Meet Dakota

Meet Dakota2020-07-10T15:27:33+00:00

Meet Dakota! Dakota came to North Shore Animal League America on a rescue transport from Georgia. At our Pet Health centers, she was immediately diagnosed with pneumonia and spent her first month under the watchful care of our veterinary staff. It was during this time that we found Dakota to be fearful when approached and handled. She was also observed to have issues with balance and gait. These observations prompted an extensive neurological exam.

An MRI revealed a birth defect in her brain known as Dandy-Walker syndrome ─ part of her cerebellum did not develop and she has decreased grey matter. Dakota was then put on behavior medicines and her foster family initiated desensitization and counter conditioning programs to alleviate the issues stemming from her condition. Dakota’s foster family also has taught her how to “say hi” to new people, to “walk away” from things that scare her, and many other skills.

While her condition may seem daunting, Dakota enjoys a life in a home with other dogs and is surely loved by her foster family as well as her Animal League America family. All because of her Sponsors, thank you!

July 2020

Dakota is in a really good place right now — both behaviorally and medically. When Dakota’s not hanging out with mom Dana, her dad, and canine siblings, she has her very own room called “Dakota’s Sanctuary.” Dana uses the room for this special dog’s feeding time and for resting at night. To make it enriching, she has several different interactive treat-dispensing toys and a lick mat. The toys make Dakota use her brain to problem solve and figure out how to manipulate them to get her food. She also has a lick mat that’s filled with dollops of yummy foods as licking behavior is relaxing for a dog. The floor mats help keep her hind legs from slipping out from under her when she gets up or stretches and when her paws knuckle under due to her underdeveloped brain. All of this enrichment, plus her daily training exercises, help to stimulate Dakota’s ability to problem solve, her memory capacity, and her ability to relax.

March 2020

Dakota is comfortable in her home with mom, Dana, and her four furry canine siblings (Martha, Willy, Lucille, and Helen). Her veterinarian at Animal League America recently changed one of her medications to address the hip pain that is related to her awkward gait and balance issues. The gait and balance issues stem from the fact that she is missing a piece of her cerebellum possibly due to her illness, Dandy-Walker Syndrome. Dakota’s family has been with her every step of the way on her journey to better health. They’ve helped her adjust to medication and took on the task of desensitizing and counter-conditioning her to combat her fears. Dakota’s favorite activity is digging holes in the backyard. She runs to one particular hole, pounces into it with her front paws, and flings dirt out behind her. “Her physical and psychological infirmities melt away in these moments. She is not the dog who freezes in fear, she is not the dog with the awkward gait,” said Dana. “She is transformed by the joy of digging. This is her bliss.” The Pet Sponsorship Program makes it all possible for Dakota. Thank you!