February 16, 2004

Today is February 16.  Today is the day.  I don’t think of it every year, the day usually passes without a thought, but today I have remembered.  Seven years ago today, my 4 1/2-year-old  niece was holding a puppy, singing it a song, when she was suddenly attacked by two Rottweilers.  I was at work, just finishing up tutorials when I was paged to the office for a phone call.  My sister-in-law told me that Ashlynn had been bitten by her dog and they were in the emergency room.  Her voice was calm, and I imagined she had been bitten by a dog, needed a couple of stitches, and would go home later that night. 

When I walked into the emergency room and met my sister-in-law, saw her face, and heard her words, I knew then that it wasn’t just a bite.  The emergency room personnel let me go back and I entered and saw the doctors, the nurses, and my brother all around her bed.  Steve, her dad, was holding her hand.  Then someone moved back and I saw Ashlynn with her skinny little naked body laying on the table.  She was alert.  She turned her head and the first words to me were, “I’ve been dog bit.” 

The Lord was in that room.  I could feel him everywhere.  Although the situation was very serious, the bleeding had stopped, Ashlynn was extremely calm, and a peace was upon me that I cannot explain.  The nurses started pointing out the wounds to me, only when they rolled her to her side and I saw very deep bites on her lower back with tissue protruding that I felt my stomach go queasy.  They were preparing her to be transported to Amarillo for surgery.  The room was quiet.  Suddenly a doctor grabbed my hand forcing into Ashlynn’s and urged me to talk to her and tell her she was going to be okay. 

 I began to get a little panicky realizing the seriousness of it all, knowing that my mother needed to be there.  And as much as I should have stayed there with my niece and my brother, I needed to get out of there.  So I left.  I went to try to find my mom.  This was before she carried a cell phone.  She worked for a home health agency.  I knew about 3 of her clients and where they lived, so I got in my car and drove by all their houses looking for her car.  I couldn’t find her.  I called my friend, asking her to pray, I called my aunt, my grannie, everyone I knew, pleading them to begin to pray.  Someone found my mom and by the time I returned to the hospital, she was there and they were loading into the ambulance. 

They gave Ashlynn morphine and she never slept.  It had an adverse reaction and was as if she was coming out of her skin, reaching for things that weren’t there, saying bizarre hallucinating statements.  Then she went into surgery.  After a while, the doctor came into the waiting room and informed us that he had sewn up her front, and when he rolled her over to sew up her back, the bites were much deeper than surface level, so they needed to open her up in the front to clean and stitch the interior wounds.  The dogs had nearly bitten through her.  She had cuts on her intestines, kidneys, stomach, and liver.  Stitching the intestines was time consuming because the doctors had to literally pull them out and unwind them to search each and every inch for wounds.  

Four hours later the surgery was over and she was placed in ICU.  By this time, the word had reached all four corners of our small town.  When she awoke she was greeted with visitors, flowers, cards, phone calls, stuffed animals, more than anything I’ve ever seen.  The nurses began to turn the visitors away.  During the next 10 days of recovery, our family was showered with love.  Prayer chains were active, a fund and donations were given, strangers who saw it on the news or read about it in the paper came to visit, sent her cards, gave her toys.  People came daily from surrounding churches to pray for her without fail.  Mankind is truly generous and good.

She’s had two other surgeries since to undo scar tissue that formed adhesions and caused unbelievable pain in her intestines. 

I hate to think about what she endured.  I remember her words that day in the hospital, “I need a drink.  I got dirt in my mouth.”  And I can’t help but picture her being dragged around the backyard by those dogs whose animal instincts were to kill.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  Genesis 5o:20

The greatest act of love I’ve ever witnessed came during that time.  One stranger who came to pray told me he was praying for healing of the memories.  I had never heard that expression before.  So much of our focus was on her body, and not her mind.  Our God is so good.  That prayer was answered and although she has scars to remind her, Ashlynn has no fear of dogs to this day. 

Today she’s an outstanding eleven year old girl.  I talked to her on the phone a while ago.  She was going to jazz class and then to church, two things she loves.  She was talking with her mouth full and I scolded her.  She made all A’s and B’s on her report card.  I think she deserves a little money for that. 

I couldn’t imagine my life without her.  She is a little bundle of energy, a friend to all, a hater of broth, an amazing artist, a survivor for sure. 

