Touched By An Angel

*If you haven't read Annie's story, Before You Go to Heaven, or the follow-up post, A Gift from God, click here first: http://www.luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/gift-from-god.html 

On September 14, 2010, my special angel, Annie, left me for Heaven. That very day, a stranger named Mary Ferguson changed my life.

Nearly one year later, on the anniversary of my Rudy's death, I wrote a 3-part post about the events that had happened in the year since Rudy died.

In the 3rd post, I wrote about Mary Ferguson of PhenomeGNOME.

I wanted to surprise her, so I didn't tell Mary that I was writing the post about her. I only sent her this thank you message:

Mary- It’s funny how life works its way back around. It’s been almost a year since you first gave me hope… and here we are again.

You probably don’t even realize what you did for me last year, but honestly, you changed everything. At a time when my life could’ve easily gone another way, you were the turning point for me. You showed an incredible amount of compassion to a complete and total stranger, and in doing so, you gave me back my life. I’d always wondered what it feels like for the dogs I save… when someone who owes them nothing… gives them everything. Now I know.

If I tried to explain all the things that have happened in my life since Rudy died, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But believe this: you made it all possible. Thank you, Mary, from the bottom of my heart.Your generosity saved more lives than you could know, including my own.  -Ashley

So, when I finally shared that special post about the gift from Mary that changed my life, she had no idea it was coming...

At the end of that post, I begged everyone to show Mary their support by liking her facebook page, and purchasing some of her amazing memorial statues. I just wanted to make Mary smile, and maybe return some of the hope she'd given to me the year before.

...But when I shared that post, here's what I didn't know...

That very day, Sunday, July 10, 2011, Mary was crying on her way home. As she was driving, Mary was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. And that day... her world was crumbling around her...

A few years earlier, Mary had finally made the decision to take that leap of faith and do what she loves. Mary is an artist. Her passion: creating... through love and compassion. Specifically, Mary makes special memorial pieces for those who have lost a loved one... in hopes of bringing some comfort and peace to their hearts. Such was the case with me. 

But in making the decision to follow her dreams, Mary faced so many struggles. The income wasn't always there, but the bills were getting larger. And then, her husband got sick. Very sick.

Fast forward to July 10, 2011. As Mary was driving, she decided that maybe it was finally time to give-up on her passion. She began to sob... realizing that it was probably a silly dream after all... and that the time had come for her to move on, for the sake of her family.

Mary wiped her tears, walked inside, and turned on the computer to check for any final orders. Then... her mouth fell open, and chills covered her body...

Mary's inbox was full of inquires and orders. Many of those messages said: "Ashley told me about you. You are amazing." She was beyond confused... wondering what in the world she'd missed...

That's when she went to her facebook page... and saw the hundreds upon hundreds of new fans and comments waiting for her. Every message said: "Ashley sent me." 

Mary thought: "What did Ashley do?? How is she doing this???" That's when she saw the blog post I wrote... about her

And that's when she contacted me...

Mary: Ashley!!!!!!!!! I've never... I'm so... I don't even know what to say!!! I think I just fainted, but I can't remember! I'm crying! Sobbing! Tears! Joy! Amazement! Ashley! Thank you!!!!
Me: Did you like your surprise, Mary? :)
Mary: Ashley... you will never know what you did for me today. I was going to quit. I was closing up shop. I was giving up my dreams today, Ashley. You just can't know...
Me: Oh... but I do know, Mary! I know exactly what you mean. You did the same for me last year. It was only fitting that I return that love to you. You should never, ever have to give up your dreams. Maybe now you won't have to...
Mary: OMG! An order just came in from Denmark?! Fainting again!!! Thank you, Ashley!!!
Me: I didn't do this Mary. You did. The kindness in your heart. The compassion for total strangers. The love you so freely and unselfishly give. You did this, Mary, and you deserve it.

Every single day, I try to make a difference in this world. But that moment with Mary... was one of the proudest moments of my life. I will never, ever forget it.

So... the story should end there, right? Mary changed my life. I changed hers. End of story? Well... if you're Mary Ferguson... then you've just gotta do something else to truly blow me away...

A couple of months later, I was checking my email, when I saw a message from Mary waiting there for me.

Subject: Hi Mommy

As I opened that email... I burst into tears. The message read:
Hi Mommy! It's me... Rudy. I miss you so much, but I've made so many friends here at the Rainbow Bridge! I promise I'm okay now, so you don't have to worry about me anymore. Just look at my angel wings!

You're famous here at the Rainbow Bridge, Mommy. So many animals here know you! They're all so happy that you were part of their lives, and they love you so very much. Each of them asked me to thank you... for loving them when no one else would. I feel the same, Mommy. They all want to kiss your face when you get here, but I tell them: ME FIRST!!!

Sorry I can't stay longer, Mommy. I have to go now. But I want you to know what a huge difference you made in my life... and in the lives of every single person and animal you meet.
Please don't be sad for me, Mommy. I'm so happy here... playing in the sun with my friends. Just know that, okay?

Always remember that I love you, I miss you, and even when you can't see me... I'm right there beside you. My whole life... I waited for you to arrive. Now, I'll be right here... waiting for you to arrive again.
Love, Rudy

In all my life, I don't know if I've ever been more speechless. Without my knowledge, Mary had worked tirelessly to create a Rudy memorial just for me. The next week, she mailed it here.

