Harley: He Changed the World
I lost a very close friend of mine yesterday. He was covered with fur, was pretty short, walked kinda crooked and only had one eye, but I loved him dearly. And still do. His name is Harley Taylor. We never met in person, but that doesn’t really matter in the end. . .
I first started doing volunteer work for National Mill Dog Rescue back in 2009. I learned about the organization through something I read back on the former message boards for the Best Friends Animal Society about some puppy mill dogs who had been saved. I knew back then about what puppy mills in rather general terms, but my education had a long way to go. It was due to my association with NMDR that I really began to learn about the origin of mills, how they function and how we perpetuate their existence through our own choices. The reality is that all puppies are cute and we allow ourselves to be blinded by that cuteness we see when we tell ourselves it is okay to buy that dog from the pet store or the internet. It is not. And it must stop.
When I heard about a new player on the scene who was working as a “spokesdog” for NMDR, I marveled at the genius of the concept: Harley and his faithful sidekick, Teddy, began orchestrating “Harley to the Rescue!” missions to save other mill dogs. It was just perfect. Who better to not only speak for the mill dogs but to encourage all of us to help those dogs while educating the public to make better choices?
I did a number of projects involving Harley over a period of time, not because he or NMDR needed my help but just because I felt compelled to do something to be part of such wonderful, life-saving work. I wanted to be part of something I felt was magical. Our project called “A Dream to Call My Own” went semi-viral and is still one of my most popular projects I have ever done. When you combine the face of an irresistible dog with the music of Kathy Fisher and Ron Wasserman (my friends “Fisher”) with the voice of a child, who can stop smiling? No one. My other projects for Harley are less well known, but I think they still affect many people in many ways. Looking back, I am profoundly grateful that I came to know Harley and his family through our projects.
I think the most any of us can hope for, human or canine, is that we make some difference in our time here. Most of us will never cure a disease or invent something revolutionary, but we can all strive to change the world in some small way. Harley Taylor did just that. And while we all mourn the loss of this wonderful little soul, I hope our focus will be more on his remarkable life and how very many people he touched in such a very short period of time. He was a puppy mill survivor who led a truly purpose-driven life as he helped save other mill dogs and helped educate the public about the insidious nature of the commercial dog breeding industry. He was named the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog of 2015 and in the end, he Changed the World.
I cry for a dog I never met. I smile with pride for a boy who likely did more to change the national discussion about the commercial dog breeding industry than most people could ever hope for.
I will miss you, Harley. I am so very, very sorry you could not stay. I am so very, very grateful to have known you at all. Godspeed, little man. Your work here is done. And now we must continue it in your honor.
3/21/2016 09:14:08 am
I have barely been able to breathe since Sunday evening. And this morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
3/21/2016 11:22:24 pm
This is beautiful. I still cant believe he s gone. That little dog was so lucky that his family found him and he helped soooo many other dogs. I am heart broken. I wish i met him personally but i didn't. I am so sorry that he s gone. He will be missed so much.
3/21/2016 09:21:48 am
Thank you for those words... I had a vacation planned to Denver last August, extended it just so I could attend Harley Goes To Hollywood before the Hero Dog Awards... I had to meet this little guy that has impacted my life in such a way I never thought possible... I love him like my own and have so enjoyed being a part of his journey.... We will continue the fight in his honor! Again, thank you from Georgia!
3/21/2016 06:56:18 pm
Thank you Little One for all the good you did for others, I wish your life would it been different, but I am grateful to your new Family that gave you all the love they did RIP my Little One!!!!!and God bless your love ones.
3/21/2016 06:57:02 pm
Mis mas sentidas condolencias, para la Familia, Harley te extranamos y te Amamos, Gracias por tu ejemplo y Fortaleza, Gracias a Dios conociste el Amor de un hogar y una Familia, y algun dia todos estaremos juntos, Dios Bendiga a la Familia, y tu Harley siempre en nuestros corazones, te extranaremos. Amen
3/21/2016 06:58:20 pm
I've been feeling melancholy all day ... I met Harley and his foster parents, Rudi and Dan, at a meet and greet in Vero Beach this past December. As I walked through the grassy field toward the group of fans, I actually felt his presence as a strong spiritual being that was much more than a little six pound pup. We have to carry on and do the good work he started.
