Can we have an ampuversary without you?

Tomorrow is the 2-year milepost on our journey. I have been thinking about it for easily a month, knowing I wanted to write about it here but not really knowing how. I trusted that the words would arrive when the day did, but they really haven’t. I’m kind of at a loss.

Two years on this journey is a very big deal. When you started, you were in fantastic company: Bellona, Lucky, Rio and Bud were in the same week with you. We’ve not seen Bellona or Lucky here for a very long time so we don’t know how they’re doing or if they also crossed the bridge. Rio went ahead of you just before her first year ampuversary. You went 2 months before your second. Bud is here, though. He is holding down the fort and making all the February Furball Family proud. His being here makes it a happy time.

Dakota, I want to let you know the things that have happened in the last couple of months since you left. Evelyn is settling down but she is still confused at night. She is sleeping in her crate in the bedroom. We leave the crate door open and she usually stays there, but not always. She does a fair amount of pacing and searching for unknown things and then goes back to sleep.

The grandpuppy is now on her hands and knees, threatening to crawl. She does a combat crawl at 90 miles per hour and zeroes in on poor Evelyn sometimes. You would have hated this and run for your bed.

We have not had much snow, so you would also not have enjoyed the weather. I’m sorry your last winter with us couldn’t have been filled with the deep stuff you so enjoyed.

Your Boy is still the same, doing his boy thing and growing. Your Man has asked me when I think I might want to take your ashes to the mountains and scatter them around your old hopping grounds. He seemed surprised when I told him I’m not sure I’ll ever want to do that. I wish I knew what you wanted me to do with them, D.

I used to think that when people cry for a loss, they are crying for themselves because of how much they miss the one who’s gone. I’m not so sure I’m right about that, though. I miss you, D, very much–but I’m still very angry that you were cheated out of so much. I am incredibly pissed that you died so young. I realize you were almost 11, but we’ve never lost a dog so young. We were counting on several more years, more time to give to you as a gift. I’m sorry you were cheated. I’m sorry so many here have been cheated. If I could change the rules, I would.

On a happier note, your hated harness is going to a dog in Texas. I hope that’s far enough away for you to feel comfortable. I know you detested the damn thing.

Happy two years, Dakota. I wish you were here to experience it.


Continue reading “Can we have an ampuversary without you?”

Dear Dakota,

It’s very late and I should be asleep. Instead, I lay in bed thinking of you and how you left us so very quickly.

I was not ready.

I’m not sure you were, either, regardless of what others may think. I believe you were very tired and weak and grateful that your doctor owns a gurney. I am sure you were relieved that only women were working at the vet’s office Saturday morning.

I was not ready, though.

Was it hard when Dr. B was out of town and you had to see Dr. S, whom you did not know? I thought she was wonderful. She was so tender with you and she seemed to fall in love with you at first sight.

But I still wasn’t ready.

When you were trying so hard to leave me and I was squatting down looking right into your eyes, you were very calm. Oh Dakota, you gave me such a gift with your peace. As hard as this is, it would be unbearable if you’d been afraid. I was so proud of you and how you demonstrated perfect grace to me. Don’t you think it’s ironic how our roles were reversed in your last half hour? You, who’d always been terrified of getting into the car and going through the vet’s door, ended up being the one who was at ease and without fear. I was not as graceful as you, but at least I let you do what you needed to do. I cried, but I did not blubber. I hope you were proud of me. I put my face next to yours and let you breathe me in even as you breathed yourself out. It was the only familiar offering I had to give you. I wish I could have given you more.

And I was not ready.

I did not expect to say goodbye to you on a gurney, early on a Saturday morning, after a wild ride to the vet’s office. I did not expect to say goodbye to you this year. I did not expect you to go so fast. I did not expect you to go.

I was not ready.


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

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.


Shari, Dakota’s Woman


Well poop…missed my ampuversary!

I think I may move out. My Woman has been way too distracted lately and she just told me tonight that we missed my 6-month ampuversary! Doggone it, that’s not right. She seems rather casual about it too. When she told me and I started to cry a little, she told me to buck up because I don’t have bone cancer. Like that makes it any better! So I had a different cancer, and I have a great chance of living till I’m old–big frickin’ deal, right? Am I right? Somebody give me an “amen!”

My ampuversary was on the 11th, for crying out loud! She missed it by almost two weeks! And now she’s reading over my shoulder and telling me to get over it. She says she has a lot on her mind. Honest-to-dog, I think she’s lost her bloody little mind. Weasel. I am not happy. Evelyn peed on the laundry room floor last night and I was disgusted, but now I’m thinking I’ll pay her to do it again. I can tolerate the odor if it’s for a good cause. What a b*tch. And I don’t mean Evelyn.

Well, to update anyone who cares (do you hear me, Woman?)–my big summer event was the posture-and-yowl fest at Wyatt’s place. I wrote about it, but it’s still the highlight of my summer. We did that Fort Collins shindig, followed by over the river and through the woods to Wyatt’s house. Criminy, what a ride. I got to watch Evelyn try to eat Wyatt. She is very embarrassing. Right now she’s eating a moth. Anyway, summer moved forward.  I had two different house sitters recently. Both involved men, which just ticks me off to no end. I do not like men, and the Woman knows that.

I really feel like I’m doing nothing but complaining, but this Woman has been so unsatisfactory lately. Sending men to babysit me. Okay, in all fairness, the one who babysat me in June was pretty decent. I did make him wait four days before I let him touch me, but that seemed fair. It was that or pee on the floor, and we already know I’m not the one that does that. This guy gave me shoulder and neck massages, and they were excellent. I did not want to let him know how blissful they made me, but he found out. He told the Woman, of course. He had some magic fingers. I think I even drooled.

So most of my summer has been spent sleeping (medicinal naps, Gayle) and watching chipmunks. I think they’re amusing. Evelyn wants to kill them, but I just think they’re silly. Besides, they get so worked up over the tiniest little things. And in a couple of months, it will snow here and they’ll lose their tiny little minds and I’ll be warm and cozy. So why should Evelyn care since she’ll be cozy, too? Well, I think maybe the chipmunks have bigger brains than Evelyn. Maybe that’s why.

Oh, and speaking of chipmunks, my Boy has this great idea! He has been telling the Woman he wants to make chipmunk jerky! Isn’t that the most awesome thing ever? I hope she lets him. She said something about it being disgusting and messy and not worth the trouble, but I think it’s fantastic! I’ll let you know if it happens. I know she’s taking him out tomorrow to get something called an “airsoft rifle,” and he said “jerky, here I come.” The Woman laughed so it might be a joke, but I’m going to check this out and stay hopeful. I have no idea what airsoft rifle means, but it might be fun. Or not, since it involves the Boy and he frequently scares the poo out of me. Not on purpose, you understand. I’m just a bit of a sissy.

I think I’m starting to ramble so that means I’m tired. It’s probably been at least 15 minutes since I got any sleep so I should definitely rest up. Evelyn is already snoring. My Woman is folding her laundry. My Boy is watching more ridiculous Japanese animation and laughing out loud. I think it turned out to be a pretty decent evening, even if they missed my big day. Oh well, maybe it is okay to act like I’m normal. Normal is fine, isn’t it?

Love, Dakota

Ampuversary Poem (thoughts one month out)

Lost, scared, alone

You found me, against all odds

You sat in the road and cried with me

Then there came anger at the Others who put me there

And made me what I was.

A long ride, a long rest, newness all around

What is this?

This is home, and love, and always.

Now we have more newness, a different way of being

New body to learn

New ways to walk

New limits to find


This is home, and love, and always.