The day has come! I am now officially hanging up my harness! Well, actually, I haven't worn it today. Today has been all about a freerun! I think I can happily call that a happy day!
I seem to be having a bit of trouble keeping my eyes open after all that exertion so I shall hand over to Mummy in a moment to do a post. I think I may be needed for cuddles! I shall leave you with a little video of my last freerun with Mummy. I will then upload a few photos of me today.
Mummy tells me she has a little something special for tonight's dinner: something called steak and rice and carrots.....Mmmmmmm..... I think I might have a retirement dinner every day!
A selection of photos from my very last day as a working Guide Dog:
This is 'Mummy' hijacking Oaks's page for this very final time in his working career.
Today is the day that I never wanted to come. If only I could wake up in 'Neverland' and find that my boy is a Peter Pan dog! Sadly though, this is the real world and this day has come. As of today, Oakley bows out of an astonishing career as the most life-changing Guide Dog imaginable.
He has not been the stereotypical impeccably behaved, faultless, placid, totally obedient Guide Dog. If I'm honest, I have to admit that he has been a heck of a challenge in many ways. He has most certainly been my baptism of fire into dog ownership! But, over and above all that, he has been simply incredible.
He came into my life and lifted me out of the depths of deep dark depression, he cancelled out all thoughts of 'life is no longer worth living', he wagged his way into the hearts of many people - several of whom were 'I don't do dogs' folk.
Like all Guide Dogs, he restored independence and freedom, but so much more than that: He taught me the pleasure of going for a walk - just because we could; he got me fitter than I have ever been before; he took me places I would never have ventured to; he transformed my life and he saved my life - in oh so many ways!
He has been by my side (literally and figuratively) through so very much of the turbulent ocean of life:
Coming to terms with sight loss.
Moving to a whole new life afloat and all the challenges that involves, including: our daughter's wedding and two graduations, the loss of three parents in quick succession, and the very trying time of moving in to care for one of them before she passed on to glory, the arrival of two grandchildren, some times of illness, many times of trials, lots of travelling....... and on goes the list. Through all of that, Oakley has been there; my little furry rock, my left-hand-boy. He has given me more confidence than I have ever had before. He has introduced me to people that I would never have met and certainly wouldn't have struck up conversation with. He has indeed opened countless conversations that would never have otherwise happened.
He has brought laughter and smiles in times of deep dark troubles. He has brought love and hope where there seemed only despair.
He has touched so very many lives in so very many ways. Through his Facebook blog, he has, hopefully, brought some insight into the life of a guide dog; showing that they work incredibly hard and do an indispensable, fantastic job, but yet they have the very best of life, healthcare, love and above all FUN!
(In answer to many people's questions about the future of the blog - it will be entirely up to Brenda and Malcolm if they do or don't wish to keep it going and I and everybody else have to respect their feelings on this. I shall begin work in earnest as soon as I possibly can to put the blog into book format and will publish that as soon as possible. It will most likely take the format of a diary, but I have also been asked to convert some appropriate bits into children's books. This is a possibility....... Whatever format any of it takes - the proceeds will be making contributions to Guide Dogs!)
Oakley has been the most amazing, fantastic, sensational, adorable, adoring, nutty, funny, goofy, mucky, soggy, (sometimes) naughty, faithful, loving and loved companion, servant, master, life-saver, life-changer to me for the last six and a bit years. He is going to leave a huge hole in my heart that will never be filled. Now it is time for him to move on to his next adventure: a life of fun and relaxation with his doggydaddy Dixon and the lovely Brenda and Malcolm. He totally deserves this wonderful retirement and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he is going to be adored and perfectly cared for.
I'm going to miss him so much it hurts, but I know that this is the best possible thing for him. We will meet up again though, once he is settled and I am established in my working partnership with my new Guide. I'm sure that Teddy will be every bit as amazing as Oakley in his working but there will never be another OAKLEY. He will remain forever my first and total life-changing boy!