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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

my field trip & the magic poop! by evelyn


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i did a field trip. momma tole me how to spell it. field trip. i wented in my car with pop and momma. we wented to the dive shop first to see pop’s pals. they luv me bery much. i had to let all them mens rub my belly for a long time. then momma and me walk nex door.

nex door is P.C.’s Pantry. momma spell that one too. P.C.’s is a dog shop. the lady makes cookies. many cookies. and they gived a bunch to me cuz they just did. i comed in that door and they make skweeky noise at me. “o look at her she is so kute do you wanna treet corse yu do” and they skweek at me like babys.

so i let them give me them treets.

i seed dogs there. i seed a sane ben nard. o boy wat a big dog! i seed a bast hownd. he wuz meen. i seed a dog that lookd like gayle! she rilly did! her name is ella. she was nice an we had a kon ver sashun. i like her. an nen i seed a tripawd cat! momma tole me it is a cat. watever.

an nen yu no wat? i got more treets cuz i foun how to make momma git me more! i made poop on P.C.’s floor an that makes momma get me more treets!

  1. is like dis–i make the poop.
  2. momma sez “o evelyn why did yu do that?”
  3. momma say to P.C. lady “my dog made a posit.”
  4. P.C. lady say “is ok i will cleen it.”
  5. momma say “i am so sory.”
  6. P.C. lady make the LOL smiley face an say “is ok.”
  7. momma ask for them peenut buttr treets! she say to me “i feel gilty evelyn.”

is magic! if yu do them steps yore momma will git yu treets too! is magic!

we goed out the door wif that bag of treets an P.C. lady say “come bak cuz we never member who goed poop on the floor!” so i will tell momma lets go bak! bak for more majik!


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To be honest, I have no memories of anything having to do with one year ago. I was knocked out, flat on my butt with several attractive women hovering over me and attending to my every need. No, my memories pick up again sometime in the evening when I finally roused myself enough to pay attention to where I was and what was going on.

There was a difference, for sure, but there was no pain. And there were the women. If I were not a dog, I would have been majorly impressed. There was the really pale and rather ethereal one who was in charge. There was the dark and incredibly serious one with the Australian accent who kept pronouncing my name with the accent on the first syllable. And then there were the minions, the ones I ordered around just with a glance. Man, what a life.

I have since come to terms with the loss of my leg. I still don’t buy the story my Woman and my Man fed to me about cancer. After all, my leg never hurt me and I never limped or begged for mercy the way some of you did. I still know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was coerced into going to sleep with all these lovely women nearby and then the leg fairies stole my leg by stealth and under cover of darkness. I have resigned myself to knowing that I was victim of something equivalent to the sirens, the lovely ladies who called to sailors and lured them into the briny depths. I didn’t know there were leg sirens or I would have lashed myself to the bumper of my Woman’s car the same way the sailors lashed themselves to their ships.

Looking back on this year, I have learned a lot. I learned that I am much more capable than I ever thought I was. I have heard my Man call me a weenie, and I guess I was. I try not to be a weenie now, though. I think I am braver and stronger now than I was a year ago. I got over many of my fears and plunged ahead, led by the fearless humans in my pack. My Woman expects great things of me and I don’t want to let her down, so I follow on. Sometimes she asks things of me that make me pee on the floor, but she encourages me and loves me and helps me overcome. So there. I’m a lucky guy and I know it. First, my Man stopped the car. Second, my Woman put me in her lap and never let go (even when I gave her mange). And third, I got a new chance when the sirens or fairies or whatever took away my leg. My folks love me a lot and spoil me, and I know I’m a lucky guy.

Love, Dakota

This is the action shot of Evelyn and me snatching our celebratory bacon out of the air!

Don't I look dignified? Suckers!

My pack’s getting a hairless bipawd puppy


But what if I don’t want a hairless bipawd puppy? Nobody asked me. I’m not sure this is a good idea. It’s coming in early July. It won’t be living in my house, but it will be part of my pack. It will live with my biggest Boy. He lives with his own Woman nearby, and they decided to have a puppy. Why?

I’m getting a very bad feeling about this. What will I have to do? I don’t have to let it have my Snausages, do I? Am I supposed to take it outside and show it where to poop? Do I have to share my stuff? Will it touch me?

My Woman told me that some of my friends here have had hairless bipawd puppies join their pack. She said Spirit Indi’s pack got one, and so did Spirit Catie’s pack. If anyone here got one, please let me know what to expect and what it will be like. And if anyone wants me to come for a really long visit, like a few years, I can come. Let me know soon. I kind of feel like this is an emergency.

