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Saying Goodbye: Layla's Final Adventure

An adventure dog is more than a pet you come home to, it's your trail partner, by your side regardless of the circumstances, sunshine, rain, snow and wind, always ready to go out and explore. When Layla's time came, I was giving her one last adventure and a chance to sniff that fresh outdoor air.

By: Shawn Grenninger + Save to a List

Layla was a black labrador retriever mix that I had rescued from the pound when she was about six months on October 8, 2006. At the time I was living in Virginia Beach and would often take her to the beach to run and play in the crashing waves of the ocean.  

The following August, I moved back to Central Pennsylvania where I grew up. I would often take Layla to my brother's land to have her run free and play outside. This eventually led me to taking hikes with her. The outdoors were always in me, but I also must give some credit to Layla for helping me to enjoy and respect nature that much more.  

When hiking, Layla was off leash, she was able to run free and she was a natural trail dog, running ahead, looking back to make sure I was coming and making sure to always stay with me. The outdoors are a great medicine for the soul and especially when you can enjoy them with man's best friend.   

In October of 2014, Layla was diagnosed with Lyme Diese and kidney failure. She had two different multi-day stays at the veterinarians for treatment. We were expecting the worse and feared that we could lose her. She managed to regain health, but with the knowledge that she would never fully recover.  

In late December of 2014, she regained enough strength that I started taking her hiking again. We spent the next several months taking her on as many outdoor adventures as we could. We were blessed with more time and made every effort to take advantage, we knew at any time should could decline.  

That decline began in late September 2015. We gave her treatment, but this time she wasn't recovering. I took her on a short hike in early October. On that hike, I think Layla and I both knew that would be our last, the photographs from that day tell the story.

The next couple weeks, her declined continued, she grew weak and had balance trouble and eventually trouble walking. It then got to the point that we knew it was time. It was about two weeks from her last outdoor adventure. I wanted to give Layla one last adventure. I couldn't have her last days spent being uncomfortable and in the house. I had to get her out one last time.  

I decided that we would take Layla canoeing on Pine Creek on her final day. It was an overcast, but beautiful Autumn day on October 22, 2015. That canoe trip was the most difficult, yet most meaningful paddle trip of my life. We put a blanket down in the center of the canoe for her to lay. For much of the trip she rested her head on the yoke or edge of the canoe, she sniffed the fresh autumn air. The discomfort in her face changed to peace and relaxation. She was at peace and she was ready.  

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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