Benson is an eight month old German Shepherd dog. Currently he is going through extensive training to become a Police Service Dog. But things aren’t going too well. While learning to track an alleged suspect he bolted from his trainer and chased after a squirrel. Then while practicing and learning to sniff out drugs and other illegal contraband he pulled his trainer hard on the leash away from the planted drugs and he dug up an old dirty soup bone. Just prior to their lunch break the trainer took Benson off the leash and had him sit quiet while he made some notes. Suddenly Benson quickly departed, jumped through an open police car window and helped himself to the Sargent’s lunch which consisted of ham sandwiches and apple pie. After lunch the training moved onto learning attack and detain methods the dogs might use while apprehending criminals. Another policeman dressed in shaggy clothing and wearing a protective arm and hand pad started to yell and scream and was running with a revolver in his hand. The trainer unleashed Benson and yelled to chase and attack the culprit, ideally biting the hand he was carrying the revolver in. Benson sat and watched the action unfold until the trainer gave him a gentle nudge to chase which he finally did. Once Benson caught up with the suspect next to a tree, he raised his paw as if he wanted to shake hands then gave the man a big sloppy wet kiss on his cheek, rolled over and laid down as if to say, “This is enough for one day”.
The next week of training didn’t go much better. In the evening the dogs are left alone for awhile before being put in their crates for the nights sleep. This is a huge fenced exercise area in which they can associate with the other dogs to improve their social habits. One evening instead of socializing Benson decided it would be more fun to chew through a plastic pipe containing electrical wires which go to the main office and administration building.
As a result he got a bit of an electrical shock as the entire compound buildings all went dark. Electrical contractors were called in and had everything repaired within a few hours.
Over the next few days and weeks Benson’s police training and learning skills did not improve and he was subsequently put on the rejection list. When a dog is found not suitable for police work they are either returned to their previous owner or sent to the local animal shelter for adoption to a suitable family. In Benson’s case his previous owner had left town with no forwarding address so the only option now was to deliver him to the animal shelter. The next morning his trainer took him to the shelter, shook his paw, said ”Sorry it didn’t work out, but Best of Luck”. Benson gave him a big juicy lick on the face and turned and walked into his new home at the shelter. He was promptly placed in a small wired room and that would be his home until someone adopted him.
The Animal Shelter was situated near a busy highway and just down from a picnic rest stop for traveling motorists. For the next few days Benson endured a very lonely and quiet life. There were not that many other dogs there and they mainly stayed in their own little rooms. The person in charge of the shelter was not very friendly and hardly spent any time with the dogs. Benson only got to get out of his room to exercise maybe once a day and that was only for a very short time. He felt it was like being in jail. Soon he became depressed until one day he saw a family with a mom, dad and two children walk up to his cage. The little girl was about 10 years old and the boy was about 12. They both knelt down and put their fingers through the wire and petted his nose. He licked their fingers, quietly barked and his eyes lit up wide and bright. The girl’s name was Sarah and the boy’s name was David. Sarah said to her dad,”Oh I love this dog Dad, could we take him home?” David said,”He’s a great looking dog dad, I think he would have fun on our farm.” The mom and dad looked at each other and said,”Well we will talk to the person in charge to see if he is available for adoption and if we qualify as a family”. Sarah and David stayed with Benson petting him through the wire and talking to him quietly while their mom and dad went into the office to speak to the shelter manager.
After about 15 minutes they came back out and said to the kids, “Well, we have a new member of the family and his name is Benson.” Both kids yelled, “Yahoo.” They put a small leash on Benson and led him out of the shelter and into the back seat of their car. They made up a little cardboard box with a blanket in it for Benson to ride in and set it in the middle between them. The family had been on a camping holiday to Manitoba to visit relatives and now were on their way home to Vancouver Island. As they drove away from the shelter Sarah said, “Good thing we stopped at that picnic rest stop for lunch as that is when I heard dogs barking and then saw the sign “Dogs for Adoption, inquire within”. Benson squirmed a bit in the box, looked up at Sarah and David with a big grin on his face then laid down and fell fast asleep. The manager at the Animal Shelter advised that Benson just had a full satisfactory medical checkup and already received all his required vaccinations. So now the only thing he needed was a loving family and it appears that he just found one.
