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Oxford Treatment Center has said goodbye to its unofficial mascot, an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever who had lived at the residential campus since its opening.
Lady — or “Ladybug,” as she was called by many of the staff — was adopted by co-founders Billy Young and Tom Fowlkes, MD, when they opened the center in 2012. Her previous owners were moving to a small apartment and could not keep her. But for Lady, it was serendipity. On the center’s sprawling campus, she spent her days swimming in the lake, napping in the sunshine and trotting with the horses. The fields and the woods were hers to explore.
When clients arrived at Oxford Treatment Center, she was there with a tail-wagging welcome.
“She was a therapeutic dog,” Alumni Coordinator Jewel Jenkins said. “I’ve seen a lot of clients who, when they were upset, could calm down just by petting her and talking to her.”
Lady leads a group of riders during a photo shoot in 2014.
On the ropes course, she was a constant companion to Experiential Therapist Hank Holmes, accompanying him for group-therapy sessions every day for nearly five years.
“When I came to interview at the center and to scout the location for the ropes course, she was with us as we hiked around the forest,” Holmes said. “She supervised us as we built the ropes course. And once it was in place, she built a massive hole under the teeter-totter platform, so she would have a cool spot to lay during the summer.”
When she was later joined at the center by Sadie, a yellow lab mix, Lady taught her the routine of accompanying people into the woods. Whether for protection or companionship, it was a role she seemed to take seriously.
“She didn’t want anyone out there alone,” Holmes said.
Staff and clients will hold a memorial gathering at the Etta campus on Monday, Dec. 18.