One sentence struck me as I read your article. " ..not because he or NMDR needed my help .." I beg to differ with that statement because you went above and beyond for Harley's cause. I feel Harley and NMDR need everyone's help, no matter how great or small. In the great scheme of things, we all matter. Most of all, Harley is and will always be a symbol of hope for those still left behind in cages. We will miss him dearly but he will live on in those he helped rescue and all those who will be rescued because of him.
3/21/2016 07:05:07 pm
I have followed Harley and Teddy since their first campaign of Harley and Teddy to the Rescue and have posted their missions for years on my FB page and Adopt Don't Shop FB page. His pictures are on the walls of my store to educate people on the horrors of puppy mills and why you shouldn't buy dogs. Kids have asked what happened to him and it is the perfect opportunity to educate them on adopting and not buying a dog. He will be so missed, a one of a kind and one so loved. I hope his Mom and Dad will keep up the work and Teddy will find another super hero to help with the missions, but there will never be another Harley. Night Night sweet Harley.
3/21/2016 07:05:40 pm
Oh how you have changed my life and the way I look at puppies and mills. I have 2 Chis of my own and love them more than life. Thank you Dan and rudi for always sharing Harley with us. Together we will continue the fight. A job well done Harley now we will continue the fight. Run free sweet harley
3/21/2016 07:14:38 pm
I wish I could have met you in person Harley. You have touched me so deeply. Your mission will continue. Love and peace to you as you meet your new friends in a very special place. You will live in our hearts and souls forever
3/21/2016 07:36:19 pm
This little fellow changed the way I looked at the dog breeders. It changed my life. I donate to his cause and share all the pictures I can on Facebook. The words you wrote in your tribute were wonderful and I appreciate them. We need to spread his message to the entire world and stop the breeders who do this to the little ones. We will miss him terribly.
3/21/2016 07:37:40 pm
Beautiful words and impact <3 I miss you SO much Harley!!
3/21/2016 07:44:07 pm
He was a great little dog. A reflection of what compassion and respect for animals can do, Just looking at Harley brought a smile to my face and warmth to my soul.
3/21/2016 07:46:52 pm
I happened across Harley purely on accident and immediately felt on love him and what he was doing. I have a Chihuahua myself and Dolled is a ham, she would have loved Harley and his best buddy Teddy. I am praying for all y'all and hope his mission carries on!! RIP dear Harley!! Love you
3/21/2016 07:46:56 pm
What a lovely post. Harley felt like he was part of all of our lives and he changed so many. He will be missed dearly, but he would want another mill dog to be saved and carry on his work. <3
3/21/2016 07:48:27 pm
Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Harley. I have followed him for several years (as well as Teddy) and am heart broken. I cheered when Harley won as the Hero Dog as if it was my own dog. So many of us loved him and are devastated by the news. He was the epitome of a hero and united so many in fighting against the ills of puppy mills. He brought exposure to such an ugly, previously hidden industry. Thank you to Rudi and Dan for sharing your boy with the world. We love and miss him. Godspeed, Harley.
3/21/2016 07:48:40 pm
I will never forget Harley! Love you lots baby boy! 😓
3/21/2016 07:50:29 pm
A wonderful tribute to our little friend Harley. I never got a chance to meet him or Teddy but to honor them both I'm wearing my Harley to the rescue T-shirt today. We will all continue to fight his battles for him.
3/21/2016 07:52:20 pm
I've cried and cried over the loss of this little one who endured so much, and who finally found that his dream was real.
3/21/2016 07:52:53 pm
I live in a town neighboring to where Harley spent the best years of his life. I call him my hometown hero. I have 2 rescue dogs one of whom spent the first year of his life in a mill. Seeing how that one year affected him my heart breaks for those that suffer for so long. My heart goes out to Harley's wonderful family.
