“He improved people’s days,” he said to Inforum. “He certainly improved mine.”

Conrad told us late last year that he and his wife were shuttling their faithful four-legged friend to the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for T-cell treatment as part of a research project. Dakota, who Conrad estimates was about 10 years old, had been in remission from cancer three times. According to the ex-lawmaker, scientists had called the T-cell research very promising for humans.

But Conrad says he was told the rescue dog only had a few days to live after his cancer returned last week.

“He was such a jaunty, confident and happy little dog,” Conrad said. “And he was cute — he just put a smile on people’s faces. And so that’s how I’ll remember him.”