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In Memoriam: Ashley

By Dennis and Kimberly Jeltema, published on November 16th, 2021
"Heaven at Home was amazing. We have had previous experience with the loss of a pet and this experience was by far most peaceful and kind. We are so grateful for your services and kind people, from the person on the phone to Katie, the dr. who came out and walked us thru saying goodbye. Thank you so much. "

We had just bought our first real house and we have always had cats but couldn’t really have dogs where we lived. I started bugging my husband for a puppy but he grew up in a rural area and their dogs were outside, not really pet, pets. I, on the other-hand, grew up with German Shepherds and had the best memories with them. One day I was looking on Craigslist at puppies and came across this picture of a yellow Lab sitting in a pile of leaves and my heart just melted! I showed the picture to my husband, knowing he’d say no but, he surprised me and said if the puppy is still there, we can go see. Well I was on the phone before he finished the sentence but, the lady said someone is coming to see the dog tonight, I’ll call you if they don’t take her. I just thought, who in their right mind would go see her and not take her, there’s no hope. My heart was broken. That night I was falling asleep and I thought, IF she is still there and we get her, I just knew her name was Ashley. I called the next morning, knowing full well she’d be gone but, a miracle! The people never made it there! The lady said if you want to come see her, she’s still here. Well, that evening we drove to see her and the MOMENT we laid eyes on her, she was our pup. A dudley. Pink nose and pudgy outty belly, full of so much energy. The drive home she was scared and snuggled real close. After that, she was a bundle of energy that had us in stitches most of the time. The first night we had her in a crate in the kitchen, she barked ALL NIGHT LONG! We did some research and a suggestion was to bring the crate in the bedroom with us. So we did, right next to the bed. Not a peep out of her. That is all she wanted, to be near us and that is how she has been her whole life, especially these last couple of years. She got Laryngeal Paralysis and slowed down quite a bit, her back legs became balancing sticks but she went wherever we were. She was Mama’s girl for sure – I’ve been working at home for the past year and she was right by my side all day mostly. If I left the house, she was on the porch until I got home. If I was gardening, she was in the pile of dirt or bulbs I just planted. Or would follow me way out on our property. She got stuck in snow, in weeds… it took a long time to get back to the house but that is what she wanted, it made her happy to be out and about and smell everything…She was our heart. Barked for her needs, we had it kind of figured out for a routine as to what she wanted because she could only stand for so long. We kept going to our vet and asking, are we doing the right thing? We didn’t want her to suffer. It was so hard because she was still so engaged and ate like a horse, greeted all guests with waggy tail and body. Everyone LOVED Ashley. She had such a precious spirit and literally smiled when we had company pull up in the drive… We have SO many wonderful memories with Ashley and her sister Sadie who passed 4 years ago from a brain tumor. Ashley changed a little after that too. The last couple of years have been hard. She needed help getting in and out of the house, up on her favorite spot on the couch. She would lay her head on the arm and just look at us. I miss her eyes and her feet, her soft squishy head and ears, big squishy cowley neck, She was just the sweetest pup. I miss her head on my feet while I work and seeing her on the porch when we go outside, or come home from running to the store. She’d bark like crazy and just be SO happy to see you. But, we knew it was time. The week before, the Vet, Katie (who was wonderful) came out to help us say good bye to Ashley, she had been out all day that Saturday, walking all over… Sunday morning at 5 am, she woke us up barking, which was pretty normal, but this time, she could not get up. Her legs would not help her. We had to carry her outside on a blanket and for nearly 4 hours, we sat outside with her. She kept trying to get up and finally was able to. We knew that we could not let her go through that again and our hearts also could not either. It was horrible to see her like that. The following Monday we called Heaven’s Home and they were SO wonderful on the phone with me. We scheduled for the following Saturday morning for Katie to come out. That Saturday morning was one of the hardest days we’ve had to wake up to, we made bacon and eggs and Ashley LOVES bacon. We wanted her to be outside when Katie came so we decided to go out and see the barn cats. Our black one, Chloe, loves Ashley so we went out there and Chloe loved on Ashley a bit. Then we just walked back to the house. It was a nice morning, not too cold. We put down a blanket and sat and loved on Ashley until Katie came. She barked just a couple of times at the vet but Katie has such a wonderful presence, that didn’t last long. She brought a bag of new snackies and talked to us and Ashley. She was very kind and did not rush the process. We got to squish and kiss and love on Ashley while she ate a whole bag of snackies… and then she was relaxed and Katie walked thru the rest of the process, just so gently and kind. She made a foot print for us of Ashley’s foot. We are so grateful for Katie and just how peaceful she made this transition for Ashley and for us to say good bye. It’s still so hard not to have her here, we miss her so much… her barky demands of us, her soft eyes, her gentle spirit. She was my girl and a huge part of changes I went thru with her as a puppy and the needs she had. She made me more patient and made me appreciate the unwavering, unconditional love of a pup. She embodied the very love of God in a very real way. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this loss, it may become easier over time, but my heart is forever changed by her presence in my life. I feel as though she were a gift I didn’t deserve. Thank you Ashley for loving us so well, for teaching us so much and for being a part of our family for over 13 years, you will never be forgotten and we will love you forever! Best Dog Ever!!