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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

2 years already

December15

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Dear Dakota,

I have dreaded this day all month, and I have dreaded this month all year. December has never been high on my list of faves, and you certainly sealed that opinion when you charged off over the bridge in December. It has now been two years since you raced on without us. (There is a bridge, isn’t there? Please for the love of all that’s holy tell me that there is.)

I miss you.

You got the last laugh, DD. It actually didn’t take me long to realize that, even as dense as I can be. For 10 years you listened to me tell people that you were not the dog of my heart (oh no), you were the pity pup–the one we took home because we couldn’t bear to drive by and leave it in the road. After all, once someone holds you in their lap in a dirty ditch and cries over you, how can they possibly leave you? A pity pup for sure. But a heart dog? No, you’d not ever be my heart dog.

And then you were.

And so you laugh. I’m pretty sure of that. But the gentleman jerk that you were probably only chuckles a tad. You were never one to rub anything in too hard. You were the forgiver, the peacemaker (unless it was a strange dog, of course), the snuggler, the shy and sly willing-to-come-last devotee. You were my satellite, and I was your sun. You put me at your center, a place I knew full well that you put me, but a place I knew I really did not deserve to be.

And all the while, you self-consciously and gently led, and led, and led some more. And I got less stupid.

Buddy boy, let me tell you what I’ve learned: You were the master and I was the grasshopper. Well played, my friend. Well played.

Love,

Your Woman

007


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

“2 years already”

  1. December 15th, 2014 at 8:13 am      Reply rica55 Says:

    Oh I love that face….I never really got to know you while you were here DD, but I got to know your spirit so well through your Woman. I know she misses you so much…you’ve sure left your mark here on this earth through her, she is you and you are her. She helped me through so many rough times while I can only imagine how much she was grieving. I didn’t really know that at the time – I had only just met her. But now I look back and realize how fresh that grief was and how selfless she was being and caring.
    I miss you DD even though I really never got to know you. I hope you are having a blast up there.


  2. December 15th, 2014 at 9:04 am      Reply penny4weims Says:

    What a sweet memory of your dear Dakota. Thank you for sharing.
    Penny


  3. December 15th, 2014 at 9:10 am      Reply Michelle Says:

    Amen. Amazing what they teach us my friend. Dakota you are missed greatly. I know this past year you have been watching over your family a lot. I know you are teaching all of us still. Shari you & Dakota are a great asset to this site.

    Even through your grief you continued to help all of us.

    My heart hurts with you.
    (((((((((((Shari))))))))))


  4. December 18th, 2014 at 9:33 am      Reply Dakota Dawg Says:

    Thanks, folks, for the kind comments. They mean a lot.
    Shari


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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.