Finding Benji
by Delisa Renideo

(Eighth article)

I had a wonderful dog, Bootie, who was my constant companion for 12 years until she died at age 14. I knew it wasn’t possible to replace someone you love, but I also knew I wanted to get another dog to share my life. So my husband, Charlie, and I began talking about what kind of dog to adopt. I had wanted a “Benji dog” for years, ever since watching the Benji movies. We both agreed that a small dog is easier to take places, and she would need to be small to ride on my kayak as Bootie had done. So we made our first trip to the Borough Animal Shelter.

Walking up and down the aisle in front of the dog kennels we were greeted by barking and wagging dogs, all clamoring for our attention and love. It was a heart-breaking scene that reminded me of the musical, Annie, where all the little orphans would line up eagerly to be inspected by any prospective adopters, and then slink away with disappointment written all over them when they were passed by.
We saw big dogs and little dogs, some that had been left by their owners for various reasons and some that had been picked up along the road. All of them had only a few days to either be claimed by their owners or adopted by someone new or else be euthanized.
Looking into the eyes of each dog, I silently asked what had happened for them to end up there. They were all friendly, loving, and eager to be with people. How had people let them down so that they were all only days from death?

At the very end of the long row of dogs, there was a small, white dog standing in the back of his kennel, not paying any attention to us. He seemed more interested in the other dogs than in us. But he looked like a Benji-dog to me, so I pointed him out to Charlie. He was concerned that he might not be very personable since he didn’t come to greet us as all the other dogs did. We didn’t realize at the time that he had just been brought in and was probably still a bit in shock. Not seeing the “perfect” dog for us, we left.
I returned a couple of days later and found the little white dog still there. This time I asked the staff to take him out of the kennel so I could visit with him. After being reassured that he had been very friendly with the staff, I decided to take him home.
We discovered after getting him home that Benji was, indeed, the perfect dog for us. He is playful, snuggly, and loves to go on hikes and ride on my kayak with me. People ask me all the time where I got him, and when finding out we found him at the “pound” they are amazed. There is a major misconception that there is something wrong with dogs that end up at the Borough Animal Shelter.
I wondered for a long time how Benji ended up at the shelter. He’d had a recent haircut, so I knew he’d had a home and had been cared for. He had some cuts on his back. Had he fallen out of a truck? Did his people move away and leave him to fend for himself? I guess I’ll never know, but I do know that Benji is a true joy in my life and I’m so grateful I went back to get him.

Delisa is a co-founder of Rays of Hope and can be contacted at 373-1526.

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