I’m a dog person. I haven’t decided yet if I’m a kid person; I’m 32 and I feel like I still have a few more years left to decide that big one. But for now, I’m a dog lover.
I grew up on a farm, always around animals. We had chickens that slept in trees and ate cat food, cows that let me rub their backs and tickle their noses, and we even had a funny little opossum that liked to show up on Friday nights to search for leftover dinner scraps. I always loved animals. I loved the three cats that mewed around the house for the majority of my lifetime on the farm; I loved feeding the chickens and watching them jump from Dad’s arm to my own in hopes of grain held in my tightly closed fist.
We had a couple dogs–in my late teens: Tippy and Nash. They used to run the farm–literally “run” the farm–but one day they got out and never came back. Dad loved Tippy. That dog followed him wherever he went. I think I’ll always feel guilty that he got away. Nash was my dog–the trouble dog–who would leave for days on end and return long enough for sleep and a good meal. I’ll never know what happened to them, but I think I’ll always feel guilty about it.
A few years later, my boyfriend at that time brought home a Jack Russel–Harley. Harley drove me crazy–he ate all my shoes, my chocolates, and chewed anything he could get his paws on. I remember waking up one morning and Harley was on his back–head on my shoulder–sound asleep. It was the sweetest awakening I had ever come to. I started to fall in love with him…but when my ex and I split, he took the dog.
Four and half years ago, I decided to get a puppy. A puggle! I decided. I searched pet-finder determined to rescue a dog, and after weeks of searching, I found a person in Richmond who had decided to foster a pregnant puggle…and momma had just had her babies. I drove the almost three-hour journey to find my little one. When I saw the litter of little black snugly squirmy pups, I wanted them all! After what seemed to be nothing more than an “eenie meenie miney mo” scenario, I chose one, wrote the check, and promised to return for her when she was eight weeks old.
The next six weeks passed with awful slowness. I started purchasing doggie beds and toys, organic foods and treats, and dog training books. I set up a room in which she would stay both at night and during the day while I was at work; I didn’t want to crate train her, I wanted her to have more room to move. I was going to be the best mom ever.
Her name came to me while I was lifting weights one day. I need an “L” name, I said to my friend. I wanted an “L” name because I had a cat named Lulu and I thought it would be cute. What about “Laila”? I said, thinking about one of my all-time favorite novel characters. Within seconds of saying her name, Eric Clapton’s “Layla” came on the radio. “That’s a sign,” my friend said. “You’ve got to name her Laila now.” He added, “I like the spelling, too. It translates into ‘night’ and ‘princess’.” Perfect! I thought. My beautiful, dark as night princess. I could not WAIT to get her into my arms.
I should have known on the drive home from picking her up–when she would not stop chewing up the gear shift–for over two hours!!–that I was going to be a momma with full hands. We got home very late, and I couldn’t bring myself to put her in her new room I made for her–she had cried almost the entire drive (when not chewing up the car)–I wanted to hold her close and let her know she would be okay. I mean, she was only eight weeks old and it was her first night away from her mom and litter-mates. I felt awful. Of course I would hold her all night!
The following day I learned quickly that this little pup would not be left alone one second. I couldn’t breathe on my own. I couldn’t even shower on my own. She actually tried to climb into the shower with me because sitting on the other side of the shower door was too far away! My very first day with her and I was forced to buy a crate. I had to take her with me of course, and I went to Pet-Co and bought a little crate so that I could do things like take a shower. Sleep. God forbid, leave the house.
Leave the house. Oh.My.God. I couldn’t leave the house! She cried hysterically! Howled! Screamed as if tortured! Oh how it broke my heart! And chewed things, ohmygod again! I had to spray down my whole house so she wouldn’t chew everything! Furniture, rugs, toys, it didn’t matter, she destroyed it all! And potty training?! Eight months. Eight long freakin’ months to potty train her.
One day I cried. I thought, I just want to take her back. Why is it so hard? She’s just a dog!
Five+ expensive pairs of shoes–destroyed.
Several pieces of furniture–gnawed down.
She wasn’t a puggle by the way. Did I mention she grew to be a pit-lab-boxer mix? Oh yeah, that happened.
Countless FULL trash bags–strewn everywhere.
Chewed my exercise equipment, made a pile of it, put her non-chewed up bone on top as if to say “F-You for leaving”–Yep. Smartass dog.
Locked me out of my townhouse in the middle of the night with 20+ inches of snow on the ground–yeah, she did that too. She’s a freakin’ genius, that dog.
And then one day, something magical happened. I don’t know what it is now, and I still couldn’t tell you if I tried, but one day, a year, maybe two into this new relationship of ours, something happened. I loved her. LOVED her. Like family. Like a kid. Like my own flesh.
I look at her now and I see so much loyalty in her eyes. I see her wait for me every night, at the bottom of the stairs; she won’t go to bed til I’m ready. She sleeps by my side…and has always, for the past four and half years. I’ve moved to new places and she’s moved with me. She guards my door, barks at strangers, won’t let me near the door when it rings for fear of an intruder, and she has even fought for my safety. She kisses me when I tell her I love her, and when I’m feeling down, she places her chin on my shoulder and just sighs deeply. She wags her tail when I walk into the room and she puts her paw into my hand as we sit on the couch together. She knows I’m her mommy. And I know she’s my baby. When my own dad died, and I cried, and cried, and cried; Laila sat beside me, with her head on my shoulder and whimpered too. She felt my pain. She’s my baby. She’d give her life for me, and I’d give mine for her. Some people may call me crazy, but when I look at that beautiful face, her eyes speak with more love than I think I’ve ever known.
Thank God she picked me out that cold day in January. I can’t imagine my life without Laila.
You don’t have to tell me twice, but in case you want to know when God made the dog, it happened on the 9th day…after the farmer. Watch the sweet yet funny video below, “So God Made a Dog.”
Tell me, what’s your favorite doggie moment? Do you have pics? Send them in and I’ll share them on my page!