And once again... a package would arrive from Mary Ferguson... that would change my life.

*I asked Mary to add the Pit Bull Angel Memorial to the regular listings in her Etsy shop. And now, YOU can purchase a special, amazing Pit Bull Memorial, too!!!
PLEASE SUPPORT the incredible Mary Ferguson of PhenomeGNOME on Etsy!
Link to purchase Pit Bull Angel Memorial:
Link to PhenomeGNOME Etsy shop:
PLEASE LIKE her PhenomeGNOME facebook page:

*Mary, from the bottom of my heart... thank you for being you. -Ash


Animal Rescue Humor

Need a laugh today? Good. Here's some animal rescue humor, from my smart-ass mouth to you:

"I want to adopt a dog, because I want to save a life. However, that life must be a registered, purebred, male, Miniature Yorkie, who weighs exactly 2.5 pounds. The life cannot be more than 8 weeks old, and I expect him to be potty trained. I request specific markings, and details about the bloodline. If you do not have the puppy I desire, then please don't suggest another dog in-need. This is the only life I'm willing to save. And you're welcome."

"I'm donating a bag of items for your rescue dogs. No need to thank me; these are just some old things we don't need anymore. Here are several, moldly, chewed-up water bowls, with massive holes in the bottom. Sure, they can't currently hold water, but with some labor, caulk, and duct tape... and approximately 10 to 12 runs through an industrial-strength dishwasher, they'll be as good as new. Here are some teeny-tiny, shredded pieces of what used-to-be smelly, old blankets. If you'll just spend the next few days sewing them all together... with the sewing machine you don't have... then this should be enough to keep one, very-small dog real warm. Here are some crusted, disgusting, old toys that our dogs destroyed and peed on. I know your dogs will love them. And here's some dog food that we left sitting out in the rain. Same as wet food, right? So, it looks like your dogs are all set! I'll need a tax receipt now."

"I wanna get a new dog. My last one disappeared. Nope, he didn't run away, and nope, he wasn't stolen. That dog just flippin' vanished into thin air. Weirdest thing. Pretty sure he was raptured. Either way, I wanna get a new one, and I'm thinking you can help me. But I'll go ahead and tell ya, this one ain't coming inside the house. I'm still dodging piss from the last one we let in there. Instead, this dog can roam free, right next to the busy highway. If he's smart, he'll be just fine. If not, I'll just come back for another one. And I don't believe in vet care, 'cause my pastor says it's a scam. Don't matter anyway... I ain't got no money for no damn vet care. Alrighty then, when can I pick one up?"

"I need you to take this dog. He just showed up at my house. If this were any other dog, I'd be willing and happy to help him. But this one's a Pit Bull, so I cannot help this dog. That's where you come in. He seems to be pretty friendly... from what I can see through the screen door. I'll be damned if I'm gonna open it, for fear of my freaking life. He's wagging his tail real fast, so he's probably about to attack me. He's clearly starving to death, so you're gonna need to feed him... when I dump him at your place without permission. Oh, and I'm willing to donate 5 bucks. No need to thank me. It's the least I can do."

"Ashley, I read your blog every single day, and I just want you to know how very much I hate every single thing you write. And I reeeally hate you. What the hell is a freaking CHARITY doing asking for DONATIONS?? You oughta be ashamed of yourself, girl! Asking people to donate toward a charitable cause that saves lives and provides a service to this community. What the hell is wrong with you? Seriously, why you always got to beg? Beg, beg, beg! You oughta bury your head in the sand, girl... wasting your life running a damn charity for a living. Grow up already! I'd really be ashamed if I was you. But nope, I'm not ashamed to be me. Sure, I wasted a lot of useless time searching for your phone number, just so I could call and leave this pointless, stupid-ass message. And of course, I'm a coward, who blocked my number from view before I called you. But clearly, I'm proud of what I have to say... and I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I have nothing better to do with my time... than stalk a blog that I clearly hate, written by a girl that I hate even more... every single day of my life. That's just the kind of good person I am. You suck, Ashley!"

And on that note...


In My Own Words 3

*All quotes by Ashley Owen Hill, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog

Just sharing some of my thoughts this week, in my own words:

*The smallest of creatures seem to make the biggest of impacts on our lives while they're here... and leave the largest of holes in our hearts when they're gone.

*It is my belief that our loved ones never really leave us when they die. They stay here, by our sides... to guide us through our journey. Maybe I can't see them, but I can always feel them. Death just takes their bodies. Love keeps them alive.

*They say that all good things come to those who wait. I'd actually argue the opposite: Good things come to those who aren't willing to wait any longer, to those who are tired of waiting, to those who finally stand up and do something about it. While everyone else is waiting, these people make it happen. In truth, all good things come to those who act.

*Today, you did something amazing. You were you. No one else in the entire world was you today.

*I may not be the person you want me to me. I may not live the life you wished for me. I may not do the things you hoped you'd see. But I am me... that's the best me I can be.

*Within love, there should always be respect. Respect for your feelings, respect for your dreams, and respect for who you are. If any of these things is not present, walk away. And quickly.

*In this life, you'll cross paths with many. Each and every encounter --positive, negative, or indifferent-- will help shape your journey. But with a special few... more than just your paths will cross. Your souls will cross.

