When we rescued Decker after Purlie had died, we brought Holly home too. She was Decker’s chocolate pup. They put both dogs in a run at animal control. Another dog woofed at Holly. Decker came over and stood over her and woofed back saying, “She’s mine. Leave her alone.” My heart melted. These 2 needed to be together. Dancer may have been an ”uncle” but Holly had 2 built-in playmates and protectors. If Holly ever strayed at Lab Land, she was followed by Dancer. He went along to make sure she stayed safe and to get her back home. Holly doesn’t remember life without Dancer and Decker has always had him as his playmate as well. Both also are missing their forever companion.
Dancer didn’t know that he could use his nose when we got him. He was a sight hound. We put scent circles and serpentines together to teach him to use his nose. It paid off because he followed a deer one day and was gone for about 2 hours. He had finally learned to use his nose to get back to Lab Land. He loved to track with me but he would also track where I had gone in the golf cart. He tracked with many campers helping them learn to read a dog different from their own. He welcomed every other dog to Lab Land with no aggression. He wasn’t protective of the property from other dogs. Yet one day a very small beagle came running into the open at Lab Land. She was being chased by a big ugly grey dog of unknown origin or parentage. Purlie greeted the beagle while Dancer ran off the other dog. This was the only time I ever saw him do this. I had never seen him run so fast. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again. Turned out the beagle was coming into season so he was protecting her from a possible demise. Once he was satisfied that the ugly dog would not come back, he came right back to Lab Land.
Dancer was our hero, literally. He saved Purlie’s life. Purlie had fallen through the ice in a pond that was half frozen. He was surrounded by ice and inch thick and he could not break his way out. Orrin tried to get to him using a small pram. He had a board to paddle with and a broom to try to break the ice. He was not making much progress. Finally, Dancer went to the water’s edge and swam out to a crack that had appeared from where Purlie was entrapped to the open water. Then Dancer switched to doing the dog paddle, lifting each paw high enough to beat down on the ice. He proceeded to act as an icebreaker, making a path for Purlie to swim out. Then, exhausted, he was about to give up when I called him and encouraged him. Then he was re energized and swam out. He was willing to give his life to save his buddy.
One evening, Dancer was sitting on the bed and he started to bark. He wouldn’t stop barking at me so I finally got up and sat beside him to see at what he was barking. There was an oriole who had gotten his foot stuck between two poles holding bird feeders. I went out and carefully separated the poles to release the oriole.
Dancer loved to be called Our Hero. He was so proud whenever we said that. I doubt that he knew what it meant but he knew he was special and that we loved him so he would just beam.
Before Purlie died, Purlie started to sleep with Orrin so Dancer would take his place in my bed. It was Purlie’s way of telling Dancer he needed to know that Dancer would take care of me. The first night after Dancer died, that place was empty. Decker still slept with me as usual but he stayed at the foot of the bed where he had slept before. Last night, he tentatively came up and took the place beside me. He is feeling his way into filling Dancer’s shoes.
Dancer has joined Purlie, Czorro and Deo over the Rainbow Bridge. I can picture them running together enjoying life, waiting until we join them. Dancer, we will forever celebrate your life a little more on Thanksgiving than on other days but you live in our hearts forever as Our Hero.