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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

A frank, PG-13 rated letter to Dakota’s original owner

February14

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I am writing instead of Dakota this time. Today is Dakota’s 10th birthday, which got me to thinking about baby Dakota. I’m imagining him as a tiny puppy, fuzzy and helpless. And it pisses me off. So I want to write a letter to whoever was in charge when Dakota was born.

Dear Asshole,

About this time of year in 2002, you owned a female dog that you allowed to become pregnant. I understand completely that this was likely unintentional and that there is an excellent chance that you could not afford to spay that dog. Still, once the dog became pregnant and had her puppies, the responsibility for their lives rested in your human hands. In spite of your financial difficulties or your substance abuse issues or your painful childhood–or whatever potential past you came from–you had a chance to shine. You had a chance to do the right thing. Instead, you chose poorly. And on that day, you became a loathesome creature, a vile and slimy worm, lower than the dirt that you put your shoes on. You became an asshole and likely still are an asshole today.

“What?” I hear you say. “I’m a nice guy. I’m a great gal. What did I do?” Allow me to enlighten you.

You did not care for the lives that were in your hands. You did not provide food, water, shelter or medical care to the little family you allowed to come into being. You treated them as though they were expendable. I know, dear lord I know, how hard it can be sometimes to provide things that cost money. I know that if push comes to shove and we have to choose, we choose our human children over our dogs and cats. I am in agreement with you there. I would never tell you that you had to let your human child go without food so your pregnant dog could be fed.

That’s where shelters come in. And for the love of all that’s holy, it’s even where euthanasia comes in. If your dog and her puppies are slowly starving to death and you have no more resources available, then shoot them. It would have been kinder than what you allowed. If you had allowed Dakota to stick around to see the result of your inaction, you would have done the merciful thing. You have no idea how sick he was.

In August of 2002, Dakota was already standing with two feet on the Rainbow Bridge.

When we picked up Dakota in the middle of the dirt road that you either dumped him on or did nothing to keep him from, he was about 6 months old. We know this because he already had his adult teeth. But let’s be generous and say he was only 5 months old. I’ll give you the month. So at 5 (or 6) months old, he was dying. That’s how long the slow path to death was taking.

Dakota is an adult now and he weighed 80 pounds before he had his amputation. That was a pretty good weight for him. So I assume you will agree with me that Dakota was not supposed to be a small or medium dog. This is a big boy. Large breed dogs at the age of 5 or 6 months should weigh what? Good question. I looked it up. The average Labrador weighs about 50 pounds at 6 months. The average Golden at 6 months seems to be in the 50-pound range, also. I’m going to say Dakota should have weighed about 50 pounds when we found him. But I’m going to spot you 10 pounds here, too, because I don’t know for sure. I’ll lie and say he was 5 months old and should have weighed 40 pounds.

Dakota did not weigh 40 pounds. He weighed 12.

You asshole.

No thanks to you, Dakota somehow called to us and brought us to where he waited. He slowly strolled down the middle of a dirt road in an area with no houses or water sources for miles. Where had he been living? How had he been living? All I can think of is that God himself dropped Dakota right there that day and told him to start walking because we were on our way. When we saw Dakota in the road, we thought it was a large, ginger cat. That’s how little he was.

I have no idea who you are and what you are doing now. You may be dead, for all I know. For over 9 years, I’ve tried to forgive you for what you did to Dakota, his siblings and his mother. I can’t even imagine how things turned out for the rest of them. I will continue to try to forgive you. Some days I’m more successful than others. It’s a process, and it’s a long one. Today, though, I celebrate my dog’s birthday as a testament to his spirit of endurance and strength. He is a mess, thanks to you, but the fact that he lets me snuggle with him and accepts any form of touch at all amazes me. If you’d done those things to me, I would be in the corner pissing myself at the slightest noise.

Dakota is a wonderful dog, in spite of what you did to him. It’s too bad you didn’t give him the opportunity to let you see what potential he held. But I’m not surprised, because you are an asshole.

Sincerely,

Shari, Dakota’s Woman

 


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by posted under milestones | 21 Comments »    
21 Comments to

“A frank, PG-13 rated letter to Dakota’s original owner”

  1. February 14th, 2012 at 1:57 pm      Reply krun15 Says:

    Amen.

