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Rescue of the Week: Woman Squeezes Lifetime of Love into One Week

Rescue of the Week: Woman Squeezes Lifetime of Love into One Week

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on March 8, 2011. Enjoy!

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, I’m on my way.

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 I’m 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, I’ve 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 what’s best for them… and let them go…

Before She Goes to Heaven – Annie Needs to Know Love

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. I’ll bring her back next week. Before she goes to Heaven, she needs to know love.”

Annie Has the Best Week of Her Life

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.

While I was bawling like a baby, Annie walked over and licked my tears, as if to say: “Don’t be sad. It’ll be okay.” This precious, wounded soul was comforting me. 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 was special. That week, Annie was home, for the first time in her life.

Every day, Annie and I sat on my special bench by Rudy’s 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… she’d 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 wasn’t 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 was finally safe.

Annie knew it was time… it hurt too much to go on. And I was there to hold her, to love her, to say, “It’s okay. You can go now, baby girl.” And as they stuck her with the needle, I whispered into her ear:

Know That I Love You

“Know that I loved you. Know that you mattered. Know that you finally belonged to someoneyou 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 Annie’s veins, she looked up at me one last time, and her eyes said, “Thank you for not letting me die there. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for showing me what life could be like… for giving me a family. I always wanted one. 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.

To read more about Ashley Owen Hill’s rescue work and to support her mission, please visit Lucky Dog Rescue Blog.

Next Week’s Hero Could Be You

Could you be our next Rescuer of the Week?

Ashley is a participant in The Great Animal Rescue Chase, a worldwide rescue event with the goal of bringing together one million everyday animal lovers to unleash one of the largest rescue operations of all time.  Every week features one participant from this event with an amazing story to tell.  Next week it might be you.  Have you helped an elderly animal find love?  Have you ever stopped the car to tend to a lost or injured animal?  Please share your stories and photos on our website and in the comments below. You never know who you’ll inspire to follow in your footsteps.  Thank you!


Laura Simpson is the Founder of The Great Animal Rescue Chase and the Harmony Fund.


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Photo by Ashley Owen Hill of Lucky Dog Rescue Blog
by Ashley Owen Hill

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5:50AM PDT on Mar 13, 2015


7:14AM PDT on Mar 11, 2015

Only love can do

6:57AM PDT on Mar 11, 2015

Thanks fro sharing

3:14AM PDT on Mar 8, 2015

I've just had the experience of looking after Ernie, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a shelter. He had widespread cancer and needed to be put to sleep before the pain set in, but before he went, I tried my best to give him a good time. He got to go for drives in the car, short walks to the park, many rolls in grass and dirt, lots of snoring on the couch, and all manner of kind words and stroking. It was very emotional for me and even though I only had him for a short time, I miss him. It was an absolute privilege and something I'll treasure for the rest of my life.

9:16PM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

GOD Bless YOU Forever Precious Angels!!!♥
Thank you so so much for loving Annie.
This story brought so many tears to my eyes...:(
But what a Beautiful ending. May our Beloved Annie lives in Heaven Eternally
playing and running around with Our Lord, Jesus, Amen!!!
Much LOVE and Light

9:52AM PST on Nov 7, 2013

From the first paragraph I could hardly read through the tears. - All the dogs and cats I ever had in my home were only from animal rescue, from the streets as strays or someone gave to me. I do not believe in buying a pet at a store. Only rescues here. - All died of old age and had proper burials. - As of now I have a stray cat and a rescue dog from the pound who is now 15, and was 5 1/2 years old when I adopted her. - Of course I spoil them all.

12:52AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

good to know i wasn't the only one crying. this is trully an insipiring act of love. so happy for t Annie.

5:54PM PDT on Sep 29, 2013

If the shelter system of the US and Canada was like Italy where euthanasia is NOT ALLOWED, and the government was not in the business of greedy environment and wildlife destruction, North America's godawful system would not be condemned by those few who know what it is to be civilized. There is nothing written in the bible which says a society has to breed animals and murder them for profit. That is a human thing, the human species in general is worse than any animal, worse than any virus for that matter.

8:31AM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Thank you, God, for putting this wonderful lady on our earth, To take this sick, abused little girl and give her the love and care she deserved, knowing she would soon leave her, is one of the most courageous, loving things I can think of. Hopefully, the people who abused, and hurt this angel will suffer the wrath of God and the fires of Hell. Animals are innocents, and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Just remember all you abusers, Payback is a Bitch!!

4:19AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

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