Oaklee Thiele

I Tell Her That She is Very Beautiful
pastel and pencil on paper
25 x 19 in.

I was paired with a service dog, Coco, to help mitigate the debilitating symptoms that interrupted my daily life after being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Coco is trained to assist me during severe PTSD episodes that cause confusion, memory loss, and anxiety. Because of this, Coco alone has seen me at my most vulnerable, allowing a strong and intimate bond to form between us. In this body of work, I explore my relationship with my service dog as well as self identity after trauma, as I learn to embrace my disability and new way of life.

These intimate portraits are meant to serve as a tactile example of the service dog’s life with the intention of spreading awareness and understanding. I aim to educate others on the personal trials and successes a service dog team experiences on a daily basis.

© Oaklee Thiele