    I tried to just post that word but the site wouldn’t let me. So ignore this part.


    • February 14th, 2012 at 2:04 pm      Reply Dakota Dawg Says:

      I don’t know why it wouldn’t let you post it since Micki’s blog let us all post the F-word. I’m going to poke around and find out, because I do not knowingly censor this blog. Ha! The very idea of censorship being in the same thought as myself is hilarious…if you only knew me.


  2. February 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm      Reply AngelAbbysMom Says:

    I second the Amen.

    Amen, sister.

    Mean people suck. But people who are mean to animals suck even more.


  3. February 14th, 2012 at 3:05 pm      Reply Cathy Says:

    Amen Cousin!!! I do believe God dropped Dakota into your lap for a reason. Just pisses me off reading how he was discarded. Bless his sweet little heart.


    • February 14th, 2012 at 3:47 pm      Reply Dakota Dawg Says:

      This week, Dakota’s reason for existence seems to be to create the most amount of poop ever generated from a single dog (something’s going on there). But most of the time he’s really good for confiding to and singing with. I will tell him his cousin Cathy has blessed his heart. He’ll like that.


  4. February 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm      Reply etgayle Says:

    the human species can be very disappointing. dakota was fortunate to be placed in your life. it’s healthier to let the other go, but not always easy. hugs to the birthday boy!!

    charon & spirit gayle


  5. February 14th, 2012 at 5:13 pm      Reply travisray Says:

    Amen from the Oaktown Pack! We are busy amusing ourselves with how many R- to X-rated synonyms we can some up with for asshole.

    Amen, and hallelujah that you were driving down that road that day, that time. It was meant to be.

    And best of all, Happy Hippy Hoppy Birthday to Dakota Dawg!

    xoxoxox,
    the OP+1


  6. February 14th, 2012 at 5:33 pm      Reply kviz Says:

    Amen. Twice. Ten times.

    That was the most cathartic read I’ve had in a long time.

    I hope this ASSHOLE is burning in hell…and representing the rest of his friends that ever lived on this planet.

    DD…you woman RULES.


  7. February 14th, 2012 at 9:35 pm      Reply anjl Says:

    Hoppy B day Buddy!


  8. February 15th, 2012 at 8:25 am      Reply nancy Says:

    I can only hope karma got them. But I am so glad Dakota found you!!!! Happy 10th Birthday DD!!!


  9. February 19th, 2012 at 10:22 am      Reply Lucys Mom Says:

    Happy Bday to the lucky Dakota Dawg!!! He is sweet and precious. Who the heck knows why and how awful those damn humans can be. I can’t imagine how they let those beautiful animals be born and dump them. Amen Shari.


  10. February 19th, 2012 at 6:03 pm      Reply riosmom Says:

    Hoppy b-day to the D-Dawg. He certainly lucked out when he found you, Shari.

    Micki (the F-word user 🙂 )


  11. February 19th, 2012 at 6:13 pm      Reply kviz Says:

    My Mom is sending a big hug to all the F-word users…specially when it comes to cancer and anything else that mucks up our happy doggy lives. 😉


  12. February 22nd, 2012 at 8:41 pm      Reply wyattraydawg Says:

    Can you cc my awful first humans on that letter?

    Awesome.


  13. March 8th, 2012 at 10:54 pm      Reply Sparky Says:

    Shari,

    You reminded me of something. The next time I complain that Sparky is “undersocialized,” that he barks too much or shies away from new people, I will remember the asshole who battered him so badly he lost his leg and became terrified of almost anything. The fact that he has human friends- ones he looks forward to seeing- is a miracle. I have to remember how far he has come. I, too, have an asshole to hate. I won’t forget him again. I just hope Sparky has.
    Becky


  14. May 29th, 2012 at 3:59 pm      Reply chilidawg Says:

    Dakota got the better end of that stick. He may have started life out on the tough end but he gets to spend the rest of his life with his fur-ever family where he gets to learn about love and share his life lessons. I am glad he is no longer with the a-hole he started off with.

    Spirit Chili Dawgs Pack


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February 2012
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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.