Prior to getting on the ferry to Vancouver Island they stopped at a grocery store to replenish their food supply and then visited a pet supply store to buy dog food, a good leash, feeding bowl and some toys for Benson.
It had been a long holiday for the family and a long drive to Manitoba and back to British Columbia but well worth it now seeing they acquired a new family member. It was late August and the days were getting shorter and there was a cool crisp smell in the air. The family lived in a small rural town on central Vancouver Island. They arrived home late at night and everyone was very tired after the long road trip. Benson slept most of the way except for opening his eyes once in awhile after the kids gently petted him. They unloaded most of the stuff from the car and travel trailer into the house. Sarah’s dad said, “I will build Benson a dog house tomorrow, but for tonight he can sleep in the basement in his little cardboard box.” David asked,” Could I sleep in the basement too with Benson as he might be afraid and confused in his new surroundings?” “Good idea,” said their dad. Soon everyone was in bed tired but excited about the new family member. They all looked forward to the adventures he would bring to the family tomorrow and the years to come.
David, Sarah and their mom and dad live on a 2 acre hobby farm. All the neighbouring properties are also 2 acres. The only neighbour that is near is just across the street but set back in the trees. They also live at the bottom of a steep road and the locals call the road, “The Big Hill”. At the top of the Big Hill is an elementary school and the road ends there. Next to the school is a baseball and soccer field along with a huge play area for the kids. The whole area along the road and around the school is heavily treed and soon the maple trees will be displaying their beautiful vibrant orange and red colours.
Well the next morning everyone was up early including Benson. David put a leash on him and promptly gave him a tour of his new home and property. David’s mom yelled out the back window that breakfast was ready and the whole family gathered at the kitchen table for a great homecoming meal. Benson joined them and again was smiling as he lapped up his breakfast then burped and laid on his back looking happy and satisfied. The kids rubbed his full stomach and it tickled him and made his rear legs twitch and vibrate wildly. Then David’s dad said,”Well I better get busy and build Benson his own house.” David assisted with the building as Sarah and her mom brought in the last of the camping gear from the trailer and cleaned up the breakfast dishes. A few hours later Benson was the proud owner of a beautiful dog house. They placed his house on the side of the main house so he could view the people walking and driving up and down The Big Hill. David’s dad said, “I think Benson will make a Great watch dog very soon.” No sooner did they carry the house out and level it, Benson sniffed around and made himself right at home. He gave David’s dad and David a big lick as if to say Thank You!
Over the next few weeks Benson really began to feel like part of the family as he was always included in all their events, like daily walks up and down the Big Hill, picnic outings, birthday parties, visiting neighbours and friends, going for rides in the car and of course just playing with the family on the farm. He was very good about staying on the property and never wanders off on his own to explore. He now sleeps outside in his new house and seems to enjoy watching the activities up and down the Big Hill. David and Sarah are now back full time at school so playing time with them is limited. But David’s mom and dad always make time for Benson when it comes time for, feeding, exercising and sneaking him the occasion special treat. When none of the family are around Benson is content to just lay in his house and watch the world go by, especially on the Big Hill. The busiest times are in the morning when people are heading to school and then after school when everyone is heading home. Lots of cars, kids walking and riding their bikes to and from school. I think this is Benson’s favourite time as many kids now know Benson and usually take the time to come over and pet him and give him a little treat in exchange for a friendly paw shake or lick on the cheek. Quite often when cars drive by with kids going to school they would honk and wave to Benson and Benson would return the greeting with a friendly “Woof”. Benson was becoming a permanent fixture and unofficial spokesman of “The Big Hill”. David’s dad often comments that he sees Benson in the morning when he heads to work and then in the afternoon when he returns and he is always in his house watching the Big Hill. The dad jokingly referred to Benson as, “The Guardian of the Big Hill”
One afternoon in late October Benson was resting in his house and noticed a lady pushing a stroller near the top of the Big Hill. Suddenly he saw the lady trip on something and fall to the ground and accidentally lost control of the stroller with the small child in it. She screamed in terror and fear as she saw her child and stroller start rolling away from her down the Big Hill! Upon seeing this happen Benson bolted out of his house and ran as fast as he could up the Big Hill and chased after the run away stroller with the child in it. He managed to catch it as it was just gaining speed down the hill and bit onto the side canvas part and held it securely in his mouth. It was a heavy stroller and dragged him down the hill about 20 feet before coming to a stop. The child was crying and the hysterical mother was crying and shaking as she stumbled down to where Benson stopped the stroller. She immediately grabbed her child and took her out of the stroller and hugged her tightly. The child was not injured but the mother was bleeding from her knees after scrapping them on the pavement when she tripped. The mother, still in shock, holding her child bent down and gave Benson a Big hug and said, “Oh Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Beautiful Dog”. They were now near the bottom of the Big Hill and the mother continued on her way carrying her child and just pushing the empty stroller. Benson returned to his house and laid down and watched as the lady and the child walked by. The lady glanced over to where Benson was and waved and threw him a kiss. She continued on her way and soon was out of sight. Benson had a big yawn and then began to lick his leg that got scrapped when he was dragged against the pavement while stopping the stroller.
