1,000 Miles Couldn’t Keep this Dog and Her Pup Apart

A chance TV news spot reunited this bonded pair after a tragic separation.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Rescued Animals” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Dakota and Indiana. To see our full list of finalists, go to rd.com/petpals and vote in each category.

For four months, little Indiana miraculously survived in the woods with a shattered shoulder. The puppy had been mistaken for a coyote and shot while running wild with her mother. After rescuers found the two, they determined that Indiana would lose her leg as a result of the wound. She’d also lose her mother, Dakota, as the deeply bonded pair were picked up by different rescues and split apart. The animal control officer who captured them said they were the most intensely bonded pair he’d ever seen, that they’d never had a home, and were feral dogs who’d always lived on the run.

While Indiana was learning to walk on three legs at a rescue down south, Dakota was almost 1,000 miles north in New England. She’d been on the run her entire life. She was terrified of humans. The first family to adopt her brought her back two days later. They said she couldn’t bond, was nocturnal, kept them up all night, and couldn’t live in a home. That was when I spotted Dakota online.

The beautiful husky/malamute mix and the heartbreaking story of her pup who was shot (and I believed, at the time, killed) tugged at my heartstrings. Dakota found her forever home with me.

two dogs sleeping next to each other on the porchCourtesy Nonnie Gerber

I came upon a news story online about a puppy who was shot. The little puppy whimpering on the screen was Indiana. There was no mistaking it. She was a spitting image of Dakota. I vowed right then and there to stop at nothing to bring the three-legged puppy home to her mother. It was a long road home, but six months later, I was finally able to adopt Indiana and bring her north with Dakota, where she belonged.

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Their reunion was magical. Their bond is nothing short of extraordinary. Dakota couldn’t stop licking her pup’s face. The love between them is as heartwarming as their story is heartbreaking.

They hug. They howl. They wrestle. They play. They sleep. Together.

They are truly inseparable. They sleep entwined with their noses resting on the other. If one rolls over for a belly rub, the other rolls too. Today, Indiana runs and plays with Dakota as if she still has four legs. When she’s tired, Dakota lets her pup rest her one front leg on her back.

These once feral dogs now jump on my bed, lay on the sofa by my side, curl up in my lap, and lick me constantly. Despite their having lived in the wild, there is no aggression whatsoever. I am constantly amazed by how sweet and gentle they are.

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