And a testimony to our God, who is with us  in the valley of the shadow of death, who brings us through trials, who saves our souls, and heals our wounds, and our memories.

To God be the glory.


  1. Lara says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. It will be great to see what God has in store for her.


  2. bob briggs says:

    got to tell donna mae about your amazing story, i can;t tell it like you do. it made me tear up, and i remember the day very well. thank god, he was there for ashy that day. love everyone out that way.


  3. RB says:

    O my goodness. What a story, I had forgotten it was today. She is here for a reason, God uses her every day. She is so special and we love her so much. Made me cry.


  4. Lenore Diane says:

    Wow. That’s all I can muster. Thank God for faith, doctors and prayers. I am glad this story had a happy ending.


  5. Norma in Alabama says:

    I thank our God for sparing your niece any greater harm. He must have something special coming for her. She sounds braver than any little girl needs to be. We lost a very dear friend about 5 years ago when she was attachedk by a bulldog. He went right for her throat and never let go until a man hit him with a ball bat. She was a small woman and walked every day but somehow this dog had gotten away from his yard. The police found and shot him a short while later. The loss of our friend in such a tragic way left a void. I am so thankful you still have your precious niece. She sounds like a remarkable young lady.


  6. Susan says:

    I remember that day so well. She was very tiny and so strong. She has been a miracle since the beginning of her little life. I remember her telling me “God saved me and Jesus healed me” after the attack. The doctor told us he was amazed she survived. He knew of children much larger with less injuries that didn’t. Her faith is very strong and she is focused…on the One with His hand upon her. If you want to see a real miracle…you need to meet Ashlynn:)


  7. Nelson Rose says:

    Very uplifting story. She sounds like a great kid.


  8. Donna H says:

    Angel …I missed checking in yesterday to see this post because my grand-daughter delivered my fourth great grandbaby! 5 lb 10 oz precious little girl, Hadley Clair. She is beautiful beyond words and we are so grateful to our Lord for seeing to her safe arrival. Last October my granddaughter went to feed her friend’s bull dogs while he was out of town. She and my little two year old great granddaughter went out to his farm way out in the boonies and she was in the garage with the little one and after she fed the dogs ,while putting them back in their kennels, one of them turned on her, knocking her down, and drug her across a two car garage while latching onto the inside of her inner thigh. The dog managed to even pull her jeans off of her in the process and tore a gaping 7″ hole in her inner leg. Through it all she had the presence of mind to tell the two year old to climb up on the riding mower to safety. Her cell phone was in the kitchen and once the dog let go and backed off it went into the kennel and she grabbed her torn jeans and made a tourniquet (she was bleeding profusely)and drug herself and the little one into the kitchen to the phone. It was over 30 minutes before the rescue squad arrived and through it all she took care of her wound (she worked in the ER in one of our big hospitals here) and calmed her daughter. There is no question in my mind that God was present in that house that evening! She is a wonderful young lady, a believer, and an amazing young mother! She too has been blessed with the gift of the “healing of the memories”, as well. That was such a concern for all of us for both her and the little grand baby. Being pregnant she chose to get by with very little pain medication and she had two major surgeries to repair muscles and tendons so she would have feeling in her lower leg and feet. When I went into the ER I also could feel the presence of the Lord. She was calm even though you could see the bones in her leg through the hole! It is something I will NEVER forget. She is brave and strong in her faith and we are so thankful for this new “branch” on our family tree after so much trauma! PRAISE BE TO GOD ALMIGHTLY! I will add your precious niece and your family to my prayer list today, and would greatly appreciate yours for our family. Until next time …. Donna


  9. Angel says:

    Thank you all for your comments. They mean the world to me. Ashlynn is an amazing blessing to everyone who loves her. Donna, what a terrible story. So glad to know your g-daughter is well, and congrats on your new one. Yes, I will pray for your family. Thanks for reading my blog everyone!


  10. Mama says:

    Well, I’m just now reading this. What a miracle we had on that day and the days following and still today, and the days to come! How unbelievable that time was. The outpouring was amazing and the healing spectacular! How blessed we are to have witnessed the miracle and God’s presence and devining love. We are so lucky and very fortunate that He was with us and that we have this precious child with us today. I thank God that she is happy, healthy and living with no fears!


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