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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

One year gone


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Dear Dakota,

A year ago today we lost you. And we really lost you. It doesn’t seem like a year, even though a lot has happened. But the loss of you is still pretty big. I’ve lost other dogs, D, which you know–but your absence has felt bigger to me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide why that is. I think it’s because of what I felt from the start: You got cheated. You had more years in you and you didn’t get to use them. And I got cheated out of you.

I am still satisfied with your life. You had a wonderful life and I know that. I know absolutely that we took good care of you and that you had a ball. For all but the last year of your life you had 38 acres to explore, and you marked every inch. You had your precious meadow that was your private playground, and you policed it mercilessly, keeping every rabbit, field mouse and vole in line. And when we moved and gave up acres, you gained territory with more rabbits. You had a good life.

You had a Man who rescued you, who didn’t blink over how much lopping off your leg would cost, who said repeatedly that you were family. You had a Boy who intrigued you and provided you with things to wonder about. And you had other dogs to love on. You had Evelyn to love, and she had you to absolutely worship. And you had me.

And I still miss you. I wish you were still here tripping me at the top of the stairs so I could cuss you. You were a pain in the ass in many respects but you were my sidekick and the nicest pain in the ass I’ve ever known.


Your Woman

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by posted under Life without you | 9 Comments »    
9 Comments to

“One year gone”

  1. December 15th, 2013 at 12:00 pm      Reply Michelle Says:

    The greatest tribute to a wonderful best friend. I wish I would have gotten a chance to meet him. He honestly knows how much you love him and always will. Hugs Shari. I know today isn’t an easy day.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  2. December 15th, 2013 at 12:42 pm      Reply maximutt Says:

    Thinking about the Watson clan today. What a life Dakota had! And what a family!

  3. December 15th, 2013 at 3:51 pm      Reply Karma Says:

    Thoughts are with you and the family in remembering your Dakota.

  4. December 15th, 2013 at 7:57 pm      Reply snoop Says:

    A beautiful memory of a deeply missed friend and family member. Dakota is always with you all in your hearts.

    Esther and her Snoop

  5. December 15th, 2013 at 9:33 pm      Reply Christine Says:

    Iit sometimes doesn’t matter how long ago it was…. sometimes the pain and heartache feel like it was just yesterday.
    Dakota was the first tripawd I remember running for the bridge after Franklin had his surgery on Dec 4, 2012. I remember reading and just crying, knowing that one day I would know that pain again.
    Hugs to you on this anniversary of Dakota’s arrival in the endless acres at the Bridge!
    Christine…. with Franklin in her heart♥

  6. December 15th, 2013 at 10:12 pm      Reply rica55 Says:

    What a beautiful life Dakota had…no one can ever take that away from you or him. He leaves quite a legacy………and a beautiful one at that.

  7. December 15th, 2013 at 10:43 pm      Reply anjl Says:

    Hey Pal
    It’s me….your February Furball brother.
    I sure do miss you…
    so does your family, my extended family….
    This is hard day for them…
    It’s ruff for all of us…
    So, send them some angel love and I will too!
    Fly High

  8. December 15th, 2013 at 11:25 pm      Reply jerry Says:

    I can’t help but get watery-eyed reading this Shari, for I feel your grief and can relate, even though much more time has passed for us.

    Yes, you DID give him an awesome life, even if it wasn’t nearly long enough. And what an honor it was to meet your sweet, gentle and wise Dakota. We will never forget him, he lives on in our hearts and among us every time we visit Jerry’s Acres.

    Lotsa hugs coming your way.

  9. December 29th, 2013 at 3:22 pm      Reply chilidawg Says:

    What a great tribute to a very special boy. He was someone you didn’t give up on and I know he knew how much you loved him. It showed in every single action from rescuing him to taking care of him to going through the amputation to your drive to the vet the day you lost him. It is true that he didn’t get as much time as he deserved, but he touched many lives through his journey with you.

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December 2013
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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.