*When you do anything in life --and do it well-- there will always be critics. But as they attempt to tear you down, listen for their hidden message: I'm angry because... you've succeeded.

*I fight for what I believe in. I'm a fighter. I dream of a better world. I'm a dreamer. I love more than I hate. I'm a lover. If you don't fight, if you don't dream, if you don't love... then you don't live. And I'm the crazy one??

*When you ask me why I care so much, I wonder why you do not. When you ask me how I do so much, I wonder how you do not. When you ask me what I'm trying to prove, I wonder what you are not. You ask because you wonder. I wonder because you ask.

*All quotes by Ashley Owen Hill, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog


Saying Goodbye to Yesterday

Nothing compares to the pain of losing a special dog or cat.

It's a different kind of pain... a unique form of heartbreak... a distinctive type of loss. 

For me, the impact of that loss... is devastating

While it's almost impossible to find the right words to accurately describe the pain of losing an incredible pet, here's my best attempt...

For a short, beautiful while, there's this precious, innocent creature, who lives and breathes... for me. There's this perfect little life... who exists just for me. There's this special, loving heart... that beats because of me.

There's this gentle, childlike being... who couldn't survive without me. There's this faithful, honest friend... who promises not to doubt me. There's this incredible, loyal soul... who never wants to leave me. There's this amazing, devoted spirit... who only lives to please me.

In truth, each dog, each cat, is a gift... a blessing we don't even deserve. And yet, this incredible blessing is offered to us, over and over again. The unconditional love, the undeniable compassion, the unimaginable forgiveness, the unwavering devotion... it's all right there... waiting for us.

For a short time here on Earth, we're gifted with a little piece of Heaven. It may look like a dog, or a cat, but don't be fooled. That's the closest thing to Heaven you'll ever see on Earth.

So, when our little slice of Heaven... leaves us for Heaven... it's nothing short of tragic. Even though we know in our minds... that their departure is inevitable. Even though we know in our hearts... that they can't stay here for long. Even though we hope in our souls... that we'll see them again some day.

For me, when a special dog (or cat) dies, there's this sudden, massive void in my world. A void that can only be filled... by the one who is no longer with me. A void that may get smaller... less painful... over time, but a void that will honestly never be filled again.

Losing a dog (or cat) is different from any other loss, because pets are our constant companions. Their entire life is lived, with just one purpose: to be right there, by our sides, no matter what. Their existence is dependent upon our existence; their happiness is wrapped up in our happiness; their love is always ready and waiting for our love. It's simply unreal.

Pets are our children, our therapists, our comedians, and our best friends. They never abandon, never judge, never reject, and never fail us. Instead, they always love, always listen, always comfort, and always forgive.

In return, we invite our pets into our solitude. We share with them our inner-most thoughts, feelings, secrets, and dreams. And they never think we're crazy.

In truth, your dog loves you... more than he loves himself. And there's nothing you can ever do... to change that.

In all the world, there's no relationship that could ever compare to the bond between human and dog (or cat). So yes, the loss of a pet... is absolutely devastating.

I've lost many pets in my lifetime. Obviously, I expect to lose many more in the years to come. But no matter how may times I experience that loss, it never gets any easier, or any less painful. There's always heartbreak, sadness, anger, guilt, denial, and despair.

There's always this massive hole in my life... where my baby used to be.

Because each and every time I lose a pet... I lose a child.


RIP Mister Kitty

My name is Mister Kitty.
I went to Heaven last night.

I'm not here to share the story of my death.
I'm here to share the story of my life...

In my few short months here on Earth, I was so proud to be the Lucky Dog Rescue kitty. I was the only kitty there, which made me the luckiest kitty in the whole wide world.  

But early on... I didn't feel so "lucky."

When I was just a tiny baby kitten, I was dumped on the Lucky Dog property by some not-so-nice people. They threw me out of their car and drove away real fast... without me. It was the meanest thing that's ever happened to me, and I was just so scared to be alone in the dark.

After that happened, I knew I couldn't trust people much... so I hid out in the bushes, hoping that no one would find me...

But even though I tried to pick the very best hiding spot, it didn't take long for someone to find me. Her name was Miss Ashley. The day after I was dumped, she was walking this big ole dog right past me, when she spotted me hiding there in the bushes. She stopped, smiled, and said, "Well hello there, Mister Kitty."

But I wouldn't dare come out for her. No way! I was just too scared. So... I felt pretty relieved when Miss Ashley walked away from me. But then, a couple of minutes later, she came right back, with 2 bowls: one food, one water.

Each day, Miss Ashley would come back to my secret hiding spot, with more food and more water. She'd never force me to come out of the bushes, but I could tell that she really wanted me to.

Even though she was so nice to me, I still didn't trust her. But if I'm being honest... I felt some comfort in the words she'd always say: "Maybe you don't like me, Mister Kitty, but I sure do love you. Maybe one day you'll love me, too."

I guess now would be a good time to tell you... that I'm actually A GIRL KITTY... NOT a Mister Kitty. But since I'd never come out of those bushes to let Miss Ashley get a good look at me... it took her a while to realize that I was really a girl. But either way, I kinda liked that name: Mister Kitty. I'm a tough little kitty... so the name felt right, and it stuck. 

