The Life of Kayla - The story of a spoiled dog

We know this is a Wildflower and Gardening Website but our lab has been an important part of our lives and our garden. And we just do not have anywhere else to write this and the time has come to write down our story of this wonderful dog, Kayla.

She is nearing 15 years old and we had a real scare in the Summer so we are going to put this into words so others with Dogs and Gardens can appreciate it. We started writing in June 2010 but the story does not really start there but we are going to begin it there.

I wrote this as it is with a heavy heart and many, many tears that our beloved Kayla's time with us has now come to an end. Though as you will see below she has fooled us before, this is the end this time.

Though we all know we will all see her again.


This may be our last day with her so I want to put these words down so I can see them later and share them with others.

She has been prone to seizures occasionally in the past and at 14 years and 6 months she is old by most yellow lab standards. She may have had a minor seizure last night and it would mean she takes much longer to recover but she has a different look in her eyes today, if a dog can feel or look scared, that is what we see in her eyes.

We both slept with her on the floor all night and never left her side. I am currently unemployed at the moment which may have been a blessing over the months as she may not have lasted this long being left alone in the house day after day.

So my wife had to go to work and leave her beloved Kayla that she raised from a pup in my hands. Something I do gladly but I cannot imagine the heartache my wife is feeling right now. As she left the house we have a birdbath with a statue of St Francis of Assisi on it in the front yard. It was my father's and was on a birdbath he had in the backyard when I was a kid. When he passed away, I moved it with me. As she left for work, she asked St. Francis of Assisi to keep watch over Kayla and if Kayla needs to go, to let her go gently and peacefully. My wife is a strong woman, though a bit clumsy and the cutest thing on earth. She brings home a paycheck each week without complaint while I look for work which seems to be so elusive these days. Her paycheck is also putting our kids through college, these are step kids to her but she has always treated them as her own. Her decision not to have kids was that she already had two she loved. She is the opposite of the Grinch, her heart is two times to large. So at works she sits, hoping that phone does not ring.

I awoke both Garrett and Chelsea. Garrett has to work this morning as well and Chelsea was to be off on a trip with her boyfriend this morning. When they heard, they rushed to the bedroom to be at Kayla's side. Their Mom and I have been divorced for years and not a particularly nice relationship remained. They both moved back in with us from the West Coast, Chelsea in her sophomore year of High School and Garrett a few years ago. So prior to moving in with us, they visited Christmas, Easter, and most of the summer. So they have grown up with Kayla for the last 12 years as well.

There are of course much worse things but watching your kids cry over a beloved pet is not something that you want to experience often. It is part of life and pets are family members and you know the day is coming but well to put it bluntly, it sucks. Too many tears and that just gets you going again as well.

So off everyone goes today and I am here alone with Kayla. It is my duty to comfort her and keep everyone informed of her condition. She is currently asleep in a ocean of soft comforters and pillows. She is dreaming and appears to be running in her sleep. Something she has not done in life in a while. I can only imagine she is chasing chipmunks made of cheese in the yard.

As the day progressed her condition did not improve, and after another day we have concluded that it is time to take our beloved Kayla to the doctor to say goodbye. My wife has come to grips with this and comes home from work, actually sent home as she is told to go home and take care of Kayla. Everyone knows this dog.

Now I have been with Kayla all day and I have noticed something different in her.........she seems a bit better, she is moving and you can see it in her eyes. But when Kellie gets home, she insists we do this as Kayla should not suffer any longer. We put the back seats down in our Saturn Vue and create a bed for Kayla. I pick Kayla up and lay her gently in the back of the car and tell Kellie to ride with her. In the rear view mirror I watch Kellie's eyes tear up as we pull out of the driveway. But I also notice that Kayla has her head up and is looking out the window. And not just for a second, she is looking out the window the entire way down the street. Half way there, I can also see the look on Kellie's face. Kellie is always someone, except for a few instances involving this crazy dog (you will see later on), that always knows what to do and when she makes her mind up, it is a guided missile with no self destruct button. We are going to the doctor.

