No More Tail Thumpings - Ben Is Gone
Someone once said, "My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am." If that line of thinking is true, then everyone must have been a saint to my dog Ben.
Ben, my ancient golden retriever, has become a legend in Moore County because of two columns I wrote about his antics in the past year or so. I can't tell you how many times our readers have stopped me to ask how he was doing.
I'm sad to report that Ben died Jan. 8 at the ripe old age of 14 1/2. In the last few weeks of his life, he became a shell of the dog he had been, sleeping nearly all the time. Even when he was awake, he seemed disoriented and distant.
My mother texted me that last morning. My parents were heading out of town the next day. She had taken our little black dog, Deacon, to the kennel. Earlier in the week, she decided it was better to board Ben at the vet so they could keep an eye on him, given his condition.
But Ben took a turn for the worse. He stopped eating and drinking. Mom told me to come home and say goodbye.
When I got to my parents' house, my old buddy was lying in his usual spot in the kitchen - next to a counter on top of an air-conditioning vent. But this time, instead of the usual "thump, thump, thump" of his always-wagging tail, I was greeted by silence. Ben didn't even acknowledge my presence.
Mom was upstairs. She told me she had been crying all day because she knew it was time. She took him to the vet, who told her that Ben had cancerous lesions all over. We suspected as much.
"I left," Mom texted me a couple of hours later. "I couldn't stay for it."
It didn't really sink in until she came back home, carrying Ben's bed and the bag of food she had prepared for his stay. I took one of Ben's collars back to my apartment and placed it on my nightstand.
Mom, Dad and I went out to dinner. We toasted our late family member. Though we had joked that Ben was "immortal," we knew the end was coming sooner or later. It's still a tough pill to swallow.
I picked up Ben's black urn on Monday. On the front is a small plaque that reads, "Ben - 8/22/1995 to 1/8/2010." We'll bury him in the garden next to his "brother," Champ, who died back in 1996.
It's next to impossible not to smile or laugh when remembering Ben. He was such a sweet-natured dog. Big, brown trusting eyes. The aforementioned tail. The unintentional comedy. Most of all, he was always happy to see you.
Then you start to think about how life will be different. No more scratching at the back door to come inside. No more eating paper towels and tissues out of the bathroom trash can. No more sneaking into the swimming pool. No more "haunting" for food - Ben never got full and was always around when food was available. No more noxious gas.
When I came home to eat dinner with my parents the other night, I realized how different it actually was. Everything was in its usual place, but the house seemed a little emptier.
His tennis balls are still all over the house. You can still see the slobber stains on the kitchen floor where he spent most of his time. His big bed still smells like him.
Life goes on. As with any loss, Ben's absence will begin to feel "normal." But no matter what, I'll always hear that tail thumping the ground.
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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