Carly Finds Performing Partner
Carly Neis is no stranger to the stage. She has been performing theatre in Edmonton for several years and spends her days working at the Citadel Theatre. But now, like Lucy and Desi, Fred and Ginger, or Bogart and Bacall, Carly has found her perfect performing partner.
Oakley is a 3-year-old black Labrador trained specifically to meet Carly’s needs at home, work and play. When the pair aren’t on stage, Oakley assists with many everyday tasks that wheelchair user, Carly, is not able to do for herself. Oakley can pick up dropped objects as small as coins or as flat as credit cards. She can recognize and activate automatic door openers. She can even help with the laundry by pulling clothes out of the dryer and handing them to her partner. Oakley accompanies Carly on public transit and assists at her job as a receptionist and administrative assistant.
Carly was on the waiting list for an Service Dog for four years before receiving Oakley from Dogs with Wings. As an independent young woman, Carly knew right away that having an assistance dog would be life changing and well worth the wait.
In Oakley’s two year training, she had foster homes with various volunteers including Edmonton Eskimo President and CEO Len Rhodes and his partner Maureen MacKay. Prior to Oakley’s final placement, Len and Maureen were introduced to Carly and have now developed a friendship. It has allowed them to visit frequently with Oakley, a privilege not available to all foster parents. They knew going in that they would need to love and let go so that Oakley could do what she was meant to do. According to Len, “That is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Oakley’s debut stage performance was in the Edmonton Musical Theatre’s production of From Hollywood to Broadway this June at the Westbury Theatre in Edmonton. She excelled in the aptly written role of “Oakley, the friendly but somewhat aloof, canine who pretty much ignores her surroundings in service to her master.” It is without a doubt that Edmonton theatre goers will see more of this talented pair.
It is also without a doubt that Oakley’s leading role is the one she holds, by Carly’s side, every day. “I can’t imagine what my life would be without Oakley. She’s just as much a friend as a working dog.”