Loving Oakley was the easiest difficulty that ever fell onto me. He was a good boy, a great boy even, but there were factors that made life more challenging than that. Oakley had fear based reactivity to just about every aspect of life. I remember talking on the phone with a trainer, looking for help anywhere I could get it, and saying, "I wish there was a way that I could move us into the middle of the country, build a 10 foot tall brick wall around us, and live our lives out together." She responded with a really heart breaking question: "What kind of life is that for a dog? What kind of life is that for you?" Honesty hurts most of the time. I felt the very heavy stone weighing on my chest grow, and I knew what would come next. We gave my boy the best life he could have possibly had. He was spoiled and a little fat, and so deeply loved. We revolved around him, our lives revolved around him. Losing him changed everything, it ripped the plan directly out of the ground. I often found myself whispering "Oh, Oakley" with layers of pain and love in a very messy mix, maybe with one poetic tear on the side of my face. I still do. His life was not fair to him, and we all got to suffer the consequences of that. With every step forward came gut wrenching set backs. Eventually, it was time to acknowledge that the fragility of our lives did not serve him the way he deserved. Because, as most homeless pets do, he deserved so, so, so much more. In the wake of his life I realized that I wanted to have something come from all this. And here we are, still loving my boy Oakley. I hope that we can impart some change in the lives of those around us, even if just a fraction of how he changed us.

Elle Anna

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