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February 5, 2009
The subject line read "Sad News" - I hate seeing this, as it always signals the death of someone, and I am so far away from so many dear people. Who was it this time?

Dancer. Oh. I knew this was coming -- my daughter said they would have to put her down soon the last time I was home, and we had dinner at their house instead of eating out, especially so I could see Dancer one last time. She was slow, arthritic, blind and incontinent, but still enjoyed a few things in life: her food, a breath of air outside, a snuggle with the people who loved her. When she stops eating, I'll know it's time, Corinna said. And so the time has come.

We have so many sweet mental pictures of Dancer. Dancer at Christmas, Dancer out in the neighborhood at Halloween. Dancer jumping up on the bed when it thundered, whimpering every Fourth of July when they exploded fireworks in town. Dancer at our New Year's party, receiving people's strokes with delight, lifting her head gracefully as if posing for a picture. Dancer racing around and around in a circle with Jeff, a game of chase. Dancer chasing a stick or a ball. Dancer swimming in the lake. Dancer standing in the door of the RV.

Her life has traced the lives of my granddaughters -- all grown up now, they were just little girls when she arrived. They don't really remember life without Dancer. I only barely remember it myself, it seems.

Do dogs go to heaven? Oh, yeah -- if anybody goes, they do. Mark Twain thought that. Heaven goes by favor, he wrote. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. So loving and accepting of the ones they love, so willing to overlook our faults, so open-hearted, so contented with small pleasures. So like we are on our very best days -- but they are like that every day of their lives.

>i>Run, Dance! Run, girl! Just like you used to do when you were young, when we were all together! Run around and around in a circle, low to the ground, then dig and dig your favorite hole in the dirt at the bottom of your favorite tree. Oh, how you ran!

And how we love you still. Good girl! Good, good girl!
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