Thinking hard about loving, losing, meaning, belonging


It’s been a rough winter. Lots of my friends here…aren’t. They just aren’t here anymore. You people use words that say it in a kind and gentle way, but my friends have died. I have been thinking a lot about losing friends. Here are some of my thoughts. Remember, though, I’m a dog. I have ideas, not necessarily answers.

I have vague sensations and feelings of life before I was put here. I believe that we dogs start out at the place you call the Rainbow Bridge and wait for the right human to be matched up with. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes we have to try again. But I feel very strongly that I waited there until it was my turn, and I know I had an ugly, ugly start. I was plopped down in a horrific place where I was yelled at, chased with sticks, sprayed with hoses, ignored, neglected, starved and infected with disease. I had to live like that for months until my family-to-be drove down the road I was on.

When I call my people my Man and my Woman, it’s because that is what they acted like for me. Moms and dads are great; I needed a Man and a Woman, though. When the car stopped and my Woman got out to see what I was, she wasn’t a mom. She was a Woman, gentle and kind and saving. When my Man parked at the gas station and bought me Oscar Meyer bologna and cheese to save my life, he was a Man. And when the drunk guy came to the car and claimed I belonged to him and tried to fight my Man for me and my Man said “if that’s how you treated him then you don’t deserve to have him and I will tell the police and have you arrested,” he was a Man, strong and powerful and protective.

I had to wait for these people but it was worth it. I endured the unendurable because I knew they would save me and I would always be safe.

What purpose did any of this have? Well, I’m not sure. However, I was so sick and contagious that I had to be isolated at my new home for almost 3 months. And 3 months after that, my Woman and Man started trying to find out why life was so hard for my Boy. Later on they found out about something called autism. I sometimes think that they were practicing with me so they could be even better parents for that Boy. I was very needy and sick and weak. My Woman was my caretaker. She had to learn patience and compassion and tolerance. I think it helped when my Boy needed a lot of all of those things. She had practiced a lot.

So what about the friends who have left? What was their purpose? What did their lives mean and how did they belong? I am a dog, and I am only me. But I will bet that their families can tell you stories of how they had a special purpose. I will bet that those dogs waited at the Rainbow Bridge to be put into the right home so they could do the job they needed to do.

Well, I hear you say, my dog has no special job. He came to me as a puppy and has lived a life of luxury. There is no tragedy or mountain to overcome in my family. Maybe you should think harder. Let me tell you what I else I have done here.

I have been a warm blanket for my Woman to curl up with on the floor when someone special died. When she cried so hard, her tears went into the ruff at my neck and I collected each one. When my family cries and doesn’t have a tissue, I clean the tears. I have been a quiet ear, a completely forgiving confessor when my Man or Woman messes up big time and needs someone to tell, someone they know won’t get angry.

My Woman gets miffed at how I have always slept right at the front door, so close she can’t even open it to come inside. I do that for a reason. I do it so I will be the first thing she sees when she comes inside, my tail pounding on the floor in happiness to see her again. Even if she is only taking out the garbage. I do it so my Man sees my smile first thing when he comes home from work and it is dark and cold outside and his shoes are full of snow. I do it so I can be close to the door when my Boy needs me to come outside really fast to play.

We are always there for you, even if you don’t need us. We listen and don’t tell. We see and don’t judge. We let you cry into our fur, yell at us when you really want to yell at someone else, trip over us in the dark because it’s better than leaving you alone. When you bring us home, you often tell others that you rescued us. You have it backwards, but we don’t contradict you. We live with you and we love you and then we leave you. But we will be with you again. My Woman says she doesn’t want to go to heaven if dogs aren’t there. She says she can’t imagine how God could want us to be happy but not let us have our dogs. I am just a dog and don’t know everything. But I know she is right. I’m still thinking about most of this, but I think I’m figuring things out.

i goed on a big essplore


today i goed on a big essplore at my new home. at my old home i did big essplores and had fun and got into trubble and made messes and rolled in dirt and did whatever i wanted. today my momma and my dad wuz taking stuff out of the big scary moving truk. i found some more trubble then. this is wat happen.

you knoe i live with a boy. well, we brung this boy’s bestest fren here to help. you knoe how they helped? they taked their lil drivey cars and drived them on the sidewalky things and made the drivey cars do triks and stuff. i like them drivey cars a bunch so i went with them boys. momma and dad did not see me go. momma came to fine me and she had her big frowny face on. she say she was skared and worried. i try to tell her i jus went on a big essplore. she did not heer me. momma loves me bunches and bunches but she is not very smart. i wanna go on a essplore tomorroe. you wanna come?


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October 2017
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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.