Our family has one less being with us tonight.
Our dog, Layla, has been sliding downhill, health wise for quite a while. We watched while she struggled to get up stairs, then we watched while she began refusing to go upstairs(even with a bribe of food), we watched as she repeatedly would fall and have to be picked up, (sometimes several times before her legs would hold her), we watched as she got to the point where she couldn't tell when she had to go to the bathroom, and after the accident, she apparently hurt too bad to move to another spot. We watched and wondered, "Is it time?"
|her back legs had atrophied to the point that she rarely bent them|
Today it was time. We said goodbye to her at the vet's office, with tears in our eyes, while she breathed her last breaths.
Layla was a different sort of pet. She wasn't obedient at all, neither was she overly loving. She did not get overly excited when we came home after an absence and never demanded to be petted. She was incredibly stubborn and only obeyed if she was forced, it involved food or it was her idea first. Losing Layla is hard because she was our dog! She wasn't a poster-dog for greatness, but she was ours and we loved her! I do believe in her own non-emotional way she loved us. Even at the end, she would, with great discomfort, rise and come to lay where someone in the family was, just to be near one of us.
We got Layla after losing our beloved dog, Dot. John, Jr. had had shoulder surgery and was depressed over that. Beth was lamenting going to college and us getting a dog that she wouldn't know. So, we only waited about a month after Dot's death. We took John, Jr and told him to pick out a Chocolate Lab from a litter in Sanford. We saw this cute as pie, little butter ball of brown fur with gorgeous honey brown eyes. John picked her up and said, "This is a friend!" Thus, our life with Layla started!
Immediately we found out how
At our wit's end, we decided she needed obedience training. She and I attended every class and she "graduated". Her graduation pictures depict just how obedient she had become.
The first one...
the second one...
Notice the lack of hat-she refused to let me put it on, and the vise-like grip I have on her collar, because she had decided one picture was enough and she was getting out of dodge.
All throughout her life, she would open the screen door at her whim and take off! She would immediately go roll in some sort of foul smelling poop(I think it was cat), tree a cat if she could find it and then come home and sit on the porch waiting to be let back in. (Which wasn't to be until she has been thoroughly scrubbed). She had recently calmed down her wanderings, but last May she got a wild hair and took off, like old times. I looked out and the mailman was riding closely behind her beeping his horn. She was just trotting along, without a care in the world, (her hearing had also gone).
One memory is her first trip to the beach.
We stayed at a friend's house across the road from the beach. The first day there, we're playing and we see this dog getting in the middle of some other beach-goer's bocce ball game. (Layla adored balls). One of the kids said confusedly, "That dog looks like Layla!" It took a few minutes before we realized it WAS Layla! She had jumped the gate we left her in, crossed the busy beach thoroughfare and come to play ball on the beach! We took her back, washed her off and put her on the porch to dry. We had the windows open, when the next thing we knew, this resolute dog had jumped through the window to get in the house!
Layla's great love was tennis balls. Tennis balls have been banned from our house for quite a while. Ever since there was one under our couch. Layla smelled it, torn the skirt and broke one of the legs in her desperation to get that darn ball! This infatuation never waned. Two years ago, Anna had a house sitter stay with her dog while we all went to the beach. She offered to allow Layla to stay too. Layla, at a ripe old age of 10, flat out chewed a whole in Anna's couch, all in an attempt to get a tennis ball! We would take her to the dog park. She would chase a tennis ball until she dropped dead. The other dogs were cavorting around...not Layla. She had her tennis ball, to heck with man or beast!
Her other love was food. She would eat anything and everything. Daniel took her a couple of years ago to live at his house. She was evicted and returned to home about a month later...banned because she ate his roommates Valentines candy! She adored popcorn. I could put a piece on her nose, tell her to hold it and when I said go, she would flip it up and into her mouth!
This dog did not have a mean bone in her body. She was great with kids of all ages and other dogs, too. The babies could do whatever they wanted to her and she would just lay there. We never had to worry about her biting anyone. One time, when Beth's dog was sick and started being aggressive towards Beth, Layla jumped between Beth and her dog and growled at the other dog. Basically, saying, "Back-off!"
We are in pain tonight and will be for a while. Loving and losing a pet is part of life, not a fun part, but a part nonetheless. All of these and more memories will live in our hearts as we mourn the passing of our Layla!