Whoever said ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ has obviously never owned a dog.
10 years ago, we were looking for a rescue dog. We were on our way home from Cornwall and got a call from the rescue centre saying we could come and take a look at one of their strays in Trentham at the weekend. Her name was Trixie. She had been used for breeding since her first season, tied up and used as a puppy making machine, then dumped in Manchester.
We went to Trentham and spent some time walking around with Trixie to see if she liked us. We fell in love instantly, and took her home that very day. No chance were we keeping the name Trixie though. Lyla suited her a lot better, and she seemed to think so too.
Since then, Lyla has been my best friend. She’s followed me everywhere I go. In the mornings she’d stay in bed until I got up, you’d have to shift her bum out of the way of the fridge to get the milk out and she’d have her nosey head straight in there. She’d sit patiently and watch you eat your toast, knowing full well that you’ll give her the crusts when you’re done. At night, she’d sit by the living room door waiting to come to bed with me, and wouldn’t get on the bed unless you lifted the duvet up.
Her most favourite things ever were her Kong, which she got through three of in 10 years, her blanket that she carried everywhere, and cuddles, cuddles, cuddles.
For a couple of month now, Lyla hasn’t been her usual self. For a 12-year-old dog, she’d always behaved as a puppy. Recently, she lost her appetite, but we assumed it was just because it was warm weather. She then started going off her legs a little, but we just thought she was getting old. This past week Lyla deteriorated quite a lot, and numerous visits to the vets concluded that our baby had cancer of the spleen, liver and throughout her body. The tumor had used up her red blood cells and she was severely anaemic and the kindest thing to do would be to let her go to sleep. The vets gave us 24 hours with her saying, let her eat what she wants and have all her favourite things – and that we did.
She’s had pork sticks, biscuits, crisps, cups of tea… she’s had cuddles and kisses and watched tv. We’ve brought all her favourite things outside so she can sit in the sun, where she’s shared many a memory and had lots of fun.
It’s been the hardest 24 hours of my life, but we’ve tried to make it her best.
God I’m going to miss her. She was such a character. Whenever she heard Jake’s motorbike she’d go crazy knowing her best bud was coming for a cuddle. Whenever you asked where momma was she’d go and look out the window. Whenever I wasn’t home she would sulk until I returned. Whenever she came back in from a wee she would sit in front of her treat cupboard knowing you’ll give in. When you prepped her dinner she would do every trick she knew thinking she’d get it quicker. She was just such a good dog. I mean, who’s going to lick the inside of my crisp packet when I’m done? Or the inside of my yoghurt pot? Or the last bit of my brew?
I couldn’t have asked for a more loyal, goofball of a dog to be my companion for 10 years of my life. Dogs just don’t live long enough. Thankfully, the vet made an exception to come to our house to put Lyla to sleep, so that she could have her last moments in her favourite spot in the garden in the sun, as opposed to the cold, emotionless vet room. We wanted to make sure she was surrounded by love, not fear. It’s even harder having a dog put down when in their mind, they’re still a pup, it’s just their body that can’t handle growing old.
We have decided that a burial would be too difficult for us, and so are having her individually cremated and having her ashes back. I desperately wanted one more holiday to Cornwall with her, just one last run on the beach. But we can’t have what we want all the time. We’re also having a little memory bear made from her coat and blanket.
Of course I’m heartbroken. But all I’m trying to think of right now is that I gave Lyla a new, happy life, filled with treats, cuddles and a lot of love; and I know she’s grateful for that. I’m just really going to miss the sound of her running down the stairs when I put my key in the door and walking into the house to a face so happy to see me.