Ashley Logan (2nd Quarter, 2008)

2nd Quarter, 2008
Mesothelioma Memorial Scholarship
Ashley Logan

Ashley was raised in southern region of Wyoming. She develped an interest in animals of all sorts at a very young age. She became interested in animal rights when her puppy was diagnosed with a cogenital disease common to puppies born in puppy mills. She is active with the humane society in educating others of the deplorable conditions in puppy mills and the resulting fatal birth defects of the offspring of these dogs. She is currently attending college in Colorado and is a member of Pi Beta Phi Sororiety!

A Portion Of Ashley’s Winning Essay:

Had you asked me before last year, what my reasons were for attending college, you might have received a vague and somewhat canned response. I might have said that I wanted to ensure a better future for myself. If you had asked me what I planned to study, I might have said marine biology, or primary education, or possibly even performing arts. I had a rather diverse range of possible interests back then. However, I was never really focused on any of them.

Ashley Logan

Last year, that all changed. Last year determined my purpose. Last year my two best friends died. I had known Maggie and Nala since I was five. When we were younger we always played together, swimming in the little kiddie pool set up in my back yard. We played dress up and I liked to put their hair up in my bows and barrettes, since they didn’t have any of their own. They did look a little silly because their hair was so much shorter then mine, but they thought they looked good.

They were loyal friends who always took my side in every argument. It didn’t matter if I was right or wrong, they were on my side. They didn’t have to say a word, I just knew they understood. If I was sad, they would come up on my bed, lie beside me and look at me with knowing eyes. “It’s okay. No matter what, you’ll always have us and, we love you” they seemed to say. Then they would sigh, and put their heads in my lap.

They were the subject of my sixth grade science project and helped me win runner up status. “Can dogs Learn?” was the subject. They were two very smart dogs. I guess I thought they would be with me forever. I never foresaw a day when Maggie and Nala would not be around anymore.

However last year, over a period of a couple weeks, they both became very ill. The vet thought they might have been poisoned. They both got increasingly worse and were in a lot of pain. We had to put Maggie down first. Then several months later Nala passed on. I tried to pretend everything was okay. But at night I was tortured with sorrow. I cried into my pillow so my mom would not hear. I did reckless things that only made the situation worse. I got hurt. I was scared and afraid and I didn’t have anyone to confide in. My loyal companions were no longer around.

I finally did tell my mom. I told her what had happened. I told her how I was still so sad over the loss of my dogs, and that I cried every night. She helped me understand that what had happened to me was not my fault, and that I needed to find other ways to deal with my grief.

One day we were at the mall, and we went into the pet store. There behind the glass was the goofiest looking cocker spaniel puppy I had ever seen. She was white with brown spots and, freckles on her nose. Her brown curly ears were way too long. But they looked perfect for putting bows in. She had one lopsided bloodshot eye. Her tail had not been bobbed correctly and she was so thin you could see her bones.

“Oh look at that cute puppy” I said, pointing her out to my mom. “That’s the ugliest looking puppy I’ve ever seen” she said. “She doesn’t look healthy, see how skinny she is.” “Do you want to see any of them?” asked the salesperson. As we were led to an enclosed sitting area, my mom was whispering to me. “I don’t think that puppy is healthy. It’s too skinny, lets not get our hopes up, and it is a little odd looking”.

The puppy was brought in and handed to my mom. The puppy looked at my mom and began wagging its whole body with joy, licking her face. “Well maybe you’re not that ugly” said my mom.

A glimmer of hope rose in me. She set the puppy down on the floor and it did a kind of lopsided side run over to me. “She can’t run” said my mom. “There’s something wrong with that”.

The glimmer of hope dimmed. The puppy ran into my leg, looked me straight in the eye and, grinned. Then she twisted her body so that her rump was up by her head, she slid her head under her body and grinned at me again from this contortionist position. Then she straightened up.

Suddenly all four paws slid straight out beneath her. She gave me her goofy grin again and then began a snakelike inching across the floor to my mom. “There’s something wrong” said my mom. “She can’t walk” “The floor is slick,” I said. “And that eye. That red eye is cockeyed” she continued. The glimmer died. Then the puppy got up, looked at my mom, sat down, cocked her head to the side, perked up her ears and looked my mom straight in the eye, as if to say “What? You don’t like me?” My mom smiled.

The glimmer of hope flared up again. Then the puppy flopped on the floor and began the snake crawl over to me. I saw my mom raise her eyebrow. Not a good sign. “I don’t think she’s healthy” she said. “But I like her” I said, as I scooped her up. But I knew by my mom’s voice that the decision was made. We weren’t getting her. “Okay, you train her” she said and walked off to pay for the puppy.

That’s how Sophie came to live with us. Sophie had a great time when she got home. She liked her crate, she liked her bed, she liked her toys, and she really liked running full speed through the house. She wasn’t doing the sideways run anymore. I think she had been cooped up for so long, she didn’t know how to run in an open space. Once she figured it out, she ran nonstop. She continued to perform acts of contortionism which were thoroughly entertaining for Sophie and me, but caused my mom to wonder if perhaps Sophie had some mental problems.