Over time, I got a little more brave, and I started to follow Miss Ashley around the property. I didn't know why... but I really wanted to love her as much as she loved me. She never forced herself on me, and I think that's why I liked her. She slowly gained my trust, and soon... she stole my heart. 

But it took me a while to realize... that I'd stolen her heart, too.

Missy & Mister Kitty
One day, I was being my silly kitty self, and I climbed right up a real big tree. While I was up there, on top of the world, my leg got stuck between the branches, and I couldn't get back down. I was up there for a real long time, and I was so scared that Miss Ashley would never find me.

Finally, I heard her calling, "Mister Kitty?!" from real far away. So, I let out the loudest meow I could muster, hoping it would help her find me. Then, she came running toward me, looking up in the trees, until her eyes found mine. And do you know what she did?? Miss Ashley climbed right up to the top of that tree... freed my leg, secured me in her arms, and brought me back down to safety.

That's when I knew that Miss Ashley would always be there for me, and finally... I knew that I was home...

Being a kitty who lived at Lucky Dog Rescue, I soon decided that I wanted to be a dog instead. I quickly learned which dogs liked me... and which dogs didn't. I had the best time of my life living as a "Lucky Dog."

But yesterday, I got hurt, and I cried out for Miss Ashley. She ran to me, scooped me up, and rushed me to the vet just as fast as she could. My body was going into shock, and I was so scared. I could tell that Miss Ashley was real scared, too, but she didn't want to show it.

In the car, my Ashley-Mom was crying. As she gently rubbed my head, she was pleading with me, "Please, Mister Kitty... just hold on for me. I'm right here, and we're gonna get you all better. Please, just stay with me."

I wanted to stay with her forever, but I knew in my heart that I wasn't going to make it. But Miss Ashley didn't know that yet... or she just refused to believe it, because she wasn't ready to let me go.

When we got there, Miss Ashley was sobbing as she talked to the vet. Then... she looked at me, and gave me one last hug, one last kiss, and one last "I love you." That's how I knew it was okay to go.

I left my Ashley-Mom for Heaven on November 20, 2011.

Today, my Ashley-Mom and Miss Caycee buried me at Lucky Dog Rescue. As Miss Caycee covered my body with dirt, Miss Ashley sat on the ground next to me, and sobbed. She didn't know that I could see her, but I was right there with her the whole time. I've always been right there with her... since my very first day here... and I'll never really be gone...

When she gets to Heaven, my Ashley-Mom hopes to see a long line of dogs waiting to greet her. But now... a kitty will be waiting there too. A Mister Kitty, the Lucky Dog kitty.

*Dear Mister Kitty, my heart is so broken today. For months now, you've been right here by my side... my constant companion. I hope you know just how amazing it was for me... as you learned to trust me... to love me. It was nothing short of incredible. I save dogs for a living, but you were the kitty who stole my heart, in a way I didn't know was possible. I hope you know just how much I love you, and just how much I miss you. Now, there's a huge hole here at Lucky Dog... where you used to be. And there's a Mister-Kitty-sized-hole... in my heart. Love, Mom


No More Drama

I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of the "politics" within the animal welfare community. Well, really... I'd prefer to just avoid politics altogether.

If you aren't that heavily involved in animal rescue or advocacy, then you may not realize just how political things can get. But trust me... even within a charitable cause such as this, there are distinct, opposing sides... with very different opinions on the problem, its cause(s), and the solution(s).

And sadly... it seems that no one is willing to meet in the middle. But I'd really like to change that.

Before I go any further, let me just say this: controversy, arguments, and drama are not my goals. While I'm sure that today's post will somehow drive these things, that's certainly not my mission, and I really want no part in it.

I only decided to write about this topic today, because I'm tired of the endless fighting between so many members of the animal community. I've witnessed so much of it lately, and it's just so counterproductive.

For the most part, I try to stay out of the drama as much as possible... I'd rather focus on doing the right thing and making a difference. But obviously, I care about this cause, so I feel the need to take a stand against all of this useless, back-and-forth attacking that's been going around. So, here goes...

This negative behavior only hurts my cause --OUR cause. It's nothing more than a distraction from the real issues, and honestly, it only hinders our ability to take the positive actions needed to resolve those issues. And further... let's just be honest... people already think that we "animal freaks" are crazy enough as it is. Should we really prove them right??

No matter what you believe, or which "side" you're on... if you truly care about the animals, then you should care to end their suffering. Period.

So... even when you don't completely agree with the way that another person/group does things... if they're trying to make things better for animals, then you should at least be thankful for that! Maybe they don't always do things "your way," but that doesn't mean that they aren't doing the very best they can with what they have. "Your way" may not work for everyone... and your way isn't the ONLY way. I don't care who you are.

But that's the problem here. Too many people stand firmly at one extreme or the other, and so few are actually willing to acknowledge that their way isn't the only way

A lot of people have asked for my opinions on the following questions: What is the problem? What is the solution? Well, in short, here's my general view: There isn't just one problem to blame. There isn't just one solution to claim. And there isn't just one way to win this game.

Obviously, I could get much more specific on each of those topics. But no matter what, I'd never claim that my views represent the animal community as a whole. I'd never claim that my view of any issue is the only way that issue can be viewed. I'd never state that my perception of the solution is the only perception that matters. 

