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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

Makin’ it look easy!

February23

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Dakota is not quite at the 2-week mark and he continues to act like nothing happened. He makes it look easy sometimes. Not always…but when he does, it makes us all smile.

Yesterday I decided to see if Dakota would willingly use his dog door. He’d gone out of it once since his surgery but hadn’t come back in that way. He really did not want to exit through the dog door and I had to force the issue. To please me, he did it and then turned around and watched me through the window. I called to him and he bounced right back in, so it’s obvious that using the door itself is not a problem for him. Unfortunately, there isn’t much flat land out there and he has little room before he needs to go uphill. I think this is disturbing to him. We’re talking about how to make things easier in this regard. Since that hillside is covered in deep, crusty snow, it may not be a comfortable place for him any longer.

This morning Dakota, Evelyn and I walked out front and down the driveway a little way. Dakota peed (much easier for him now that he’s given up trying to lift a leg) and sniffed around, rolled in the snow some, and then was ready to come back inside. His gait was markedly different this morning. He was not using his head to bounce along nearly as much as he had been, and walking directly behind him it was hard to tell that he was missing a leg. He made that part look so easy!

Dakota’s been off pain meds, except for his maintenance Deramaxx for arthritis, for a few days. He’s doing fine. He still sleeps a lot and lays down almost all the time. I don’t know if tripawds eventually sit more or less, stand more or less, or how they really spend their days. This is something we will discover as time goes by. I also wonder when I’ll stop thinking “holy crap! What happened to your leg!” when I look at Dakota. Since it hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet, I know it’s normal to still be startled. But watching him roaming around this morning, he looked just like any other dog.


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by posted under recovery | 1 Comment »    
One Comment to

“Makin’ it look easy!”

  1. February 23rd, 2011 at 10:22 pm      Reply rudyroo Says:

    Dakota is looking good:) I’m sure he’s feeling good too! Don’t you love when they do things like it’s nothing, no big thing. Makes me smile too.

    It’s been a month for Rudy since his surgery and I still sometimes get startled by him not having one of his legs! I wonder what goes through their heads, do they look at that area and say to themselves ‘wait a minute didn’t I have a leg there before?’ Ok maybe I’m a bit of a nut!

    By the way I saw that you said you had a doggie that could have been Rudy’s sibling. I would love to see pictures.


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What came before

Dakota is our Golden Retriever mix, and he was likely born in February 2002. His full name is South Dakota Watson, and we found him on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in August 2002. The area we discovered him had no homes, no structures, no bodies of water, no shelter. He had his permanent teeth but was still a puppy, so we assumed 6 months was a reasonable age guesstimate. He weighed 12 pounds, which was grossly underweight. Two weeks later, he weighed 23 pounds. He was too weak to eat much so we fed him 6 times a day. Sometimes he would just collapse at his food dish and fall down, and I would have to feed him by hand.

I wish Dakota could write this page because he is the only one who knows the beginning. From his birth until the day we found him, we have no idea what he endured. Well, that’s not entirely true. We know some of it, and other bits we can infer from his behavior. For instance, we know for a fact that Dakota was suffering from malnutrition, sarcoptic mange, assorted internal parasites, flea anemia, dehydration and dental enamel hypoplasia (pitting and staining of the teeth commonly resulting from distemper as a puppy before the teeth emerge). We can infer that Dakota had distemper from the hypoplasia. We can infer that he was deliberately dumped. And we can infer that a man in a baseball cap wearing sunglasses hit him with some kind of stick and chased him off with a hose. Dakota has problems with all of those things.

Dakota has every reason in the world to hate people, but he doesn’t. He’s very mistrustful of strangers, but he is beyond loyal to his family. Once he meets someone and gets the ok from us, he opens his heart to them, too. He is very attached to me, probably because he was isolated (due to the mange) for the first 11 weeks we had him. He had nice digs set up for him in our house, but he could only look at our other 2 dogs and not touch them. I was the one providing all his care during that time, as we found out the hard way that mange can be transfered to humans. To protect our young son, no one but me played with Dakota during those 11 weeks.

Because we feel pretty sure that Dakota survived distemper, and he survived being abandoned, surviving cancer should be no biggie for him.

We know Dakota’s cancer is not an osteosarcoma, and his chest films were clear, one month apart. We are very optimistic about his long-term prognosis in light of those facts. Hopefully we have several more years with him and he will grow old with us, just as he should.

Right after we got home with Dakota, all 12 pounds of him.

Eyes swollen shut, ragged ears, and just as calm as could be.