Oakley – Running and Playing After Paralysis

We adopted Oakley in March of 2006 when he was 2 years old. He had been listed in a Seattle area newspaper as being for sale by an individual who had a pair of breeding Berners and learned that Berners are hard to breed. A family member of a local breed enthusiast purchased him in a side of the road parking lot for cash. It was shared that Oakley, whose name at that time was Okie, had originally come from a puppy farm in Oklahoma and then spent his 2 years of life in a barn stall. As the female Berner in that barn regularly growled him off, Oakley sired a couple of litters with a GSD before being put up for sale.

Oakley at Spa

Once in unofficial rescue Oakley was sponsored by a number of Seattle area breed enthusiasts, given his current name, nourished, neutered, and finally brought home by his forever family. He was a sweet boy from the start and learned housetraining, his name, and several commands quickly. He was fearful of many things, disappearing silently into the woodwork at the sight of a broom or anything else with a handle, and has come a very long way in the three years since then despite his remaining fears.

During the arduous process of getting AKC registration for a rescued purebred dog, we contacted Oakley’s ‘breeder’ by e-mail. At that time she had a website with photos of her breeding dogs, a page of testimonials, and a commitment to be available to puppy buyers for the life of the dog. It took her a couple of months and a reminder post to reply to us, but she told us she was glad he had a good home and sent photos of his dam and sire per our request. Only much later did we learn that she had not sold him directly to his prior owner, but rather put his litter and another litter of Berners bred by the same sire at auction, likely having no idea nor care about where any of them had ended up.


Thanks to some diligent researchers on the BARC board we learned of Oakley’s auction history while trying to find a medical history of his family. His hips are severely dysplastic and in considering surgery we wanted to learn about the longevity of his relatives, many of whom were listed in the BernerGarde as being BARC rescues. Oakley had been one of too many puppies for BARC to rescue all at once from auction that day and was sold for more money than BARC could spend. Thus he ended up as he did in a barn stall in Washington State.

In 2008 Oakley suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism which paralyzed him for a few weeks and caused neurologic damage to his hind end, preventing hip surgery. Despite his orthopedic challenges Oakley is ambulatory. His gait is awkward and he sometimes falls when turning corners, but he can run and jump and does so daily. The money we didn’t spend on surgery pays for weekly swim and deep tissue massage sessions.