Last Friday I lost an old friend. After a long struggle with cancer our dog Ben passed away.
Ben was a great dog. He joined our family back in 1995 when he was rescued from a shelter in Austin, TX. The vet figured that Ben was about a year and a half old, he was sickly and the vet was concerned about an odd heart murmur. Fifteen years later Ben still had that murmur, but it was the cancer that did him in. He had lost almost half his weight and his appetite, but it was when he started to yelp in pain every time that he tried to lay down we knew the end was near. On Friday we went to our vet and helped Ben move on down the road. It was a hard night.
Just a few months ago we had lost our other dog, Maggie, who passed away in her sleep one night. Here they are in better times:
Maggie had been with us since 2000 when we rescued her from a very bad life in North Carolina. She had been in a puppy mill, had a litter and was dropped off on the side of the interstate. A friend of a friend watched as she was dumped out of a van and then hit by a car. They took her in and helped her to recover. Our friend knew we already had a coonhound and convinced us to try and take on a second one. We decide to “try it out” for a week and then a decade passed.
These were great dogs and I miss them both. While it is hard to admit a favorite, the passing of Ben has hit me harder. He was an amazing dog and a great friend. The loss is still sinking in. There are so many stories and memories and I am glad that they both were in my life to enrich it.
Ben even inspired some of my political work. Back in 2000–when the Supreme Court made it clear that they would hear Bush v Gore and that they might stop the recount and appoint the President–I decided it was time to show up out in front of the Supreme Court Building to protest this Judicial coup d’état. I was there with my sign and a reporter from the LA Times included it in the historic record in a 12-12-00 story:
Dennis G. of Baltimore was walking with a homemade placard reading: “My bluetick coonhound is smarter than George W. Bush.”
The sign included an image of Ben yawning. Once Bush was appointed President that sign came with me as I protested his installation. As I think about all the things Bush did, I am convince more than ever that Ben was actually smarter than George.
Ben has been part of my life for so long that it is hard to think of life without him. He was the ring bearer at my wedding. He was there for a good walk or there for just laying around the house (his favorite activity). I will miss him.
So, farewell Ben. Farewell Maggie. Be at peace.