Trainer-to-the-stars Ashley Borden shares her passion for pit bulls
When Ashley Borden isn’t acting as a wellness consultant to her celebrity clients (including Natasha Bedingfield, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and Mandy Moore), she’s often spending time with pit bulls.
Author of the book Your Perfect Fit: What to Wear to Show Off Your Assets / What to Do to Tone Up your Trouble Spots, Ashley adopted her first pit bull, Jesse, nearly 20 years ago. “He was the best dog ever – an absolute love,” she says.
Ashley’s love for Jessie led her to learn about pit bull-type dogs. “I learned about how much abuse and mistreatment and wrong information was out there,” she says. “People think that, because [pit bulls] are so big and tough, they don’t have any feelings. It became my mission to adopt these dogs to help dispel the myths about them.”
What drew her to pit bulls? “I’ve always been attracted to adopting the animals that won’t get adopted,” Ashley says. “I couldn’t believe how many pit bulls were in the shelters.”
But more than that, Ashley is also drawn to the special traits that all pittie lovers know and appreciate. “I feel like I can see their souls in their little almond eyes,” she comments. “They are very aware and very sensitive. I love how loyal and super affectionate and smart they are.”
In addition to two cats and a rescued Chinese crested dog, Ashley currently has an adopted pit bull and a pit bull mix. Her pit bull mix Pedro was rescued from a hoarding situation and had spent several years locked in a crate. “He was born there and had never left his cage,” Ashley explains. “He didn’t know how to walk. He had emaciated back legs. … People don’t want to get involved [in rescue work] because they don’t want to see how awful it is,” she says. “But when you see it, you see how important it is to spay and neuter your animal.”
When Ashley met her white pit bull, William, he suffered from inverted eyelashes, sometimes known as entropion. “He was on death row,” she says. But after surgery, he was good as new and has played an integral role in rehabilitating fearful Pedro and in Ashley’s own rehabilitation.
Rescuing and Being Rescued
As many of us know, when we adopt a pet, that animal has as much potential to help us as we do to help him or her. That has certainly been the case for Ashley.
“I had been on Paxil for 17 years and I finally decided to get off it,” she says of her personal journey. “The only things I could be around were my animals. Walking them I swear was like my healing therapy during the two months that I detoxed off that.
“In some ways, I love them more than I love myself,” she adds. “So being forced to take care of them helps me take care of myself. Putting my music on and walking the dogs is my therapy.”
Ashley’s deep relationship with her rescued animals motivates her to get involved wherever she can, even if it’s just stopping to educate people on the street. “I never hesitate to get involved,” she says, relating a story of talking to several young men with unneutered pit bulls on chains at Venice Beach. “A lot of it is that people don’t have the information. They don’t know,” she says.
“You don’t have to be an activist,” Ashley comments. Making a difference “can just be where you adopt and [avoiding pet stores that sell puppy mill animals].I just try and do my own part.”
Sometimes, Ashley takes her passion to the streets, protesting against cruelty to animals. “I protested with Last Chance for Animals. We protested the circus. We protested vivisection,” she says. “It’s surprising to see how angry people get that you are protesting for an animal and not for people. But somebody has to be the voice for animals. They can’t hold signs. They don’t have the Internet. They can’t protest for themselves.
“I always try and root for the underdog,” she adds. “That’s why I’m so attracted to pit bulls because someone has to be there for them.”
By Micaela Myers