After a week, we took her to the vet to get checked out. The vet listened to her heart, looked down and frowned. “She has a grade 5 heart murmur. You need to take her back to the pet store. Puppies with heart murmurs don’t live very long.”

“She’s going to die?” asked my mom. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Sophie acted like she didn’t hear.

The vet told us that heart murmurs are graded on a scale of one to six. A grade five heart murmur is serious. If it was a lower level murmur, Sophie might grow out of it, but a grade five is indicative of serious heart problems. It could be one of two things, one is fixable the other is not. In order to tell we’d have to take Sophie to Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital to see a heart specialist. Sophie took all this in unconcerned.

My world was crashing again. Sophie went to CSU, and we saw the ultrasound. The doctor pointed out the hole in her heart. We could see the blood coming out of the hole and then entering back in to the heart. He had us listen to her heart and then had us listen to what a healthy heart should sound like.

“She has PDA” the doctor told us. I wondered why he was smiling. “It is fixable and once it’s fixed there will never be a relapse, it will be 100% fixed.” Then the students came in. They each examined Sophie, listening to her heart, and viewing the ultrasound.

They each diagnosed Sophie. Sophie thoroughly enjoyed each of them. We made an appointment for Sophie to have her heart fixed with laser surgery.

At home, I did a lot of research on PDA. This is a congenital defect often seen in poorly bred dogs. A dog can only have PDA if one of the parents has or had PDA. PDA dogs are not supposed to be bred because they produce PDA litters. Puppies with PDA come from puppy mills. Pet stores always get their dogs from puppy mills because no reputable breeder will sell to people they don’t know. While pet store dogs are registered purebreds, they do not follow American Kennel Club (AKC) guidelines for breeding. AKC breeders limit the number of litters a dog can have a year. Puppy mill breeders don’t and often breed dogs in deplorable conditions. If puppies like Sophie are returned to the breeder, they are left to die. Most states don’t regulate puppy mills.

Sophie went in for her surgery within a couple days of her ultrasound. The doctors were concerned because her condition was so serious it needed to be fixed quickly or she would die. Sophie had the newest laser surgery to fix her heart. She was out of the hospital within a day. When they brought her out to us, we were told she might be very tired because she had been getting a lot of attention. It seems the students were taking a lot of breaks to go in and see Sophie.

That night, as I gave her a treat before bedtime, she sat and raised her paw. To see if it would happen again, I got out another treat and told her to sit. She sat, and raised her paw. Someone at the veterinary hospital had taught her how to shake hands.

The day Sophie had surgery was the day I realized my purpose. Sophie came to us for a reason. There is a reason why we live near the country’s only Veterinary Teaching Hospital specializing in heart surgery. I am going to be a vet.

I am going to make a difference in some family’s life. I am going to save dogs. I am going to be a professional who can lobby for the regulation of puppy mills. I am going to educate people about the puppies they see in pet stores. Something needs to be done and I can be part of that. I can do this for Maggie and Nala. I can do this Sophie. I can do it.

I have been accepted into Colorado State University in Fort Collins. I will be in the pre veterinary program. I am very excited. However, it is very expensive. My mom is going to have to borrow most of my tuition cost. I am going to do work study and also work outside of school to help out. Colorado does not have a resident tuition sharing program with Wyoming, unless you have a 4.0 grade point average and a 33 on the ACT. I have worked very hard to bring my grade point average up to 2.9. At the end of the year it will be 3.0. My ACT score was 29.

The Mesothelioma Memorial Scholarship will reduce the financial burden my education is going to place on my mom and I. I do not qualify for many scholarships because of my grade point average. I have inattentive disorder which was not diagnosed until my junior year. This is not unusual. It is mostly girls who have ADD inattentive. It is usually diagnosed in junior high or high school. It often goes unnoticed in elementary school because ADD inattentives function better in a very structured environment.

When they get into junior high or high school, these girls will try so hard to fit in, to meet the demands, they can sometimes hide the disorder. However, eventually, with the multiple classes and no oversight in whether assignments are completed or not, these girls will often fall behind. They become frustrated with their inability to focus and to keep up with their peers in class.

This happened to me. I had never fallen behind and it was embarrassing. I became angry. My teachers thought I was lazy. My mom noticed how forgetful and distracted I was. When I got diagnosed it was such a relief. I learned to use a planner to keep me organized at school, I learned to write myself notes to remind me of things I needed to do, and I am taking medication that helps me stay focused. My grades went from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s.

It’s unfortunate that so many girls will go undiagnosed and suffer needlessly, being labeled by teachers as either being lazy, surly, or unmotivated. They will not be able to recognize their full potential until treatment is received. If they are diagnosed early enough, they may be able to pull their grades up enough to qualify for merit scholarships. But if they are diagnosed late, as I was, they may never be able to get their grade point average up to a 3.5. This is why this scholarship is so important to me. I can qualify for it, and I can contribute to the cost of my education.

Copyright 2009,, a StraightForward Media property.

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