Benjy came into my life in 2017 and changed everything for me. After a long time searching rescue websites, I came across a picture of this messy, scruffy, old soul with a long white beard and eyebrows.
Within five minutes of meeting him at a Columbus dog park, I knew he was my dog and I was his person. Benjy was 10 years old then, and I knew what I was getting into adopting an older dog. But there was something about the idea of giving a senior another chance that stuck with me. When you raise a dog, the happiness in your life grows exponentially. When you stick with a dog whose puppy years are behind him, the joy is still immeasurable - and as I have seen with Benjy, along with it comes a rejuvenated purpose and perspective on your whole world.
One of my first nights with Benjy, I was crying in my bathroom, overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for such a pure soul. Benjy whined at the door before pushing it open and burying himself in my arms. I realized then he was the part of me I didn't even know was missing. Since then, we’ve become inseparable. He's known as my velcro dog - If I’m there, he’s not far from my side. Though he may be 91 in human years, our favorite thing to do is go hiking. He loves to stare at me drinking my coffee until he dozes off, snoring like an old man. He lets me snuggle him for way too long every day. He serves as my alarm clock each morning by putting his head on the bed next to me and wagging his tail until I wake up. My proud warrior. My canine side kick. My very, very best friend.
The past few months have been hard for us. His appetite decreased and his weight started dropping in December. Each day different things became a little more difficult. We have seen numerous vets and specialists, ran countless tests, and tried different medicines but nothing has worked on his failing liver. Since the illness was found, I feel the sadness creeping in during our everyday antics, on a walk or preparing his dinner. During his bath, he snuggled his wet body into my chest and I could feel just how small he had become. Stroking his sudsy face, I found myself crying in the bathroom with him once again. Recently, I’ve tried to shift my focus away from his sickness. To no longer saying, “I need to enjoy my Benjy because he doesn’t have much time left” to, “I want to enjoy my Benjy because I love him.”
There is never enough time when it involves those you love most. But whatever time we have, I will dedicate to the purpose that he gave to me - to make sure he is as happy and comfortable as he can be. My identity as Benjy’s mom is something I hold so dear. He showed me who I was when I was lost, and I don’t yet know who I will be when he eventually does leave me. I wonder who I will talk to while I make dinner, or who will remind me to stop and take in the interest of every twig and leaf on my walk. Who will watch me gardening, slowly raising their head to give approval before being distracted by a scent caught on the wind or a friendly bumble bee.
Benjy’s presence in my life took away deep sadness and loneliness and replaced it with a love and companionship that I didn’t know was real. While I want more days, and more years, and more of everything, I know what I need is a way to ease his battle with this sickness. That way, we can fill his days instead with our favorite things and the love and companionship he first taught me.