Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rest Well, Dear Ben...

I remember the day that we got him very clearly.  We had researched a number of breeders, and looked for a recent litter that had a male pup.  It was a snowy, Saturday morning, and we headed out early as it was a drive.  We went just over the boarder of Indiana into just over the boarder.  It was odd because we were driving down a side street, one second it is an Indiana address and the next is Michigan.  The breeder, highly recommended, had not only Great Pyrenees, but also St. Bernard's, as they make good companions.  The owner was a very heavy set man who remained in his Scooter, and had his sons fetch the two male pups that he had left.  At 8 weeks old, they were already almost 20 pounds and just little balls of fuzz.  We watched the two brothers play, and finally decided on the smaller one, hoping that it meant he would grow a little smaller as well.  He was all white except for a gray mask on his face that the owner assured us would fade over time.  Jim crawled into the back seat with him; I agreed to drive home.  We went back and forth between names, finally settling on Ben.  Big Ben, he would be one day.

We enrolled Ben in puppy classes, more so that we could learn what to do with him than he could learn how to behave!   While he was certainly the biggest puppy in the class, he was far from the most coordinated or fastest.  He quickly made friends with a Bullmastif puppy...and the two were inseparable  So much so, that after about 6 months of having Ben we decided to look at getting a Bullmastif ourselves.  We found a good breeder who was located in Illinois this time, and drive out to her farm in the middle of NOWHERE!  The pups were about 8 weeks old, and we had at least 8 to select from.  I fell in love with this tiny female right away, and we quickly signed the paperwork and brought Mia home and into our lives.  It only took a few hours for Ben and Mia to become quick buddies.....

(Ummm..yes, Ben grew that much in 6 months....CRAZY) 

When Ben was about 4 years old, he stepped in a hole in the back yard and tweaked his knee.  We were told at first to watch it, that it might get better.  But, as it always goes, his knee did not get better on its own...and we were left with a full knee replacement surgery....Holy Cow....didn't we wish then that we had bought the pet insurance.  The doctor told us at that time that a surgery like this meant a shortened life-span.. Great Pyrenees usually get about 12-15 years, we were told if Ben made it to 10 we would be lucky.  
Ben and Moo

Sibling Love

We watched Ben slowly go from our happy-to-bark-at-the-wind dog to our elderly friend who struggled to get up, to walk, to move about the house, to eat, happened over 4 years time, but it seems like a blink of the eye.  We used to have him groomed at PetSmart every other month, and I remember the last time we took him and they said that they just couldn't do it anymore since he couldn't stand long was so sad.  We made him as comfortable as we could, added a ramp to the side yard so that he could get outside a little easier, bought extra carpet for our hard wood living room so that he would have a better grip on the floor, tolerated long barking session in the backyard as this was the place that he loved to be the most.  It slowly and painfully became obvious to us that we were holding on the Ben for us, not for him, and that this was no longer fair.

I cried silently the entire ride to the vet's office today.  Jim had to carry Ben's hind quarters as he hobbled into the waiting room, he just didn't have the strength to do it himself.  They placed us in a "quiet room", it was oversized, lots of chairs and a bench, and a big carpet in the middle.  Jim stroked his head and neck; we sat in silence.  What do you really say?  The vet came in and explained what would happen, brought in a blanket that Ben could lay on.  We placed it over the carpet, and I sat next to him on the floor, rubbing his head, telling him it would be alright.  They had trouble finding a vein as he had become dehydrated, and it took 3 needle pricks before they could inset an IV.  We knew the process, we have had 2 cats put down before...but I don't think that there is really anything that prepares you for it....We held him and talked to him until the vet said it was over and left the room....Our sweet Ben, our protector, our fuzzy monster who left us with hair wherever we went.  Jim and I had a running joke from the time that we brought Ben home that wherever we went, a part of Ben went, too, as there was always at least one Ben hair on us somewhere...

Ben was our first baby....our first "we are really in this for the long haul" project....our first learning experience of sleepless nights when there were thunderstorms (he was the biggest baby and always had to come and sleep in our room at the slightest rumble or flash of light)...of "potty training"...of middle of the night ER visits when Ben took Mia's rawhide and was promptly bitten for it....He was a part of the girl's growing up, giving them rides like a little pony...standing in front of the TV at just the wrong time....

The house is very quiet tonight.  Jim and I are rather sullen....the girls are at gymnastics and in the 15 minutes that they were home between school/playground with Becca and changing for class, they didn't notice his absence.  I don't know exactly what I will say to them tonight that will make them understand that he is in a better place, that he doesn't hurt anymore, that while we are sad we can hope that he is running around with Chenna and Moo (or two cats gone before) and barking at squirrels in the trees.  I am sure that it will take awhile for our house to get used to its emptiness, its quietness, its loss of our dear sweet Ben.....



  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Praying for your family.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. My first furbaby is just now getting close to "senior" years, and I cannot imagine. Your family are in my thoughts....

  3. I'm balling my eyes out over here. I'm so sorry about your baby.

  4. I knew when I read the title that I should have not read this at work, I can't stop crying. It's so hard to lose one of your babies, but keep thinking about the good memories.

    My heart goes out to you!

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Your story had me in tears...still crying as I write this. I had a big american bulldog that lived a very close life to your Ben and it devastated me to put him down. The house was so quiet after he left!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing such a great tribute to Ben. He sounds like a wonderful dog. I understand your pain, we recently had to put down our 14 year old boxer Emma. She was my "baby". What makes it easier for me is knowing we gave her the best possible life for the time we had her and knowing that she is no longer in pain. I am so sorry for your loss.

  7. Oh gosh.... This is a g reat tribute to Ben the Dog. I have 4 myself and am in love with each of them. I think about this day often. My thoughts are with you. Thank you for being a wonderful pet owner and giving Ben a perfect chance at life.

  8. Oh honey I am so very sorry for your loss....

  9. What a gentle giant - rest well, dear Ben.

  10. I'm crying my eyes out! I haven't lost a pet before, but I know I will be an emotional wreck when I lose my Maddie. I'm so sorry for your loss. Ben was a beautiful dog!