If that were true... if I really had all the answers, then I can promise you this much: I'd have this whole thing fixed... by noon tomorrow. Just in time for lunch.

And if you had all the answers, wouldn't you do the same?

That's why we need each other. That's why I won't simply dismiss everyone else's input, and only value my own. Because regardless of what I believe to be true, I'm not trying to solve this problem alone. I want help. I need help.

I try my very best to see all sides. I try to acknowledge each and every factor that contributes toward the problem, while appreciating each and every effort that contributes toward the solution.

That's why I refuse to take the approach of blaming just one group for this entire animal crisis, because common sense tells me that multiple parties must be responsible for a problem this large.

If you ask me who's to blame, here's my opinion: Is society to blame? Yep, society absolutely plays a very big role in the animal crisis. Are the shelters to blame? Well, the shelters have a very significant role as well. Are breeders to blame? Yep, breeders also provide a nice-big-honking contribution to this massive, heartbreaking problem.

I try to acknowledge each component, because the problem can't be solved unless all of the underlying issues are considered and remedied. A problem this complex just can't be simplified into one single contributing factor.

For example, simply blaming the shelters... well... that'll get you nowhere fast. Sure, there are some terrible shelters out there, but it's very easy to simply judge and blame the shelters for their actions, when you have such little understanding of the unique struggles they face... or why they face those things.

But here's the real kicker: when you boldly (and in my opinion, wrongfully) blame only the shelters (or anyone) for the entire problem, then you can be certain of at least one thing: those shelters won't be willing to hear anything else that you have to say. And there went your chance... to actually help them fix it.

The same goes for the solution, or should I say solutions (plural). There are many different ways to reach the ultimate goal here, and no single component can possibly fix everything. But each and every positive factor can play a necessary and critical role in getting us that much closer to (what should be) a shared goal. And each and every one of those factors is needed, in order to truly make a difference.

Another example: some people will argue that spay/neuter isn't necessary in reaching the goal of ending euthanasia. Well, in my opinion, it's senseless and reckless to deny the importance of this critical piece of the solution. But regardless, do I believe that spay/neuter the only solution? Of course not! There are so many other factors needed here: education, legislation, regulation, and so forth.

We all need to acknowledge and accept that there are many causes of this problem, and then... we must work toward the achievable solutions... together. There isn't just one problem. There isn't just one solution. There isn't just one person who has all the answers.

I think it's important that we all try to step outside of our own thoughts and feelings... and attempt to meet somewhere in the middle. This all-or-nothing attitude just isn't benefiting our cause in any way. I certainly don't have all the answers. Neither do you. That's why we need each other. That's why all of these animals... need ALL of us.

One final note, there's a BIG difference between choosing to respectfully accept differences of opinion... and quietly accepting injustice. If any organization is NOT actively helping to end the problem or contribute toward the solution, then no-- that's not okay, and NONE of us should stand for it.


Rainy Day Toby

A few weeks ago, I was finishing-up at Lucky Dog, when a severe thunderstorm hit. I'd been planning to run a couple of errands after work, so I was pretty pissed about the sudden, ridiculous, thunder-and-lightning-out-of-freaking-nowhere downpour that randomly came to town.

I stood there for a second, trying to decide whether or not I should get out in the nasty storm. Well...  I'm a completely ridiculous person, so I decided: Yes, Ashley. Brilliant plan.

Of course, I never seem to have a freaking umbrella when I need one, so another genius thought popped into my head: Umbrellas are overrated. Just run like a moron.

When I got into my car --completely soaked and freezing-- I realized just how stupid this little idea really was. But regardless... I'm an idiot, so I started my car and drove away.

When I got to the highway, I realized that I wasn't the only dumbass who decided to drive in this mess. There were a lot of other idiots taking joyrides that day. Sure, they were probably all driving toward home... instead of away from it. But that's not the point here. The point is... I had company.

Even with my windshield wipers on full-blast, I still couldn't see much of anything. But... because I'm so damn stubborn (and stupid), I turned onto the highway anyway. And at a speed of about 5 mph, I figured I'd arrive at my destination... sometime before next week.

Suddenly, I saw another car up ahead of me, quickly swerving from one side of the road to the other. I could see that they'd almost hit something, and I watched them speed away.

So... I inched closer, trying to make out the object that they'd almost nailed in the middle of the road.

And that's when I saw him...

There was a black dog, aimlessly wandering in the middle of the highway. The rain was violently beating down on him, and I knew that he must be freezing and terrified. Especially since his life was almost taken by that reckless car, who didn't even stop to check on him, after they almost killed him.

Well... if you know me, then you already know what happened next. During one of the worst thunderstorms we'd had here all year, I pulled my car over to the side of the highway, turned on my flashers, and stepped out into the ridiculous downpour.

I walked out into the middle of the busy highway, in the pouring rain, and offered my hand to the shivering dog. He looked up at me, with these big, desperate eyes that said: "Please help me."

I didn't think twice. I picked him up, threw him over my shoulder, and ran back through the rain, toward my car. I loaded him up and drove away.

I stopped at a near-by gas station, and asked the man behind the counter if he'd ever seen this dog before. He said, "Yep. That dog comes up here every day. He ain't got no family. He's just been wanderin' around here for months, lookin' for scraps."

