BENSON THE GENTLE GIANT
We collected Benson one Sunday in September 2007; he seemed delighted to see us and made every attempt to pull me out of the kennels with Claire and helpers in tow and into the car. We knew that he had some major allergies and needed injections fortnightly and then monthly and had some problems with his ears, however he appeared to be generally in good form other than that.
Benson had belonged previously to a family that had split and who could no longer look after a rather large, slightly smelly but adorable dog who needed expensive medication; their loss was definitely our gain. Our journey home was uneventful, stopping for lunch at a hostelry with a garden where we sat with our new friend who was admired greatly by a young girl who was fascinated to hear the history of Hungarian Vizslas and their introduction into this country.
We took Benson to our local vet who loves the breed, he thought Benson a great fellow but discovered very quickly that his one major sensitivity was his ears; this first encounter was a tad traumatic as Ben had a chronic problem with his ears that from time to time became acute and necessitated close examination. Ben was very large for the breed, probably a cross between a smooth and wire haired vizsla and as such was extremely strong, that first encounter ensured that we were fully prepared for future visits if an ear examination was likely to be required. This was the only time when our gentle giant inflicted any hurt upon any human and this only by struggling and scratching me.
Ben thrived throughout the years, put on weight and built up his muscles to become an extremely handsome, much admired dog. Despite his size he not only thought but knew that he was really a lap dog and had a predilection for landing himself across the knees of unsuspecting friends who happened to be sitting in one of our armchairs, his attempts to sit on laps were rarely resisted!
During our married lives we have had five Labradors and three Vizslas and too many ponies and horses to mention, Benson at times seemed to be halfway between dog and pony. His height and length was such that no work surface was beyond his reach, something that previously we had not had to consider, in fact our first Labrador was so trustworthy that I could leave a box of meat on the floor whilst collecting the boys from school and know that not a morsel would be touched – not so with Benson. We learnt the expensive way and several suppers disappeared before we learnt our lesson; Ben would just survey the kitchen and say to himself “yes I fancy a bit of this and a morsel of that” and proceed to eat that which he desired.
When you home a rescue dog you do not necessarily have any idea of their background, we found that Ben was reluctant to go into the garden and if taken to the far end he would scoot back to the door speedily. It took about six months, gentle persuasion and a little patience for him to be happy there but eventually his favourite spot in summer was to sit on a garden bench at the far end of the garden in the midst of the raspberries! His ears were another issue but eventually he sat calmly for me to clean them with a resigned look on his face. He loved walking free in the fields and would systematically hunt each hedge, much to the fury of our other rescue vizslas who just wanted to play; he,Benson, of course became totally deaf when we wished to return to the house but he had not finished his explorations. He loved people and children, we just had to a little careful as he was so big that in his enthusiasm he could knock anyone flying and his undocked tail was quite a weapon!
Vizsla’s, having fine coats, are somewhat addicted to the warmth of a fire when indoors, ours certainly conform to this and trying to cook on a Rayburn in a small kitchen with three large dogs lying in front of it and refusing to move can be challenging. They were of course in direct line of fire of any morsels of food that escaped the pan, usually due to my inability to reach across our recumbent canines!
The vet was not sure of Benson’s age when he arrived with us and the estimate he gave I consider was woefully inaccurate; I was beginning to think that he was exhibiting the signs of ageing rather in excess of his imagined age. Not that he was unwell, he just slept a little more than when he first arrived with us. It was a really sad day that whilst we were visiting our youngest son in the States during which time a very experienced friend was dog and house sitting that we were given the news that Benson had died very quietly and peacefully in his sleep, having spent a really happy time the previous day.
We still miss our ‘gentle giant’ and I have a tear in my eyes whilst writing this, he is a legend with our friends, all who loved him dearly, even the ‘non-doggy’ ones, despite his smelly ears and love of fox dung!
Ro Day

benson & rusty – both welfare boys

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