The next day Benson noticed this same lady drive into their driveway and go to the front door of the main house. She was greeted by David’s mother. They talked a bit and the lady handed the mother something. The lady then backed out of the driveway, glanced over to look at Benson, waved to him and then departed. Soon David’s mother came outside and went to see Benson in his house. She gave Benson a Big hug and said that the lady explained how Benson saved her daughter from getting seriously injured in the run away stroller incident. “You are a REAL hero Benson, that mother of the child you saved gave me a $50.00 Gift card for a Pet Supply Store to buy you a Thank You present, Great Job Benson, I am very proud of you”.
Finally it was winter and the icy winds were blowing and the snow falling. Some years the highways department closed off the Big Hill as even sanded and plowed it was still too dangerous to drive up or down, so people had to use the walkway on the side to get up and down. The local kids and even kids from the bigger towns came to the Big Hill to slide down as it was great because the road was blocked off to traffic and no fear of getting hit by cars. This was one of those years. The Big Hill was snow covered and made for very good sliding. They had a barricade set up about a block past the bottom of the hill so no cars could come down the street towards the big hill. The hill was full of happy sleigh and toboggan riding kids and adults. David and Sarah even took Benson for a few rides down the big hill, but after a few runs Benson decided it was not his thing and he was content to just watch the fun from the comfort of his house.
One afternoon Benson was in his usual spot, laying in his house enjoying the day when suddenly a strange old pickup truck pulled into the driveway. David and Sarah were at school, their dad was at work and their mom had left to go shopping. Benson watched closely as a grubby male got out of the truck and went to the front door. He knocked on the door then rang the door bell. No answer. He then looked in the window and walked around the house trying all the doors and windows, but they were all locked. He then went to the basement door, reached into his jacket and pulled out a crow bar and it looked like he was about to pry open the door. Benson thought to himself, ok time for me to swing into action, no more Mr. Nice Guy. With a loud bark and snarling sound, teeth bared Benson charged toward the intruder! The intruder dropped his crowbar and ran back to his truck with Benson snipping at his rear end. He got back into his truck and quickly drove away never to be seen again. Benson thought to himself, I guess I could have been a Police Service Dog if I really wanted to?
Life goes on, Winter turns to Spring and Spring warms up to Summer and Summer cools down to Fall. Benson’s family life is good and the years roll by, but sometimes too quickly but the memories of living with his human family will last a life time. He often thinks back to his very young days when he was training to be a Police Service Dog but now that he has found his forever family he had no regrets of leaving the Police Service. Many years now have passed since that wonderful day he was adopted by David & Sarah’s family. David’s dad is now retired, David fulfilled his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot and is stationed out of Calgary, and Sarah is married with two beautiful children. Sarah and her husband live in Victoria where he is pursing his law degree. So now it it just David’s mom, dad and Benson living on the farm. David and Sarah do visit once in awhile subject to weather conditions, school, and work obligations. But usually everyone gets together around the Christmas season even if that means packing up Benson and visiting in Calgary or Victoria. Benson doesn’t mind travelling in the car because now he gets the entire back seat to himself, no more little cramped cardboard box. David’s mom, dad and Benson are inseparable! They do most everything together.
