Dakota Love

Dakota sleeps

You may remember we acquired a dog back in August. She’s a black German 4-year-old shepherd named Dakota. She’s got a ton of energy. A few issues have cropped up. She doesn’t like new people much. Like, at all. She barks at them, teeth bared, a ridge of black fur standing up in the middle of her back. She’s 60 pounds of protective rage. Men get her unvarnished wrath, especially if they’re wearing ball caps and hoodies, which covers 90% of Shelton males. We propose someone, long ago, beat her regularly. This mystery man shaded his visage with a ball cap and wore hoodies as a staple in a damp climate.

Zac, who collects hoodies, received a villain’s welcome when Dakota first met him. He didn’t want to be around her. She guarded us from Zac, the interloper. I passed Zac a hot dog and he was able to dilute her hatred, one fleshy chunk at a time. Now, she loves him. Her joy to see him – or any of us of the inner sanctum – is genuine. She wags her tail, jumps around and rubs against us, seeking hugs and pets.

“I love how happy she is,” Zac commented the other day, rubbing Dakota’s back as she wriggled in ecstasy, amber eyes filled with adoration.

It’s rather beautiful, and has made our house feel like a home. I want to be like that. You see the bumper stickers:

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It sounds like…

Do everything without complaining or arguing – Philippians 2:14

Is Dakota perfect? No. She finds stray Kleenex and shreds it. This creates a random sort of indoor snowfall. She fishes, ahem, kitty roca out of the cat box. She loses her cool with Rex, who hisses and takes swipes at her every chance he gets. She drops her muddy, sopping tennis ball wherever she pleases. This leaves a round, grungy splatter on the carpet or wood floor. Or better yet, she loses all of her baker’s dozen of balls in the yard. Someone has to go help her hunt up at least 2 in order to keep her calm.

But we don’t love her any less for all these transgressions. We’re working on the “meeting new people part, letting her know *we* decide who is initiated and who is excluded. Rex is a goober and I’m not getting in the middle of that relationship. We can keep things picked up better so she doesn’t form her own weather pattern. Her joy in everyday living inspires us to see the world with gratefulness.

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