Pit Bull Problems

I'm often asked about my love of the Pit Bull breed(s).

Why do I love them?
How did I come to love them?
Was I always drawn to these dogs?

Growing up, my family had many dogs of many different breeds. 
But I'd be lying if I said that we ever had a "Pit Bull." I'd also be lying if I said I'd ever wanted to have a "Pit Bull" ... or that my parents would've ever allowed us to have a "Pit Bull."

It's not that my parents were "bad" people... they just didn't know any better. Therefore, I didn't know any better. I was never "against" Pit Bulls, but I also wasn't "for" them, either. Mostly because... I just didn't know much about them. 

But what I *knew* about them... all that I *knew* about them... was based on what I'd *heard* about them.
And it wasn't good.

Back then, I'd never heard anything positive said about "Pit Bulls." 
No one I knew ever had a "Pit Bull." 
No one I knew ever wanted a "Pit Bull." 
No one I knew had ever even encountered a "Pit Bull."

Therefore, even though I never "judged" these dogs, I honestly never thought much about them. And I certainly never thought: "One day... I'll grow up and save them."

So... when did this change for me?
Well, it was in 2009, and his name was Rudy. 

By then, I was 24 years old, and I'd met many other Pit Bulls. So... I knew a little more about these dogs, and I cared a lot more about them. But even still, at the time, I wasn't using my voice to help them, nor was I using my rescue efforts to save them.

Until... I met Rudy.
He was the one who changed everything.

Ask any "Pit Bull lover." 
Many of us weren't always "Pit Bull lovers."
Instead, it took one dog... one "Pit Bull" ... to change everything. 
And almost every "Pit Bull lover" can name who "that dog" was for them.

For me, "that dog" was Rudy. 

I'll be honest. I didn't fully trust him at first. 
Not because he was a "Pit Bull," but because he was a dog who had been chained, beaten, and starved for his whole life. I didn't know him... he didn't know me. I was unsure... he was unsure. I didn't know what to expect... he didn't know what to expect.

But I saved him, and he knew it.
So he loved me, and I knew it.

Rudy came to me as a "rescue dog." As with every other rescue dog I take in, I was simply planning to bring him back to health, and then find a family to love him forever. 
Of course, I soon realized... I could never let him go.  

Because he was the Pit Bull who would change my life.

At the time, I didn't fully realize just how much he would change my life, my mission, my future. I also didn't realize just how much unnecessary judgment I'd face, as a result of that decision... simply because, I loved a "Pit Bull" ...

Before Rudy, I'd saved many dogs, and I'd always been praised by others for my love of dogs, for my rescue efforts, for my commitment to my cause. But when I saved Rudy, and I began to rescue other Pit Bulls like him... that's when the public scrutiny entered my life:

"OMG Ashley!!! A Pit Bull?!"
"Why would you?!"
"How could you?!"
"What the hell are you thinking?!"

Initially, I was utterly shocked, and offended. I'd done nothing wrong. In fact, I was trying to do something "right."

I didn't rescue Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't trust Rudy, simply because (or in spite of the fact that) he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't love Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull." 

Instead, I rescued Rudy, because he needed me. I trusted Rudy, because he trusted me. I loved Rudy, because he loved me. 

He was the most amazing, incredible, loving dog I've ever known.
And... he just-so-happened to be... a Pit Bull. 

Soon, I realized that very few others were willing to rescue Pit Bulls. Therefore, I started saving more of them. Clearly, it was a choice I made, based on my experience with Rudy. I wanted to save others like my baby, the dogs who had no other hope. 

But it didn't take long for me to understand the weight of my decision. 
When I started rescuing Pit Bulls, I suddenly realized that I was now "different." 
In the minds of many, my rescue dogs were not "dogs" at all.
Instead, I was saving "monsters." 

This realization changed me, in so many ways. I was hurt; I was angry; I was disgusted. 
Suddenly... I was on a mission... to prove every critic wrong. Because they WERE wrong.

That being said, I don't save Pit Bulls, simply because they're the only dogs worth saving. I save Pit Bulls, because these dogs are equally deserving, equally amazing, and equally loving, when compared to any other dog (maybe moreso?). Plus, they're the most judged, most misunderstood, and most hated breed in existence. And very few other rescuers can/will save them. That's where I come in...

I mean... if you were hated, based on nothing more than how you look, wouldn't YOU want someone to stand-up for you?? I know I would...

