Thanks for 13 silly, stinky, happy years, Ayla

323677733_39e4eb5737_zAyla, my family dog, died at 2:30pm on July 20th, at 13-years-old. She spent the last four years of her life living with our longtime housekeeper, Elsa — aka. Ayla’s favorite person on Earth. Elsa was by her side for her last breaths, just as I hoped she’d be, just as Ayla deserved.

The day Ayla died (after crumbling into a sobbing mess, screaming “no!” while Aaron held me) I rushed over to Elsa’s home. I spent hours sitting with Elsa and her nieces and nephews — alternating between tears and laughter — as the WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD came by to say their goodbyes to Ayla…

Including the old man that lives next door who told me the story of how Ayla would barge into his house everyday, walk straight to the “ice box” and sit there until he gave her a hotdog. He told me that Ayla would never eat it at his home, she’d walk away with it, sticking out of her mouth, and then eat on her front porch. Then there was the young super tough-looking dude who I’d probably be scared meeting alone at night, who told me that he’d really miss seeing Ayla every morning, as she and Elsa walked by him, on his way to work. And then there was Gordito, Ayla’s neighborhood dog friend, who paid his last respects with a white furry paw around Ayla’s still body.

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This ended up being the last photo I took of Ayla about a month ago. This was her demanding attention from me as I worked on the couch. I will miss that huge smile of hers and her bossy Boston attitude.

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Yesterday Elsa, her neice, and her four great neices and nephews came over to my apartment where we dug a grave and buried our special girl. We buried her because Elsa didn’t want Ayla cremated, explaining that Ayla was always so miserably hot, that even in death she couldn’t bare to put her through that kind of heat.

So Ayla is buried in a shady spot in my courtyard, where it’s always nice and cool.

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I feel like every molecule in my body is filled with greif, weighing down my entire body so that every task, every thought, happens slowly and painfully and pointlessly. Except burying Ayla. That was one of the most pointed things I’ve ever done. There was something so immensely cathartic about it. After her death I felt so helpless. i had no idea what I could do, what I should do. And no way to make this better. But digging and digging and digging gave me a goal, gave us all a project that we could work on. And it didn’t matter that Elsa and I can’t really communicate with words. Because when we picked her up together and laid her in the ground, and Elsa handed me Ayla’s little Santa outfit to use as her pillow, we didn’t need words. Just tears and shared love and greif.

The day we bought Ayla.

I remember when I bought Ayla from the pet store I worked at for a summer. I fell in love instantly and one of my first thoughts upon bringing her home was “Why did I do this? One day she will die and I will be devastated.”

I was right. I am devastated. But I realize that I brought her home so I could have those thirteen years with her. Thirteen years of laughing at her silly antics, listening to her sleepy snores, seeing the incredible bond that formed between her and Elsa, and thirteen years of suggles, licks, and love. And I know that even though I am, in fact, quite devastated and I never want to feel like this again… it was all worth it.

ayla and me

Ayla’s passing has left us all with a short, fat, black and white hole in our hearts. She will be missed as much as she was loved.

Ayla and Megan: then and now

RIP Ayla, aka. “Ayla Baby,” “Ayla Wayla,” “The Way,” “Pookie,” “Pookie Pie”
April 17, 2000 – July 21, 2013

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10 comments

  1. laura.tharpe@gmail.com · July 23, 2013

    Beautiful Megan.
    Dad and I are both crying….I haven’t stopped crying since Sunday. I wish I could have been there helping with her final resting spot.
    I remember being at dinner with friends a couple of years after we got her…they had just lost a pet and I said I knew that I will be devastated when our Ayla dies, and I am;(

    • meganfinley · July 23, 2013

      Thanks for commenting, Mom. And thanks for letting us keep her all those many years ago. :)

      • Laura · July 23, 2013

        She got to me when she climbed up on the sofa and snuggled behind my knees….every one else was in the room, but she chose me for some reason…
        I remember when we tried to keep her in that corral we made in the kitchen…she figured out how to jump up on top of her kennel and then jump out of of her little play yard. One time, Morgan and I came home from being gone an hour or so, and Morgan came out to the garage laughing, saying wait until you see what Ayla did! I thought poop….but Morgan said no, just come see….tiny puppy Ayla had gone upstairs (in a 6,500 sq ft home!) and got an item from each of our rooms….my shoe, marshall’s sock, morgan’s stuff animal, your tank top, etc.!!! It just cracked us up, and we then realized we can’t leave her alone anymore. Then Elsa took over…taking her into her room at night, bringing her treats when she came back every Tuesday, buying her that cute wardrobe…like those booties Ayla did not take a liking to, or the “coats” for every season…..and so began a perfect love story:)

  2. KathyRo · July 23, 2013

    Very very sorry for your loss Megan. :(

  3. dootsiebug · July 23, 2013

    She seems like she was an amazing dog and companion! Losing a dog after so many years (especially one with such personality) is so hard.
    I’m sorry for your loss.

  4. Wendy · July 23, 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. I recently had to put one of my dogs to sleep. And although its gotten easier to bear, I fear I will never get over the loss. I’ve been fighting back tears reading your post.
    These little dogs become such a huge part of our lives, when they leave us it leaves a huge hole behind.
    And dont be afraid to let yourself cry, I’ve found it very healing just to get it out.

    • meganfinley · July 23, 2013

      Thanks, Wendy. I’m sorry about your pup too. And trust me, I’m definitely letting myself cry it out. Though I am getting reeeeeally tired of breaking down in public.

  5. Melanie · July 23, 2013

    There goes all my feels. I kind of want to cry buckets right now. My pets are getting up there in age and I am moving to a different city. I can’t decide whether I want to bring them with me when I can afford it or adopt a cat that doesn’t already have a home with people providing for them. I’m sorry for your loss <3 Boston's are lovely, such goofs! It's nice to see how much she was cared for.

    • meganfinley · July 23, 2013

      You know, Ayla went to live with Elsa when my parents moved from California to Texas for several reasons, two of which was that she seemed to old to make a big move like that and the weather in Texas would be too hot for her. While it was hard to not have her around 24/7, seeing how happy she was to be with Elsa full time made my parents feel good about their choice. And we probably got a few more years out of her by not stressing her out so much.

      What I’m saying is, leaving an aging pet behind (if they have a good living situation!) is sometimes the best choice, even if it does hurt your heart. Good luck with that Melanie. And thanks for talking about your feels with me. This shit is hard.

  6. Pingback: Buying a car, burying a dog, and vacation-induced PTSD | funk in deep freeze

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