Senator's ailing dog participating in cancer research project

Conrad beams to ITK, “All of his cell counts, white and red, [doctors] describe as being off the charts. And they attribute it in part to treatment he’s in at M.D. Anderson.”

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Dakota is the 15th dog the medical center has treated.

“They need to treat 40 dogs to be statistically valid,” explains Conrad. While the T-cell treatment is being studied on humans, Conrad says testing is being done on canines because scientists can get results quickly.

The Budget Committee chairman is urging any owner who’s able to bring a dog with lymphoma to the center to do so: “The people of M.D. Anderson have told us they think it will save thousands of people’s lives.”

Conrad, who’s retiring at the end of this term, calls the last year and a half since Dakota was initially diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, “a wild hayride.” But he adds, “He’s had his ups and downs, and he’s doing quite well given the severity of the illness ... but they say, you know, he’s not cured.”

But Conrad remains hopeful. He has even brought Dakota back to Washington to get in his last licks on Capitol Hill before his owner says goodbye to the Senate. What will Dakota miss most about being in D.C.?

“He’s told me he’ll miss the people, but he won’t miss some of the partisanship.”

Although this might not be the last senators see of the little dog that Conrad calls “a fighter.” Conrad reveals, “He’s thinking of running for the Senate.”

—Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.