At the time, we had a crazy Labrador named Meg. Meg was my first dog. We'd adopted her from some neighbors that moved into a rental next door and couldn't keep their dog. She was a very sweet girl, but she had a hard time staying in the yard.
We hadn't been planning on getting a second dog. We actually went out to a friend's home to glean potatoes. (We lived in Idaho.) As my parents collected the potatoes, we enjoyed playing with the resident litter of puppies. They were 1/4 Australian Shephard and 3/4 border collie.
They were so cute! One in particular stood out. She was brown with almost husky-like markings. Some of my siblings preferred a yellow male, but I fell in love with the brown pup. The thought entered my mind, and I, half-jokingly, said, "Can we get a puppy?"
My parents, probably expecting a negative response said, "Would you trade cable (television) for a puppy?"
Thrilled at the thought, I quickly said, "Yes!"
I don't think my parents were anticipating that, and soon after, we came home with a puppy. I named her Dakota, which my sister didn't like because she said it sounded like a boy's name, but since it was my dog, I got to name her.
|A three-month old Dakota|
She and Meg quickly became friends. Meg taught her a few bad habits, but Dakota was usually obedient. She and I enrolled in Dog 4-H, and I learned how to train dogs. She always placed really well in the obedience trials, and we ended up going to state a few years.
|At the county fair|
When she was two and a half, I bred her with a male purebred, unregistered border collie. She had eight pups, and that was the only year of high school that I didn't enter her in the 4-H obedience competition. I had a great time raising and selling the pups, and last I heard, they were pretty good dogs. It's weird that they'd be eleven this year.
|One of Dakota's pups|
If she has any failings, it is the fact that she is terrified of thunder. As her hearing has gone, she hasn't really been bothered by it inside of the apartment, but the flash of lighting can still send her into a panic. She actually ripped off the siding from my parent's house in the years that I was in college.
She would also run away when left alone, which she learned from Meg.
She stayed with my parents from 2005-2013. I would take care of her when I was home, but for the most part, that task fell upon my younger siblings. In 2013, we realized we were able to have a dog in our house, and we began to think very seriously about Dakota coming to live with us and Kevin.
She's been a joy ever since. She's so patient and kind with Kevin. She and he are good friends (and he's always sneaking her his food). He wishes she would play a bit more, but she's old and lazy. She just likes to sleep most of the time.
We noticed the lumps on her breasts a few months ago. They were already pretty large when we noticed them. She turned 14 in August. It's hard to know if she'll see another birthday. Chances are she won't.
At this point, I know that she's going to die sometime. At least, I know it on a superficial level. It hasn't sunk in, and I'm pretty sure it won't until she actually passes away. Then, we'll see how I'm doing.
Arkhon and Kevin love her. She's been a good example to both. She's taught Kevin how to be gentle with dogs, and she's teaching Arkhon how to be calm and polite.
She's been a gift in my life, and I'm a better person because I knew her. We plan to fully enjoy the time we have left.
That's the hard thing about dogs: they just don't live long enough.