It’s time. Our beloved NSD Oakley Long Legs is retiring. Fear not, he’s got a lot of great years left in him, he’s just finished his task of helping our girl get through her day. She’s grown so used to having those velvety ears at an arm’s length. She’s yet to spend a day without the comfort of his ninety-pound frame, relaxed and ready to offer her some sensory support. Gone are the days, where she was attached to him with a lead that would keep that little spitfire in the room for her own safety. Now, she doesn’t venture far, for fear of missing a moment with her boy.
To be fair, to both Kate and Oakley, we have had to take a long hard look at what kinds of services he is providing for her and how much longer it will be to her benefit. With the help of her team, as usual, we have decided that Kate will attempt school on her own, with the sweet promise of seeing her best bud immediately after school. This way, she can explore her independent side, with her teacher and EA never too far, and she can get used to not having Oakley with her every minute of the day. Because the sad fact is, someday, he won’t be there, and while it seems impossible to think about, we have to prepare her, for her sake, as well as our own.
So, Miss Kate, and Oakley will embark on new adventures. She, exploring the world without him, and him, well, with him we are hoping to find a way, to use his nothing less than magical powers to help others during the days he is not at school with Kate. We aren’t quite sure how this will look at the moment, but some of the things that have crossed my mind are as follows:
Could he become a visiting therapy dog? Could, I, as a teacher and his handler, spend my days visiting students who have experienced trauma. If you’ve met Oakley, you’ll know that his gentle ways and calm presence would be key to helping any child navigate a difficult situation.
Could he become the kind of dog that visits children (or adults for that matter) in the hospital? Could his big brown eyes help heal or at least bring smiles to those who need them the most?
Or maybe there is another path for Oakley. What do you think?
Of course, we will lean heavily on his NSD dog family for the answers to these questions, as they are the experts in all things Service Dog. But, it truly is our hope that Oakley will continue to work, as he loves to do, for as long as he can. As long as he comes home to Kate each night, that is, because, even in retirement, he’ll always work for his girl.
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)