James the beagle was a real dog. His master and mistress worked with the National Ballet of Canada, and between 1961 and 1972 he went with them to the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater where the dancers performed. Perhaps this is what James dreamed about when he lay quietly on the floor, his eyes fastened on the twirling dancers.
From puppyhood James wanted to dance. Now, he certainly helped the dancers. He practiced their lifts with them. He helped them keep their figures trim by sharing their lunches. He allowed himself to be patted as a good luck talisman before the dancers went on stage. But this was not enough for James. In his heart he longed to be a dancer himself, to soar across the stage, the spotlight on him.
One day the notice is posted that the company is to perform "Giselle." The ballet includes a meaty role for a hunting dog, and James is sure that his moment has come. But the role goes instead to a long-legged wolfhound. James is left out in the cold. That is, until the wolfhound gets stage fright.