But I can see it happening in the rear view mirror, Kayla is moving around and looking out the window and Kellie cannot believe it.

We get to the doctors and instead of lifting a limp sack of sand dog out of the back of the car, she is seemingly fine, though old, and is walking around when I get her out of the car. Something she has not done for days. She walks to the back of the office where they have an area for dogs and goes to the bathroom. And then walks into the Animal Hospital with us. Kellie is silent.

When we get into the room, she is walking and keenly aware. She is it seems, looking for a treat. Now Kellie is wondering what is going on. I am telling her we need to reconsider and do it quickly. The doctor comes in and does tests, then leaves saying she will be right back. We wait. As we wait, we just look at the dog, look at each other. Then look at this silly dog some more.

Then the doctor comes in, apparently there is nothing wrong with Kayla other than a slight urinary infection. She has had a stroke that she apparently came out of during our ride to the hospital. We look at each other and then Kayla. We just cannot believe it.

My wife asks, is she in any pain? Or if she suffering. No is the response. Big smiles and big tears for all.

So we all walk out of the hospital when we thought there would only be two of us leaving. We have some antibiotics and a complete look of shock. And as I go to lift this handful of a dog into the car, Kellie stops in the parking lot and says to Kayla " Oh my god, I almost killed you!" I could not help but laugh. We loaded all of us into the car and went home, called the kids.

So this is where we stand now, we have a very old yellow lab who does have trouble walking. Pees on the rug when she feels like it. But still wags her tail, goes outside to sniff and seemingly has a good time when not snoring up a storm. And she eats well. It always made us laugh as she got older as the doctors always asked her how her appetite was. It is and always has been, piggish.

So we now bathe her in the tub as the hose outside is too cold for her, feed her treats, and comfort her as if she is royalty. But our days are of course numbered with her, so this is where we begin to tell you of the almost 15 years this amazing dog has had and how it led somehow to me along with her crazy owner.


I had moved out to the East Coast from California with two small children and a marriage on the decline. But this was a new start, I did not have to work weekend's and my wife wouldn't need a job and I would be able to spend more time with the kids. Well none of that ended up happening.

In the meantime this strange girl in our department was going to buy a dog. And for some reason she was going to drive all the way to somewhere near Boston for it. And in the middle of one of the worst snow storms the East Coast had seen in some time. It is my understanding that she tried to go once before to see this litter or another and had to turn around in another storm. When I found out her husband had a 4 Wheel Drive truck and did not offer to let her use it to go see the puppies, I for some unknown reason offered to let her use my Nissan Pathfinder. You she she had some type of Oldsmobile with a hint of rust. Certainly not a car you need to traveling into a blizzard in. Little did I know what the future had in store for me. Now I know what you are thinking, nothing was going on with us. Hardly knew the girl but she was intent on committing suicide to go see these puppies and it was just stupid to do it in her car. But she declined and off she went with her mother in tow.

So most of the next few stories are third hand, my observations of Kellie, listening to her tell stories of her new dog Kayla and hearing her phone conversations. She was one of those girls who calls her mom and dad every day and goes over to their house every day. They lived only blocks away from each other.

So from what I have heard over the years of hearing this story is that they reach their destination and sure enough there is a cute litter of lab puppies waiting for them. They spend time holding and hugging and letting the puppies kiss them, lick their chins and nip their fingers before picking a puppy of their choice. Well Kellie is to make the choice, Mom is there for support and she has a thing for puppies like Kellie. How I had no idea how that word "mom" would effect me in the future (lol). So they make a choice a nice slightly plump puppy, Kellie has the puppy in her arms and then her mom says those fateful words. "Kellie look at that one". One could only imagine how life would have been different over the years had those words not been uttered. Apparently one of the puppies had not been out with the others, we think this one was probably still eating. But at the last moment decides to make an appearance and since it is now at the back of the pack of puppies it decides to put on a sad face, stand on its hind legs and put a paw up and whine a bit. SOLD!! A sucker is born every day. And for this decision, they were greeted with the worst farts and puppy poop all the way home to New Jersey. And that is how it all started.

