The Final Walk

Lisa Thal

A final walk with our pup, Dakota, that I hope inspires you to follow your heart and keep walking towards your dreams.

I love Dogs. My wife, Olivia, and I are big advocates for rescues. We adopted three fur kids. Phoenix 13, Dakota 12, and Denali 9. They are a part of our family.

I love the mornings! I am an early riser, wake up at 4 am, and we have our routine. I let the pups outside; they eat while I sip my coffee, and then I take each of them for a run or walk. I connect with each dog, listening to my favorite podcast while enjoying Nature. It’s my special bonding time before I start my work day. I have done this for over eleven years, and the excitement it brings our fur kids makes me smile.

The morning of September 22nd was no different than any other day. All the dogs got their run and walk. Dakota loved to walk; he was my cool-down walk every day. He loved to walk and make his mark on multiple phone polls and trees. Dakota is a loving dog that never barked at other dogs unless another dog came close to his brother Phoenix and sister Denali. He would stop to pee on about everything. I would tell him that you’re letting others know you were here, boy!

By the way, Dakota was a lymphoma cancer survivor for over two years. He went through months of chemo and was in remission. Dakota would put smiles on the faces of the staff at the Pet Oncologist. He somehow knew that going there would make him feel better, and it did. After his treatments, Dakota became a different dog. He was our Wellness pup. He was full of life, loved to eat, especially Pop Corn and Blueberries, and loved his van rides to the parks for a walk. All the dogs looked forward to the van door sliding open, which meant a hike in the woods with Liv. The little things in life brought Dakota such happiness.

Liv and I would always say Dakota is teaching us to slow down and appreciate everything around us. He was the perfect therapy dog. He loved snuggling next to you as if to say I am so grateful for you. Thanks for rescuing me.

Well, on September 22nd, later that morning, that changed for us. I was getting ready to golf, and Liv was sipping coffee on the couch with Dakota next to her. His breathing seemed labored, and we both noticed it. I was leaving to play golf and said to Liv let me know if anything changes with him. So strange that all of a sudden, he was panting. About an hour later, I got a call from Liv that said Dakota collapsed, and she scooped him up to take him to our Vet. She called to let me know he was not doing well. The scans revealed he had fluid in his lungs and internal bleeding from a rupture of his organ. His time was going to be limited. I left the course and was about 30 minutes away from the Vet.

Liv put Dakota in the van and opened the doors with the sun shining. She comforted him until I arrived. We were in complete shock and heartbroken. How could our Dakota be eating, walking, and smiling, and we are saying goodbye to him hours later?

Many of you listening can relate if you ever had to say goodbye to a pet. Our fur kids hold a special place in our hearts and comfort us. They love us unconditionally and teach us things we need to know.

As I shared earlier, Dakota taught us to slow down and appreciate the life around us.
Be loyal to those you love!
Be a good listener.
Go on more adventures.
Cherish the time you have to spend with those you love.
Realize our time is limited.
Take more naps!

In honor of our Dakota, Liv and I continue to walk toward our dreams and the life we envision. On that day, our lives shifted. Our hearts are heavy with sadness because we miss Dakota so much.

I still see images of Dakota during my morning runs. In some ways, it is helping me through the grieving process.

I have realized that we all will face our final walk one day. I encourage you to keep walking toward the life, career, and love connections you desire. Please continue to make an impact on others as Dakota has taught us to do.

Stay inspired and grateful, and more importantly, hug your fur kids!

Three Words: I Miss Dakota!

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