One cool December morning Benson woke up early as the sun was shining bright into his house. It had snowed quite a lot overnight but cleared off now and the temperature was about -5c with a brisk north wind blowing. There had not been much if any snow up until today so the Big Hill had been open and motorists have not had any trouble getting up or down. But today the Big Hill was snow covered and being -5c it could be very slippery and dangerous to drive on. Usually the town maintenance crew check road conditions daily whenever there is a major snowfall, but today being Sunday work crews were short staffed and were concentrating on other more used and essential roadways. Eventually they will get around to check the Big Hill’s condition and decide if it is too dangerous for motorists to drive on. If it is found too dangerous then they will blockade off the Big Hill and the street leading up to it. There was no traffic or anyone venturing up the Big Hill all day. Then just as the sun was setting and it was getting dark Benson noticed two little girls playing in the snow directly across the street from him at the bottom of the Big Hill. They were enjoying the fresh new snow and having fun throwing snow balls at each other. One was standing on the road and the other was on her property hiding behind a small tree. Then a car appeared behind the girl on the road and honked it’s horn so the girl could step aside and let him through and attempt to go up the Big Hill. The girl moved and the car drove through, then the girl moved back onto the road and the fun snowball fight continued. Benson watched all this action with great interest. Suddenly you could hear the sound of tires spinning on ice and snow. Benson looked up the Big Hill and saw the car that had just driven up stuck about half way up the hill. Suddenly the car started to slide backwards out of control down the hill and towards the girl on the road. The girls playing did not hear or notice the car sliding quickly down the hill as they were concentrating on the snowball fun. Benson began to bark loudly as if to warn the girl on the road about the car coming towards her. The girl did not move or see the car sliding towards her. Benson then dashed quickly out of his house towards the girl and bumped her into a nearby bush off the road out of harms way. Just then the out of control car swung wildly around and knocked over Benson. The car finally stopped about 20’ feet past where it hit Benson. The driver got out immediately and checked the girl who was on the road that got bumped into the bush. She was ok but a little scared. Her mom and dad came running out after seeing what happened and hugged both girls. Then they went to check on Benson. He was unconscious, blood coming out of his ear, and his eyes were glazed open. He was dead! The driver of the car was in shock and kept saying, I’m Sorry, so Sorry. Then the father of the girls who were playing in the snow went across the street to advise the owners of Benson about the accident. Once advised they both came running out and looked at Benson who was laying lifeless in the snow. Tears and shock immediately set in on all involved in this tragic incident. The driver of the car again kept apologizing to everyone. He offered his name to Benson’s owner but it fell on deaf ears as no one was really listening. Everyone was just gathered around Benson. The driver of the car slowly drove away. The father of the girl involved was almost crying and said, “Benson Saved My Little Girl’s Life”.
Benson’s owner knelt down close to Benson and felt his heart and detected a little movement and when he put his ear to Benson’s open mouth could hear a faint bit of raspy breathing. He immediately turned to his wife and said, “Get the car quick, Benson’s not dead yet, but close to it, we have to get him to the animal hospital as soon as possible!” The wife quickly got the car, they wrapped Benson up in a warm blanket, placed him in the back seat and sped off to the hospital. It was about a 10 mile drive and being Sunday night they knew no one would be there. While on route they found the Veterinarian’s Emergency phone number and called. Luckily the Vet answered and after explaining what had happened he said he would meet them at the office in about 30 minutes.
Upon arrival at the Animal Hospital they carried Benson in and the Vet briefly looked at him. The Vet said,” Doesn’t look good, he has a concussion, head injuries and internal bleeding. He is going to require immediate surgery!” They took him to the operating room and closed the door. The assistant who accompanied the Vet said it could be a few hours or more before they know if Benson could be saved or not, so you and your wife better go home and we will call you when we know anything further. Then the assistant went into the operating room and helped the Vet. It was a quiet emotional drive back home. They arrived home and neither could sleep. They just sat in a chair in the front room and stared out the window as it began to snow again. It was now 1045pm and still no call. They dropped Benson off at 6:30pm.
Finally at 11:00pm the phone rang. Benson’s owners gasped and their hearts raced as they picked up the phone to answer. It was a wrong number, someone looking for Clarence? Then at 11:35pm, the phone rang again. And once more the two of them started shaking and could barely speak. It was the Vet. He said, “Unfortunately…..you are going to have to keep buying dog food for many more years, Benson is out of danger and he will be fine. He will need lots of rest for the next couple of weeks, I will have some medicine for him at the office. You can pick him up tomorrow afternoon. He is resting good right now and sends you his Love!”