Recently I offered to take Ben on an outing. Most of the dogs at the Sanctuary really look forward to scrambling into a car, soaking up the air conditioning and going for a ride. Ben had reportedly been making tremendous strides and our little adventure gave me a chance to see the transformation first hand.
Ben came to the Sanctuary from Texas in 2016 where he was found in poor shape as a stray by a No More Homeless Pets Network partner. He was skinny and had no fur. He was dubbed “Gentle Ben” by the folks who rescued him. Under their care he recovered from mange and put on some much-needed weight. When they weren’t able to find a home for Ben, he was brought to Best Friends.
Ben showed his caregivers pretty early on that he really loves people, but when he gets excited he gets a bit mouthy and can get over exuberant pretty quickly. And as his first sleepover host reported, it seemed that Ben had never been in a house before. Ben didn’t like the TV (How do those people fit in that box and why are they talking?) and the furniture was soft like soft plush toys, but they aren’t toys — very confusing for poor good-natured Ben.
Caregivers took this new information and got to work. Ben was gentle, but he lacked life skills. As a puppy, he had never learned about living with people. They knew Ben loved people, but he didn’t know how to be polite about it. Ben needed to learn better coping skills, so that when he was confronted by new things, he wouldn’t be so easily startled. And he needed to learn that not every object was a toy.
As new noises were introduced, Ben slowly learned that dishwashers were not going to eat him. He’s also learning about impulse control, which matters a great deal when you are a big boy like Ben. He has learned to greet new people politely, instead of launching himself into their arms.
Being familiar with Ben’s early habit of putting everything in his mouth, as well as his big puppy ways, I was excited to see his progress and test out his new skills a bit. He hopped right into my Jeep, settled into the backseat and off we went. He was a wonderful passenger!
Ben got a little excited when he got out of the Jeep in a new place, he really wanted to carry my camera for me. In that moment of excitement, I asked Ben to do a few of his tricks. He instantly let go of my camera strap and showed me his sit, down and touch. Good boy, Ben.
It’s easy to love Ben and we’ll keep working with him to polish up his less gentlemanly skills. We all hope that someday soon he’ll win the heart of a person of his own. Until that time, he is safe and loved here at the Sanctuary.
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