Layla, A Love Story

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dani Almond Photography

For me, it all began with Penny. Penny was a copper colored (surprise, surprise!), curly eared Cocker Spaniel who my family found cowering in a field behind my grandma's house. She'd obviously been mistreated, but she sensed she could trust my gentle-handed family members and we were eventually able to lure her with treats and love. The rest is history. Penny was a year younger than me, and we grew up together. She was 16 and I was 17 when she passed away and it was years until we were able to even consider welcoming a new furry friend into the mix.

I actually started poking around looking at dogs when I was a sophomore in college. There were a few that I thought might be "the ones," and even one white, fluffy girl who we visited a couple of times. One time, we went back to see her and she wasn't there -- she had been claimed by a different family. At the time I was pretty devastated. I should have known that things usually have a way of working themselves out.

The first time I laid eyes on Layla (whose original name was Jade, by the way, and then she was nicknamed "Goldie" at the shelter) was in her profile picture on the local humane league's website. She was laying on her back, her big Golden Retriever tongue hanging out to the side, a smile on her face. Her description read, "Goldie is a silly girl." I remember thinking that we'd be perfect for each other. We made arrangements to see her the next day.

The following day we arrived to the shelter and started walking down the row of dogs in their cages, looking for Layla. Most of the pups were jumping and barking by their gates, and then we came to her cell. She was curled up by the back with bits of vomit stuck in her fur. She had just been spayed, we would find out, and apparently had experienced a bad reaction to the anesthesia. She looked up at us out of the tops of her big, brown eyes. We asked to see her.

In the visiting room, Layla seemed to come to life. She sniffed every corner and laid right down in our laps as if she'd always known us. We really did instantly fall in love with her. A staff member came to get her and said there was a line to see her outside. We told them that minute that she was ours... we wanted to bring her home.

In the almost eleven years since we've adopted our Layla girl, we have been through so much together. I was in college when we rescued her, and I'm now married with two kids. She's was alongside us as we moved states, from apartment to townhouse to our current house, on vacations (her furthest road trip was to Charleston, SC!), and so much more. She was the first one to find out I was pregnant with Carrie ("Do you see this, Layla? Does this look like a positive to you?"), the one whose thick, golden fur has caught so many of my tears, beside me through the hardest losses and the happiest gains.

Layla howled when my newborn babies cried (at the time I thought I might go a little batty, but looking back it was actually pretty adorable). She curls up with me for my girly tv at night. She loves nothing more than a walk around the block, an afternoon nap, a Greenie treat at bedtime. Honestly, in the thick of parenting tiny children, this twelve year old girl is so often my quiet, steady sanity. I whisper "you're my best friend" to her every day, and if that makes me a crazy person, then so be it.

I share updates about my girls here sometimes, but rarely about my first girl, my Layla. I thought she deserved the spotlight today, and I also figured many of you might be able to relate to the kind of companionship I'm trying so desperately to put into words. I also thought it worthy to share our little love story to sing the praises of rescuing animals. Before Layla, "adopt, don't shop" didn't mean much to me. But there is something so powerful about knowing you've saved a life and given a homeless pet a loving home. I promise you that in return they will give you so much more.

KM Photography

Dani Almond Photography

Studio 161 Photography


  1. Layla is adorable. I love the picture of the kids and the dog all looking out the window. So cute!

    1. Thank you so much, Angela! She is such a special part of our family. :) Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  2. Oh Layla - she is just beautiful - wait until I show my husband! We desperately wanted a red - gold retriever before we got our springer but they are so hard to come by in England now - they have all been bred to be white. She is such a stunning, kind looking dog! It gave me the shivers when I read about your red cocker as my husband and I's first dog was a red cocker (a rescue from Romania) who was in a terrible state when we got him but was such a wonderful dog - I really relate to all those feelings you are portraying so well in this post! But the photos say it all! Joanne x

    1. Aw, thanks so much Joanne! She really is less like our dog and more like our family member... who just happens to be pretty furry. ;) That's such a coincidence that you had a rescue cocker spaniel, as well. I'm so glad you can relate -- animals are so very special. Thanks for stopping by today!


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