Susan P Merkel
3/21/2016 08:01:15 pm
I have four chihuahuas, when I first saw a story about Harley I was hooked, I immediately fell in love with him. I began following his story and was just smitten. I had a mill poodle for six years. I was a guest at Mar a Lago on March 1st to honor the 2015 American Dog Heros, there were all kinds of posters representing different dogs, imagine my surprise when there in person was my love Harley. Dan was gracious enough to allow me to hold him, I can't begin to to tell you what a gentle old soul he was. My heart breaks for Dan and Rudi, he was an exceptional little dog and will missed by all who knew him. How fortunate that he was able to know love and kindness, when so many don't.
3/21/2016 08:02:19 pm
I have 3 shelter dogs ages 14, 14 and 16.. they are so much of my life. I met Harley on here but never in person, yet I felt like he knew me and I knew him. I prayed every night for him, as I got on my knees next to my bed, with my oldest dog Doolan next to me, and asked God to bless Harley, his family, and end the evil of animal abuse, especially puppy mills. Last night when I got the news of Harley passing, I felt like I was hit in the gut..it hurt so bad, I had lost a dear friend, yet one I never met in person, but was one in friendship of like-minds' and hope. I pray "Harley to the Rescue" will continue until all puppy mills are gone never to return. Meanwhile, I know Harley is at peace. I know in my heart God would never create something so wonderful as a dog and not want to bring them all to Heaven..it wouldn't be Heaven without them. God bless you all.
3/22/2016 04:37:08 pm
Thank you, because I believe the same.
3/23/2016 12:35:00 pm
This was beautifully written & it is very touching. God bless you for reaching those dogs....my wife & I have 3 rescues now & they are our world. Thank you for rescuing dogs & being a kind hearted soul.
3/21/2016 08:06:16 pm
Thank you for the nice article on the hero wonderful l little Harley. Thank you for your work with rescues & keep doing it in Harley's honor. Forever live Harley's legacy & God bless the Taylor's & ALL rescuers all over the world for being such amazing people.
3/21/2016 08:08:41 pm
Thank you for your story. It's amazing to me how one little dog could unite and inspire so many. Harley has started a revolution, and we must be diligent and carry the torch that he lit for all puppy mill dogs and cats everywhere. His legacy will live on. I love you Angel Harley, and will always miss you.
3/21/2016 08:11:57 pm
He was a wee hero for so many.
3/21/2016 08:12:29 pm
HE HAD A DREAM WE ALL CALLED OUR OWN, AND THE DREAM WILL LIVE ON AS HE WILL LIVE ON IN OUR HEARTS AND MEMORY. <3 !!
3/21/2016 08:14:45 pm
God bless you Harley You were a handsome boy. Now that you have grossed over the Rainbow bridge you will see out if both your eyes .I know you know you were truly loved . Now you can run and play .Goc Bless
3/21/2016 08:15:55 pm
I too, never had the opportunity to meet Harley face to face....it was one of my dreams. My heart shattered into a million pieces when I learned of his passing. He is the reason I know so much about puppy mills and can educate those around me. I wear one of my treasured Harley & Teddy t-shirts almost every day so that it gives me the chance to speak out when asked. Harley, Dan & Rudi all touched my life in an unimaginable way and I will continue to support theirs and NMDRs efforts to rid this country of puppy mills until the day I die. I love Harley with all my heart and soul and I continue to pray for his family each day.
3/21/2016 08:18:08 pm
I just learned... Can't really grasp it yet! He was so incredible. The main reason I went Facebook each day was see what courageous things he'd and so many precious moments he shared. My heart is broken! Can't image not seeing his sweet face each day or his wonderful good night wish. Can't imagine how his Mom & Dad feel. They are very wonderful people.. God Bless you Harley! You're with so many friends now..
3/21/2016 08:31:26 pm
Anyone on facebook who kept up with Harley's mission is very sadden today, I cried all morning. He touched the lives of so many people and brought so much awareness of the horrible puppy mills and he and his family and extended family saved the lives of so many dogs who got their freedom. God speed Harley we all are so proud to have known you. <3
3/21/2016 08:40:24 pm
Your words ring so true. I've been crying on and off all day and, like you, I've never met Harley. He was so special and I shared his dream to see puppy mills close once and for always. Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Harley. He will be missed but we will carry on his work and we will succeed until every dog is rescued
3/21/2016 08:43:48 pm
From the first time I saw one of Harley's posts, I was in love...with this amazing pup and his parents. I now go over the NMDR website daily. Even though my commitment to rescue pets was strong before, I now only consider rescues! Rock on, Harley, rock on!
