Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend of 14.5 years. My dog, Kayla, was my best friend from the moment I held her wiggly, squirmy, little black and silver puppy self in September 2002. I remember distinctly going to my friend’s house in the evening and seeing her holding two puppies. I was so insanely jealous that she got two puppies. But, when I got over to her, she held up the littlest puppy and said, “Here, she’s yours!” As I went to hold my little mini schnauzer puppy, I burst into tears.

Apparently, my mother and her friends came across a woman selling mini schnauzer puppies at the Brimfield Fair and my mom became smitten. She called my father and asked for permission to get one. My dad said no since we already had a dog – a Shetland sheepdog named Favorite. The one my mom picked out was actually the one the breeder wanted to keep for herself because she liked her best. Kayla, as I named her, was named Moe since she had a little Mohawk on the back of her head and neck. But, after my mom talked to the breeder about me, the little eight year old who loved dogs more than anything and wanted one to snuggle with, the breeder agreed to part with Moe. My mom and her friends each bought a mini schnauzer from the breeder.

When Kayla came home, she was put in her place by Favorite who became a surrogate mother to her. I became Kayla’s best friend and human mother. Kayla was my constant shadow, my confidant, my baby, and my best friend. She went everywhere she could with me - I'd make a hammock with my legs and a blanket for her on car rides. We’d go to Kimball Farms, Dairy Queen, errands, and waterski tournaments together. While she was only 15lbs of grey dog, she was the Head Bitch In Charge. She told every dog that she was boss. She once told a bullmastiff that she was in charge and he obeyed. She was fearless.

In middle school, she stopped me from dying by suicide. I had blocked off the hallway to the stairs and went up with a large kitchen knife with the intention of ending my life. I sat against the outside of my door and cried. I pressed the knife into my neck and then I heard the sound of Kayla’s collar coming up the stairs at full speed and then she appeared by my side whining, crying, and wiggling. I dropped the knife and sobbed into her little body. She saved my life.

Kayla comforted me when Favorite died on April 1st, 2010. Kayla was there for me when my mom went into hospice in mid-2008. She was there for me when my mom died in 2010. Kayla was there for me when my grandma died in 2011. She was there for me when Ollie, our other dog died in 2014. She comforted me when my grandpa died on Thanksgiving 2014.

When I went off to college in 2012, it broke my heart to leave her behind. But, I only live an hour from home, so I went home every weekend to be with her. I looked forward to every moment with her – whether snuggling in bed, snuggling in my recliner, going for a car ride, or just watching and listening to her breathe.

Kayla lived for over a year with myasthenia gravis and was the most stubborn dog I have ever met. She spent two weeks in Tufts' ICU and had to learn to walk again. My dad and I had to give her medicine every 24, 12, and eight hours. We had to feed her in a chair where she had to sit up so gravity could help move the food down her digestive tract. It took between 20-60 minutes to feed each time and she was fed two to three times a day. It was never an inconvenience, she was our baby and she still had a good quality of life. She still loved car rides, loved snuggling, would stop around the house, and was a happy little girl.

On March 9th, 2017, her quality of life took a turn for the worse. She was at Tufts’ ICU for two days. They found she had a massive tumor in her stomach. She wasn’t eating with us or with them. She likely had an ulcer in her stomach as well. She was tired and didn’t have a quality of life. My dad and I made the toughest decision we have ever had to make – Kayla was put to sleep. We spent a few hours with her, just holding her, telling her we loved her, and we petted her as she fell asleep for the last time.

Kayla has been my world for 14.5 years. If I could have done anything to keep her forever, I would have. I'm going to miss the sound of her breathing. I'm going to miss snuggling with her and having her sleep in my bed and laying back to back. I'm going to miss her little nubby tail. I'm going to miss the sound of her tippy tappy toes. I have never loved any being as much as I love Kayla. I'm never going to be the same without my shadow, my mouse, my wombat, my rodent, my Kayla. I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. I love you to Pluto and back.