Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Benny is the golden retriever who joined my family around Thanksgiving 2002. We went to this little house in the country and picked him out and he was so fat and cute. And small. We were driving home from the little house (which was in Okemos, Michigan), and his name came from the Ben E. King song on the radio - my dad's favorite. (We also joked that it was because we drove by a Bennigan's on the way home.)
Benny was so small he could fit under my dad's chair. Which was not very far off the ground. But he got big, quick. I guess goldens do that.
We'd had dogs before (Blue, Blackie, Murphy Brown - a trio we had all at once and the color names were not completely intentional), but somehow none of them was quite as perceptive as Benny. He knew when you needed a friend. He would sit right up on top of your leg and on your feet. Sometimes he would put his paw in your lap. I think someone probably had him in mind when they coined the term "man's best friend" as it relates to a dog.
Benny always seemed to know where he was headed in the car. He loved riding in the car. If you were going to the drive-thru at the bank, he knew it, probably because he knew he was going to get a treat. One of my favorite stories is of my parents coming up to visit me in college, and bringing Benny. Even though he had never been to my apartment before, they were blocks away when he got very excited. It's like he knew he was coming to see me.
I haven't lived at home for most of the time Benny was part of our family. I was in college and then I moved to Colorado, and my visits home grew few and far between. Somehow, Benny knew when it was me pulling into the driveway. Just this past weekend, when I was home in Michigan for a wedding, I pulled into the driveway in a rental car. As soon as he saw me, it was like no time had passed at all. When Benny was excited to see you, you could tell - his tail would wag so hard his whole back half would shake along with it. He would jump and run and play. Who could feel down with a greeting like that?
Benny liked vegetables, mostly carrots. He would hover in the kitchen when someone was cooking, probably because of bad habits, but also because he knew he'd be able to steal a bite of something tasty. He liked the water and would wade in the lake at our house up north.
Benny didn't like to be left alone. When I was packing my suitcase into the car to leave again, he would always stand near the door at the top of the steps with a look like, "What? Where are you going? Don't leave me here!" He wanted to be included, always.
Benny was special. Maybe it was because he had been part of my life for all of my major life moments. He wasn't there for all of them, but he was a comfort when I needed it, through two graduations and moving and sicknesses and the fire and just plain sadness. He was a wonderful friend, which might make you laugh if you've never had a pet, but many of you will likely understand.
But that doesn't make it easier to stomach.
I will never forget my beloved B, our Benny. He was a special little guy and and important part of my family for so long. It's always hard to lose a pet, but to give them a good home and make them part of your life and then your memories? That is worth it.