I could go on for days about how incredible the Pit Bull breed(s) are, but please... don't just take my word for it. 

Instead, go to a shelter, and meet a Pit Bull. Contact an animal rescue group... and ask to walk a Pit Bull. Seriously, go freaking love-on a Pit Bull. 

Trust me... it just takes one... to change your perspective.
And that one "Pit Bull" ... just may change your life. 

*Written in loving memory of "the one" who changed me, Rudy


The Best Medicine

 Note: My recent facebook status led me to this particular topic. Here's what I wrote:

Have you ever caught yourself trying to explain your sense of humor to someone without one? I'll say something borderline-hysterical, and receive no response from that other person. So then, I end up sounding like even more of an idiot: "You see... it's funny because... it's hilarious."


I'm often asked about how I do what I do... how I deal with the stress, the workload, and the heartbreak of animal rescue. There's really no simple answer to that question, and I'm sure every animal rescuer out there would agree with me.

Some days, I feel strong. Well... strong-ish. On those days, for whatever reason, I'm somehow able to handle things a little better. It's like... at certain times, my mind, my heart, my body... they're just sooo much more on-top of their freaking game, dude.

Other times, I'll be honest: I don't deal well at all. I mean, sure... I'm able to get through each day, and I don't really complain about it. But it's more of an autopilot type deal... a "do what you gotta do because you have no other choice" type situation, if you know what I mean.
(And I'm sure every animal rescuer/animal shelter worker out there does know exactly what I mean.)

When it comes to "what works" and "what doesn't," I can only speak for me personally, from my own experience, regarding my own ways of coping. And trust me... I certainly have plenty of "unhealthy" ways of dealing, but I wouldn't recommend many of them to anyone, from an advice standpoint. I'm gonna go with... DON'T follow my lead on those things. Yeah... just don't.

That aside, today, I wanted to share my very best tip for handling the world of animal rescue, but also... life in general. This isn't something "major" or "insightful" or "brilliant." It's not something I "invented," or even "came up with" myself. But it's definitely something that works for me --without question-- every time I'm willing to let it in.


That's right, I freaking said it. Laughter. It sounds so simple, silly, effing stupid-as-shit, even. But laughter has been the cure for nearly every difficult day I've ever had. And without it... I'd be a miserable excuse for a human being. We all would.

Therefore, I laugh at myself. I laugh with others. I laugh at the ass-birds of the world. 
Basically, I take all of the serious junk in my life, and I make fun of it. 

I realize that sounds a little messed up.. maybe even delusional... but I don't care, because it works for me. 
It's not about denying reality, or avoiding the issues, or pretending things aren't so sad. (Well... maybe sometimes, just a little.)
Regardless, I get it: reality exists, issues must be faced, and sad things happen. Duh.

But in my opinion, no matter how bad things are (or how bad they seem), if I can't laugh... then I can't freaking make it. 

Sooo, I surround myself with people who make me laugh, or help me laugh, or laugh with/at me. Yes, I said AT me. You'll rarely meet a more self-deprecating individual than me. I make fun of myself ALL THE TIME. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. And I love when others join me.

I'm lucky to have some truly incredible people in my life; I swear, my friends are some of the most hilarious people on the planet. If I talk to you, and you're a friend of mine, this is probably one of the biggest reasons: it's because you're effing hysterical, and I love you for that. (Even if you have no other decent qualities whatsoever. I'm talking, like, NOTHING else going for ya-- if you can make me laugh, then I'll probably talk to you. Maybe just not in public...)

And if you CAN'T laugh, like ever... or if you're offended by me, simply because I CAN laugh, and do... then no need to try and make small talk, buddy. I promise we won't get along. Trust me on that.

Maybe my sense of humor is a little (or a lot) inappropriate at times, and beyond-sarcastic ALL the time, but my friends get me, and they always laugh with me. Plus, my dogs laugh with me... tell me I'm hilarious and junk. Hell, even I laugh with me, even when no one's around. I can't help myself. Laughing is awesome.

Maybe I love to laugh, simply because it feels good. Or maybe it's because laughter makes the pain hurt a little less, for just a little while. Or maybe... because it keeps me from crying. 

Either way, laughter is my crazy pill; I freaking need it; I freaking love it. It keeps me happy, sane, and grounded. It makes me feel alive... even during those times when I feel quite the opposite. 

