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Before You Go To Heaven: Helping Terminally Ill Dogs on Death Row

// var addthis_config={"data_track_clickback":true}; // Two weeks ago we ran a poignant, inspirational guest blog by Ashley Owen Hill, of Lucky Dog Rescue. We're back again...

Maria Goodavage  |  Apr 12th 2011


Two weeks ago we ran a poignant, inspirational guest blog by Ashley Owen Hill, of Lucky Dog Rescue. We’re back again with another powerful post from her.

Maria Goodavage

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Before You Go to Heaven

By Ashley Owen Hill

I was asked to share the story about what I do for special case dogs on death row in shelters. I do realize that this might not be the most popular idea with all of you, but Im hoping that maybe it will inspire someone to do the same. If you ever have the chance to do this, it will change your life.

When there are terminally ill dogs on death row, Ive made the decision to do something very special for them. Because treating these dogs for their conditions would cause them immense suffering, I choose not to treat them. However, I also choose not to leave them in the shelter to be killed. In short, I bring them into my home for a few days. I adopt them into my heart. I love them with all that I have. And then I do whats best for them, and let them go.

Annie had never known happiness. She had been beaten, neglected, and starved all of her life, and then she was dumped at a shelter to die. Annie waited on death row, terrified and lonely, crying every night for someone to help her. She was very ill, and the pound asked if I was willing to take her. Yep, Im on my way.

When I saw Annie, it was obvious that she was very sick. She was underweight, coughing, and having trouble breathing, in addition to skin and eye issues. The vet told me that Annie had advanced heartworm disease, congestive heart failure, and several other severe medical conditions. It was highly unlikely that she would pull through any of the treatments, and she would suffer tremendously throughout the process. The vet asked me if I wanted to go ahead with euthanasia. No. Ill bring her back next week. Before she goes to Heaven, she needs to know love.

That day, I brought Annie home with me. I looked at her so broken, so sickly, so unsure of whether she could trust and I cried. I sobbed uncontrollably for Annie. Over the sad life she had led, the abuse she had endured, and now the life she would never have, thanks to the worthless people who never cared for her. And while I was bawling like a baby, Annie walked over and licked my tears, as if to say, Dont be sad. Itll be okay. This precious, wounded soul was comfortingme. This girl, who had never known compassion in her life, was consoling me.

And so,I got up, stopped my crying, and vowed to give her the best week of her entire life. No more crying. Not around Annie. She deserves to know only happiness now.

That week, Annie slept in the bed with me. She ate the best food. She played as much as her little heart could stand. She laid next to me on the couch for belly rubs. She laughed at funny movies with me.That week, Annie washome, for the first time in her life.

Every day, Annie and I sat on my special bench by Rudys grave and talked to him. I told Rudy that he would have a new friend in Heaven soon, and asked him to take care of her. I told Rudy all about Annie, and Annie all about Rudy. Annie loved our talks with Rudy. She loved anything that involved love. Shed never had it before.

When Annie got so weak that it was painful for her to live, I took her to the vet to end her suffering. I stayed with her, comforted her, and Annie wasnt afraid. She was happy because I was there with her. Her mom was by her side the only family she had ever known. The only person who had ever truly loved her.She feltsafe.

Annie knew it was time it hurt too much to go on. And I was there to hold her, to love her, to say, Its okay. You can go now, baby girl. And as they stuck her with the needle, I whispered into her ear, Know thatI loved you. Know thatyou mattered. Know thatyou finally belonged to someone you were everything to me. You will never really be gone, because you will live forever in my heart. Thank you for sharing your last days with me. It was truly an honor to love you.

As the drugs entered Annies veins, she looked up at me one last time, and her eyes said,Thank you. I love you.And before she closed her eyes forever, I said:When you get to Heaven, ask for Rudy. Tell him I sent you.

And then, she was gone.I buried Annie in my backyard next to Rudy. She died on September 14, 2010.

But the week before her death,she finally lived.

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