Dakota first came into my life in the summer of 2015. At the time, he was a 6-month-old ball of energy. Dakota is 75% Native American Indian Dog (NAID) and 25% Golden Retriever. He came into rescue with his brothers Milo and Kody. Originally, my family took Kody as our foster, while the other two boys went to their own foster homes.  Milo was soon adopted, while Kody and Dakota had a lot more socializing and housebreaking to do.

There is no doubt that Dakota is full of love, but he is also full of mischief. If he can reach it and it can fit into his mouth, that’s where it will go. Dakota went to a few different foster homes before heading for a week of training with Christine at WHATADOG. Dakota has a heart of gold, but he needed a lot of consistency and someone to be patient with him.

Unfortunately, at a routine vet visit, it was found that Dakota and Kody both had cataracts. This is very uncommon for such young dogs. We brought them to a specialist to better understand what we were dealing with. The good news is that Dakota and Milo had incipient cataracts that are considered hereditary, seldom progress, and rarely impair vision. Sadly, Kody had a different type of cataract. His type occurs during gestation. He was blind in his left eye and his right eye was not far behind. The specialist indicated that Kody was a good candidate for removal of the cataracts and intraocular lens implantation. Before Kody’s surgery, he was moved to a foster home where he could have a better recovery because the house was much quieter with less activity. Dakota ended up coming to our house for fostering. After Kody adjusted to his new foster home, he successfully went through the surgery and now has full vision.

When Dakota first came into our home, he immediately fell in love with our other Golden Retriever, Mayson, and our Beagle, Cooper. NAIDs are very much a pack dog, so having other dogs around is very important for their happiness. Our dogs were also good teachers for Dakota and he often watched and then reciprocated their behavior. Dakota wore a leash and was attached to me at all times. If I went to the kitchen, Dakota came with me. This helped me be able to watch him and immediately correct any naughty behavior. Dakota is very food driven so it didn’t take long to teach him basic commands. Even when Dakota had a day where he was extra energetic and challenging, it was hard to stay frustrated with him. He has the best dog smile and at the end of the day, he loves to jump up on the couch with you and snuggle for hours.

After a few months in our home, we started to look for Dakota’s forever family. He was by no means completely perfect. He still needed to be watched very closely because if given too much time to himself he would find trouble. Dakota was a work-in-progress and we were looking for a family that wanted to continue his training and be prepared to have a big puppy, even though he was about a year and half old. Dakota was on the roster and on Petfinder for about six months. He didn’t have a lot of interest and those that were interested didn’t work out for various reasons.

On December 30, 2016, Dakota turned two years old. He had been with GLGRR for a year and a half now and our home for about a year. It is hard not to fall head over heels in love with a dog that you have for such a long time. Dakota brings such a light into my home. He loves our other dogs and they love him. Our Beagle often likes to dig and spin around in the dog beds or in a blanket so that he gets the perfect spot to sleep. I have caught Dakota doing the same thing. Sometimes I think that he thinks he is a 75-pound Beagle. Dakota does not bark, although he has quite the howl that is not like anything that I have ever heard. In all honesty, Dakota is not the smartest dog I have ever worked with, but he is one of the most loveable dogs I have ever met. I feel that we understand each other well. Sometimes I will say things to him that I know he doesn’t completely understand, but he will somehow do it anyway. We have built a bond like I have never experienced with a dog. I have been involved rescue since I was a young girl, I have been around hundreds of dogs, and had multiple foster dogs come and go throughout my life, but there has never been a dog quite like Dakota. No, he isn’t perfect. No, he hasn’t tried to stop eating anything he can. As I write this, he is trying to catch some fuzz that blew by his face so he can eat it, but at the end of the day I will sit down on the couch and Dakota will come and lay right next to me. Dakota has the best eye contact and can look into your eyes for so long. I admit, I have had staring contests with him and he often wins. He looks into your eyes and sends you nothing but love and happiness. Dakota brings such light, laughter and love into our home. I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like without him.  Even when he brings such chaos into the home, I feel that he brings peace along with him. I don’t know exactly when or why I fell absolutely in love with Dakota. Maybe it’s because he is still leashed to me in the house to this day, maybe it is because he has a heart of gold, or maybe it’s because he was meant to be mine.

As the New Year came, I decided to adopt Dakota. Dakota belongs with me. After being in a several different foster homes, he made his way to mine and now he is never going to leave. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Dakota. I want to teach him more tricks and commands, but we will see how that goes. The one thing I do know is that I will always love him and his goofy personality and he will never have to wonder where his forever home will be. –Jenna