When I find myself getting to a place where I've allowed the sadness to steal my laughter, that's when I know that something's gotta change. It's always my "Aha" moment... realizing that I haven't laughed in a while. 

So, what do I do? Well, I call a friend, and say: "Okay... I need to laugh. WHAT'S UP on THAT, buddy?" Then, if/when they come up short on jokes, because I've just made things suuuper awkward with immediate demands of giggles, I'll say: "Fine... my turn. Listen to this shit, check it out... So THIS bitch..."  

I highly recommend this... it works every freaking time.

I know it sounds so simplistic, ridiculous, and maybe even idiotic, but for me, that's how I find my way back to "okay." It's rarely anything major... there's usually not some massive "turning point." Instead, all I need for me is a little bit of laughter, a lot of love, and the inevitable realization that things will get better.

Because deep down, I always know: if I can laugh... then I can make it. And so can you.


Look Back, Move Forward

Just sharing some thoughts on reflection. Feel free to read... or not. Whichever :)

Lately, I've been taking some time to reflect. To look back... so I can move forward, kinda thing. 

And for me personally, one of the best ways to accomplish this... is to read through some of my old writing... 

That being said... this process is both easy and difficult for me to do, because reflecting on my former words can be preeetty awkward for me...

Why so? Well... for starters, I rarely read my own blog posts. It sounds crazy, I know, but it's true. Mostly because... I'm not really a fan of my own writing.

I write, because I love to write, NOT because I love to read what I write. I write... because it helps me communicate, or feel, or connect with others. Or all of the above. But NEVER because I think I'm "good" at it.

So anyway... point being, the only time I ever really re-read my own writing --after the fact-- is times like now, when I need to reflect, rewind... hit Play, again. 

Otherwise, I'd much rather read what someone else has written, than read my own words. It just feels weird to me... almost gross... to read my own crap. I feel so vulnerable, exposed, naked. Feelings I wish to avoid.

Plus, truth is... I over-analyze everything. My inner critic is a real bitch, if you know what I mean. If you're a writer (or a creator of some kind), you probably know exactly what I mean. If you're not, then it may be a little harder to understand...

But I guess I'd compare it to... hmmm... okay, this is a bad example, but let's go with it: So, you know when you think you're having a decent day --from a physical standpoint-- and then, you take a picture. Initially, you're all like: "OMG let me see, let me see!!!" Then... you look at the photo, and you view yourself through the eyes of the camera. And suddenly, you're like: "Do WHAT now?! I look like THAT?! Um... DELETE!!!"

Now... imagine if that photo of you were posted on the Internet, for the rest of forever, for everyone to see... (you know we all have that one asshole friend who always tags you in the shit they promised to delete... or they said: "I'll never show anyone, ever" ... and then you get a fb notification: "so-and-so tagged you in a photo" ... and you're ready to kick their effing ass...)

Okay... so translate that feeling into something that you've created... something YOU produced yourself. The pressure is already high, because if it SUCKS, then you have no one else to blame, but yourself. But at the time you wrote it, maybe your writing seemed somewhat decent to you... at least worth sharing, right? But reading it back later, you're freaking APPALLED by what you did... what you wrote... what you signed your freaking name to, and shared with others, for all the freaking world to see.

Well... THAT'S why I rarely read my own posts. Because I know I'll have THAT feeling when I do. And I HATE that feeling.

Regardless... when it's time to look back and reflect on my life, there's no better way to do so... than to read my own words. I always read them differently, the second time around. Even when I'm embarrassed as hell, about the quality of something I wrote, or what I said, or how I said it... it's still therapeutic to read back later, in some small way.

So, basically... I said all of that... to say this: when you're trying to find you, sometimes... the best place to look... is back at yourself, in the past. Who was I then? Who am I now? And why did one... become the other? How was I feeling then? How am I feeling now? What did I do wrong then? What could I do right, now? And have I learned from it all, and changed, for the better? 

And most importantly: what do I want for me, for my life... going forward?

It's a weird way of reminiscing with yourself... a good way, actually. But also... it's often the only way to move forward. To move on. To freaking grow, dude.

I guess that's the purpose of my post today. This recent reflection has been really good for me, so I'd like to encourage you to do this for yourself. If you're struggling today... look back at yesterday... or maybe even a couple-of-years-worth-of-yesterdays... and then... follow you into the present. View it almost like a path... leading from who you were then... to who you are now. And make sure that you appreciate the hell outta that path. 