That was all I needed to hear. I got in the car, and headed back toward Lucky Dog. As I was driving, it suddenly hit me... Holy crap, Ash. You just took in another dog. I didn't have room for another dog, and I'd promised myself that I wouldn't take any more pups until some space opened up.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this poor dog needed help. And I couldn't deny that I was meant to save him... since he was placed directly in my path that day.

We pulled up at Lucky Dog, and, once again, ran through the rain like idiots. The dog was shivering uncontrollably, so I gave him a nice, warm bath. Afterward, I wrapped him up in a big, snuggly blanket and held him in my lap.

Then, it was time to pick a name. I said, "Are you a Toby?" He looked up at me, and then kissed me on the cheek. I responded, "Alrighty then.Toby it is."

Toby is a gorgeous, 1 year old Black Lab. He's super loving and gentle, and he's extremely well-behaved. He loves to play with other dogs, and he loves children. He even likes Mister Kitty!

Toby loves to cuddle. He loves car rides. He loves walks on a leash. Basically, he loves everything, and he will love YOU. He's been fully-vetted, including vaccinations, neuter, and heartworm treatment. Now, he just needs a family to love him forever.

For months, Toby has lived as a stray dog on a busy highway... without food, water, or shelter. Now, he has one wish: to finally go home. Please help him. Everyone deserves to go home for the holidays...

*Toby is available for adoption with Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi. Transport can be arranged to amazing adopter. Adoption application, home check, contract, & fee are required.


Thank You!

It's hard for me to admit when I'm struggling. Sometimes, it's just tough for me to say the words, "I need help." And most of the time, I'll gladly deny my own needs... just to help someone else get what they need.

Yesterday, I finally mustered the courage to say, "I'm struggling, and I need help." I was drowning, and I asked for a lifeline. I asked if each of you could toss me something, anything, to help me stay afloat.

I put out my plea to a group of people --who, quite honestly-- owed me nothing. And out of sheer desperation, I begged for your help. 

That was really hard for me, because I rarely ask for the help I so desperately need. I'd just rather give to someone else instead. Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you... that's just the way I am. And I'm sure it makes me eligible for all kinds of counseling.

So, through my tears, I wrote a post from my heart. I felt hopeless, helpless, and desperate. I also felt ashamed, to finally say the words: "I'm struggling to pay my bills." But more than anything, a big part of me felt like I'd failed my rescue dogs.

But regardless of how I felt, I needed help, and I asked for it. I shared my post, hoped for the best, and then got back to work.

And when I finally returned to the computer... I was absolutely speechless.

My facebook home page was filled with one thing: shares of my post. I saw so many pleas for help, all written on my behalf: "Please help Ashley. She needs us." Posted by friends, strangers, and fan pages, large and small.

I saw so many comments... amazing comments, heartwarming comments... about me and the work that I do. In these posts, I read the words "hero," "role model," and "inspirational." I saw requests for donations, fosters, and volunteers... for me. I saw support, encouragement, and most of all, hope.

Honestly, with or without donations, the response alone would've been enough for me. I'd never feel deserving of that level of kindness, but it was truly incredible... just to know that so many people cared. And while the simple act of sharing my post may have seemed small, even insignificant, to you... I want you to know that it meant everything to me.

But... that was only the beginning...

In my post, I asked the following question: Would you be willing to sponsor at least one of my rescue dogs for the week, so I don't have to choose between my bills and their needs?

Here was the answer I received, over and over again: "You shouldn't have to choose. I just donated so you don't have to."

The day began with tears of sadness, uncertainty, and despair. The rest of the day was filled with tears of joy, relief, and the sincerest form of gratitude. Today... I feel alive again.

And because of YOU... I reached my goal. I can pay my bills and keep my rescue babies safe for another month. I'm speechless. It's just the most incredible gift I've ever received.

I wish I could find the words to say just how much your generosity means to me. I wish I could truly express the gratitude in my heart for what you've done for me and my special dogs. I wish you could know exactly what you did for me yesterday.

In all my life, I've never felt so touched, or humbled, or grateful. Words just aren't enough... but here's my best attempt to explain how you made me feel:

I rescue dogs for a living. I save them; I give them hope. I choose to do without, so that they don't have to. When they need me, I'm always there.

Yesterday, I became a rescue dog. Yesterday, I knew exactly how my pups must feel. Because yesterday, I was rescued... by all of you.

I asked for help, and you helped me. You owed me nothing, but you gave to me anyway. From the bottom of my heart... thank you. You just can't know what you've done for me. You just can't know how much I needed you. You just can't know how much I appreciate you.

This Thanksgiving, when asked what I'm most thankful for, the answer will be easy. I'm thankful... for you. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*I'll still face this same problem at Christmas and New Year's. So if you didn't get a chance to donate yesterday, you can pay-it-forward for next month! It's still VERY needed and appreciated!

I Need Your Help

Noah & I need your help
I hate begging for help... but right now, I don't have much choice. I need your help, and yes... I'm begging for it.

I own a dog boarding business, Lucky Dog Retreat, and I donate more than half of my business facility (and nearly all of my income) to Lucky Dog Rescue. The income from boarding allows my rescue pups to live here for free.

Boarding is a seasonal business, and I depend on the busy weeks/months to give me any chance at all of paying my bills. Obviously, the holidays are the busiest time for travel... and dog boarding. Well... Thanksgiving is next week, and that's why I need you.

