When I retired last April, I had an idea that my time would be devoted to duties of my choosing. Things started off on cue, until I adopted Ben.
Set with the moniker Big Ben by those at the shelter, he was 18 months old when we met. Now 2, he acts as if we have been together a lifetime.
I am in awe of his devotion and equally impressed by his enthusiasm for life and play, which has become contagious.
He has no pedigree, he has no ancestral lineage. But he is the best of two, a composite of valuable qualities shared through the lines of Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever -- a Bassador.
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The first rule in dog training is to be smarter than the dog you are training. Given this, I had reservations that Ben would be suitable for anything more than a large lap dog. But the tables soon turned as Ben taught me more about dedication, loyalty and respect than I was prepared for. Through him I have obtained a private peace in knowing my choice was correct.
Ben was a shelter dog obtained from the Hilton Head Humane Association, a non profit no-kill shelter committed to finding homes for lost or abandoned animals. A good number of their adoptions are obtained from overcrowded shelters which do not have a no kill policy.
HHHA is not funded by the government and is supported entirely by the community. Through private fundraising, HHHA has become a haven for animals in need of adoption.
There seems to be an abstract relationship, some specific attachment among animals that are or once were shelter victims. You can see it in their eyes, the daring-to-be-hopeful stare of a forgotten animal waiting to be chosen.
Their concept of time is an abstract of change, distinguished only by one chore to another. But I suspect they know loneliness. It may be the only real characteristic of their circumstance that has meaning.
Be a friend and protector. Support your local humane association.