What if we viewed lived experience as an asset? As an asset of professional, economic,…
There’s a change of plan with this week’s post – I had one written but we suffered a huge loss this week when we had to put down our much loved dog, who was my companion and best friend. This weeks post is dedicated to him.
I remember the first time I saw Ben, on the DogPageswebsite forum. As we scrolled through the pages of dogs needing homes, we came across a dog called Benoffie Pie, who was a rough coated lurcher boy (bearing in mind we were looking for a lurcher bitch, we’re lucky we decided to have a look.). Up came a photo of this gorgeous dog with a purple collar and lead and eyes which drew you straight in. Naturally, we fell in love. He was on foster in Ascot; not too bad a drive from Benfleet, Essex, but a nightmare in Friday evening traffic. We chatted and considered him, and then decided to get in touch with the rescue, Hope Rescue, and his foster mum. We went to meet him a week or so later, then we had a last minute home check and brought him home for a trial weekend the next weekend, which happened to be a Bank Holiday so we got him for 3 days instead of 2. We had a few more trial weekends, before bringing him home for good on the 19th May 2006. I was 12 at the time, and over the moon to finally have a dog, and as he was my dog, I was expected to take care of him (something I actually thought was the best thing ever – my own dog to take care of!).
|The first photo we saw of Ben
I absolutely loved walking him, and true to my word I looked after him. I walked him before school, mum would pop home at lunchtime to take him out, I would walk him after school, often with mum, and he used to come to the stables with me. I had over 18 months of heaven with him, and then I got ill and everything changed. The responsibility fell to mum to take care of the dogs (we had adopted a second dog a few months after Ben, who unfortunately had to be rehomed in 2009). I walked the dogs for the last time on the 13th January 2008. The next time I was able to take Ben out was Easter 2009, by which time I was in a wheelchair. I walked him quite a few times after this, in my wheelchair, between 2009 and 2012.
He was a wonderful dog who had a terrible start, having been beaten so badly that his tail was broken and rotting, and he was left for dead. He was rescued by Hope Rescue, and put into a lovely foster home to be loved and trained before being rehomed. His tail had to be amputated and his muscles had to be built up again, but considering his horrendous past, he didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He was a quiet and slightly anxious dog, but that can be typical of lurchers. He was a real character, and I swear he could spell. We couldn’t say walk, or anything that rhymed with it, without him expecting to go out. We resorted to spelling things out, saying things like “I’m going to take the d-o-g o-u-t for a w-a-l-k.” He still seemed to understand!
|Ben when he was rescued
|Ben in his foster home
He knew when I wasn’t well and would insist my door be left open so he could check on me. He’d come up and lick my hand as if to say “it’s okay Lucy,” although he did expect a fuss in return! He’d also sometimes give kisses –on his terms, of course.
|Ben and I in 2011
Unfortunately over the Christmas period he started to show his age; he got stiffer, slower, didn’t enjoy walks as much and didn’t want to go far, and he got a little bit greyer than he was. But he was still happy, still Ben, and that’s why we were so shocked when he suddenly took a turn and collapsed on Wednesday. He went downhill so quickly. Mum managed to coax him into the vets (he still put up a fight!), and the vet said he didn’t think Ben would survive the night. His white blood cells were through the roof but he wasn’t running a temperature, which isn’t a good sign, and his gums were white. My poor mum had to come home and tell me that my best friend and companion was dying. I said right there and then “I won’t let him suffer, mum.”
|Wednesday 27th February 2013
He never got back up
He made it through the night, but he couldn’t get up, wouldn’t move, and the fight had gone from his spirit. He wasn’t Ben anymore. His breathing was laboured, and you could see it was a great effort for him. There was no doubt he was in pain. We all said goodbye to him on Thursday morning, then my mum and sister carried him out to our car on his quilt, and took him to the vets. The vet said he had no hope of survival, and that he was old and tired. The decision had been made by us that we were going to put him down, and the vet confirmed it was the right thing to do. Ben took his last breath at 9.20am on Thursday 28th February; he gained his angel wings and went to Rainbow Bridge.
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore
He was my best friend, my companion and my soul mate, and I miss him terribly. This house is quiet and empty without him. I keep expecting to see him, to hear his collar jingle and hear him moan as he got himself comfy on the sofa or hearing him flop down on his bed. I am still in shock; it hasn’t really hit me that he’s gone yet. My Ben, Benoffie Pie as he was called on his rescue page, is free from pain and suffering, enjoying everlasting walks and chasing rabbits, but a part of him will always be with us. I take comfort in the fact that I know we made the right decision at the right time.
Animals are more than just pets; they are a part of the family, like another child. Ben gave me something to live for; I looked forward to the next time I was well enough to take him for a walk, and he kept me company. I am so fortunate to have had six and a half years of fun and enjoyment with him. I can’t wait until we meet again, wherever that may be.
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have.”
~ Thom Jones
Ben, a.k.a Benoffie Pie, circa 2002 – 28th February 2013.
Greatly loved and sorely missed.
“A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.”