Collared: Dakota

Bambi Nelms of Ellicott City adopted sad-looking Dakota from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) in January 2004. Weighing just 51 pounds, Dakota had chronic stomach problems, didn't know how to climb stairs and was startled by sounds such as the dishwasher or washing machine. "I believe he'd spent most of his life outdoors," says Nelms; his first family said he was too big and too much work, and handed him over to BARCS. It didn't take much time before Nelms and Dakota were inseparable. "If something prevented him from being able to see me, like a door swinging closed, he lost control of his bowels," she says. But nine years later, Dakota is confident and secure in his home, hoisting his healthy and strong 95 pounds up onto Nelms' bed to sleep at night and enjoying having his multiple allergies being brought under control. Far from his underweight and scared former self, Dakota lives like a true king. -- Kim Fernandez, for The Baltimore Sun
Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun
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