Column #435 My Name is Ben

Thursday, August 2, 2012
Column 435
My Name is Ben

My name is Bentley and I remember the day I picked my Mom out of a lineup…

There had been a parade of smiling faces looking at me and my siblings, reaching into our play box and lifting us up for a closer look. Frankly, I was getting annoyed with all the attention.

And then…

I spotted my Mom.

I employed the only skill I had acquired at the ripe old age of eight weeks, I bit her. Everywhere I could reach. When she picked me up she smelled so good, so I bit her again. I kept biting her until I heard her say to my breeder, “This is the one I want.” I was so happy I almost fell out of her arms, but she held me tight and whispered, “If you’re going to be my boy, you’ll have to learn not to bite me.” And so I did.

The first day at my new home I tried to kill Mom. I raced away from her and ran into the marsh behind our house in Virginia Beach on the Elizabeth River. She screamed my name and ran after me, heedless of the dangers that lurked there, like water moccasins and copperheads, and she tripped over dead bamboo stumps and fell on her face. She had bruises everywhere and holes in her clothes and she was bleeding and I knew right then that she loved me more than anything. So I never tried to run away again.

I had a happy puppyhood. Long walks, lots of toys and a secret field where all the dogs in my neighborhood went to run off-leash and play. I had a best friend named Cody Rose, a standard poodle who lived next door, and we had sleepovers. I got long rides in the car and ice cream on hot days and stories about someone named Little Red Riding Hood when I was falling asleep. Mostly it was the sound of Mom’s voice that put me to sleep, not the story, which was kind of stupid if you ask me.

Dad tried to teach me how to play darts, but I was a dismal failure. I did try to retrieve the darts that bounced out, but I liked the flights too much, so Dad put a stop to that!

When I was one year old we moved to Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, and I had my first swimming pool. Mom taught me how to swim so we could surprise Dad when he got back from a trip. I showed him how to jump off the side of the pool and swim to the steps and climb out. I also showed him how to race around the yard and dig up huge clumps of grass before running back to jump in the pool with dirt all over my feet. Dad liked that trick best of all.

We had Sunday morning bagel picnics at the Pearl S. Buck estate where Dad worked and I had many acres of rolling hills to run in, ducks to chase and a big pond to wade in. In the winter I could run through big snow drifts and roll around until I was covered in snow. I never wanted to leave that place. Dad had to trick me into getting back in the car every time. He used liver treats, which I considered a really unfair tactic.

I had best friends next door at that house, too. Gigi and Monique and Sovery. They were all girls and they were all so beautiful. I liked to race back and forth along the fence separating our yards and they would follow me and bark. Occasionally, when I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings (Mom insisted this was common for me) I would crash my head into the end of the fence and almost knock myself out. When that happened, I would skulk back into the house, feeling quite the fool.

We moved again when I was three, this time to Florida. I got a very long car ride and I got to stay in hotels and sleep on big beds and eat McDonald’s hamburgers. And, Oh, JOY! When we got to the new house Mom had picked out, there was another pool! But it had a big cage around it. No more digging up grass clumps for me.

I had a new friend named Wiley, a golden retriever, just like me. When he came to sleep over, Dad taught him how to swim. My Grandpa came to stay with us for six weeks and he taught me how to talk and bark. Mom was really happy about that.

I got to go and run every weekend with my new friends at John Chestnut Dog Park in Palm Harbor. So many friends. So much fun. And breakfast burritos from McDonald’s after I was worn out from running.

Mom said I ended up with the best qualities from both of my big brothers who came before me. Marbles and Colby were golden retrievers, too. I often wondered how it would have felt to grow up with them, but Mom said one day I would get to meet them and that they were waiting patiently for me at the National Seashore on Cape Cod, where they used to run and play.

The very best thing that happened to me was a few years ago, when Dad came home from a trip to Romania and brought me a baby sister. Mom named her Romy. She only weighed three pounds and I thought she was a toy, but I learned to be very gentle with her and I taught her how to be a dog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe taught me how it felt to be attacked in my sleep by a tiny Ninja wearing fur and have my ears chewed and my tail bit. We went everywhere together. Pup cups at the Dairy Queen on Saturday nights, running like the wind at the dog park on weekends, baths and grooming and special rides in the car to Key West.

A few months ago I started sneezing blood.

Mom and Dad took me to many doctors and I had many tests done. I was patient through all of this, because I knew they needed me to be, but I knew something wasn’t right. My nose got all crusty and sore and it began to look like a big balloon. I had trouble breathing. I heard strange words like “tumor” and “cancer.” Romy was sad and afraid to play with me.

Mom told me it was almost time to meet my two big brothers. That made me feel so happy.

When that day finally came I had my last bye-bye ride to see my doctor. They gave me warm, soft food, even though I’d already had my favorite breakfast of scrambled eggs with cottage cheese. I got to lay down on a soft blanket on the floor with Mom and she gave me a backrub and talked to me in her soft voice. It felt very peaceful and I was not afraid.

The doctor put a big needle in my leg with pink stuff in it and just as Mom was telling me what a good boy I was and how much she loved me, I heard another sound… barking. I felt Mom’s warm tears on my nose at the same time I saw them, two big golden retrievers, running along the shore to meet me. My heart squeezed for Mom one last time and then I ran to meet them, sand spraying from under my feet, flying like the wind and barking, just like Grampa taught me.

I stopped once to look back. I wanted to tell Mom thanks for picking me. And I think I’m going to like it here…

From the Field,

Ben

The following two tabs change content below.
Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.
Dartoid

Latest posts by Dartoid (see all)

Leave a Reply