I'll disregard my pride and just be blatantly honest right now: the last few months, I've been struggling... really struggling, to pay the bills here. Fall is one of the slowest times of the year for boarding, and some days... many days, the tears flow... because I just don't know how I'm going to make it. 

But even when I have no paying clients, the bills are still there... and so are my rescue dogs. Therefore, I still have to work every day, 7 days a week, without pay... and without much hope that I'll be able to get by.

Freddy & Pepsi need your help
So, here's the deal: Thanksgiving week is one of my busiest weeks all year, and honestly, next week is my only shot at covering my bills this month. But in order to do that, every kennel space needs to be available for boarding business. And yet... more than half of those kennels are currently occupied by my rescue babies.

I've been begging for temporary fosters, in order to open up my kennel spaces for paying clients next week. I've had one foster offer. That's sad, and I won't lie... it hurts. A lot.

But with or without foster help, I'd never abandon my rescue dogs, which leaves only one option: turning away the income from clients, and rejecting any chance of paying my bills.

Let's just be real honest: if I can't pay the bills here... then eventually, my rescue dogs won't have anywhere to go. I cannot allow that to happen... but I need your help to make sure that it doesn't.

Right now, I'm going to do something that I truly hate doing: I'm going to beg. I'm begging each of you to help me keep the roof over my babies' precious little heads. I'm begging you to help them stay in their home. I'm begging you to help me ensure their futures.

Here's my request: Would you be willing to sponsor at least one of my rescue dogs for the week of Thanksgiving, so I don't have to choose between my bills and their needs? Would you be willing to help them stay "home" with me for the holiday? Would you be willing to give anything at all to my deserving little angels?

My boarding rate is $20 per day.
It's $140 to board one dog for 7 days.
It's $100 to board one dog for 5 days.
But any amount at all would be such an appreciated relief for me and my dogs.

Somehow, some way, I need to receive enough funding to board at least 25 rescue dogs here, for at least 7 days. And fast. That's $3500 total. And at the moment, tears are streaming down my face, because it just seems impossible.

But maybe... just maybe... you'll prove me wrong. I'm begging you. Please donate what you can, if you can, and PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!

Toby needs your help.

Donate Options

Lucky Dog Rescue Paypal email:

Make checks payable to:
Lucky Dog Rescue
P.O. Box 3224
Meridian, MS 39303


Guarding Dogs - The Documentary

J.R. Fleming & I
A few months ago, I received an email from J.R. Fleming, the producer/director of an upcoming film project: Guarding Dogs-The Documentary. He asked if I'd be willing to give my input on the project, and I responded, "Of course!" So, we scheduled a time to chat about it.

In talking to J.R., I could hear his genuine desire to make a difference for the millions of deserving rescue dogs in this country, and I was really touched that he wanted to use his talent and passion for filmmaking to bring awareness to this cause.

He explained the basic premise of the film: Guarding Dogs is an upcoming documentary film that strives to raise awareness of all of the wonderful dogs that are waiting to find their forever homes, and the rescuers who devote their time and energy to reaching that goal. It is the film's mission to not only emphasize the importance of rescue and adoption, but to also influence the way people think about animal companionship; not as an owner/property relationship but rather as a guardian/companion dynamic that encourages respect, and reduces abuse and neglect.

I loved it! Then, he asked me to share my own input regarding the direction of the film. So, I was open, honest, and candid... giving as many thoughts, ideas, and suggestions for the project as he was willing to hear. It was really cool, because he not only listened to everything I had to say, but he truly valued my input.

That first conversation with J.R. gave me a lot of hope for the future of my cause. I was so excited about the potential impact that a much-needed film like this could have, and I was truly honored to have the opportunity to provide any input at all on the project.

I just wanted to do everything I possibly could to help make this film happen, and to make it everything it could be. I never expected to be included in the film itself; I was just honored to be involved in the brainstorming process.

Over time, we continued to talk about the project. But then... one day... I got the call of a lifetime.

J.R. wanted to feature Lucky Dog Rescue, and me, in Guarding Dogs-The Documentary. And if it was okay with me, he wanted to come to Meridian, Mississippi to begin filming in November.

What?! Are you serious?? Me?! Umm... that's more than okay! That's amazing!!! Wow!!!!!

I was speechless. I was just so honored to be asked to be part of this amazing project. I was touched beyond words. "Thank you" was all I could muster... but it seemed like such a lame, insignificant way to express my gratitude for this opportunity.

Talk about adding 10 lbs with that jacket of mine
So, this week, J.R. came to Mississippi, to film me here at Lucky Dog Rescue.... giving me the chance to tell my story... my dogs' stories... and to share my life in a way I never dreamed possible.

Now, I should say this: I wasn't excited that a camera would be here to film me. Honestly, just the thought of myself on camera made me so unbelievably freaking nervous. But for me, any form of creation --whether it's writing about my work, or filming it-- is never about the recognition.

It's about the potential impact of that creation. It's about reaching new people... with the opportunity to influence their thoughts, decisions, and actions... in ways you could never do otherwise.

So... if putting my (very-nervous, most-likely-awkward, 10-pounds-added-by-the-camera) face on film allows me to share my experiences... and if my words could potentially have any impact on the future of my cause, then I'm all in. I can get over the nerves, the awkward feelings, and the 10-additional-pounds... to save lives.

