2009 – 2/7/2020
Click for more photos of Dakota
With the heaviest of hearts, we said goodbye to Dakota (GSRNE #295) on Friday morning, just shy of ten years after he first came to us as a foster dog in April 2010.
Dakota had been found at 6-9 months old, wandering the streets of Lynn, Massachussetts in the rain, with no chip and no tags, by a woman with a dog of her own, five cats, and a tiny apartment. No one claimed him, and he stayed with her for another 6-9 months. She named him, lightly trained him and very effectively housebroke him, and nurtured his calm but exuberant personality. When Dakota became too large and rambunctious for her living situation, she called GSRNE. We fostered Dakota, and what impressed us about him, in addition to his beauty, was his outgoing nature, his confidence (which, until GSRNE sponsored his neutering, could have veered into overconfidence and dominance), and his acute intelligence. Within days, we knew that we wanted to make him part of our family and were thrilled when our adoption application was approved. What followed was almost ten amazing years in which Dakota became a constant companion (I work from a home office) and seamless part of our lives. Appropriately protective, yes, but also very sociable and collegial with people and other dogs. Dakota loved the dog park and would specifically ask me to walk him there every afternoon. A woman with a Border Collie pup came up to me one day and said, “You know, I was bitten by a German shepherd when I was a little girl, and I’ve been terrified of them all my life. Until I met Dakota.” She became one of his dog-sitters.
Dakota was blessed with good health. He did have a benign mast-cell tumor removed from his neck in 2013. In late 2018, his hind quarters showed signs of weakness; we feared DM but the vet ruled it out and diagnosed a pinched nerve in his lower spine. Acupuncture, mild pain meds and cold laser therapy worked wonders. But about six weeks ago, he began to show signs of decline. His back end was weaker and he had intermittent spells of loss of appetite, then gastro issues and incontinence. Nothing abnormal showed up on his tests, and he always rallied from these spells. But about two weeks ago, we noticed swelling in his abdomen, which turned out to be blood from a hemangiosarcoma which originated in his spleen and spread to his liver. For almost a week, Dakota responded well to the Yunnan Baiyao herbal supplement prescribed by our veterinarian. He had five good days after diagnosis: appetite, energy, play drive, keenness. Then came the downturn, which could not be arrested.
Like all GSDs, Dakota had a large and unique personality. He combined the best qualities of all the German shepherds in my life who have come before. Although we were companions, not police or military, we had a tremendous partnership, always making eye contact and communicating through our expressions, body language, unspoken behaviors and vocalization. He taught me things that reinforce important qualities like loyalty, persistence, love, commitment and playfulness. A dog who had been thrown away as a puppy in many ways rescued me.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
Adopted: June 9, 2010