It has been one week since we lost Dakota (Kota for short), not more than 3 hours after returning from our vacation to Yellowstone.
Kota was our “special” girl. Her Mom is Shasta (that’s a picture of her on the right on the dog bed). Shasta had pups late in her life (she was 7) and she only had 3. Kota was the biggest one when she was born and she was the reason we had to set a land-speed record in the middle of the night to the emergency vet when Shasta was ready to give birth. Kota was stuck…big time. She was oxygen deprived at birth – they were able to get her out without resorting to a c-section for Shasta, but they had to work on her for a bit to “pink” her up. When the tech came out with this bundle of white fur, my husband fell in love, hard.
Shasta is a hybrid — husky/timber wolf. Kota was part Shasta and part Jack — purebred Golden Retriever. Kota had a look all to her own, her siblings looked like Jack for the most part, golden with a bit of Shasta in their faces. They were all adorable pups.
We gave Bella & Jasper (yes, I named the pups) away to fabulous homes, the Mr wanted to keep Kota, so we did. She was a sweetheart. A bit slow on the uptake (you’d never know it to look at her early on), but she was his. She didn’t play like other retrievers, she would look at the ball rather than run for it. She sort of liked water, but didn’t run to the pond to play. She loved being brushed and she loved her toys.
As time went on, we knew that Kota wasn’t going to be like the other dogs we’ve had, nor even like her mother. Kota was “special.” She had problems and she would always be a puppy, even as she got older. We didn’t care. She was loving and precious and that was all that mattered. Kota was only just past 4 years old when she left us.
When we went to Yellowstone, we kenneled the girls with our friends who breed champion Chows (I don’t wish to debate Chows here) and who we trust implicitly. They’ve been breeding and raising dogs for over 30 years. Kota never liked to be away from home for very long, it really stressed her out. So when our friends said she wasn’t doing well (they called us in Yellowstone twice), we all thought that was the reason. They were treating her (on advice from their vet) and we continued our vacation. When we got home though, it was much worse than any of us thought. Hence the emergency appointment at the vet Saturday night, less than 2 hours after we returned from our vacation. Bottom line, Kota had an infection (that none of us knew about and that she had before we dropped the girls off) that was quite toxic. There was no saving her humanely and she was suffering. We did the “right” thing, but it doesn’t make our decision any better.
I made sure that we had Shasta with us “just in case” something dire would happen and I’m glad we did. Shasta went to Kota in the waiting room, nuzzled her ears and gave her kisses. She then laid down at my feet. She didn’t move one muscle whilst the vet was talking to us whilst attending to Kota. When it was all over, Shasta did the most extraordinary thing. She got up, walked back over to Kota, nuzzled her ears and again, gave her daughter kisses . She was saying good-bye. She looked at me and led me out of the room.
Shasta has been grieving this past week something fierce. She has woken us in the middle of the night with the most sorrowful howlings. She has refused to eat. Part of her pack is missing. The saving grace is that she is not looking all over for her daughter – she knows she’s not coming back. She is grieving, like any parent, nonetheless. We are grieving with her. We all miss our “special” girl.