1-10-2004 ~ 9-7-2010
We had a name picked out for him, but when we brought him home as a puppy, he was Baby Ben, (and later Gentle Ben, Big Ben, Uncle Ben...). The name we had picked out no longer suited him, so he became Ben, the very essence of Ben...
Ben is mostly responsible for my love of Labradors. He was everything a true Labrador should be. Goofy, funny, sweet, loving, smart, he was every thing a good Lab is, but born into a body that failed him, one that he didn't deserve. Ben came from a "breeder" that I did not realize at the time, did not breed responsibly. He started limping at 5 months of age, by 10 months he had bilateral arthroscopic elbow surgery for FCP (fractured coronoid process, one of the three forms of Elbow Dysplasia). We supplemented him right away, kept his weight down, and kept him moderately active so he would not get stiff. By the time he was 18 months, he had a total collapse of the cartilaginous surface of his elbow joints, and painful arthritis set in. At this time we discovered that he also had bilateral hip dysplasia as well. On top of his orthopedic issues, he had chronic skin problems and continuous ear infections, related to his diet. I found he was sensitive to chicken, corn, wheat and soy, among several other common dog food ingredients. Through trial and error, and many months, I finally found a balance of a good food and prophylactic ear treatments to keep his skin healthy and his ear infections at bay.
Through all of this, and to the end, he remained stoic and happy, loving, and affectionate as only a Labrador can. He spent his life with us, always included in family vacations and fun days boating, swimming, camping and walking with my family. Medicated as needed to keep him as comfortable as possible. On good days, he butt-tucked around the yard with the girls, and on not-so-good days, he was the ever loving companion to my aging Cattle Dog mix, Quinn. He was the peacemaker in our home, and would get really upset when one of the other dogs would discipline an obnoxious puppy. He held the Beta position, and was quite comfortable in that role, so he was a natural "Uncle" Ben to puppies, and they adored him for it. Ben aced his obedience classes, but I didn't have the heart to compete with him, his job was to just be... ...Ben. He showed me so much, in his short life, how to love and live life to the fullest, even through adversity, and pain. Aggressive prostate cancer then took it's toll, and ultimately, his life. Ben, I am honored that you became my dog, I will love and miss you forever.