Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Special Old Friend

As everyone probably knows, I have been doing some volunteer work with Paws in the City, an animal rescue organization here in Dallas. This week, one of the co-founders of the organization lost her companion, Max. I learned this through Facebook, and it brought back memories of my childhood buddy, Ben. Here we are - just a kid and her giant puppy!!

I got Ben when I was in 2nd grade, and he was a wonderful, slobbery, goofy companion to my family until I was a sophomore in college. Losing him was so hard since we had practically grown up together - in fact, since I had no human siblings, I often thought of my pets as my brothers and sisters! When we got Ben, we were told that he was most likely a Beagle/Basset Hound mix and would be a medium sized dog when full grown. My parents noted his large paws and were a bit skeptical of this estimate, but nobody cared because 1. we are a family who loves LARGE dogs and 2. he was so darn adorable that we couldn't NOT take him home. I named him Benji, after the scruffy mutt in the movies, which were favorites of mine as an animal-obsessed kid!

As he grew, we could see that Ben was most certainly NOT a Beagle/Basset. He was more likely a German Shepherd/American Foxhound - with the deep chest (and later hip problems) of the shepherd with the coloration of a black, tan, and white foxhound. He had the best personality traits from both breeds, too. Quick to learn his tricks, protective yet gentle, and loyal to his short, absolutely the sweetest, smartest dog ever!

My parents and I always say, if only we could have cloned Ben and been guaranteed to get his loveable personality, we could have had a lifetime of wonderful dogs! It's too bad our pet companions have so few years with us, but the important thing is to show them all the love we have while they're around. I need to scan some old pics of two other wonderful childhood pets - Garfield the cat, who I adopted from a neighbor's litter of kittens when I was 5 years old (he lived until I was a junior in college) and Chief the horse (he was a gentle old man of 18 when my parents bought him for me at age 9, and he lived to the ripe old age of 26)!

Here's the ONLY pic I have scanned of Garfield - unfortunately you have to bear witness to me at a very awkward stage (brace-face) with a very ticked-off cat in a hat!

Who were your favorite animal friends when you were young?