Doctors had given Ashlyn, an elderly dog in a North Carolina shelter, only a few weeks to live. But her fate took a heartwarming turn when a pilot decided to fly her 400 miles to her adoptive family, ensuring her final days would be filled with love.
Ashlyn had been suffering, losing weight and battling malignant tumors beneath her skin. The New England Humane Society (NEHS) had found her a suitable home, but the challenge remained: getting her there. That’s when Paul Steklenski, the founder of Flying Fur Animal Rescue (FFAR), stepped in, offering to fly her on his plane.
As Steklenski piloted the aircraft with Ashlyn by his side, a wave of sadness washed over him, knowing that this might be her last flight ever. While Steklenski regularly transports needy puppies to find their forever homes, it is the elderly dogs that deeply touch his heart. He shared with The Dodo, “Those are the ones where you really focus on what they’re going through.”
During the two-hour journey, Ashlyn was initially nervous but gradually warmed up. Steklenski comforted her by offering dog treats, and she responded by extending her paws and resting her head on his lap. These gestures meant the world to him. Steklenski’s love for flying began as a hobby in 2013, and it coincidentally aligned with his adoption of a dog. Eventually, he realized he could combine his passion for flying with helping shelter animals.
Ashlyn owes her current state to Steklenski’s compassion. Initially, everyone assumed she was being transported to the hospital, but her remarkable recovery has given rescuers hope that she may have more time than expected. When she arrived at Tracy Lander’s home, she had lost a staggering 39 pounds and showed signs of various health issues. Lander, a foster parent for NEHS, started nourishing Ashlyn with three meals a day and providing her with vitamins to address her skin problems and cancers.
Under Lander’s care, Ashlyn began to thrive. She gained weight, became more active, and developed a strong bond with Lander’s dog, Angel. Even Xander, their boxer mix, showed an interest in connecting with Ashlyn, offering her affectionate licks. Ashlyn moved in with the Landers in January, and as April approached, they no longer saw her as a fospice dog but as a reminder to embrace the present and treasure each day.
Ashlyn’s journey from a weary shelter dog to a cherished member of a loving family is a testament to the transformative power of compassion. Steklenski expressed his profound fulfillment, stating, “I never envisioned discovering something so wonderful, so rewarding that it would eclipse practically everything else in my life.”
Ashlyn’s story reminds us to appreciate the simple joys in life and the impact we can make by showing love and kindness to those in need.