About Layla Belle
I adopted Layla from what turned out to be a puppy mill in 2009 when she was just 6 weeks old. Largely because of irresponsible breeding, she has battled serious medical conditions her entire life. Her severe allergies and gastrointestinal tract issues began almost immediately. She was a sick puppy, visiting
the veterinarian at least once a week and spending several nights there on an IV when she would get very ill. Dog food and treats made her sick. She hated to be petted because of her skin condition. Her fur was falling out. This was not what I envisioned when I dreamed about my first puppy. My heart ached for her, and I felt helpless, even though I was doing everything I knew to do in an effort to help her feel better.
She underwent numerous tests and procedures and, by 6 months old, had stumped her veterinarians, who were forced to perform exploratory surgery to try to diagnose her worsening illnesses. But their findings were inconclusive. Before she was 1 year old, one specialist gently told me that we were running out of options and that I soon would need to consider putting her down. But I was determined to keep fighting as long as she had a reasonable quality of life. And, little by little, we figured things out. We finally found the right combination of diet, medication, supplements, shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and wipes. By the time she was a year and a half old, she started getting better. Slowly, she won that battle.
Through all of her ailments, Layla has always shown an amazing enthusiasm for life. In many ways, she is a typical Lab. She is curious, adventurous, and at times mischievous. She is quite social and loves to play with other dogs – especially Labs. She is smart, learning commands easily and finishing at the top of her class in puppy school. She is a great traveler and loves to take vacations, especially to the beach. She loves chewing her toys, going for walks, and swimming. And she will chase a ball until she drops. In other ways, she couldn’t be less Lab-like. She has always been independent and doesn’t mind being alone, sometimes even preferring it. It takes time to earn her trust, love, and affection. And she is not overly concerned with pleasing any human, preferring that we aim to please her instead. But that’s my pal Layla, and I wouldn’t have her any other way.
Her next big fight came in 2011, when she was 2 years old and had her first brush with cancer. This time, the tumor behind her left ear appeared to be isolated and was surgically removed. Two years later, she wasn’t so lucky. In November 2013, at age 4, Layla was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma, a rare and very aggressive cancer, and she is once again fighting for her life. The cancer has attacked her liver, spleen, and lymph nodes and recently moved into her bone marrow. She had her spleen and most of a liver lobe surgically removed in December, started chemotherapy, and has had frequent blood transfusions. So far, she is hanging on valiantly; most days, you wouldn't even know she is sick. I am proud of Layla’s ability to bounce back from all that life has thrown at her, and I have learned a lot about life and love from my relationship with her. I don't know how much longer I will have my furry friend, but I appreciate each day with her.
Update: Layla died on May 6, 2014. She was surrounded by people who love her and went peacefully. I am
heart-broken but comforted to know that she will never suffer again. She lived a full life in a short time and forever changed my life and the lives of all who loved her.
Learn more about Layla's daily life with Daily Layla videos.