Thursday, June 19, 2014

TBT: Oakley

Oakley was my first dog, her previous owners lived around the corner from my parents and I used to take her for a walk nearly every day. When I was 12 years old, Oakley's owners asked if I wanted to keep her because they were moving to a rural area with an active coyote population and no fenced yard. Oakley was four years old.
This is a horrendously dorky picture, but I love it because it is among the first of me and Oakley. I had been begging for a dog since I could talk, and this was a dream come true. Oakley was everything I ever wanted in a dog, she followed me everywhere and curled up with me on the couch. She patiently learned tricks and put up with my backyard agility courses and horrible home haircuts. We helped children overcome their fears of dogs, and visited nursing homes.

Oakley was with me for 11 years, she was blind for the last four and it only improved her temperament. Children who were terrified to be near dogs found her non-threatening because she would sit patiently while the touched her, not even moving to sniff. I know that there is no such thing as a dog that doesn't bite, but she was about as close as they come.

About a year before she died, I began putting together an Oakley scrapbook. The pictures chronicle not only our time together, but the many changes around us and in our lives. Oakley was with me as I began junior high school, all the way through my college graduation. The last year of her life was the first year of Brisbane's, and she passed just two weeks after he turned 1. At the front of Oakley's scrapbook is a little window for a picture. This photograph was trimmed by my sister for an old photo collage, and in the pre-digital photography age I don't have a better copy. I mounted it on a pink square of cardstock and added an embellishment that sums up how I felt back then.

I have never wanted anything so badly, for long, and I don't think I ever will again. Not having a dog was painful, there was never a moment in my childhood where I was not acutely aware of that void. With Oakley I was finally complete.

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