When you have a kid or even before you have a child, you always wonder what are they going to be like? What will they like? What will they be good at? Who will they take after? In what ways will they be like me? When I think about Oakley growing up and becoming who God made her to be, I want her to make her own decisions, decide what makes her happy, and be her own person, but there are always a few things that you hope your kids will learn, aquire, or inherit from you. Loving animals is one of those things that I hoped Oakley would get from Andrew and myself. We do live on a farm soooo I guess she really didn’t have choice lol. On a more serious note, It’s hard for me to put into words how much I love the happiness and joy that animals bring to Oakley, but I’m going to try and explain why.
Oakley loves dogs! She’s obsessed with them. Better yet, she’s obsessed with animals. Whenever Oakley gets excited, she kicks her legs and makes a bunch of noise. She babbles and yells while her legs go crazy. At the zoo, she went nuts, especially over the elephants. Walking along the bay in San Diego, we stopped for every dog and she would kick and yell with the biggest smile on her face. When we walked away from a dog, she cried. One night we were all watching a dog show and she went nuts. She loved it and did her usual, but when she realized she couldn’t touch the dog through the tv screen, she cried. She loves Abigail, Colt, and Charlie and they love her. Watching her form relationships with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and our animals is one of my favorite things. She loves Maggie May, the cats, and the chickens too, but there’s just something about a kid and their dog, which makes me so excited to watch her grow up alongside Abigail, Colt, and Charlie.
When I was little I wanted a dog SO bad. So bad that I couldn’t even tell you how many times I cried because I was told I couldn’t have a dog. When my brother was born people would ask me what I thought about him and I would say, “I asked for a puppy.” Obviously, I loved him to death but that seems like a pretty standard answer for a six year old, right?
Every week from the library I would check out a huge Dog Encyclopedia and every week the librarian would say, “don’t you want to check out something else?” Nope! I would read and read about the different types of dogs, trying to find one that would counteract every reason why my parents said I couldn’t have a dog. You would probably be surprised if you found out just how much I know about dog breeds. Years later, my mom actually found the same book and bought it for me. That must tell you how many times I checked it out of the library.
One time, my neighbors got a dog and my mom was so excited to tell me. She said, “now you can go over and play with their dog as much as you want.” Can you guess my reaction? I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t believe she thought that would be the same as having my own. Of course, I had to go over and play with it once I stopped crying though.
Finally, in third grade, my parents agreed to let me get a dog. We went to the pound for weeks and I would have taken them all home if I could have but it took us a while until we found the perfect dog. A perfect, tiny black lab puppy. I think he was actually mixed with a German Shepherd but he was solid black and had the cutest face I ever laid eyes on. We went to say we wanted him but we weren’t allowed to take him home that night. The next day my mom got there when the pound opened and waited in line to adopt him. I sat all day in class and couldn’t focus one bit. All I could think of was my precious little puppy I was going to come home to. I dreamed about taking him on walks, teaching him to play fetch, and cuddling him. I was so anxious to get home that day I couldn’t stand it. The bus ride home seemed twice as long as it normally was but there he was, wrapped tight in a blanket in my mom’s arms. I remember feeling so proud and telling everyone that’s my new puppy! I could have cried I already loved him so much! I played and played with him in the yard until I picked out a name that fit him. Mikey.
Mikey became my best friend, my safe place, my comfort. He was always there, always happy to see me, and had the most genuine heart like most dogs, except he was MINE and I was his. I walked him while I roller bladed and almost fell when we came up to a huge Rottweiler. He popped numerous amounts of soccer balls, chewed up my favorite doll Allison, and destroyed all of my moms throw pillows. He also laid next to me if I was upset, greeted me every time I came home, kept watch over our house at night as he laid on the landing, and guarded all of the kids in our cul de sac as he laid in our front yard. It always took him and our cats a while to get along but if you caught them when neither of them realized you were looking, they would be cuddling. When my grandma died, he stayed extra close. When my brother and his girlfriend took him on a walk and a coyote approached them, he charged the coyote and ran it off… at 15 years old! Mikey was there for me through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. It wasn’t long after I graduated, was about to get married and move out of state that we had to put Mikey down. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. That day I lost a best friend and a family member but I will always have the memories we made together and those are irreplaceable, just like Mikey.
That day made me realize so many things. This sounds weird to say but it really was perfect timing. I think God knew we couldn’t be apart from each other if I moved out of state. I also realized that I was so thankful I was going to marry Andrew in two months, move out of state, and only have him to rely on because he was there for me the entire time. He was in the room with my family and Mikey when we said goodbye. He let me have my alone time with him as I said one last goodbye, gave him one last kiss, and thanked him one last time for being the best dog a girl could ever ask for. Andrew didn’t know Mikey as long as I did but he loved Mikey and Mikey loved him. During the first couple of months that we dated, we took Mikey on a walk to the dam (his favorite place) and Andrew had to carry him a good two miles home. I think Mikey was testing him because the minute we got home he ran around. Mikey loved Andrew like he loved the rest of my family, with his whole heart.
Andrew could relate to mine and Mikey’s relationship because he had his own yellow lab, Libby. The sweetest girl with the most pure heart. She was gentle and precious, but also loved to swim and play with Andrew. If you were petting her and stopped, she would paw you like, “hey, I didn’t want you to stop.” I know that Andrew and Libby had the same relationship as Mikey and I and I know Libby was just as much a part of their family as Mikey was mine. When Libby passed, she waited until we came home so she could say bye to Andrew. It broke my heart because I understood that kind of love, but how special that she waited to see Andrew. We both said our goodbyes and I cried with my mother in law. I gave Libby hugs and kisses and rubbed her velvet ears. I was there for Andrew like he was for me. How blessed were we to love and be loved by Libby and Mikey? Two precious dogs with angel souls and hearts of gold. I don’t care what anyone says, I believe dogs go to heaven and one day we’ll all be together again but for now, Libby and Mikey are together getting all the loves and cuddles from some very special people. A picture of Mikey and me sits on Andrew’s nightstand and a picture of Andrew and Libby sits on my nightsand, a constant reminder of the love the four of us shared.
I guess my point of sharing all of this is how happy it makes me that Oakley is such a dog lover. It makes sense that it’s in her DNA to love dogs and animals but my heart is so happy knowing that we are raising a little dog lover that will make memories with Abigail, Colt, and Charlie like Andrew and I did with Mikey and Libby.