My name is Ayla.

My name is Ayla.

posted in: Dog Stories, General News | 0

I don’t remember who named me anymore; that was 5 long years ago. But I can tell you this – in Turkish, Ayla means “halo of light around the moon”.

On many a night here in Koh Samui, as I lie on the packed earth enjoying a cool moonlit evening following yet another steamy, tropical day, I think about how symbolic my name is.
I am grateful beyond words for my current situation; I am safe here at Elfesworld dog sanctuary, and living among many dog friends. I have Elfe and her helpers; and oftentimes, visitors come locally or from overseas to our home. These dogs and humans are the closest thing to a family I have ever known, and believe me, I know how lucky I am and appreciate every aspect of my life!

But Elfe has told me that a brand new adventure awaits me…that a 180 degree change is about to occur in my life…and that I am destined to fly across an ocean to find a new family and home – not one composed of hundreds of other dogs or a rotating roster of visitors and carers, but the actual “real deal“. I am pinching myself every night here, under the moonbeams, asking myself if this is really happening.

But let me begin at the beginning…

I am 5 years old and a sweet, petite 22-lb package of soft, furry love who was born in early 2012, on the streets of northern Thailand. I was just a naive baby when dog meat smugglers targeted me and captured me with a cruel wire noose – I was easy pickings, given my age and relatively weak state, as a child of the streets.

I was darn lucky – one of the bitterly few – to be rescued. Thai police were suspicious of the “livestock” our smugglers were transporting across the border, so they opened the tarp on our truck to reveal – DOGS. So many of us, crammed into crush cages, many of us mangled or suffocated already.

Among us, not all survived. Those who did endured yet another day in the crushing cages aboard the same truck, as it had to be turned around and driven to a faraway government livestock center.

By a stroke of luck, I survived this entire ordeal. Luckier still, rather than becoming a nameless number at the livestock center, destined to live out my life there (and it would probably be short, due to the terrible conditions at that time), a kindhearted overseas sponsor saw my face in a series of photos taken by compassionate Thai dog rescuer Khun Bee Bitter Brownie and blasted across Facebook in a desperate search for help for all of us. I was picked. I was saved. I just didn’t know it yet…

More time passed and I luckily managed to stay alive. One day, I was loaded on another transport truck, though this time I was not crushed into a tiny cage. Still, I despaired.
But for naught…because this truck drove us to Bangkok, to a clinic where we were compassionately vetted for many weeks and restored to health.
Next, we were loaded into roomy, individual crates and flown to the tropical island of Koh Samui in Thailand, where we found refuge at Elfesworld dog sanctuary.

As if all that was not lucky enough, I got luckier still. During this ordeal, the combination of our nation’s blistering summer heat, along with my extreme stress and weakened condition, led me to develop a skin condition – primarily on my face! – that could have marked the end of any chance I would have at adoption. I am a beautiful girl, on the inside and out! But who would see through my pockmarked facial appearance to the real, beautiful Ayla on the inside??

As luck would have it, after arriving at Elfesworld and finding loving human carers, a predictable and steady diet of healthy food, monthly parasite control, fresh air and a clean run with many lovely doggie friends, somehow I was “cured”. My face barely evidence any trace of the disfiguration the vets thought I would have for life. Instead, I just appear to have some “freckles”. I like to think of myself as looking a little like Anne of Green Gables now! She had freckles, but still found fame and more importantly, love. Like I hope to too, one day!

At any rate, my life here has been charmed. I am the sweetest little girl, and a joy to the many visitors who come to our sanctuary to volunteer their time. I am very gentle, and – as if I am still that vulnerable baby of 5 years ago who was targeted – I want only to be held and petted. I live for those moments…

You can even see me here meeting Dawn Trimmel, founder of International Street Dog Foundation!

This doesn’t mean I am a couch potato – I have moderate energy, happy to run and play if that’s what’s on the day’s menu! I certainly love my walks around the island, and exploring the daily changes of our sprawling grounds.

I also love chews and toys, which are a precious commodity here, since there are over 650 of us!

I do great with other dogs as well, and can be very playful with my friends when one feels like a bit of sport!

And look – I even “help” with the laundry! 🙂

But I am so human oriented that I would also do beautifully as the only dog in a home. I just love people so much! It’s impossible to describe how much…but I hope to be able to show you in person!

I want to say – I have no complaints about the way my life has gone. I am one of the luckiest dogs alive, for I survived not only the brutality of the dog meat trade and the impassive cruelty of the smugglers, but also life in a government-run livestock center, after I was rescued. And that place – although at least away from the smugglers – was no picnic either! Overcrowding, illness, lack of food and clean water, and rampant dog fighting plagued us all there – and as a baby, I was in the greatest peril.

Coming to Elfesworld was my salvation. And if I lived out the rest of my life here, I still wouldn’t complain…but being one of the friendliest dogs here, everyone can see how plainly I dream of people I can call my very own.

I have spent 5 years of my life here, growing up and becoming a big girl. I still have many good years ahead, though – years that I dream will be full of life, adventures, and love.

I hope and pray that you will find me here, and know I am the one for you. I promise I won’t disappoint! I will be the shiniest halo of light orbiting around you, who will be my moon. My stars. And my universe.
I hope we are together very soon!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Love, Ayla

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If you are interested in adopting Ayla, please contact Dawn Trimmel at You can also find our adoption application here.


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If you would like to support this brave dog meat trade survivor’s journey to a new life, please consider donating and sharing her fundraising page, which can be found at – every penny helps bring Ayla one step closer to a forever family and home. Thank you!