Dan White recently wrote to us about a very special guy named Lance. And, Dan won our hearts when he wrote, "I read your link on Ollie. It got me all choked up. We recently lost our Golden after 18 years, believe it or not. His name was Lance and he sounds like he could have been Ollie's twin." Here is his tale, entitled "Lance Romance."

We didn't know very much about Golden Retrievers before Lance became part of our lives. I grew up around dogs and when our son Jason (age 4 at the time) started bugging us about getting a puppy I knew we could not deprive him of the experience. My wife, Jeanne was less enthusiastic though since she didn't have a dog growing up. Once she saw how Jason took to this special little puppy, she could not refuse.

When we arrived at the kennel I was surprised to see how large the puppies were. They were all running around rough housing. They greeted us only momentarily then went about their way tumbling around the yard. We noticed a smaller puppy sitting calmly by his mother watching the others roll around in the grass. The breeder told us he was the runt of the litter. He was smaller than the rest, he wasn't scrawny by any means. Jason immediately took to this little fellow, he seemed quieter and more loving. That turned out to be true as I can't imagine a more loving soul.

We began to understand how Goldens were different as we brought him home in the car. I have brought puppies home from the kennel before so I was expecting to hear a lot of whimpering and whining, but that never happened. Lance sat happily on Jason's lap for the long ride home. He seemed to be more interested in getting aquatinted with his new family than worrying about the one he just left.

As Lance grew I was amazed at how easy he was to train. We had collies growing up and although they were smart, you really had to work with them to teach them a trick. Lance seemed to know what you were saying and happily obliged. When learning to heal in obedience class, many of the other puppy owners (various breeds) remarked how well behaved Lance was and how well I had done training him after only a couple of lessons. The trainer responded that I had cheated, I bought a Golden. This turned out to be true as Lance learned the basics far easier than other breeds I have trained however there was a catch. When there were children around, Lance would become deaf to my commands. We like to take strolls along the lake road near Keuka Lake. Lance rarely missed a chance to go. He would heal off leash like a champ until we would come across some children walking towards us. I could see the excitement in him building as they approached. He would eventually reach a point where he could hardly stand it and he would break stride and run to greet them. At this point my commands are ignored. Neither the kids nor their parents were ever concerned as they could see the friendliness he projected.

We are avid water sports enthusiast and I can't imagine a better family water dog than a Golden. Many lazy summer days were spent with Lance diving off the dock after a ball or stick. He would run full blast down the dock and jump as if he were going for the world record broad jump (see pic). After returning to shore he rarely ever shake the water off himself near people. Usually he would walk around dripping like a wet mop until someone would throw the stick again. Once we tired (Lance never did) of throwing things for him he would stand guard on the dock watching for floating leaves, sticks etc. He would jump in and grab what ever he could find. He would often end up with 4-5 items in his mouth. Sort of a Golden vacuum cleaner. Like most Goldens, Lance was an avid swimmer. He would swim around with the kids and he would never claw or climb on them. Sometimes the little ones would hold on to him and he would swim them around. He seemed to enjoy this.

My wife Jeanne called Lance her ski retriever. Jeanne usually water skis on one ski but after a back injury decided to begin using 2 skis to get up then drop one immediately. No sooner did Jeanne take off from the dock when Lance would dive in right after her and grab the ski and drag it to shore. Lance always got excited when he saw us getting the skis out. He would stand on the dock and wagging his tail waiting to do his job. We never taught him to do this, he must have seen the ski as a big stick.

Once at my brother-in-law Chet's camp in Canada on Dog lake he took us to his favorite childhood swimming spot. There was a big rock next to the water where he would jump off into the very deep water below. After the parents did a few test runs, we determined it was safe and the kids decided to jump off as well. Lance was watching this go on over and over and before you know it, he dove in also. Initially I thought he was concerned about the kids but the way he was wagging his tail when he got out, I actually think he was just joining in with the fun. That was Lance, always up for some fun.

When our son Jason was in little league, we would practice in the yard. I would be the pitcher for Jason and Lance would be both the catcher and the outfielder. As Jason got older and was able to hit the ball way out into the field, Lance seemed to enjoy fetching the these even more. He would disappear into the deep grass and brush. All we could see is a lot of commotion in the grass, then he would proudly emerge with the ball. We never lost a ball.

Every one who encountered Lance told us what a great dog he was and how they would love to have one just like him. I am not sure if all Goldens are the same but I can't imagine a kinder more loving soul. Lance would never hurt anyone or anything. Another dog could walk up to him and take food from his mouth and he would not complain and I never saw him get even remotely angry. Lance was known by the whole neighborhood. Often when we met new neighbors, they would say “ Oh so your Lance's parents, we love him.” Some neighbors even saved doggie bags especially for him.

After 17 years as part of our family Lance is now gone. It is a sad loss as he was very much a part of our lives. I know he would rather we think of the happy times he brought us so that is what we will do. He has left us with many fond memories and even more funny stories. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like Golden Retrievers.

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