Dakota was a surprise from the beginning. The plan was to adopt a smaller dog from the shelter as he would be living in an apartment. This is one of his baby pictures. He appeared to be a small terrier type dog, maybe with some Yorkie in the mix. He belonged to my brother who was in college at the time.
This is Dakota all grown up. We never did decide what his heritage was but he ended up weighing 70-75 pounds and was quite large. Just goes to show you never can be guaranteed what you will end up with. We wouldn’t have traded him for the world though. His body was not the only thing that was large. His personality and spirit were as large as they come. He would only ever really listen to my brother. Every one else was second best. He adored my brother and thought the rest of us rated slightly above strangers when it came to respect. Dakota did love us though as evidenced by the wag of his tail against the floor when he saw us.
Dakota would come to visit us whenever my brother did and they both even lived with us for a couple years. Above are Dakota and Duncan when they were one year old. Oh, the fun they had! It was always quite the sight. By the time they were done, the furniture had been rearranged across the room and the cushions were spread liberally around. Look at the pure joy on Duncan’s face.
Dakota lived the good life. He went to so many places with my brother. Walks across campus, too many area parks to count, to Lake Erie beachs several times, and to so many other places. I remember one excursion we took to Mentor Headlands beach early in the spring when it was still cold. It resulted in me having a discussion with a ranger about why dogs were not allowed on the beach when no one else was there but babies were allowed there in diapers when we knew they were not potty trained. He agreed with my line of thinking but there was still a warning ticket involved. Dakota also was a regular attendee at the annual Buzzard Sighting Day in Hinckley for a number of years.
As the years passed my brother’s family grew, first with a wife, and then with a beautiful little girl. Dakota was a part of it all as he should have been. I continued to stay close with Dakota. Whenever my brother and his family traveled, several times a year to visit other family members, Dakota would stay with us. We looked forward to and enjoyed these visits. It gave Dakota a chance for a sleepover with the “cousins” and an opportunity to spend time outside in the pasture with the other dogs.
Dakota always had a mind of his own and was up for an adventure. One time during the night he took half a chocolate cake off the counter and ate it. We were extremely fortunate that there weren’t any adverse reactions. He had to sleep in his crate from then on. Another time I was putting him in the pasture with the other dogs but he had a different plan. He decided he wanted to take a walk through the woods towards our neighbor’s house. As I called his name, he looked over his shoulder as if to say “so long, I have something else to do” and kept going down the trail. I had to run back to the house for a leash and then take off after him. I caught up to him as he ambled along. He looked up and his reaction was oh, hey you’re here. I put the leash on and put him in the pasture with no further incident. Dakota loved the pasture. When he was done, he was done though. He would stand at the gate and bark one woof about every 10 seconds until we put him in the house. We always joked, Dakota does what Dakota wants. We just gave him guidelines.
He was highly intelligent but with attitude. Another time when he was staying with us, my husband told Dakota to do something that he didn’t want to do. Dakota flung his crate door open with a paw so hard it slammed open and shut and open again. He stomped into his crate, plopped himself down and gave a loud annoyed sigh. His version of letting us know he was not happy with our behavior.
I remember another time I incurred his displeasure too. He thought I was a liar. He was staying with us for a few days while my brother was in North Carolina. It was the day my brother was returning to pick Dakota up and I told Dakota this. It turned out my brother couldn’t come that day due to heavy snow. As evening approached Dakota kept looking at the door and out the window, waiting for his ride home. I finally had to tell him “he’s not coming today Dakota. ” That earned me one of his withering looks as he went and laid down on his bed. I learned that day to never say something I wasn’t absolutely sure of because Dakota would call me on it.
It has been my experience that the more challenging dogs have deeper bonds with us. The effort put into the relationship multiplies and is returned exponentially. Dakota was one of those dogs. He was loving and fiercely loyal. His big presence leaves a big empty space with his passing. Dakota left us today at 15 1/2 years of age. Run free once again sweet boy.