It’s been almost four months since I lost my companion. She was my everything. The first dog that was mine and not the family dog. The first pet I could hug and would tell me everything would be alright. She was the first living thing I told how deeply I was hurting and would just sit there and listen.
I miss everything about Dakota. I used to always call her “my little angel,” only to ironically only have her as that. She was literally the most perfect puppy. She always listened to commands and came when called. It was only after her first surgery when she got spayed that I think the pain from her hip dysplasia started to appear and her sweet demeanor quickly shifted to unexpected nips and bites.
I’ve been wanting to write this list for some time, but only now feel compelled to write it all down before her brief time with me become nothing more than forgotten memories.
The first time I met her, she ran up to me and rolled over, sweetly showing her little tummy. Her foster mom was taken aback by how forward she was with her affection, as she had yet to let anyone touch her tummy. I was instantly in love and promised to bring her home the following week when I got back from my Masters residency in Nebraska.
On the drive home the next weekend, she slept soundly in my arms.
As she got older, I started to teach her tricks. She learned “sit” in 15 minutes, and my favorite “show me the money” in less than an hour. For “show me the money,” she’d roll onto her side, and then one afternoon I gently lifted her top back leg and she’d spread her legs. It was the cutest thing when she was sleeping in her cage and I’d ask her to “show me the money” and she’d shyly spread her legs and lift her paws.
I like to think it was just the hip dysplasia that did the next thing, but she always had a swagger when she walked. Her hips would move side to side, as her fluffy black tail whipped to either side of her golden blonde body.
After her TPLO hip surgery, I would practice turns with her in the dog run, and when I clicked, she’d walk close to me and make a turn.
On her last day when we took her to the vet, despite having used a ramp to get in and out of places after her surgery, she leapt out of the back of our SUV and ran into the office.
Another memory that I will hopefully always have, as I was too much in pain to ask for ashes or pawprints when I left her, is a diamond ring she found on one of our last walks. I always called her my search and rescue dog, and that morning she was definitely that. It was a simple gold band with a mine cut diamond. I was beside myself when I found out it was real.
Even though I don’t have years of pictures or birthdays or stories about how she loved to dig up the backyard and rip through toys at incredible speed, I have this one small reminder that she’ll always be with me.
After I lost her, I so badly wanted another puppy to fill her absence. At the advice of family and because of my unpredictable health and school work course load, I’ve held off on looking for another companion.
I miss her so so much and feel like no one talks about her, and eventually her memory will be gone forever. I would do anything to have my sweet puppy back-the one who wasn’t in incessant pain and discomfort. I hope one day to find another furry companion, but for now I’ve got words on a page to seal in time a few months that a four-legged creature brought me such joy and purpose.
She made me feel like recovery was possible, but without her here, it almost seems like her sickness beat her and mine could very easily do the same.
I miss her silky coat, her warm, wet kisses, and the way she would look at me with her Graucho Marx eyebrows. Coyote, malinois, whatever she was, she was mine and I miss her like nothing else I’ve ever lost.
I can only hope that one day the pain gets a little less crippling and that recalling the impact she on my life at such a sad time won’t be for nothing.
I miss you, little girl. I really, really miss you.