Bentley was our Christmas gift to Bonnie. The eight-weeks-old came with a red ribbon and a bow. Instead of a Jaguar. The kids and I did many secret talks, and we got this little furry friend on Christmas Eve. The dog spent his first night in Jason’s house, not to tip Bonnie. On Christmas Day, dog appeared on our doorsteps, carried by his older brother. Bonnie was overwhelmed, I want to think that in a positive way. As for Jason, they are still best of friends, despite the fact, that after this only one sleep-over his carpet had to be detailed.
That was more than eight years ago. Many walks and tons of kibble later, we ended up in Chapel Hill. Bent became a middle-aged personality. Very social and an unusually friendly dog. After my minor surgery, he was a healing companion for me. We made a secret pact then: he helped me when I was sick, and I will return the deed when he needed one. When no one was watching, we shared an apple or a bagel. The dog became our morning paper retriever and afternoon’s mail retriever. He did his duties with a pride, rightly expecting crunchy rewards after the job was done.
Sometimes he was too friendly. Very obedient, but not all the time.
After our move to Chapel Hill, he became more and more difficult to control. We have plenty of distractions here: deer, rabbits, squirrels, many other dogs, and he wanted to socialize with everybody. Didn’t listen (this runs in my family), easy to distract, and barked a lot. He had enough flaws, but then we had enough time to do something about it. We found the local obedience school and Bonnie enrolled all three of us. Six dog-owner teams formed the class, some dogs more interested than the others.
It took six weeks of studying, countless treats and plenty of commitment for my wife. She was the main handler, and I was her helper. We practiced many obedience drills, from name recognition to running to owner across the room on command. Bent was behaving like a child with Attention Deficit Disorder. No hope for us. I asked Barbara, our trainer, what is her graduation rate. I didn’t think we were going to make the cut.
Then the last class came. It was a series of tests and competitions. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Bent won two out of three of them! The last one was how long could he look at the owners’ eyes without getting distracted and turning his head away. And the room was full of the other dogs, not-so-quiet observers. Bonnie’s eyes were tearing, but our ADD dog held on for the longest time. I couldn’t sit still. We graduated! With honors. Now his official name became Mr. Bentley Jr, Ph.D.
So now, with proper credentials, Bent could help me with the next task – book writing. We both took it quite seriously. Each morning, after breakfast, he and I walk upstairs to my office. I sit behind the desk and my dog stands in front of the recliner. Waits for my permission and then jumps on.
He watches me…
…and growls, when I accidentally veer to Facebook.
Well, I’ve just made it up.
My first book, “Fathers and Sons” is dedicated to my wife.
The second one, “Man and His Dog” is dedicated to Bentley.