3/21/2016 08:51:11 pm
RIP Harley. You will be missed. I learned so much from your story. Your legacy will live on. I hope we see the day there are no more puppy mills.
3/21/2016 08:53:38 pm
Like so many on facebook I did not know Harley personally but I followed him daily. There is something about this little one eyed, tongue hanging out baby , that touched my heart. I will miss not reading up on him every day but he will always have a piece of my heart.
3/21/2016 09:00:16 pm
Thank you so much for those beautiful words for Harley! I haven't stopped crying since learning of his death! I knew it would come some day, but I wasn't ready for it! He had five loving years with a wonderful Mom and Dad! I will continue to shout "DON'T SHOP, ADOPT!" RIP Precious Harley, and soar with the Angels! Now you have both of your beautiful eyes to see with!!
3/21/2016 09:00:48 pm
I am beyond saddened, My days started and ended with this little guy. I'm gonna miss you our little hero. I love & miss you so much Harley Reast in peace. A little dog with a big dream. My condolences to Rudi & Dan Taylor as well as his buddy Teddy.
3/21/2016 09:01:04 pm
My heart is broken. I've never felt such a loss for a pup I never met. Yet I feel like I've known him forever. I'm so sorry for his parents, for his close friends and for all the rest of us who came to know and love Harley "Freight Train" Taylor. God how I looked forward to those pictures and posts. He will forever be in my heart and the hearts of many. To know he was loved and adored before he left this world is some comfort. Yet I want him to come back and be with all of us again. Today I came home and played a little longer and loved a lot more my own dogs. We never know when they may have to go. God bless his parents and comfort them in the coming days. ❤😭
3/21/2016 09:01:10 pm
I have been heartbroken sense I found out about Harley, and cried all through work! This sweet little boy taught me so much, and I have grown to love him like he was a part of my family! I will be praying for Rudi and her husband, bc i know they are hurting from the loss of their baby boy! God give them comfort!! Harley will forever be missed, and close to my heart😢 We will continue his legacy! Love you Harley💜! I'm sad your gone, but I'm happy your in heaven running free and in no pain!
3/21/2016 09:01:30 pm
Thank you for this beautiful tribute to precious Harley. What a special little boy he was. It's funny how social media has made it possible to truly love someone you never met in person. That's how I felt about Harley, and I know thousands of others do too. I am so sad he's gone and that I will never get to hold and kiss him like I've wanted to do so badly since the first day I laid eyes on him. I am also thankful for the impact he has made on the world and how he inspired so many people to pay attention to the horrors of puppy mills. We must continue fighting to end puppy mills in his honor and memory. I will never forget this little guy, and I pray for his precious mom and dad, Rudi and Dan. What amazing people they are! Love to everyone who knew and loved Harley. We're mourning his loss together. We love you sweet Harley.
3/21/2016 09:04:51 pm
Ever since I read Lil" Harley had passed..I have been crying off and on all day...I have follow this beautiful fur baby for so long and have felt anger for the puppy mill that had neglected him..also have felt love for his mom and dad who took this precious baby in and showed him what love is like and gave him a few wonderful years..RIP lil' guy..you are so LOVED by many...
3/21/2016 09:08:08 pm
OH no, tears, they are not here long, he touched so many including myself.. I am so sorry :( Thank you for loving him... RIP sweet guy.. ;(
3/21/2016 09:10:06 pm
This little dog accomplished more in his 5 years of freedom than most of us will ever achieve in our life times. The way he touched the heart of everyone who saw him was magical. He was a family member of us all. Sorely will he be missed. And tenderly will he be remembered.
3/21/2016 09:15:36 pm
Thank you for these words - when I heard last night I was heartbroken and your line ""We never met in person, but that doesn’t really matter in the end. . ." is a perfect summation, I'm sure, of how so many tens of thousands of people are feeling today. Harley touched so many hearts with his mission, his adventures and sharing his dreams with the world. It is a better world because of Harley to the Rescue! God bless everyone who is brokenhearted from his loss - especially his mom, dad and family. RIP Harley and run free!
