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Saying Goodbye to Kayla


Goodbye Sweet Girl

On September 19th 2014, I said goodbye to my sweet girl Kayla. To the average person she was just a dog. To most of the people I worked with over an eight year period of time she was a good dog, but to me she was something a little bit more. Kayla was born on May 15th 2002. My mom was a breeder at the time, and I was called the day she was born. I held her before her eyes opened, played with her a few days after she started walking, and finally at 9 weeks old, I brought her home with me. That first day, we spent with my future in-laws. They (like everyone) fell in love with her sweetness. That night I brought home a very sleepy puppy. Her new doggy friend was a large black lab named Floyd, we had a large fenced in backyard, and our life started together. 

I took her everywhere with me I could; even to work on occasion. She was instantly loved and welcomed by everyone. That day, the day I brought her home, she became more than just another dog.

 A couple of months after I brought her home, I moved into a small one bedroom apartment. The apartment lacked a yard, but it made up for it with the privacy we now had. I used most of my spare time working on training or having as much fun with her as possible. Just before she turned one year old we found ourselves making a trip to Grass Lake, MI where we both instantly fell in love with my future husband's family property. The house had been vacant for several months and the family was trying to figure out what to do about maintaining things. It was a win/win for all. Suddenly Kayla and I had all the space in the world to play ball... one of her FAVORITE things to do.

I was blessed with 12 years of great memories with her, and I'll get to some of those in just a little bit. In 2004 I found myself not so happy with my job. I was working as a bank teller, and didn't really know where else to go. My future father-in-law saw how much I loved spending my time with her, and how good I was at training. He recommended Animal Behavior College to me, and within a year I was working as a dog trainer. Almost immediately Kayla started going with me to my training sessions. Once again she was everywhere with me. Together we were able to help hundreds of dogs. Kayla made the biggest difference with dogs that had issues with dog aggression.

I would spend weeks with the family getting them set up with strong foundation on what to do when they encountered dogs, and then I would bring in Kayla for them to put all their practice to work. She knew just what to do... she would avoid eye contact, she would turn her body at an angle to avoid confrontations, and never react to them no matter how much they tried to engage her. She helped hundreds of owners build the confidence they needed to handle their dog around other dogs, and in doing so, she helped them find a way to keep their dog.

I took a year off for maternity leave, and in July of 2010, I returned to dog training as a business owner. As an eight year old dog, Kayla had slowed down a little bit but was still great at her job. She was eager to get back into it, and was happiest when she saw the car seat come out of the back and she got to hear the command "up". She went into forced retirement in 2012. Kayla is the inspiration for my logo... look closely, she's the dog in the logo. The name of my business...Puppies Are Wonderful Sidekicks... Kayla has always been my sidekick. More than anything, I want the families I work with to feel that way about their dogs. Kayla wasn't just a pet.  

I have two children, and the relationship I have with them is very different than I ever had with Kayla. As a mother, I am preparing my children to one day leave the nest; to go out on their own. All my time spent with Kayla was about preparing her for a life WITH me. I love her, but not in the same way as my children. She wasn't my furbaby.

Kayla was my friend. She was gentle. Kayla was incredibly loving. She was so very very sweet. She was loyal. Kayla was protective, but not over-protective. She was trusting. She was strong. She was brave. Kayla. Was. Magnificent.

Kayla is missed so much!

A few of my favorite memories with her....

She simply LOVED the ball. She possibly loved it more than me... but I'm going to hold onto that it was a close second. She would chase after the ball until she dropped from pure exhaustion. My arm would tire long before she would tire, and that is why the chuck-it was a must at our house. First I used tennis balls for her, but quickly she would break the ball in half before the game of fetch was even over. While the ruff dawg ball has been indestructible, Lucy lost several of them. Talking about losing things, she once lost a tooth trying to get a ball, and it didn't stop her... she still got the ball. If Kayla couldn't find the ball right away, she wouldn't give up. She would very systematically search back and forth in the area she thought it should be until she found it. It was pretty easy to see the grid in her head of where she had looked and where was left. All the help she would need is a simple point of the arm in the right direction and she would quickly find the object of her desire. I had a hand signal for her that meant find the ball, and she would immediately drop her nose to the ground and find the closest ball. Her last game of ball was hours before she passed, and she was smiling throughout.

Car rides were a huge favorite of hers too. She didn't care where she went, as long as she just got to go. She knew the difference of my regular clothes and my training clothes. As soon as she would see me put on my training shirt, she would get excited and hover close to the door waiting for the opportunity to tag along. Kayla was so quiet in the car I often forgot she was even in there. I could easily leave the windows all the way down, and never fear of her trying to go anywhere. The only danger was if someone other than me attempted to get in the car. You never doubted her intentions if your tried to enter without permission.

French fries and popcorn were a serious guilty pleasure. Forget about the most expensive dog treat, she would have done anything for either. As much as she loved food, she would very rarely steal it. You could leave your plate on the floor walk out of the room and expect it to still be there when you returned. While on vacation, (our honeymoon I think) she did help herself to a nibble of a cake that was cooling on a coffee table. She didn't eat the whole thing... just a little nibble around the edges.

She really loved the water. Sprinklers were the best. She would run in them just like a child, biting at the water as if she could somehow catch it. Of course playing ball in the lake was fun as long as she could touch. Kayla was probably the most awkward swimmer I've ever seen. But fetch on the beach... there was no stopping her.

While I have many, many more...I'll leave you with those, and a few pictures.


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