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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

That hole you made


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Dear Dakota,

She’s just not as good at it as you were, buddy. Look at the picture down there, dude. She’s simply not as good at it as you were.

In the first place, she doesn’t look up when we come inside. She’s so submissive, so she looks down and wiggles. You were submissive, too, but you lifted your head to look at us briefly. Little eye contact, of course, but we understood that about you.

And then there’s the tail issue. We could hear your mighty tail thumping all the way up the stairs, beating out a rhythm of welcome. She has no real tail, nothing to make noise with.

Don’t get me wrong–we love her as much as you did and we are taking very good care of her. She’s your baby, after all. But she’s not you. Nobody else is you. And now, 2 days short of 15 months after you hustled out of our lives, I still get tears in my eyes thinking about you, especially about your departure. Anyway, I love you, sweet potato.

If I’d known how much of my heart you would take when you left, would I have let you knit yourself into the fabric of my heart so tightly that your absence would unravel so much? I would. It’s mending, sweet boy. ¬†And it was worth it. All of it and then some. We’d stop the car again. We’d make the long ride home again. We’d take the leg again. You were really never any trouble at all, DD.


Your Woman

2013-10-03 17.19.25

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by posted under Life without you | 4 Comments »    
4 Comments to

“That hole you made”

  1. April 8th, 2014 at 8:12 pm      Reply Michelle Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe its been almost 15 months since that boy crossed the bridge. He was such a beautiful dog and you made him yours. God Blessed you when you stopped that car and took him under your wing. You are the best mom that he could have ever had.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  2. April 8th, 2014 at 9:50 pm      Reply Dakota Dawg Says:

    Thank you, Michelle. We were blessed to have Dakota. He was an innocent soul and obviously had lessons to teach us. And thanks for the hug.

  3. April 9th, 2014 at 5:37 am      Reply jerry Says:

    We sure miss Dakota. I still think back fondly to your visit with us, he was so sweet and gentle, but not too submissive, while Wyatt and Evelyn just bulldozed their way around him creating a path of destruction. All the while, dignified Dakota just hung out, being so chill and sweet.

    What a very special, once in a lifetime doggie of yours.

  4. April 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am      Reply benny55 Says:

    Shari, you articulate words from your heart so beautifully.

    I love it when you share your snippets of Dakota Dawg’s journey with all of us. It means a lot. It’s such a privilege to get to ow more about him..about the two of you…and, of course, Sweet Evelyn. And it’s so life affirming.

    When you least expect it, listen closely…..yeah, it wasn’t your imagination…that was his tail wagging at you and thanking you for the best life ever…..thump…thump…thump.

    Love, lots of it.

    Sally and Happy Hannah

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April 2014
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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.