3/21/2016 09:20:44 pm
RIP little man💔
3/21/2016 09:23:42 pm
Like you I have never met Harley but from his website, your movie and just his posts. I also learned about Puppy Mills. Fortunately all my dogs are rescues and they all have been and I don't support back yard breeders either. But Harley touched everyone he met, or his website or facebook page touched us all. RIP Little man, know you are still and always will be a hero to all of us.
3/21/2016 09:24:38 pm
I have never experienced a loss this great for a dog I have never met. I'm so honored I got to watch Ihim win last year's American Humane Hero Dog Award. I was pulling for him so hard. It was the first time I heard of him. Thank you for saving him, giving him such a wonderful life but also letting him be such a great little ambassador for exploited animals. Your hearts are broken now, but you're not alone in what you're experiencing. The world grieves with you 💔
3/21/2016 09:34:08 pm
I only learned of Harley not even 2 weeks ago and he tugged at my heart strings from the moment I saw him. One little dog did more good in the world than almost anyone person I know. I wish everyone knew of him he is a dog who changed the world but he once was in a puppy mill so how many more amazing dogs with the heart of Harley are out there in pain and because of him so many people know and more educated. Every dog every animal is a living breathing creature just like us humans and everyone of those animals mater. Harley's legacy will live on and Teddy will continue his best friends life's mission. We should all follow Harley's lead and make a change no mater how small or big R.I.P big boy rest easy 😘
3/21/2016 09:34:52 pm
There's a hole in my heart that can only ghostve filled by you sweet Harley💔
Gail M Forrest
3/21/2016 09:39:16 pm
Every time I read a post about Harley's death I start crying all over again. He was truly a hero among us! My son and I made a special trip to NMDR on a drive East from CA as I wanted to see the organization up close and personal. It is truly a wonderland for dogs who have been in a puppy mill prison camp. These puppy mill owners are torturers and should be stopped at any expense. Harley embodied the idea of and actualization of rescue. I only wish I could have held him in my arms like so many people got to do as he spread the rescue gospel. Good-bye little Prince and please protect my dog children : Jonah, Miami, Thurber and Elliot Potato up there with you!
3/21/2016 09:40:47 pm
I only heard of Harley a couple days ago and I cannot stop thinking about him and how brave he was. He touched my heart and I will never forget him. The tears won't stop either. It's called love and admiration for a little angel.
Anissa R. Hicks
3/21/2016 09:42:07 pm
I fell in love with Harley the first time I laid eyes on him & started following his page on Facebook a couple of years ago. I always enjoyed seeing photos/videos of him & of course cheered/cried like crazy when he was named the 'Hero Dog of The Year' last year. He was such a special little guy & now I'm in tears over the news of his passing. Heaven gained an amazing little angel & one who will forever be missed by his family, friends, fans & anyone that loved him.
3/21/2016 09:47:22 pm
I am feeling the pain of Harley's passing too, a dear little bloke who I never knew in person but felt I did. What he has done for his cause in nothing short of unbelievable and his work will carry on. I used to love reading his comments and seeing his photos. I never realised until Harley what puppy mills even were! They are the most disgusting things and I for one will keep pushing for their demise. Fly free little Harley love always from Australia.xoxo
3/21/2016 09:53:11 pm
Beautiful thoughts. I wanted so much to meet Harley but couldn't make it. I first learned about NMDR when we rescued a mill dog and began researching to learn more about his potential history. I was horrified as I began to learn about the mills and as I learned I also learned about NMDRs efforts to rescue and spread awareness. I rerouted a cross country roads trip to allow me to stop and visit the facilities there. I had in this process learned of Harley and his buddy Teddy and have dreamed of meeting them. I am sad that I never got the opportunity to meet sweet little Harley, but he has given me such joy and many happy moments following him on Facebook and his journey as a Hero Dog. I will treasure my memories of him even though I never had the pleasure of greeting and holding him in my arms. He has done so much and we must help continue his work!! RIP sweet Harley! You touched so many lives in ways you could many times never knew! We promise to continue spreading your message and working towards realizing your dream of No More Puppy Mills!! And we send much love and sympathy to your wonderful family. You will be deeply missed by so many!!
