RIP Benjamin Bruiser Lemieux
May 26, 2018
Today we had to put my best dog friend Benjamin to sleep. His eighteenth Birthday was yesterday. But it was time. He was in discomfort all the time with his old joints not having the mobility and flexibility he used to have. He could barely walk. He was pretty deaf and pretty blind. He was on a lot of pain meds.
He was a valued part of our family - we got him as a puppy and he was with all three of my now-grownup boys since they were in middle school.
He acquired many names in the long years that he was with us. Most of the names were given by our son Peter and his friends. Benjmo, Moje, Spootenheimer, and Benji were probably the ones that stuck. He answered to them all.
He was funny - in his mind there was a dispute about where he sat in the pack pecking order. He thought my son Matthew was below him because Matt was a little intimidated by dogs. It took a little assertiveness on Matt’s part to explain to Benjamin his position in the pack. He didn’t have to suffer the indignity of being low dog on the totem pole for long because we usually had a foster beagle or another adopted beagle for Moje to boss around.
He loved food more than anything else. When the kids were little he would abscond with whatever Halloween candy he could steal and then he would stash the candy on the window ledges behind the curtains so he could come back later for secret eating. His love of bananas was legendary. He could smell a banana being opened anywhere in the house and he would come a-begging for a piece.
One time Benji plotted and planned and schemed and managed to get a bag of Toll House Morsels off the counter. Ate the whole bag. So we call doggie poison control and they said give him a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and get him outside. We did that and within about a minute the dog was spewing foam for about 20 minutes. He never did that again.
He liked going to the dog park. He never got all weird with the other dogs - Benjamin was always sociable and never aggressive. He was a nurturing soul. About 12 years ago we fostered another beagle named Ladybug who had come from a situation of horrible abuse. She was nervous, jumpy, and scared of everything. Benjamin socialized her with our family and taught her to be a relatively normal loving dog. Ladybug found a forever home largely because of Benjamin’s care.
Benjamin loved music. We would periodically have house concerts at our house. We’ve had visits by all the members of the bands dada and 7Horse at one time or another. When Joie Calio had house concerts and when Mike Gurley was doing a house concert Benjamin laid down right in front of the performer’s mic stand each time. And pretty much chilled out through the whole performance.
He was really smart. The smartest dog I’ve ever known. But maths were not his strong suit. He could only count to 3. I know that because we accidentally reproduced that classic experiment with crows where people come and go from a blind, and the crows won’t go into the blind for the food until there are no people in the blind. Crows can apparently keep track of 5 people. Benjamin could only keep track of 3 people. So he thinks everyone has left and immediately heads into the kitchen to get into the garbage. My son Stephen sits up on the couch where he was laying out of sight and scared the crap out of Benjamin asking him “what the hell are you doing?”
His love of food got him into trouble more than once. One time there was a Corelle ceramic plate and Benjamin and his friend Buddy pulled it down off the counter and it broke into a bunch of pieces. Even though there was no food on the plate originally, once they cut their paws and blood got on the pieces, it became blood sport. He ate the plate. So we get home and find a half eaten plate on the kitchen floor and the dog there with some small cuts on his mouth. $2500 worth of surgery later they got the plate out. He had to wear the cone of shame for a couple weeks. When I asked the vet “He is the smartest dog I’ve ever known. Why would he eat a plate?” The vet responded “sometimes we all make poor choices”.
Benjamin knew how to shake hands though he never really knew what he was agreeing to. If you asked him he would give you paw. One time a few years ago he went up to my friend Bob’s cabin in the woods with me, where we had fun doing target practice, playing music, drinking, sitting at the campfire, and walking around the woods. When I asked Bob if it was ok for Benjmo to come to camp, Bob asks me “is he a good dog?” I say “of course”. What does Benjmo do 5 minutes after we get to camp? He goes in the house and takes a big dump in the corner. Saturday tradition at camp was to eat a huge breakfast of eggs, biscuits and gravy, and bacon. As one of the campers, Benjamin was no different - he got a big plate of eggs, bacon, and biscuits and gravy. While sitting down by the river, we had an old ratty sleeping bag that we laid out for Benjmo to use as a bed. We put it near the picnic table under the canopy. We were all sitting next to the fire about 40 feet away. We turn around to see Benjamin pulling his bed over to the fire so he could relax on the comfy bed while sitting with us around the fire. He was living comfort beagle. We had fun all day until it started raining in the late afternoon. So we went back up to the house. So I’m sitting there on the sofa listening to the rain and Benjamin comes up to me, sits down right in front of me, and gives me paw without being asked. He was thanking me. I’ve never had a dog intentionally thank me like that.
The moment he left us there was a huge gust of wind in the back yard with the birds chirping, and the sun came out momentarily.
He was the best doggo ever. He was my friend and I loved him and I’m going to miss him.