Willow was a great first dog for me. She is a very intelligent Jack Russell Terrier, mostly white with a few brown spots and a brown mask around her eyes. When she came home with me at just six weeks old, I immediately started training her. By the time she was seven weeks old she could sit and lay down on command. She was the most precious pup around, but as she got older she became lonely. Nathan and I were both working and going to school full time and when we got home we were tired. Willow, after her busy day of napping in various positions and in various rooms around the house, was not. Because we knew she was lonely, even if she wouldn’t admit it, Nathan and I began discussing adopting another dog, a sister for Willow. Discussion is as far as we had gone, at least until I took a trip to the pound and met Dakota.

The pound is such a depressing place, with all of those sad puppies of all ages looking miserable inside their concrete and chain link cages. This pound smelled like litter boxes and dog pee and was one of the saddest places I had ever been. I walked around looking at all of the dogs. I knew that whichever dog we adopted, it would have to be at least twice Willow’s size because she was feisty and needed someone bigger than her that would be able to stick up for herself. The dog also had to be a female. As I walked around, the sounds of baying hounds and yappy little dogs echoed around the room. One corner of the pound was very quiet. I walked in that direction, and in the corner laying flat on her belly with her front legs poking out in front of her face was a beautiful white and black cow colored dog whose nametag read Dakota. She was perfect. I didn’t finish walking around because I didn’t want to leave her by herself. Dakota was going to come home with me as soon as possible.

I called my husband and the next day during his lunch break we met at the pound to see Dakota. I was so worried that someone would have already adopted her that I practically ran straight to her cage. Nathan walked around slowly and looked at all of the dogs in the building, saving the row where I was standing next to Dakota for last. I know he loved her the first time he saw her, too. I had won, and there was only one other small human to convince: Willow. We talked with the lady behind the front desk about the adoption process and asked about bringing our dog Willow to visit her. The true test would be that afternoon when Willow and Dakota would meet for the first time.

Willow, although she is only 17 pounds of muscle, is very vicious and quite possessive of me in particular. I had no idea how this would go, but I also knew that Dakota had to come home with us. While Willow and I waited inside the fenced area, Nathan went and got Dakota from the inside. She was around 55 pounds then, and she had obviously never been walked on a leash. She dragged Nathan across the overgrown grass as Nathan tried his hardest to retain some control over the strong canine.

Then the true test began. Willow growled ferociously and snapped her teeth. Dakota returned the growls, and those growls were quite menacing. We finally allowed them close enough to sniff each other and it seemed like they were going to work things out. They didn’t fight that first day, and they have played well together except for a few incidences, one that culminated in a very expensive emergency vet visit. Just this morning, after the plants had been watered and the coffee was brewed, as Nathan and I sat outside with them, I watched them as they happily fought over a ball to see who was going to bring it to dad to throw. It was an interesting day when Dakota came home with us, and every day has began differently since. There is not a single day that has gone by that I do not wholeheartedly stay committed to the fact that Dakota was one of the best investments we have ever made.

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