Rest in peace, Lyla girl

In 2009, our youngest daughter, Andrea, adopted a frightened little stray from The Denver Dumb Friends League. The little girl — about two years old, they guessed — had roamed the city streets on her own most of her life, it seemed.

Andie took in the black lab/shepherd mix, fittingly named her Lyla — which means "black as night" in Persian — and gave her a happy home and lots of love.

black lab/shepherd mix

Then Andrea gave her to us, months later, when it was clear Lyla needed a yard to run in and Andie's apartment didn't provide that.

Lyla had issues, to say the least. Psychological ones, likely from being banged about on the streets of Denver (literally, based on her permanently injured right eye) and fending for herself for far too long. She was paranoid, possessive, and could be just plain mean at times if startled or she didn't get her way.

Still, we loved the goofy girl. Loved away some of her scariest quirks and learned to look past the rest — like her inability to fully rest, to close her eyes and fall into a deep sleep. She was always on the lookout, always on guard, always ready to run or rumble if need be.

black lab/shepherd

Fast forward nearly six years — through this and this and this and more — to last December. Lyla started leaning heavily to the right as she walked, yelped in pain for seemingly no physical reason, coughed as if she were choking fairly regularly. We were worried, the vet was flummoxed as nothing made sense. Aspirin was the prescription along with a request to videotape the incidents, if they continued, to show the vet next time.

The worrisome odd behavior stopped for a while. Then came back, full force. Andie came to visit one weekend and we spent two full days videotaping this and that. I took Lyla to the vet again in January, shared the videos, and was told the poor girl, unquestionably, had a brain tumor.

black lab/shepherd mix

Steroids were the prescription this time, along with a warning that we would soon have to decide when to let go as the steroids would only help her "maintain," not save her. "You'll know when it's time," the vet told me.

She maintained fairly well, despite her face morphing and losing her sight in one eye. Until this past weekend. By Tuesday morning, she stumbled about, walked in circles, fell, couldn't eat or drink. Yet still wagged her tail when I called her a pretty girl, when I rubbed her tummy.

It was clearly time.

Bawling, I texted Andie and Jim and told them it's time. Now. Bawling, I called the vet and told her it's time. Now.

Tuesday afternoon, Jim, Andie and I — along with the most compassionate vet I've ever known — bid farewell to our little girl. She wagged her tail as we all loved on her, as she was injected. In mere seconds, she stopped breathing, stopped wagging her tail. Her eyes, like always, stayed open. Yet we knew Lyla was finally fully and deeply asleep.

Rest in peace, Lyla girl. You — and your quirks — will be missed.

black lab/shepherd mix