Then came the dog that became a bone of contention between Errol and myself, changed our sleeping arrangements for nights on end, and just about broke my heart. After we brought him home, Errol saw him moving in the sunlight and named him Sundance. I agreed, it was a lovely and unusual name.
This is his story:
After about a year without a dog, our vet told us he knew of young male Doberman Pinscher in need of a home. The dog had been hit by a car and was boarded in a different vet hospital. The accident had been very bad and the dog had been there for five months and was by now fully recovered.
We later drove to the other vet office, saw the dog, a large, reddish-brown Doberman, and decided to take him home.
It did not go well.
I remember coming home from work that first week. Errol was home and upset. No dog. I asked where Sundance was and Errol told me, under the house. I can't get him to come out! I immediately went outside, bent down to look into the crawlspace under the house, saw the dog, called him and he came immediately. Errol said he'd turned on the vacuum cleaner and Sundance had bolted. And refused to come out.
Now Errol was great with dogs, he loved all of them, took care of them, bathed them, brushed them, walked, hiked and did all the things you are supposed to do to give your dog a good life. Looking back, he probably had never known a seriously disturbed dog before. I guess he expected to be loved back unconditionally, the way most dogs will love you. Something happened on that first day, I can't explain it, but the trust was broken and never mended.
Because of the broken relationship between them, Sundance became "my" dog. I understood he was disturbed and traumatized. I knew he had ran away from home, been hit by a car, had multiple surgeries, sat in a cage for five months, and had then, as he saw it, been accosted by a vacuum cleaner.
I thought he may have been abused by a male of the human species. Someone who perhaps wanted a less timid, more intimidating Doberman Pinscher.
I walked with him, I tried to play with him, but he didn't trust enough to play. He was a young dog, a couple of years old, perhaps. He liked our cats, Samantha and Sindbad. He lived through the Northridge earthquake with us. Once Errol brought home Saschi from South LA, Sundance was a happy boy. The two of them got along really well.
Then Errol found Bandit, an abandoned male hound dog mix. It soon became clear that the two male dogs would not get along. As Bandit grew up, he attacked Sundance a few times. He was only half Sundance's size, but knew a victim when he saw one.
Both Errol and I were busy working and, before my insulin pump, I was pretty sick with my type 1 diabetes, so we didn't have much time to deal with traumas. While we were at work, we kept the dogs separated. And for long periods, Sundance would sleep with me and Bandit with Errol in the second bedroom. Not a good way to live.
When Sundance was about eleven years old, he ran out on our front porch and slipped. We took him to the vet and learned that it was serious injury to his knee. It would require surgery and a long recovery time. We both felt that we couldn't put him through any more trauma with surgery, recovery, his age, Bandit and all that it entailed.
He was my dog, I loved him so much, but I knew this was for the best.
Thinking back, Sundance had so many kind people come to his rescue. After he was hit by a car, some kind soul took him to the vet. The the vet then saved Sundance's life, performed surgeries, several surgeries. He kept Sundance in his office, separate from the sick dogs in the hospital. He never got paid a penny. Then he was adopted by us, who wanted only good things for him. Difficult as it was for Sundance to deal with his life, in the end, many kind people showed up for him and many good things came his way.
I have now, almost 30 years later, learned there are medicines to be had for troubled dogs like Sundance. No one ever told me back then and I didn't think to find out. Still, I know I did my best and I loved him. I think he knew this.
Sundance was definitely the most troubled of our dogs. Years later, Errol would rescue another troubled soul, a dog I so fell in love with. His name was Soldier and he would be my 10th dog.