Everyone who knows me – whether in real life or as a social media follower – knows about Layla. Neighbors who don’t necessarily know me recognize my dog when I take her for walks downtown. Layla is extremely popular – fellow pedestrians want to pet her, hug her, talk to her, and give her treats. Twitter and Instagram followers like my many photos of her and comment about how cute she is and how lucky I must be to have such a loyal friend.
They have no idea just how lucky I am.
Without Dingo, there was something missing. I started bugging my parents to let me get a dog. About a year after Dingo had passed, and after a few months living on the farm with just Frank the farm cat for company, they gave in when I told them about Layla.
A friend got in touch and told me about a family that was looking for a good home for their golden retriever, which was the breed I was looking for. When they brought her to the farm to meet me for the first time, of course it turned out she was a collie/sheltie mix instead of a golden retriever – but we instantly clicked. After those first few hours wandering the farm together, she was my dog, but more importantly, I was her person.
Now, I live in an apartment in Franklin. She doesn’t have as much space to run, but I try to make up for it by taking three or more mile walks with her, letting her say hi to other people and dogs. We are both happy that I have found some jobs that allow me more time at home with her.
I had originally wanted a dog simply as a companion. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own that I realized Layla is much more than that. I am her person, and in her mind, her job is to protect me. She barks at people passing our patio or intruders who knock on our door, and she places herself between me and anyone who she knows doesn’t belong in our apartment – the maintenance man, delivery people, etc – or anyone we pass on the street who seems threatening. Sometimes, that can be annoying, when she won’t stop barking or if she trips me up, but she’s gotten a bit more used to our apartment and will listen better when I tell her it’s okay.
The thing that I never realized until recently was how much she protects me emotionally, as well. Last night, I woke up to the sound of sirens passing our apartment. I rolled over and saw Layla’s silhouette, sitting upright and alert next to me on the bed. She kept her ears up and her face turned towards the window, watching until minutes after the sirens had faded into the distance. Then she laid down and rested her head on my stomach, cuddling me, yet her ears were still up and alert, listening for anything that might disturb me. A few weeks ago, I was walking Layla around the streets of downtown Franklin after dark. I heard sirens approaching, and Layla put herself in front of me on the sidewalk and sat down. I crouched down and gave her a hug as the ambulance roared past. It wasn’t until a few streets over when she did a similar thing, leaning into me as a police car drove by with their sirens blaring, that I realized – she wasn’t scared, she was making sure that I was okay.
Ever since I can remember, hearing sirens has made me panic. My heart races, my breathing grows rapid, and I have to fight against tears. I have never figured out why. Whether I hear them racing towards an emergency or signaling the start of a parade, sirens have always terrified me. When they pass us on the street, she refuses to keep walking and leans against me, providing comfort that I’d never had before when hearing sirens.
After waking up and being comforted simply by the sight of my dog watching over me, I knew today’s Media Monday post had to be about her. Pets have always been – and will always be – a popular subject to share about on social media. Even that doesn’t show just how important they are. I constantly post pictures of Layla on Instagram, tweet about her silly habits, and update my Facebook friends on our life together. Layla is a furry child, best friend, and protector all rolled into one. I don’t think my posts show just how lost I would be without her.