PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — When a Luzerne County couple moved to the lake, they wanted a dog that does well in the water.
Four years later, their dog Oakley is one of the most elite water rescue dogs in North America.
Sunday afternoon, George and Kate Abraham strapped a wagon to their dog Oakley, preparing to make a special delivery in Plains Township. The four-year-old Landseer Newfoundland is not only trained to pull a cart, she’s trained to save lives.
Oakley is a certified therapy dog and a water rescue dog.
“She can patrol a beach with another lifeguard, she can go out on a boat with a water rescue team, she can patrol a lake or an ocean, rivers…Anywhere where there’s people swimming or people in the water that could be in trouble, she can go and help,” George said.
George and Kate live in Thornhurst and train year-round with Oakley in water work and obedience. George says when they went to a camp at the American Academy of Canine Water Rescue, Oakley was selected for the Italian School of Rescue Dogs. She spent about three weeks on the Italian coast leering everything from towing a drifting boat to saving someone from drowning.
“You can teach any dog to go out and bring the ball, go out and get the ball that you throw and bring it back, but these dogs need to be able to go out in the water and think on their own,” George said.
Oakley is now working toward being able to dive into the water from a helicopter. In the meantime, Oakley and her owners are helping people on land bringing Thanksgiving dinners to families in need.
“It’s amazing to see all the joy she brings everybody else when they meet her and get to see her and learn her story and get to watch her grow,” Kate said.
Oakley’s story inspired Carolyn Hoos to start training her Newfoundland Charlotte. Now Charlotte is well on her way to being able to help people too.
“It would be wonderful. It’s a natural instinct in this breed to really want to help people and to do the things that Oakley is doing,” Hoos said.
Oakley and her crew have a Toys for Tots drive coming up. George says Oakley will go back to Italy in the spring for the helicopter test.