Letting Benji Go
A week ago, after one month of living with me, my foster dog Benji was adopted.
Benji is an adorable loving dog. As always, it’s a guess as to his breed. But I think he is a Jack Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier combo with a little wire hair terrier mixed in.
Benji was rescued on May 15. One morning, PJ and her feeding route helpers saw him running down the side of the highway in East St. Louis dragging a 12 foot heavy metal link chain. Keep in mind that Benji is only 11 lbs. The chain that he was dragging never belonged on that tiny dog.
PJ knew that she had to pick up Benji or he would end up getting hit by a car. He was brought back Gateway Pet Guardian’s emergency shelter and the staff tried to find his owner with no success. He wasn’t microchipped. He didn’t have tags. And no one came to claim him after he was posted online on all of the major adoption sites.
Benji went to a foster home, but something came up and the foster parents couldn’t keep him after just a few days. So back to the shelter he went. Another foster home was found for him, but there were 3 dogs already in that home and Benji reacted poorly. Let’s just say that he was trying to show he was in charge, and he didn’t last long in that home.
Benji spent the next 5 months in the emergency shelter because he was so reactive to other dogs…barking and acting crazy whenever he was around them…that everyone thought he needed to be in a home with no other dogs.
It’s hard to find dog foster homes without any other dogs already, since the people who foster dogs also adore dogs and most of them already have at least one.
I heard about Benji and his behavior, and decided I couldn’t foster him. I live in a townhouse with neighbors below and beside me, and I just can’t have a dog that barks all of the time…and Benji did bark all of the time at the shelter in those early months.
Instead I picked out Padme. After about a month, Padme’s first foster family returned to St. Louis and asked if they could foster her again. I knew I would miss Padme, but by letting them take her, it meant I could get another dog out of the shelter and into a home.
When I discovered Benji was still at the shelter, I knew I had to give this little guy a try.
I brought Milo over to the shelter so they could meet. While everyone thought that Benji couldn’t handle being around another dog, I knew that Milo is so mellow that it would probably work. And I was right.
Milo and Benji did a little sniffing, then basically ignored each other…both preferring to explore all of the dogs smells in the shelter’s backyard.
A few days later Benji came home with me. He marked one time in the house (the primary behavior that was discouraging everyone from fostering him other than the barking). I promptly put on a belly band…this handy little device that keeps male dogs from urinating on things when you don’t want them to.
After the first evening, he never wore it again in my home. Turns out that Benji didn’t need to mark in my house once he realized that Milo didn’t care that he was there.
It didn’t take long for Benji to discover that the couch pillows are really comfortable.
Benji and Milo got along great from the start. He also had a great time with my Mom’s dog Lexi.
He was friendly with all of the dogs he met on our walks and at the dog park. He learned to sit and figured out how to get Milo to play with him.
Benji became a wonderful pet with almost perfect behavior. All it took was getting him into a quiet home where he could take a deep breath and relax.
A home where he didn’t have to be confined to a crate and could crawl under the covers in a big bed at night.
Benji isn’t perfect. He still needs to learn some commands and he did occasionally have potty accidents in the house (usually my fault for refusing to get out of bed when he wanted me to!). But no dog is perfect. All they need is a patient forever family willing to work with them on the things they need to learn.
Adoption day was hard.
I was really attached to Benji. Much more so than any of the other dogs I’ve fostered. He was the first one that I could imagine keeping for myself.
But adopting Benji would mean I couldn’t foster anymore since my condo has a 2 dog limit. And it would make my future travel plans much harder.
It helped knowing that Benji was going to a wonderful home. His new mama loves him dearly and picked out a great new name for him…Theo.
Benji/Theo finally got what every dog deserves…and that made it just a little easier to let him go.
I put together this video to show you Benji in action…pictures just don’t tell the whole story.
Have a wonderful life Benji!