At only eight weeks old, a 4-foot spunky pup named Oakley began his career as a victim assistance dog seven years ago. He would become a beloved figure of the Texas A&M University-San Antonio community.
It was announced via instagram Jan. 29 that Oakley died.
Oakley began working as a victim assistance dog for the A&M-San Antonio Police Department in 2016.
His cause of death is uncertain, but Karen Tucker-Engel, crime prevention officer and Oakleys’ handler, believes it was due to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or HGE, is a disease that affects dogs, causing vomiting and bloody diarrhea.
Oakley was adopted from a kennel in Kerrville Texas, and was raised by Tucker-Engel and her husband.
After serving the A&M-San Antonio community for seven years, Oakley quickly gained many admirers.
“Yeah, Oakley was awesome. He was basically the school’s mascot. Everyone knows who he was,” said academic advisor, Matthew Torres.
Naomi Willis, a library student worker, remembered celebrating one of Oakley’s birthdays.
“He ate his doggy cake and loved all the attention,” she said. “It was so cute seeing how happy he was.”
Tucker-Engel was Oakley’s main caretaker and handler.
She introduced the idea of having a victim assistance dog to the university’s then police chief, and Oakley became a part of the A&M-San Antonio Police Department.
He first attended puppy class where he learned basic obedience commands, and later earned the Canine Good Citizen Award from the American Kennel Club. This award advanced his training and helped him avoid distractions during work.
Tucker-Engel said Oakley’s favorite place was the A&M-San Antonio campus.
“He loved seeing people. In the morning, before we would come to work, I would say ‘You ready for work, Oakley?’ and his ears would perk up, his tail would start wagging all crazy,” Tucker-Engel said.
Oakley’s average work day consisted of accompanying Tucker-Engel while on duty. The duo would walk throughout the campus where students, faculty and staff were able to interact with him.
When off-duty, Oakley would occasionally play with his sister, Scout, who also lives with Tucker-Engel. But he loved being at home -out in the country- where he would spend time riding ATVs, eating carrots and sleeping.
“Eat! His favorite thing to do at home was eat,” Engel said between her laughs. “He would stir up all the other dogs on Saturday morning when it was time to feed them.”
The university Police Department will honor and remember Oakley by framing his picture and displaying it in their entrance area.
“I would like for him to be remembered–he gave comfort to those who needed it and joy to those who loved him,” said Tucker-Engel.
Tucker-Engel hopes that Oakley’s sister, Scout, will take over. But for now, Oakley’s position has not been filled.
“She’s being trained, she’s not going to be like Oakley, let me tell you,” Tucker-Engel said with a smirk on her face. “She’s a little spit fire.”
As of now, A&M-San Antonio has not announced any kind of formal memorial service for Oakley.
For any additional information regarding Oakley or victim assistance, contact Tucker-Engel via instagram @oakleytamusa.