Saturday morning, Bennie- the UPS/FedEx truck slaying, coyote chasing, golf cart hating, protector of everything Tim’s- went on his way. It was not a good day. He was finally betrayed by his legs. He had been having degenerative problems for a while, along with some cognitive issues. He had not run in a while. The walks were getting shorter. The dog who used to sprint out the back door in the morning to bound through the woods now had to be taken out to do his business.
Bennie was one of a litter of four. He and his litter mates were rescued at midnight one evening up in Cumming, GA. I kept him because of his beautiful coat, and the others were placed in good homes. I would spend the next 15 1/2 years vacuuming that coat up from my floor, furniture, and car. It was worth it. And the ears….
He lived the first year or so living in a yard surrounded by an invisible fence. The first collar was of little use, and so the company sent me the ”stubborn dog collar.” It was much bigger. He then learned to read the electric pulses in the buried wire. The company sent me a box with straight current. It worked for the most part. Even when he got out, he stuck close by.
His favorite thing to do back then was to escape the house through the doggie door with a pair of underwear, for a spirited game of chase. I also have this memory of him having my 5 year-old step-daughter pinned to the ground, kissing her. Her legs and arms were waving around in the air while she hollered for me. He saw me and went bounding off! Laughing!
One day I was at home for some reason, and watched a neighbor pulling a wagon roll her toddler right up into our drive way so Bennie could kiss and play a bit with her. I was rather astounded that this lady would let her tiny toddler play with German Shepard and Collie mix dog. She said she knew he was a sweet dog. And he was. He was the sweetest dog I think I have even known.
He enjoyed the dog park. He didn’t so much like playing with other dogs. He liked meeting people. He would walk up to you and thrust his nose right into your crotch, whether you knew he was there or not. He was loved where ever he went.
He lived for many years with is little buddy Hilda, who left us far too soon. They used to play, but he was always very gentle with her. He would let her have the bones. He would let her sleep closest to me. He would make space for her at the window. When she passed we were living in a condo, where I live now, where their back yard was the Sope Creek and Cochran Shoals trail system. After she passed, I would leave for work and could hear him howl, which he had never done before. It used to break my heart. Soon he became used to being an only dog and seemed to enjoy it.
Bennie did seem to stop a few a few burglaries. Both times the people bypassed mine and my neighbor’s door for one further away. If you came to either of our doors, he was at the bay window letting you know that you were most certainly not welcome. Once I let you in, he was was sweet and loving. He actually liked company.
I have told the story many times of him last fall, after he had slowed way down, chasing a juvenile coyote up the trail at 4 in the morning, as I ran after him in a robe and slippers, screaming his name. That was the last coyote chase. I tell the story of him chasing the leasing agent from our old apartment complex. The young agent had that electric golf cart floored, screaming at the top of his lungs, as Bennie chased him, and I chased yelling for him to stop. Sadly the leasing agent was racing down a dead end street. He circled back, ran over Bennie, and kept it floored. Bennie was not phased by being run over and still gave chase. Once I got the guy to stop, and not run the electric engine, Bennie lost any interest in the cart. I apologized profusely for Bennie slipping his collar. I thought the kid was going to have a heart attack.
Friday evening he fell in the kitchen and could not get up. I came home to find him. It was a little like the scene in the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” Somehow in the wee hours of the morning he ended up like that again. He woke me up with the distressed barking. He was letting me know it was time. Like Hilda, he went in my arms with me telling him how much I loved him. He was calm and relaxed. He seemed ready for his next journey.
I tried to give him a good life. He gave me a great one! I have lost friends. I have lost family members. I have lost other pets. This one really hurts. He was a major part of my daily life for 15 1/2 years. I keep waiting to see his furry head and ears peering around a corner, or over some piece of furniture. I wait to see his gray and white snout at the bay window as I walk up the stairs. I wait to see his head pop in the shower, and then him drag the curtain open as he walks away. I wait to see his fur balls rolling across the floor. You know, I can still see those and probably will for a while, no matter how many times I vacuum.
His ashes will be joined with Hilda’s and spread in a few places.
Here is to Bennie!