There were three non-negotiable requirements for the next dog we were to adopt:
- Both our girls had to fall in love with the same dog
- It had to be a medium sized dog
- It had to be a short haired dog
And that’s how we ended up with Ben. Nicole and Samantha both fell in love with the pup that had large paws and long hair. Our ‘medium-sized, short-haired’ dog grew to 95 lbs of long-haired fluff and love. And he was perfect.
We loved his fluffiness, his obsession with frisbee catching, and his extraordinary gentle and loving nature. We loved how he vocalized and how he was a lapdog. We loved watching him swim and cherished the tight bond between Thandi and Ben, our dynamic duo who shared food, water, and sleeping spots. He was very much the family baby, but despite his ‘babyness’, was an intimidating guardian of family and home to those he didn’t know.
He was also a wonderful teacher. Ben taught by example, as dogs do so well. He demonstrated loyalty, unconditional love, tireless companionship, living in the moment and enjoying life just as it is.
Ben was almost 8 1/2 yrs old when he was diagnosed with an inoperable spinal tumor. It truly is a blessing that his health issues lasted only 3 months.
For me, one of his greatest lesson was in his leaving. In the stress and demands of his last few months there was the deep caring that comes in tending to a loved one, but in the hours leading up to his passing, when there was no more to do, no more ‘fixes’ to attempt, there was just the overwhelming and uninhibited expression of love. It was expressed in giggles over joyful memories, in a little song that was sung, and in rivers of tears. Grief is such a profound and deep expression of love.
When he was finally at rest I was left wondering how often it is that we have all our attention on the ‘doing’ in life and miss out experiencing the one thing every person is drawn toward, love. Love can look messy and leave us feeling vulnerable, but so what. An expression of love is always less tiring that the suppression of it. It breaks our hearts open, it allows for the flow that life is. And what if we bring our hearts to the ‘doing’? How rich, how generous, how healing…
Thank you Ben, Fluffy Man, Baby Ben, Buddy, for being such a beautiful teacher and loving companion to all of us. Your physical presence will be missed, but you will remain so well loved.