So that Monday when Kellie comes to work she has pictures of the little "darling" which she shows to everyone. Again I do not know her well but we work together so we look at the puppy pictures. I can see right off the bat that this dog is cute but it had the eyes of a mischievous devil. Something I would find out years later that Kayla shared with her owner! But what are you going to say " give it away it will shred all you own!" No you simply say "wow, she is cute!, good luck!"

So now everyday Kellie goes home at lunch to let the dog out. She does this with a smile using her lunch hour for months until she is satisfied she is potty trained, the dog that is. And each day, she also stops by her parents house to see her mom. What a nice strange girl. As Kayla gets older you start hearing Kellie talk on the phone about things Kayla has done. And there are lots of things she has done. Soon we are making fun of this dog. And being one to take advantage of such things, I jump right on in.

Kayla is somehow injured or needs a shot for something. This part of the story my wife will have to remind me of later but I do know what I did. You see at the time we both worked for this big Toy Retailer, you know the one, there is only one. So I grabbed a small Yellow Lab Plush Toy and set it in her cubicle while she was at the vet dropping off Kayla for the first time. I wrapped its paw in toilet paper to create a gauze bandage look and used red felt pen to add a little fake blood. Funny right? Cute? Well she came back and saw it and cried. Everyone who was laughing hysterically at this prank prior to this all turned to me and said "you made Kellie cry" and they then all returned to work. Well the reason for the hospital visit was not life threatening but Kayla did have to stay overnight. It was the first night Kayla would be away from home. So once she saw the toy with the little bandage, Niagara Falls. So I almost felt bad about this prank and apologized, hey it was funny!!!!

As Kayla gets older, we get to hear lots of things about this dog. It soon becomes apparent that she may be in disguise and Kellie has actually purchased the dog that guards the gates of hell. Of course I tell her this. "Real funny" I am told. But there is a smile.

Now Kellie and her husband of a year or two have purchased their first house. And now I am beginning to know Kellie and understand her quirkiness after working with her for a while each day. But one thing she is, she is proud of purchasing her house. So she and her father set out to remodel the kitchen. What is also becoming strangely apparent is that her husband is missing from just about all of her conversations and we are all noticing the puffy eyes each Monday morning. But I am convinced it is because she has the devil dog in her house. So how this story goes is that they get the kitchen finished and lay a tile linoleum floor. At this point Kayla is potty trained and has been running about the house each day while everyone is at work. Wreaking havoc but nothing as to what is about to occur. Kellie comes home to find a very happy puppy, happily meeting her at the door to show her how good she has been. The only issue is that stuck to her fur all over her body is what is left of the kitchen floor. Kayla was bored and chewed the tiles from the floor which have a sticky back. The pieces stuck to her body as she rolled around in the crime site. Eventually having to be cut off of her body with scissors.

Over the next year Kayla has become a legend. She is the dog of nightmares. Cute and adorable but uncontrollable. Based on Kellie's conversations she has eaten not only floors but walls in the basement, dug holes to china in the yard and eaten Yucca plants. Is it the dog's antics that are now showing as worry on Kellie's face each day, it is not. We both have the same home problems, our marriages are falling apart. Mine after 15 years, her's after 3. So we talk to each other. Kellie becomes my best friend here on the East Coast and she talks to me. We both try and keep marriages together but it is apparent that both are doomed.

Over the years Kellie would never go out with any of us after work, commonly saying she needed to get home to put a roast in the oven, fix a pot roast, cook up filet mignon or some other hunk of meat. Now I made a good living but could not eat meals like this every other day and I could never figure out how she always had all of this beef and meat on a salary less than mine. And what was most frustrating was that her husband did not end up coming home for the dinner she cooked him so she would tell us the next day that she and Kayla ate the dinner together. This dog ate better than me!

