Sweet Dakota

Dakota Caroline 2004-2017

This sweet girl.

She was … the best Christmas present, sensitive with the biggest feelings, stubborn as a mule, scared of anything that made loud noise, the most patient big sister, the best swimmer, the most excited travel companion, the fastest stuffed bear destroyer, peanut butter’s biggest fan, smart as they come, my favorite confidant, the best reason to come home from somewhere, a car riding expert, the cat’s favorite snuggle buddy, the life of the party, momma’s girl, the most comfortable pillow, an avid green pea hater, a tough tug of war player, friendly to everyone she met … and she was my best friend.

We lost our Dakota on August 4, 2017. She was 12 years old. I took her to the vet about 2 and a half years prior because she was drinking a lot of water and was always really hot.  They did some tests on her, including a full blood panel and a ultrasound of her abdomen.  They determined that she had liver cancer, and told me they thought she would live for maybe another year.

At that point, she had already had various prior surgeries to remove lumps from various parts of her body, so I can’t say I was surprised. Seeking any sort of advanced treatment wasn’t really an option, due to both location and cost. Really my only question at that time, was the one we all ask. “How will I know when it’s time?”  The vet’s answer, bless her heart, was the one she has to give.  “You will just know,” she said.

I didn’t really know what to do with that, so I resorted to my good friend Google.

Dakota’s Last Swim – July 29, 2017

The most helpful article I read about this was from VetStreet.com, where they said:

The Rule of Five Good Things”: Pick the top five things that your pet loves to do. Write them down. When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted to a level where many veterinarians would recommend euthanasia.”

This made total sense to me, and mostly resolved the anxiety I had about what to do when it was time to make “the decision.”

Dakota’s ‘Five Good Things’ were:

  1. Swimming
  2. Going for walks
  3. Playing with toys
  4. Eating peanut butter
  5. Laying on the couch with her momma

The last time Dakota got to go swimming was July 29, 2017. She hadn’t been feeling well and I knew in my heart on that day that it would be her last swim. It was her favorite thing to do in the whole entire world.

She was no longer interested in walks and barely had interest in toys. She’d still eat some peanut butter though, if you fed it to her with your finger. Getting up on the couch wasn’t much of an option anymore, either.

The way it turned out, we got to have Dakota with us for a whole year and a half longer than the vet predicted. At the end of her life, her body quit digesting food. The decision ended up being an “easy” one. It turned out I did know exactly when it was time.

Sibling Love – August 4, 2017

One nice thing about living in a small town is that the doctors at the vet office know our name, love our fur babies like their own, and home visits for the dreaded final good-bye are complimentary.

So, I fried our sweet girl a whole pork chop and fed it to her while I told her how pretty she was.  Then, we said good-bye. We buried her at home with her favorite blanket and stuffed bear, and planted a perennial garden there.

A few days later, we made a plate of (what other kind but) peanut butter cookies for the awesome doctors and staff at the vet office.

Love your furry babies as hard as you can, they are never with us for long enough.

We loved our sweet girl so hard, and miss her every day.

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