The answer is a resounding yes!
Cue Oakley, a rescue from Easel Animal Rescue League who's amazing story took her from being a fearful, aggressive and destructive dog to today where after training with Lead The Way and her owner Sharyn Murray, she is a canine ambassador for fearful dogs and a master of agility, focus, and calm energy.
Oakley's newest role is on the stage as Bullseye in The Actors' NET of Bucks County's production of Oliver Twist.
See Oakley as Bullseye and the entire cast in Lionel Bart's musical version of the Charles Dickens masterpiece.
Performances run July 12-28th at The Heritage Center Theatre in Morrisville, PA.
Visit www.actorsnetbuck.org for showtimes, ticket info and directions.
Oakley's been attending rehearsals all week with the help of Lead The Way's owner and lead trainer, Amy McCaa, apprentice trainer Kirsten Grover, and owner Sharyn Murray. Now for Oakley's full story!
"Oakley was a shelter dog. She had been tied to the front door by the owners. She had been adopted out once and had been returned. She was about one year old when we took her home. These should have been warning signs to me but I had a dog growing up and my husband had owned lots of dogs.
I picked Oakley (named after Annie Oakley, the famed sharp shooter) for her beautiful markings and spunky personality. There was some urgency to adopt her as she was scheduled to be euthanized. As we left the shelter, the woman working there said, “This dog is going to need a lot of work.” How true her words were.
Now in her forever home, we wanted to return her. She destroyed napkins, toilet paper, underwear, shoes, rugs and even wood molding. She raided every garbage can she could find. She barked at anything that moved, growled at men and children. She escaped from the yard every day and as I pulled out of the driveway, she would jump over the fence in 3 seconds and run to my car. The saddest day was when she jumped our five-foot fence and killed one of our neighbor’s chickens. I was so sad that I did not like my own dog.
Then came the prong collars, zappers and chains, none of which worked very well.
We were able to teach her basic commands and I hired about three different trainers, all of whom told me that I had big problems. Through all this training, we managed to reach some kind of a peaceful existence with Oakley. One day, I looked at this dog resting peacefully at my side and said, “Wow, I actually like my dog now.”
Through all this training, I found out that Oakley needed jobs. She’s highly intelligent and needs to keep busy to stay out of trouble. At this point, I talked my husband into a second dog to keep her company. We got Montana as a playmate for Oakley. After some initial growling, they became best friends. Montana was a timid dog and Oakley became the big sister and gave Montana confidence.
Having two dogs with troubled pasts, we now had different problems. Enter Lead the Way. They commented on how much work I had already done and suggested that we just needed to do some tweaking. They helped the second dog greatly overcome her fear of all other dogs besides Oakley and built my confidence as well stating how good my bond was with my dogs.
After the loss of Montana, I started to do agility with Oakley. As a high drive dog, she has problems with impulse control and agility helps. This helped develop our bond even more. I’m so proud of this dog. I’ve been with Oakley for ten years now, she performs tricks for children, lets anyone pet her, and will even stay by my side off leash. Now people say, “I want a dog like that.” If they only knew how far she’s come." - Sharyn Alice Murray sharynalicemurray.com