Remembering Layla

A single slice of bread made me cry today.

It sounds crazy; I know. But for the last thirteen years, I’ve divided up the last slice of bread to give to the dogs.

In March of 2020, I had to stop dividing it into thirds when our dog Nala passed away. That was the first time bread made me cry.

Now it’s happened again. Our thirteen year old dog, Layla, passed away yesterday. This morning I found the crumpled bread bag on the counter, holding the last slice of bread. I’d wanted to give it to her before she passed, but she wouldn’t eat anything– not even her beloved bread, that she’d come running for if the pantry doors even opened.

Losing a pet is always hard. Every time, no matter the circumstances. These furry members of our family take up so much space in our hearts. When our limited time with them is up, there is no easy way to say goodbye.

Thirteen years ago, my husband adopted a little puppy from a rescue group. She was a bit timid, despite being a bigger breed. She loved to sleep with her head on his shoe, and rode around in the passenger seat of his truck like it’s where she was born to be. When we moved to Alaska and the truck was sold, she switched to the backseat…but she was less than thrilled about it, and would stick her head up between the front seats to let us know how she felt.

Layla went on many adventures with us, from the beaches of Florida to looking for the aurora in Alaska. She trotted along the pebbly beaches of Homer, had a shouting match with a moose, waded through waist-high fields of blooming fireweed, and sat in front of majestic mountain ranges before laying down in the soft grass to take a quick nap. She’s flown on numerous airplanes, traveling from Florida to Alaska to Tennessee. She’s slept in hotel rooms, lived in several houses, and has just always been up for any adventure we have.

Our sweet Layla girl was always so patient with our kids, even when they were babies and would drape themselves across her. When our eldest child was just shy of turning one, he loved to crawl up to her while she was eating and slowly pull her bowl towards him. She’d gamely follow, continuing to eat as he moved her bowl closer to him. She’d lovingly sniff their heads, let them lean against her, and help steady them as they learned to walk with one hand resting on her back.

Layla was our gentle giant. She’d do mini-jumps, just lifting her front paws barely off of the ground, and do this unique half-bark, half-howl that can only be described as crowing. She’d shake her whole body when she was excited, could run as fast as the dickens, and had a hard head. Literally–she once ran full steam ahead into my husband’s knee, leaving him with a bruise, yet she just continued on as though he hadn’t been there.

A good dog is a member of your family, a faithful companion throughout years of your life. Layla was the best of dogs, always there for her people, always up for whatever craziness we brought home to her. Whether it was a new dog, two zany cats, or these wild kiddos of ours, she greeted each new arrival with love and tenderness.

Our kids especially are having a tough time with this loss. To help, we make a photo book full of pictures and memories and have it printed. This way, whenever we miss her, we can look through the book.

We will always remember our sweet girl, this beautiful soul who loved us so well.

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