever witnessed... are the Owner Surrenders. 

When a dog is taken from a horrific situation and brought into a loving environment like Lucky Dog Rescue, it's honestly like Heaven for them. Suddenly, they have warmth and food and joy. Playtime and walks and fun. For the first time... they know love, and they love it.

Rufus: Owner Surrender
But with Owner Surrenders, it's different... much different. When a dog was once in a loving home, and lived as a treasured family pet, their devastation upon abandonment is nothing short of heartbreaking. They don't understand. They can't understand. And so... they wait. I call them "the waiting." 

These dogs are waiting... for their families to return. They're waiting... to go home. They're waiting... to go back to the forever they were promised.

With every day, every hour, and every minute, they're waiting for their moms and dads to come back for them. With every car, every visitor, and every walk outdoors, they're certain they're going home. With every breath, every blink, and every sigh... they're wondering where their families are. What's taking them so long?

In their eyes, there's the undying wish for home. In their smiles, there's the unwavering hope that their wish will soon come true. And in their tiny bedtime whimpers, there's the slow realization... that they may never go home again

In the early stages, most surrendered dogs never doubt for a second that their families will come back for them. So... they sit, they watch, and they wait. But over time... that wish becomes nothing more than a dream... and that dream becomes their worst nightmare.  

It's beyond heartbreaking to watch them wait, day after day, for a family that won't be back for them. Especially when I can't help them understand... and even if I could... I couldn't bear to tell them. 

Mimi: Owner Surrender
Obviously, some dogs don't know that they've been abandoned. But with Owner Surrenders... there's another heartbreaking group. The dogs that know they're being dumped. They just know. These dogs are often dragged into the animal shelter by their families... as they desperately try to resist the inevitable. Their eyes plead with their moms and dads, begging for a second chance. They'll use every ounce of energy to try and leave with a family that doesn't even want them anymore. And as that family walks away... these dogs will cry out for them: "Wait! You forgot to take me with you!!! Please don't leave me here! Please!!!"

Even though these dogs realize what's happened-- their devotion never wavers. They'll still wait, every single day, for the very family that dumped them. When anyone walks through the animal shelter, these dogs will eagerly press their faces against the cage... tails wagging... to see if their family has come back for them. 

Then, the hope in their eyes is replaced with despair, as they realize that it isn't their family after all. They'll slowly walk back to the corner... the corner they now call "home" ... head hung... heart broken. And they'll repeat that same process... every single day.

In no-kill animal shelters, these dogs have all the time in the world... to wait for a family that will never return for them. But in kill shelters, Owner Surrenders are often killed immediately. Why so? Well, stray pets must be held for a certain number of days, in order to give their families time to reclaim them. But with Owner Surrenders, there's no mandatory hold time, which means they can be killed immediately. And trust me, if space is limited, Owner Surrenders will be the first to go.

Other pets may be given days or weeks... which will be spent waiting for their families. And when their time is up, they'll cry out for those families... as they are killed.  

Sure, you can sit back and blame the kill animal shelters all day long, but they didn't dump your pet. You did. Basically, you handed them a very heartbroken dog, and said, "Here, you deal with this." Then, you turned and walked away, convinced that your dog would find a good home. All the while, millions upon millions of pets are being killed in shelters every year. You're certain that your pet will be the exception? Are you willing to bet his life on it??

Diamond: Owner Surrender
But that's part of the problem here... people are allowed to ignore the truth. Every day, pet owners are carelessly making major life-or-death decisions... choices that have the potential to ruin their pet's life... or result in their death. And sadly, there were so many other options... 

Maybe you "feel bad" about dumping your pet. Maybe you even said, "I'm sorry" before you left them. But your dog doesn't need to hear "I'm sorry"... they just need "I love you." Because even after you dump them... they still love you. Every minute, they'll think of you. Every day, they'll wonder if you ever think of them, too. Every night, they'll dream of you... they'll wish for you. And believe me... they'll wait for you... until their very last breath

They'd never believe, for even a second... that you actually left them to die. But even if they knew... they'd still love you anyway. I bet there isn't a single person in your life that loves you that much. So if you've got that kind of love in your life, fight for it.