At the time we had been in WY for about a year. I had to give up my cat Pringles when we made the move from Arizona, and I was feeling pretty lonesome with out any animals. Since we were not allowed to have a cat where we were renting, I decided we would go adopt a dog.
So we made the trip to the two animal control locations in Casper. I knew I wanted a lab, so that is what I was looking for. Color was not important, temperament was vital.
At the first location there was a big chocolate male. He was full of energy, about a year old, decent breeding, a little out of control. He had spent his entire life in a back yard with very little human contact. I knew he was trainable but I also knew it would be a lot of work. I also knew that my husband (now ex) would probably make me take him back if he did too much damage. Also being that the house was rental....I wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Still I did not rule the big boy out.
At the second location there were a few labs. Most were the skinny, hyper, field bred types. Super high energy dogs. But then there was another one, another chocolate. I wasn't looking for a chocolate to take the place of Easter chocolate, but I thought it was funny that I kept coming back to those.
This one was a girl. I could tell just by looking at her that she had decent breeding behind her. She was an owner surrender, due to moving and couldn't keep her. She was excited to get to come out of her kennel and jumped all over me, but when I said, "Sit" Her butt hit the ground. She was 3 years old, past the puppy destructive age, and obedience trained. I knew she was the one.
We signed the papers, put a leash on her and took her to my Jeep Cherokee. I opened the back and she jumped right in, and proceeded to bounce off of every window like a maniac all the way home.
"OMG! What have I done?" I wondered. (Just for the record, She never lost that habit)
When we got to the house the first thing she did was jump up on the couch and make herself at home. Mike had specific rules about dogs on furniture. However, she was a smart girl and only had to be told a couple of times not to get up there.
Her name was already Dakota, and since I didn't hate it, we didn't change it.
From then on Dakota became and integral part of our family. She was house broken, never got into trouble while we were gone, and loved loved loved to go hiking.
The next door neighbor bought a little Golden Retriever puppy. Dakota loved that puppy and would dig holes under the fence just big enough for him to come over and play. They had a great time tearing up every single dog bed we bought for her, which was always a lovely mess to come home too.
She was famous for her "butt scoot" run, which made her feel super fast.
Dakota's biggest thrill was going camping. We had a big school bus that we converted into a motorhome of sorts. When she would see the buss in the drive way (we stored it elsewhere) she would just go crazy! She would run in and out of the bus, "helping" us load it up, and then would refuse to get out for fear of being left behind. She should not have worried though, she would never have been left behind.
At the campsite I never had to worry about her wandering off. She never went far and always came when called. She spent most of her time in the water. She was a typical lab who could care less what the water temp was. If there was water she was going in, ice cold, or luke warm.
When we took her hiking in the mountains she would run ahead about 50 yards and then come back to where we were, then run ahead, and then run back. She hiked at least 20 times the distance we did. She loved snow too. She would tunnel through it and roll and just have the best time.
Eventually we brought home Mason, and she was happy to have a friend. He was younger and she took great care of him. They were best buds.
Two years later, Mike and I split up. We had moved to a house in the country by then, and I had Danny, the horse. So when I moved out I only moved one street over, where I rented a little trailer on five acres. I could only have one dog, so I had to choose. Dakota and Mike were hiking buddies, I don't care for climbing mountains and neither did Mason, so I took Mason and he kept Dakota. However I did baby sit her for him often.
Even after TC and I got together Dakota often came to stay with us for a few days.
When TC and I made the decision to move to AZ, Mike approached us and asked if we would take Dakota with us. She was starting to struggle with the cold of WY, and showing some signs of arthritis. Plus, he wanted to start traveling and didn't want to be held down by the responsibility of a dog.
So we agreed to take her. She has been with us here for a little over a year, and I while I think she actually misses the snow, she has a good life with us, and gets to spend as much time as she wants in the house. She has never broken a rule, never gotten in trouble. Not once...not ever. She sleeps at the foot of our bed at night, and never makes a peep.
Well she did anyways...she doesn't now.
About two months ago she start stumbling when she walked. It was random, no way of predicting it, and I assumed it was just her arthritis. Then she started limping on her front foot. I gave her half of a Rhimodyl, and then had to leave for the weekend to sell tack. TC called me later and said, she was having trouble walking. We assumed she was having a reaction to the low dose of Rhimodyl, and so of course she didn't get anymore. She was still eating and drinking,and TC was able to get her out side as long as he helped her by giving support on her sides. By time I got home Sunday, I had to actually lift underneath her and support her weight, and her feet would often fold up underneath her.
I was convinced that she had Valley Fever. It can attack your joints and so I took her to the vet Monday morning and had her tested. For some stupid reason, because I was so sure I knew what her problem was I guess, I didn't have them run a full blood panel. I took her back home waiting for the results, and within 24 hours she quit eating or drinking. So I rushed her back and we did the panel.
She is diabetic. We also had the Valley Fever results back. She also has that but the titers were very low. So low that the vet said at the current levels he would have been taking her off the VF meds if she had been on them. On top of that there is some deterioration of her spine.
We started her on insulin, and she immediately started doing better. Was eating and drinking, and more alert. She has an appt on Wed for a recheck.
She won't be making that appoint, I don't think.
Dakota can no longer walk at all. She cannot even sit up to pee or poop. She cannot even help us help her out to the door. She weighs 85lbs. I can no longer carry her in and out to go to the bathroom. Even then she just lays there and lets everything just dribble out.
She is so miserable, I can tell.
As I type this I am waiting for the vets office to open so I can call and ask to bring her in this morning. I have made the decision that unless the vet is super confident that he can get her to walk again, she won't be coming home with me. The one thing I like about my vet is that he is honest with me. If he thinks he can help her we will say so, but he will not waste my money or my dogs life, if he thinks he cannot.
Its funny, well not funny, but ironic. We have Butch who is at least 13 years old, has lupus, and is on prednisone. We always thought he would be the first one to go, not Dakota. Not our happy healthy girl.
It is time to call now. I guess I will finish this when I get home from the vet.
The last picture ever taken of my girl. The prognosis was not good. The vet said we could try a neurologist, but but since we cannot isolate what exactly is keeping her from walking, we could get thousands of dollars into it and not be any further than where we are.
I made the call and stayed with her till the end.
I am sad but feel a certain amount of relief as well. It was so hard to see her lying there like that, wanting to go for her walk, but not having the ability to do so. She was depressed I could tell.
As always it was the right decision, but it sure doesn't make it any easier.