Losing Dakota

“Don’t tell me you have a puppy in that truck with you!” I shouted into my cell phone.

”Um…no?” my husband replied. I could just picture his face, all innocent-like with just the right amount of guilt.

It was six days before Christmas and the house was far from puppy-proof. There were meticulous decorations hanging in nearly every room, extraordinary food was being prepped, and tediously wrapped presents had been placed under the tree. A puppy was going to make things difficult.

Terry and our daughter were supposed to ‘look’ at a litter of eight week old German Shepherd/Lab pups, not bring any of them home. I was very specific when we discussed this. We would talk more once they had spent time looking and we would then decide as a family.

“Do you want a puppy for Christmas?” my husband asked me two days before in the same tone as one would ask ‘Can you pass the ketchup?’. I was completely caught off guard. I had been begging for a second dog for several years but never got very far. Actually getting one, and a puppy at that, was not something I had expected.

A friend Terry knew from work had been gushing about his new litter of puppies for weeks. They were from his two favorite dogs and this was their third litter together. Terry had listened to him describe how friendly and sociable they all were and encouraged him to stop by and see them that weekend.

While working on truffles for Lexi’s teachers, I heard Terry’s diesel truck pull in the driveway and went to wipe my hands. Lifting the curtain, I gazed down into the cab of the truck and did not see a cute, helpless, little creature. There was only a polar bear-perhaps she was the size of a young polar bear-but there was no puppy in that vehicle.

Over the 11 years she lived with us, Dakota, aka Kota Bear, aka Bibby Bear, aka Baby Girl, enhanced our lives immeasurably. She was Lexi’s loyal play mate, Terry’s nurturing nurse, and my everlasting loyal shadow. Whether it be as the gentle wrestler on the living room floor, as the faithful caretaker, or the constant follow-you-to-every-room-no-matter-what-you-are-doing companion, she was one of the ‘good uns’.

I suppose if you have never experienced the kind of loss that makes you sob for hours on end, then you have never experienced the pure love a dog like Dakota can give you. It is the purest, truest, kind of devotion rarely found in us humans. If people behaved more like dogs, this world would be a much happier place-except for the whole butt-sniffing thing-I can do without that, thank you very much.

See you on the other side, My Love. Save me a seat on the warm, green grass next to you so we can relax together again one day …

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