After all... it made you... you.

Then, ask yourself: do I like who I am now? And if so... why so? And if not... why not?

Like I said... I've been doing this recently, and it's a process, of course... but a process that has changed my life. In many ways, I think the "me" back then ... would be so proud of the me now. At how far I've come, at how much I've grown, at what I've learned from it all.

Because... when it comes down to it, every life experience is about learning and growing, right? So much of life is about using whatever mistakes you made back then... to shape the you today, right now... and going forward. It's about learning what you need to do, what you want to do, and what you don't need/want to do. It's about finding out what doesn't make you happy, what does make you happy, and how you can make others happy. 

It's about becoming you... the best you that you can be. 
And then... sharing that you with someone... and with the world. 

At the end of the day... visiting an old you... can lead to a new you, a better you. But ONLY if you let "you" in. It's may not be easy... to look back, and relive the pain, or even the joy, from before. But it's definitely worth it, because it just may change your life...

Accept your past. Embrace your present. Fight for your future.
Apologize to those you've hurt. Forgive those who've hurt you. Forgive yourself.
Don't make excuses for who you are, or why you are that way, or why you aren't another way. 
Don't deny yourself happiness because of something you did... or didn't do... or could've done better. 
Don't think that you don't deserve it... or that it's not worth it... or that it's too late. 
Because it's NEVER too late to be happy.

Trust me... it's worth it.

Look back. Move forward. Grow stronger.
And start living your freaking life, dude! You only get one. And it can be AWWWESOMMME :)

*This one's for you. You know who you are :) 


Ashley Says...

 [Note: Feel free to skip down to the bottom and just read my 3 bullet points. That's the core of this entire post, anyway... the part you'll *maybe?* appreciate. Love, Ash]

I'm writing today... simply because I felt inspired to write again. 
I have no real topic in mind... no distinct purpose for this post. No idea what I'm even doing here, really. 

But that's okay. Because today, I'm mostly writing for me, in a non-selfish kinda way. I'm writing because I want to write... I need to write... I love to write. Something about the process... it's just good stuff. And if you love it, you should do it, right?

Well, yes... but for a while now, I haven't been writing, at least not consistently. For whatever reason... and I'm sure there are many... I've avoided something I truly love, which is just plain stupid. (Actually... that's been true for me in a lot of other ways as well... outside of writing. Things that I love, places I love, people I love.)

To be honest, in many ways, I feel like I've put myself on hold. My life on hold. And I'm just not okay with that anymore. 

Maybe that's why I'm writing today. In some attempt to get back to me. To get back to you. Or maybe I've already gotten back to me, and I'm just inspired enough to write again, and share it with you.

Either way... long story short... here I am, writing today. Wondering why the words sometimes flow more easily than others... and why today can't be one of those days...
But... gotta start somewhere, right?

That being said, I'm just gonna keep typing, and hope that maybe something will happen here. I'm not going to think about it... I'm just gonna write it. Here goes...

Hmmm... okay, this is hard. I'm pretty rusty. So... maybe I'll just share some of my random thoughts, some things I've learned about life, love, and what really matters. I'll probably do this in bullet point form... for your sake, and mine... since my writing is so damn rough right now. 

Alright, here are 3 random Ashley thoughts for your day...

Ashley Owen says...

* No emotion is ever quite as crippling as the feeling of regret. Especially continued regret... lasting regret. It ruins lives, to be quite honest. Regret is about more than just pain and loss, it's also about fear, right? Fear of the past... fear of the future. The fear of who you were, who you are, who you'll be. But mostly... of what you could've been. 

* Often, we think back on certain times in our lives, and we miss the way things were back then. Maybe we miss a person, place, or thing. Maybe we miss a feeling. Maybe we miss ourselves. And maybe we can't go back in time, but that's okay. Because today is all we have... and if you're willing to follow your heart into the now... today is all you need.

* When something inspires you, it alters you, in some way. It becomes part of you, somehow. Even if you never act on that feeling or do anything with it at all, that piece of inspiration never really leaves you. It's always there... lingering in the back of your mind... forcing you to think... whispering to you in the dark. Even if just to say: "I'm still here, and there's still time."

*Quotes written by Ashley Owen Hill, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog