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Dakota3, November, 2000


It was the end of summer, 2000, when 82 Labrador Retrievers were rescued just north of Houston, Texas. It was a case of good intentions gone terribly wrong. The dogs had been taken in and cared for by one woman, but she became ill and the Labs were left for almost two months without food or care. Special thanks are due to all of the volunteers of Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue who helped make this rescue operation a success. In addition, many thanks must go out to the families who have opened their homes to these Labs.

Dakota was one of these Labs. When he was rescued, he was heartworm positive and malnourished. Shortly after Dakota was adopted, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL. LABMED was contacted, and we were able to help fund his surgery. Here is Dakota's story, straight from the adoptive home:

We had recently bought a house in the Dallas area and had been contemplating adopting another Lab to keep our 8 year old female Lab, BJ, company. Last August, we were keeping an ear open for a lab in need when we heard about 82 Labs that had been rescued from a one person "rescue shelter" in Houston(Their story is at . We immediately decided that one of these rescued labs would make a great companion for BJ, so we contacted Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue (HOTLAB - in Austin to find out more. HOTLAB informed us that the dogs would require 2-3 months of rehabilitation, but we could start the screening process.

Finally, in late October, most of the dogs were well enough to be adopted, so we packed up BJ and the truck one Saturday morning and headed to Austin. When we arrived at HOTLAB we were overwhelmed. There were so many wonderful adoptable Labs. We "interviewed" almost a dozen dogs, but one little guy, DB, really stuck in our minds and hearts. He and BJ got along wonderfully, and when he crawled into my lap and looked up at me with his sad deep eyes I knew that this little loverboy was the one for us. Since there were so many dogs, we decided to stay the night and come back the next day for some "second interviews". Once again, DB exhibited some very affectionate behavior toward us, and he proved to be the right one for us. HOTLAB indicated that he was around 3 years old, was one of the most emaciated dogs when he arrived, and had just finished his heartworm treatment.

When we got back to Dallas, we took the dogs to Petsmart to get some new bowls and toys. It was there we first noticed that DB was carrying his left leg. We thought it was a cramp, rubbed it, and he seemed fine. It occurred several more times during the week, especially on walks. We already had an appointment scheduled with the vet for a "wellness" checkup so we had her check his leg out as well. Our vet suspected that it was a torn ACL, but referred us to a specialist to confirm. The specialist confirmed it, and determined through the atrophy in the muscles that he probably had the injury for over 6 months. He explained our surgical options, but indicated that DB (now named Dakota) probably had a moderate amount of arthritis build up, which wasn't reversible. Due to Dakota's young age, we elected to have a TPLO done which would restore Dakota's leg and prevent the possibility of further cruciate ligament damage."

We originally contacted HOTLAB when we noticed the limp to determine if they were aware of an injury. HOTLAB was very supportive throughout the process, encouraging us to take Dakota to the specialist and even offering financial support. Once we informed them surgery was necessary they also suggested that we contact LABMED for additional assistance.

BJ and Dakota3Dakota had his surgery on Dec 27, 2000. He had to stay at the surgery center over night, and that was quite traumatic for all of us. We did not want him to think we were abandoning him, and when we picked him up the next day he did not even have a tail wag for us! He came around quickly, though, after making it back to his own bed at our home. He had a very large cast for 2 weeks, and didn't touch it once. Dakota was often restless with his cast. I think he was very happy to have the cast removed, and he was walking on all fours immediately. He has decided that he no longer wishes to do his physical therapy (with the vet's approval) which he never enjoyed. Now he can go on slow, short walks instead. At this point (5 weeks post-surgery) he is about 90% recovered to his pre-surgery condition. He still has about 4-5 weeks to bring him back up to somewhat of a pre-injury condition, but we think he'll make it. He also has one additional follow up appointment with the vet, but we expect to get only great feed back on his condition.

We are also very pleased to note that our now 9 year old Lab BJ and Dakota get along splendidly. BJ has been very supportive through Dakota's healing process. When we would do the physical therapy she would even sit next to him and give him kisses - almost like moral support. She regularly takes toys to him and tries to play with him. They both really enjoy walks around the neighborhood and trips to the lake. It is unfortunate that we don't know why Dakota was in the shelter, or what his life was like previous to joining our family. As odd as it sounds, Dakota does not appear to enjoy swimming or playing fetch. He would rather sit right next to us and receive some special attention while we throw the toy for BJ. He doesn't much care for toys, doesn't beg for food, or even hang around the dinner table. Dakota does love to bask in the sun and we often find him relaxing in the sliver of sun coming through windows in the mornings. Both dogs also travel really well in the car which is very important to us as we take them on all our road trips to visit family. Dakota comes when called, and will sit once he gets there. He also likes to follow us around the house (except for the kitchen), always being underfoot.

As I previously mentioned Dakota is a loverboy. He does not think twice about climbing into your lap and snuggling in for a good long stay. He loves to be petted and have attention lavished on him. He is also very jealous, but in a good way. It seems that even when he is sleeping, he knows if someone else in the house is getting attention, and will come running with his tail wagging, pushing and shoving until he is in front (this is how he got the nickname Rascally Wrangler). He definitely has the lab temperament, very easy going and friendly to all. We have several nieces and nephews and he is great with all of them. He will let them walk him on the leash and leads them around the house while they hold on to his collar with adult supervision, of course.

Dakota has certainly proved himself to be the right dog for our family.

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