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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

Conrad's dog, Dakota, in remission four months after diagnosis

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FARGO - North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad had some optimistic news to share over the holidays: His popular dog, Dakota, is in remission after a four-month battle with cancer.

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Dakota, a bichon frise, was diagnosed with lymphoma in early September and has been undergoing medical treatments since, Conrad said.

The odds of Dakota seeing a complete cure from the cancer are slim, about 1 in 7 chance, he said.

But the disease is treatable, and Conrad and his wife, Lucy, remain hopeful of Dakota's recovery.

"He's such a good little guy and he's handled this very well," Conrad said Friday.

He said Dakota continues chemotherapy treatments and regular visits to the animal hospital.

"He's lost a lot of his hair, so he has little sweatshirts and sweaters that he wears, but he's really done very well," Conrad said. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."

True to the dog's renowned friendly nature, Dakota is popular with the medical staff treating him, Conrad added.

Dakota also continues to join Conrad at work, he said, where the dog has become quite a celebrity on the Capitol Hill.

The Conrads 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, so the dog often accompanies Conrad around Capitol Hill, attending committee hearings or waiting in the office while Conrad casts votes on the Senate floor.

On the Hill, most everyone - lawmakers, aides, staff and Capitol Security - know who Dakota is, Conrad said, and the dog's friendly, lovable personality can't help but attract adoring fans.

Last summer, MSNBC Anchor Brian Williams even introduced Dakota as "the Senate's unofficial 101st member" in a documentary report on Congress.

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