Conrad’s beloved dog, Dakota, battling cancer

Conrad holds his dog Dakota during a break between the two Red River diversion meetings held in July 2010 on Capitol Hill. Kristen Daum / The Forum

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.

Dakota’s popularity around the Capitol was marked by his inclusion in MSNBC’s documentary report on Congress this summer.

Anchor Brian Williams introduced Dakota as “the Senate’s 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.

8 thoughts on “Conrad’s beloved dog, Dakota, battling cancer

  1. Mr. Conrad, I am so sorry about Dakota, i have had the privilege of meeting Dakota several times while I visited the hill and you can see very easily what he means to you!
    I am sure that he is much like your child, and I have no doubt that you will take good care of him and make the latter part of his life the best it can be…God Bless you and Dakota!
    Thank-you for all you have and continue doing of USA and especially North Dakota!

  2. While I do feel for Sen Conrad, an ailing pet is emotionally exhausting. How is this newsworthy as a link in a newspaper?

    • Agree with Petey. It’s human interest. I’m more interested in this that Conrad’s voting record. If you’re man enough to take a rescue dog, you man enough to be in the Senate.

  3. This is known as a ‘human interest story’. The dog has been labeled “the Senate’s unofficial 101st member,” with various senators praising the personable pup.” Add to this that Conrad is our ND Senator…and a powerful one at that…and you have a NEWS STORY. Does every story have to be about death and destruction to be ‘news’? Lighten up, ‘Francis’.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about Dakota’s cancer. I have a dog and have lost one
    to Cancer. It’s like loseing a child.They teach us what is really inportant
    in LIFE !! God BLESS You.

  5. I agree it is sad to learn about his dog. How is it front page newsworthy on The Forum? Lets hear about he is going to help the economy and reduce the national debt!

  6. Some people will find a reason to whine and moan about anything and everything. If Sarah Palin picks her nose, it’s on the front page of every newspaper. But we can’t hear about an actual Senator’s beloved dog. A Senator from the state that the newspaper resides in. Yet the Senator and dog was good enough to be covered by a national/worldwide station like NBC/Brian Williams.

  7. Pingback: Conrad’s dog, Dakota, in remission four months after diagnosis | Flickertales from The Hill

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