Wednesday, 19 September 2012

REWIND: Doggie Tails Part 1: BEN



Originally posted on Y360 4th November 2006

Reposted on Multiply 19th February 2008

Back in the Eighties, when I was still married and lived in Birmingham, I owned three dogs. All of them were rescue cases, having been mistreated in various ways. There were two Afghan hounds plus a cross-breed who was two-thirds Border Collie. Each of them will get their own blog, as for each of them I have memories to share. They are all interwoven, and will make appearances in each other's stories.

I will start with the cross-breed. That's him in the picture. His name was Benjamin. J. Woofer. Known to his friends as Ben. Why the long name? Well, the two Afghans were Kennel-Club registered, being pure-breeds, and had full registered names. Ben, being a mutt, was just Ben. The daughter of a friend thought it wasn't fair that the other two have proper names, and told us that he should have one too. After some thought, it was agreed on Benjamin J Woofer.

I never found out how Ben had been mistreated, but I suspect it was psychologically, rather than physical. There didn't seem to be any signs of beatings or anything. But he was a nervous wreck when he first arrived with us. He'd jump at the slightest noise. He wouldn't let Vicky go near him for a long time (I suspect whatever torment he suffered was at the hands of a woman), he would cower in a corner, snarling and showing a full set of fangs. He hated to be hugged, again that would set him off snarling. It took a long time for him to trust us, but by giving him his own space and time, and with lots of love, finally he came to trust us. In the end became Vicky's dog. He never left her side and was always protective of her.
When he finally came out of his shell and became his 'normal' self, it was clear that he had not necessarily inherited the intelligence of his Collie ancestry. He wasn't the sharpest knife in the box. Any of you remember Odie in the 'Garfield' cartoons? Tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth, always waiting for someone to throw a ball or stick? That was Ben. But the up-side of his ancestry was that he was great when out walking, never needed a lead, always walked glued to heel until told he could run.

Ben had a kind of love/hate relationship with the younger of the two Afghans. She would constantly tease Ben. I'm sure she knew how grumpy he could be, and would goad him. They used to engage in play 'fights', both up on their hind legs, forelegs wrapped around each other, wrestling like a couple of small bears. Ben would try to use his weight advantage, while Saga (more on her in a later blog) would use her speed and agility. Anyone seeing it for the first time thought it was a real fight, because of the manic look they both had.  It wasn't, I knew both well enough to know when they were being serious. They would keep up the wrestling for hours, until they were so tired they could hardly stand up, although the appearance of food usually changed that.
  
I have many funny stories involving Ben, and it's been difficult trying to decide which ones to tell. Here's a couple:

First one was when we were walking the dogs in a large park just to the north of Birmingham, called Sutton Park. It covered a huge area, and had several lakes. It was a bright sunny day. As usual Ben wanted to play fetch-the-ball. I wound up for a pitch and lofted it skywards, Ben giving chase at high speed. He must have lost the ball in the glare of the sun. He ran past the spot where the ball landed, shot through a group of startled walkers and, still staring skywards, flew into one of the lakes. The impact with the water came as a shock. He just stood there, shoulder deep in water, looking round dazedly, wondering who threw a lake at him!!! Cue Mitch falling to the ground laughing.

On another trip to Sutton Park, we had solved an old problem. Afghans are notoriously difficult to train to walk off a lead, and as Ben would never roam far away, we attached Ben and Saga together using a 'link-lead' to their own collars. Great idea. We could now let Saga roam a little freer than before.  They were wondering around sniffing everything in sight, like all dogs. Then Ben decided it was time to play fetch. Without thinking (yes, ok, it was my fault), I wound up and launched a long pitch. Off went Ben like a bat out of hell. Saga, nose buried in a clump of grass, suddenly found herself yanked off her feet and dragged backwards at high speed across the ground, squealing like a piglet in shock. When Ben finally caught up with the ball and stopped, Saga got up and gave him a good telling off. It was so comical, almost like watching a married couple. The woman berating the man for doing something particularly stupid. Cue Mitch rolling, literally, on the ground, unable to catch his breath from laughing so much. There are other stories, but that's enough for now.

Ben, along with the Afghans, were a part of the family. I still miss him, miss all of them, very much. The saddest part of having beautiful doggie friends is that we always outlive them.

24 comments:

  1. lovely dog, we had a dog called Ben when I was a teen..love the story about the dogs leading each other : )

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  2. Thanks Eevee. That's one of my fave memories of those dogs.

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  3. you have some memories to cherish
    do you have any dogs now?

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    1. Hi Danette. No, unfortunately I don't have any now. I live in rented accommodation, so I can't have any. If I ever get a place of my own (looking unlikely at the moment) I would love to have another dog.

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    2. oh I hope you get that chance again soon

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  4. Squealing like a piglet! What a great story!! A great dog, too, he is lucky you rescued him.

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    1. Thanks, Benni. I can still picture it in my mind all these years later, it was so funny.

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  5. Oh Mitchy, those stories had me laughing big belly laughs. Ben sounds like he was a real character.

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    1. Thanks Liz. Yes, he was a character, but look out for the posts about the two Afghans, too. There's some more really funny stories.

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  6. If there were more people like you, there wouldn't be so many dogs in need of a home....

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    1. Thank you, Belita. Yes, there are still too many people who mistreat and abandon animals!!

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  7. Ha ha ha :) great park memories! Dogs stay with us. What great memories :)

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  8. Thanks Marci. Yes, they stay in our memories long after they have gone. I still think about Ben and the afghans often.

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  9. I am literally laughing my butt off your writing is so great that I can picture Saga being dragged by Ben...It also reminds of cartoons. Our dog Missy we rescued from the field across the road. She warmed up to my husband right off quick, but like you were saying about Ben, she took a long time to come around to me and my 2 granddaughters, the granddaughters being the last she warmed up to. We are not sure why or how she ended up in the field or how she had been abused but we are sure she was.

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    1. Mistreated animals often give clues to what type of person mistreated them by the way they react. Sound to me like Missy may have been mistreated or at least teased by children. I'm glad you took her in and gave her a home :-))

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  10. LMAO another great read Mitch I cant wait for the next installment a real nice write Mate;)

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    1. Thanks Baz, glad you enjoyed it :-))

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  11. that's a good read Mitch, your little border collie sounds a bit like the one we had when we were kids. It was rescued from a farm but, just like yours it used to hide under tables and bare its teeth. We came to the conclusion it had been beaten to try to make it work. Guess it just wasn't cut out for a life in the fields..........great little dog though. And your little Ben sounds just like him.

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    1. Thanks Loretta. I take it your rescue collie warmed to family life eventually. All they need is love and care and patience.

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    2. Yes, it was a lovely dog, but it must have been abused by the people on the farm. He did eventually get over it thought.

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  12. Oh boy Mitch, that was the funniest I have read in ages. I am looking forward to a lot more.

    What beautiful stories.

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    1. Thanks Shayna. Glad you enjoyed it :-))

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  13. OMGosh!!! I'm laughing so hard I am crying. I can just picture Ben running towing Saga behind him. What wonderful memories!!

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    1. Thanks Star :-)) I have so many great memories of him and the other two.

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