3/21/2016 10:03:53 pm
One little guy left a huge legacy of love and respect. Your work is done Harley. Play hard and take lots of naps <3
3/21/2016 10:32:16 pm
Dear Sweet Prince. You and Teddy and your Mum and Dad and all your crew dome such aa fantastic job. . You will be dearly missed. Condolences to Rudi and Dan and extended familyYour are now frolicking thru fields of Daises. May you Rest In Peace in your Angels arms. Your dream will live on. Luvnhugsnpatsnkisses us 6.
3/21/2016 11:19:15 pm
I am so so sorry and so sad he just had his birthday . 🐾 He left huge footprints on every one he touched . Your mom and dad Took good care of you they only gave you three months when you came to them oh sweet little harely you all be missed run fast sweetheart your whole again and not sick love u buddy
3/21/2016 11:55:32 pm
Thanks for sharing Harley with the world. He has achieved more than anyone in is life. Sadly missed from Australia.
3/22/2016 02:41:10 am
Rip Harley you we're a little dog with a big heart...You helped rescue so many dogs from puppy mills..You helped bring so much recognition..You will never be forgotten..
Laila Lillian Østergaard sørensen
3/22/2016 02:41:30 am
Here in Denmark we også cry of our little hero Harley .. for One week ago i did not know sky, but in the meanwhile i have read all about him .. and oh my god, what a life ... the first 10 years in a cage (My heart is Crying for all animals som live like this, and for all the animals som er left behind and Mistreated) some of the human is the worst animal on two legs ... but Fortunately there is people like you .. som took this little guy out of the cage, and gift sky a life .. and not only sky but many others ... to admire you all for the great work you are doing and saves all the loving animals .. and back til family som hatred Harley ... it is so hard of losing a family member and we all cry with you..and we will still efter you in your great work ... just a few words here from people in Denmark som look up to you 👍🏼👍🏼❤️❤️❤️written with love from Laila
3/22/2016 02:41:47 am
I had the honor of meeting Harley and his wonderful several times over the last couple years. His family & NMDR always treated me like I was a part of their pack. We are so blessed to have been a part of his, Dan's & Rudi's life. Rest in Love my friend, until we meet again
3/22/2016 09:15:31 am
I have 4 of those little guys they have a big heart and think they are 80 lbs. When i heard of Harley's death it really hit home. I had to go home yesterday and give my guys extra big hugs. I cried so much. But hopefully after his death we will go forward and stop this puppy mills. RIP Harley.....u will be missed..
3/22/2016 09:19:09 am
I'm so very sorry our little friend has gone. He shall be sorely missed by all who knew and/or loved him. His life was not in vain and because of him and his human family, life was changed for many other doggies who suffered at the hands of others in puppy mills. Teddy always went on road trips with Harley - the two of them together was truly a lovely friendship. xx
3/22/2016 09:58:11 am
I don't even like going on Face-Book anymore i didn't ever meet Harley personally.but its like he was a part of my family one of my kids i truly miss Harley,as millions do.he touched so many of are lives a little dog but i miss his posts and photos..because of Harley & Teddy i have 5.rescues i never knew were puppy's came from.I want to say thank you Harley & Teddy.....Harley you are truly missed and loved by millions of us God Bless you Harley,and most of all Thank You for sharing your life with us and your teaching us about puppy mills.
3/22/2016 03:50:11 pm
There will NEVER be another like him. Harley was special in so many ways And he was loved no just here in the U.S. but world wide. God Bless you, Harley. Your work here is done, and now it's time for you to run and play and be whole again. Love you and miss you so very much!
3/22/2016 11:48:41 pm
I have followed Harley for many years...It breaks my heart that the world has lost such a beautiful little soul...He has done so much in such a short period of time...But he will live on in the hearts of thousands who loved him....RIP baby...We will all meet you some day....Love and hugs...
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson