Tomorrow is our dog’s first birthday. We brought Oaks home last May, only seven months after losing our first dog Oso to a heart attack. My heart was (and still is) with our bear cub. This time around, Jim wanted a dog to take pheasant hunting in the fall and had a hunting school all lined up for his new puppy. I was overwhelmed with getting to work and taking care of the girls in the morning (Jim works East coast hours) and adding a puppy to the mix was a lot at first. I wrote this at the time:
“By bedtime, we were all dog tired and I was freaking out. I mean, what in the world were we thinking?! How were we going to do this? I came to the realization that night that I didn’t really want a puppy. I just wanted Oso back. I cried softly in the kitchen, careful not to wake our newest of three sleeping babes in the house. I felt so guilty and ashamed and, if I’m being honest, stupid… It’s just… I’m constantly thinking of Oso. I’m always calling out the wrong name. I only hope I will get to a point where all this tension will soften along with the threshold to my heart.”
Fast forward to now and thankfully my perspective has evolved. Although my heart is certainly not quite mushy for Oaks yet, I often stop myself and consider his name and our whole reason behind choosing it.
“Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn.”
– William Arthur Ward
My parents live in northern California, where the oak trees line the hillsides and paint the valleys. When I was in high school, my dad taught my brother and I how to forage acorns. After gathering, we let them soak, sprout, and then planted them in little containers. Those acorns grew into seedlings which my dad later transplanted to the hill in our backyard. 20 years later and my parents’ yard is now beautifully shaded with at least a dozen California oaks.
I can’t remember how it came up in conversation, but Jim had the idea after a weekend trip to their house. “What about the name, Oaks?” I liked it. It was one syllable. It started with an ‘O’ as a small tribute to Oso. And, to me, it meant growing something strong, significant, and meaningful out of a simple nut. It was the perfect name.
As our Oaks dog continues to grow, so does my affection. It’s been a courtship in progress to say the least. But he is incredibly patient with the girls and undeniably loyal to Jim. With time, I know him and I will have our roots, too.
Here’s to many more birthdays together, Oaksy boy. We love you.