Happy Tail: Dakota inspires magic music

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Julianna Murphy adopted Dakota, a Belgian Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix, from Guelph Humane Society in Ontario. The dog had been picked up as a stray. He was thin, and his coat was matted. But sometimes someone just knows this is the one.

Dakota expresses himself with a tilt of his head.

Dakota expresses himself with a tilt of his head.

“Dakota won my heart,” Julianna says, “and I could feel sparkles dancing inside, making music to my heartbeat. I envisioned him home with me,” and soon it was a reality.

She wasn’t sure how old he was then, although his age was estimated between 1 and 2, but now 14 years have passed. “He is still here, though age is showing its creaky side,” Julianna says. “Fourteen years of a friend every day. Someone who can tell me, with a tilt of the head, that it is time for food, water, a walk or time to just curl up and be authentically quiet.”

Such a friend is a gift, and because he was Julianna’s first dog, each experience was fresh and new.

There was the separation anxiety when he was left alone outside. “This was evident as I refilled holes in the backyard,” she says. “Dakota and I had long talks as we filled the holes. Now he just lies in the sun while I garden and always chooses to go inside with me when I m done.”

She bought him a fine leash and collar for their walks. “The leash did not last long as his teeth connected around it and cut it like a sharp knife,” she says. “He did this to many subsequent leashes. His favorite place to do the deed was while I stood talking to someone or while waiting at a crosswalk for the light to change.” She didn’t detect the difference at first because he continued to walk obediently beside her. “He was free to leave but never did. After a number of leashes, he must have understood I was his forever person and agreed to a red horse-lead for our walks.” No more leash chewing.

Once they had mastered walking, they had to master the art of meeting people. “Dakota was big enough to pull me and then knock over someone with an overly exuberant hello,” she says. Gradually, she trained him to meet people in a more subdued fashion. “I feel gratitude for the old guy at my side as he helps me find another friend.”

Julianna knows that it won’t be too many years before she has to find another companion. She’s hoping he or she will bring sparkle to her heart the way Dakota has. “I keep coming back to Petfinder.” One day, the magic will strike again.