On her 30th birthday party she invites most of her friends at the office. This is the first time I am going to meet this dog of hers. I walk into the kitchen where I meet her parents as well. Her Husband is no where to be found. Kayla the devil dog quickly runs in to meet someone new. Jumps up and hits her head on your lower jaw trying to kiss you but makes you bite your lip. Yep, this is the dog from hell. Its not Kayla, its Cerberus and now we all know the Gates of Hell have been unguarded for years. Who knows what got in and out! Kayla is in the kitchen and in comes Kellie's husband, who yells at the dog, but not loudly. Kayla runs under the kitchen table with her tail between her legs and urinates. Now you don't have to tell me what has been going on between the two of them. Kayla is deathly afraid of him.

Well as the months go by, and as many of you may have already guessed, both of our marriages are over. And at some point after so many people joke about how Kellie and I get along in the office by saying things like "when did you two get married" we decided to date.

I had to look for a house but my ex wife decided to move back to the west coast. Since this meant taking the kids it was the hardest and ended up being the worst thing I ever allowed. But I thought it would be best for the kids, they would see me each summer and each Easter and Christmas and on occasion I would go back there to see them. I can tell you for certain, never be that stupid!

So I kept the house, she literally took everything in it and our bank account. There was nothing in the house except the one bedroom that had a bed, an Armoire, a couple of lamp tables and my mothers desk from when she was a kid. And dust. So here I was with an empty house, broke and was beginning to date a girl that I worked with that I thought might be a bit nuts and she had this dog that would make any sensible person run the other direction. And certainly the combination of the two was the clincher to do just that. But oh no, there was something about this girl and her maniacal dog. I was right.

And so we began to date. I would drive down to her house and come in the door to be greeted by this overly excited lab who would jump up and make you bite your lip as sure as the sky is blue. Then if you told her to stop and you had to as she would keep doing it, she would pee on the floor in fear. So bloody lips and dog urine, what fun. And in addition, Kayla had developed issues due to anxiety. She had little sores under her chin and the pads of her feet that would bleed and she had "hot" spots in her fur. The latter had to be sprayed with a prescription from the vet. And her mom was doing just about as well. So now did I run the other way, nope.

And it was just Kellie and Kayla in that house together. That dog was spoiled with great food and anything she wanted. Kellie could not be mad at her, no matter what she did. Remember, her heart is two sizes to big.

Another thing with Kayla was that she would whine for attention when anyone was at Kellie's house. If it was just me it was almost too much to take. So after about an hour of playing cards one night at the kitchen table I jokingly asked her if she wanted to sit in my lap and watch me play cards. She jumped up and sat in my lap with her paws on the table. Yes a bit like that horrible picture. But she was calm. And cute. And heavy. But it was funny and surely she could not pick this behavior up after just one time. OK I should have known better. Our card and board games now came with a large yellow lab in my lap when we played at the table.

And Kayla no longer wet the floor if I yelled at her, she was beginning to like me. And Kellie was beginning to love me. The trouble was that you know how they say owners are like their dogs, this was never so true with these two. I would joke that if I did not see the two of them together, that there was some weird shape shifter thing going on. Kayla had her own quirks from birth but she was imprinted with Kellie's as well. Both were becoming better behaved and best of all, there was no end in teasing the both of them, something I loved to do.

So all was well until the hurricane. A literal hurricane. Don't remember its name, think it was Floyd, but I stayed the night at Kellie's house and we were trapped in town, rivers flooded just about every way out. We were on high ground but so many people were not so fortunate. We tried to get to work but could not and turned around and went back to her house. There was no power in the house so I was listening to the news on my Pathfinders radio. That is when I heard Kellie screaming with a bit of panic from the backyard.

TO BE CONTINUED