FARGO The furry and faithful companion of North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad has been diagnosed with cancer.
Conrad learned last week that his beloved bichon frise, Dakota, was battling lymphoma, according to a report from The Hill.
It hit me like a bolt out of the blue, Conrad told the D.C.-based newspaper.
Although Conrad was visibly upset, he told The Hill the disease is treatable.
To the casual observer, Dakota might just be a pet but to many on Capitol Hill, the curly white canine is among the most popular and well-known additions to Congress.
Last summer, I had the privilege and joy of profiling Conrad and Dakota’s story while on assignment in Washington.
Conrad and his wife, Lucy, adopted Dakota in the spring of 2009 from a shelter in Maryland. The dog was found starving to death after being abandoned. Because of that trauma, Dakota needs extra care and attention.
That means the dog often accompanies Conrad around Capitol Hill, attending committee hearings or waiting in the office while Conrad casts votes on the Senate floor.
Dakotas popularity around the Capitol was marked by his inclusion in MSNBCs documentary report on Congress this summer.
Anchor Brian Williams introduced Dakota as the Senates unofficial 101st member, with various senators praising the personable pup.
I asked to speak to Conrad directly for this story, but Conrad’s office said the senator has been unavailable for interviews since Thursday.