Sunday, November 12, 2006


I have finally solved the mystery of what my dog’s name is. She is a retired racing greyhound. I adopted her from the racing kennels. Now, if you have been to the greyhound racing kennels in the United States, you would know that the dogs have funny names: Potrs Rachel, Gsi Susan, Oliver Cromwell, DG’s U Too, Pat C Thanks etc. My dog was named Zelaya. So, you can guess that behind every weird name is a nicer name…like Rachel, Susan, Oli, DG, Pat and Laya. For some reason, the adoption people called her as Layla. Now only if I knew where Majnu was!

I was moderately satisfied with the name thinking that she lived with it for three years that there is no point in changing it now. If you are thinking why she is retired at 3 yrs of age, well, greyhounds only race till about four years of age. Then they are either bred after that or left to be adopted. Two months into her adoption, I have finally received all her papers, birth certificates, names of her parents and both sets of grand parents and a CD with her racing videos. All have her named Zelaya. So, as of today, 12 November 2006, I name her Laya for all practical purposes. My friends that live by the Jedi code love that name as it rhymes with Princess Leia.

There are other reasons for me to revert to Laya from Layla. The image I get from the name Layla for a dog is some show dog like a Pomeranian or a Poodle that’s dainty and showy. My dog is downright lazy. Lays down on her favourite spot on the couch all day. That’s Laya. Don’t think that she is not a good dog to be lazing around like that all day. That is how greyhounds are. They are sprinters and then they relax for the rest of the day. I wanted a laid back dog because I am laid back too. I did not want a Labrador or a Beagle who are on play-mode all the time. And frankly, Laya gives me some competition in being laid back. She used to follow me around the house before, if I went to the kitchen or my bedroom. Now, she just watches me, maybe props her head up a little. I can almost hear her say,” Where did you go? Is there any point in following you? I guess not. I will be right here if you need me.”

So, coming to the point of why I wanted a dog in the first place. I never had a dog in my family ever and was downright afraid of dogs. What changed? Well, I got too cold in the heart and wanted some warmth back. Got cold in the heart trying to get to where I am today. My one and a half years at the University of Florida was very challenging. My father paid for my tuition fees but I lived by myself, worked twenty hours a week in the middle of ten credits of gruelling master’s courses. I made less money than what I needed to live on. I worked at the Taco Bell frying nachos, empanadas and tacos, and then graduated to making pizzas and pastas as a cook for Gator Dining. They eventually saw potential and gave me a 20 cent raise and let me handle the grill. Now, I was cooking salmon, pork and chicken filets. Next, I was a lab assistant to work in the corn fields for two months. The research eventually ran out of funds and I was laid off in the middle of the semester when every other part-time job on campus is full. Then came summer and being unable to secure an internship at what I do best – Industrial Engineering – I resorted to being a student assistant for $6.50 and hour. The icing was that I could work 40 hours for summer. Having made some savings, I blew it up on medical insurance for fall 05 and the numerous car rentals for job interviews. You see where this is all going? To add on that, I haven’t been to India in over two years. Come December, I finally managed to secure a full time job position as a Logistics Engineer in a firm with an international presence.

This was my first time with a stable and high paying job after the numerous hits and misses as cooks and lab assistants while a student. Not every job was bad. Fall 2005, I worked as a student assistant with the Map and Imagery library. To any UFL student that reads this blog, it is, by far, the coolest place to work at. I had the nicest supervisor at the library and to this day and I visit the library and her any time I go to Gainesville.

None the less, this whole experience of living on a tight budget had made me quite cold and I needed the warmth back. That’s where greyhounds came in. My buddy got Streaker and two months later, I got Laya. That’s the time it took me to overcome my fear of dogs and get one myself.

Now, I do sometimes think if it was wise of me to get into a binding with the dog because when you get a dog, you pretty much reconfigure your schedule around your dog. Wake up at 6:15 am and walk the dog, come home for lunch and walk the dog, come back from work and walk the dog, walk the dog before bed time. It is almost like being a single daddy. Hats off to all the single moms out there! Laya has brought the warmth back to my heart. She is my family now, at least here. She gets all happy and excited when I come home, runs around me, tries to play with me, then I take her for a walk. Back from the walk, she just lays on the sofa watching me. She sits by the kitchen when I cook and outside the bathroom when I shower. When I sit by her, she just puts her head on my lap acknowledging me as her friend and companion. After all, I gave her a home and lots of love. Dogs understand love easier than we humans do. They have a beacon for affection. They get pulled towards warmth and happiness like a magnet and in my case, Laya brought warmth and happiness to me.


Anonymous said...

I like Layla's "new" name! Yes, I am a Star Wars geek and Laya is perfect :)

:) said...

Just happened to go thro this entry,its like a nice short story...I like how you've described every feeling...seems you have gone thro some tough times...

I like this line "you pretty much reconfigure your schedule around your dog" and also your relationship with you Laya.. "She is my family now"...."and companion" am sure those are great feeling.. its something I imagine to have...yep thinking of having my own pet someday...

Shek said...

Thanks for the comment. Everyone goes through tough is what you make out of it that matters. The story is more factual than fiction. It is an old post too.

Getting a pet is a huge responsibility. It is just like being a single parent to a baby. Thats how dogs are especially. They are just like big hairy babies. There have been times after getting Laya that I have thought if I really can take care of her. But she is with my now, and I am not letting go.

Kusum Rohra said...

When I sit by her, she just puts her head on my lap acknowledging me as her friend and companion.

Thats so cute, I really like her easy, laid back manner of acknowledging your presence :)

You are a lucky guy to have a pet like her :)