So, for now, Guarding Dogs-The Documentary at Lucky Dog Rescue is a wrap. But they'll be back here soon, to wrap-up filming and the project.

This film has the potential to change things for the better, and I just have to believe that these important changes can be made. So, my greatest hope is that some of those very changes...will be made.

No matter what, it isn't impossible. And honestly... that's all I need to know.

Do me a favor! Please support this amazing project!


Silent White

Certain breeds aren't meant to be white. However, many people desire the look of an all-white or mostly-white dog.

But what happens when the must-have breed... doesn't come in white?

Well, in order to accommodate those buyers, some breeders choose to make their "supply" decisions based solely on demand, while disregarding health and responsibility.

Why do health and responsibility come into play? Because irresponsible breeding practices (such as inbreeding) can lead to severe health problems, for both the canine parents and their offspring. Example: for certain breeds, white offspring are more likely to be deaf and/or blind.

Why so? In an attempt to avoid the boredom factor, here's a quick overview: Piebald genes are the pigmentation genes that determine a dog's coat color. For affected breeds, a predominantly-white coat color increases the risk of hereditary deafness. That risk is even higher for dogs with little pigmentation around the face area (which is often the look that's desired by breeders and buyers of white dogs.)

These affected breeds aren't necessarily meant to be white... they're bred to be white. So, in simple terms, their white appearance is often acquired through genetic defects, which can lead to health issues such as deafness, blindness, skin allergies, etc. (This is the case for affected breeds, not all breeds.)

But let's be honest... do most buyers want to purchase a deaf or blind dog? Well, no. Do most buyers even realize that they're buying a deaf or blind puppy upon purchase? Of course not. Sooo... what happens next? Well, that's where the heartbreak comes in...

When someone doesn't know that their dog is deaf, they'll often wrongfully accuse that dog of mischief... because the puppy "doesn't listen." And before the owner realizes that the problem is actually deafness --not misbehavior-- many of these dogs are punished for their "misbehavior" with beatings and abuse.

But sooner or later, the owner will realize that their new puppy is deaf, blind, or unhealthy. Once that happens, the dog is often dumped at an animal shelter.

Deaf puppies don't last long in shelters. Their disability is what got them there, and that's what'll keep them there. And more often than not, that's the reason they'll be killed there.

Unless... they're a Lucky Dog...

Tucker & Diamond

Meet Tucker
This past summer, Tucker survived the devastating F5 tornado that swept through the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After enduring the terrifying, traumatic storm --and miraculously, surviving the ordeal-- he ended up in the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter.

The shelter quickly fell in love with Tucker's adorable face, ears, and personality. But regardless... from an adoption standpoint, Tucker already had 3 strikes against him. Tucker is a Pit Bull. Strike one. Tucker is a very large dog. Strike two. Tucker has special needs; he is deaf. Strike three.

When I called the shelter after the storm, I asked them to send me the dogs that no one else would take. And for obvious reasons, Tucker was on the list.

Tucker had lived a very "unlucky" life. Irresponsible breeding brought him into a world without sound. Later, a horrifying tornado almost ended his life. Then, a tragedy-stricken shelter became his final option.

Until... he came to me. That's when Tucker became a Lucky Dog.

Tucker is one of the most handsome, loving, loyal boys I know. He has the most adorable spotted ears --one floppy, one standing at-attention. And his athletic physique would make any of my guy friends way-jealous.

Obviously, Tucker is deaf. But Tucker doesn't listen with his ears... he listens with his heart. Maybe he doesn't know the sound of my voice. Maybe he doesn't even know his own name. But when I call him, he comes running every time. Not because he hears my voice... but because he feels my love.

Meet Diamond
Diamond was dumped in an animal shelter in Andalusia, Alabama. Just like Tucker, she had the same three strikes against her: Pit Bull. Large. Deaf.

The shelter workers fell in love with Diamond's adorable little face, her fun spirit, and her loving nature. But of course, none of the adopters ever looked Diamond's way.

For months, that shelter was Diamond's home, and for the first time in her life, she had food, warmth, and love. Finally, she felt safe.

But Diamond wasn't safe. The shelter was filling quickly, with no potential adopters for Diamond. So, in an attempt to give her one last shot at life and love, the shelter director, Christin Ball, placed Diamond on Pet Pardons.  

Christin is a friend of mine, so I knew just how much Diamond meant to her. I also knew that she'd had no offers of help, and time was out. 

So... I made the decision to take Diamond. What I didn't realize... was that I made that decision... on Christin's birthday. So, with a little mischief and a lot of love, I sent her the following message: "I couldn't afford to buy you a present, so I'm saving Diamond instead. Happy Birthday, Christin.Your wish came true."

Diamond is so special... I could immediately see why the shelter workers loved her so much. She's so eager to please, and so proud of herself when she does something good. I'm proud of her, too.

Diamond and I communicate through hand signals and positive reinforcement. But mostly, we communicate through love. And trust me... there isn't a word of it she doesn't hear with her heart.

Tucker & Diamond are both fully-vetted & ready for adoption with Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi (transport can be arranged to amazing adopters).

Click to fill out Adoption Application for Tucker or Diamond: http://www.petpardons.com/adoption