Adventures with Benny: Tales of a little dog… The beginning

26 Jun 2024 | Written by Marina O'Shea

Welcome reader. If you’ve found yourself reading these words, then either curiosity or a love of dogs – or both – has brought you here. And well done if so, on both counts.

Dogs are boundless in their own curiosity, a trait in them I have always loved because they never tire of being interested in what every day might hold. A new smell, a new person – a new tree! Everything is wondrous to them. We could learn a lot from that, and I think it’s largely why I’ve always kept dogs around me – to remind me to be curious, to be intrigued and try and embrace the joy of what it is to be alive every single day.

I’ve had dogs around me since I was as young as I can remember. My first guardian companion was in fact my Uncle’s, who then got left to my grandparents to look after. More the luck for me – because I found myself with a 70 pound, full of life boxer dog called Rocky as my shadow and best friend (this was the era of Stallone’s hit movies, hence the name) every time I was there.

Rocky, my shadow

He was everything his name sake gave him, bold, brave, a little slow witted but wonderfully gentle, loyal and extremely patient. I have many happy memories of playing games in the garden with him, and chatting his dog ears off with my likely constant gabbling.

And so began my unknowing life long adventure with four legged friends. There are many that have a place in my heart, but there is one dog I have never met the like of before or since…Little legs Benny. And his adventures deserve their own pages, because he has brought so many people together, and (somehow!) survived so many adventures that his unquenchable spirit and curiosity – there’s that word again – has taken him to.

This is a tale of Benny; a dog that brought people from many different continents together to share in their love and compassion for animals, when he was just two years old and sparked a global hunt to find him when he went missing. He’s been beloved by many ever since, with countless strangers that came forward to help find him – who continue to follow his life ever since, even now 11 years later since we found him and brought him home safe and sound.

His is a tale that has touched many, and I am often reminded of what an impossible thing it really is that he has lived on for a further 11 years (and counting!) since that day he disappeared, and all the adventures he has had since. He’s been a theatre dog, an office dog, a touring dog, a companion to four of my other dogs (three of which he’s outlived) and a training dog rehabilitating other dogs in his mighty years to date but most important of all, a best friend to three small human beings, who have grown up alongside him.

I write this to share the heart touching moments this brought for those people, but also for the curious and the dog lovers out there, who I know will enjoy following the stories Benny has made along his 13 years as a 10lb four legged little tyke.

But as all things must begin at the beginning, so must this tale.

Benny in the hands of his small human friend

On the 27th November 2011, little Benny came into our lives. Not more than 3lbs, and smaller than my hand – he was from the litter of our family friends who were moving (with their dogs and his mum) to Australia. We were sad to see them leaving, and agreed to take a pup to keep as a memory of their dogs. Benny’s mum, Honey, was a chihuahua crossed with a mini jack russell, and his grandmother, Meg, the same. We had loved both dogs and looked after them many times over the years, so it seemed fitting to have one of their offspring as our own.

Little baby Benny

Except, we already had a large breed dog – a beautiful German shepherd girl called Frankie. Only two years old, she was full of life and enormous, and I had never had a small dog in my life! Frankie was still learning and not terribly gentle around small dogs, so our family friends picked a stud dog specifically with temperament in mind.
And so it was, Benny’s father was a miniature pinscher! Known for their intelligence and pep, this would ensure the pup had the confidence to hold his own around our Frankie.

And that wasn’t wrong – the moment he stepped into the house, Benny commanded attention and Frankie – whilst bemused – sat down instantly as if to say ‘Ok, you’re the boss’.

When Frankie met Benny…The boss!

Over the next few months, we watched the most beautiful bond grow between these two, who became instantly inseparable. We got many comments and laughs out walking them, due to the extreme size difference! But all were enamoured with how Benny bosssed Frankie about, and how she would gently lick him and accept it. And I learnt a lot about the difference in small dog breeds – he was so unbelievably small I had to relearn how to hold his lead, and even had to use a mayonnaise serving pot because there were no dog bowls small enough for him! And just how loyal little legs are, and how devoted they are to you.
It was quite the journey, but from the get go his personality was bigger than any dog I had ever met before.

Pint sized but mighty! Benny when he arrived.

But, I’ve never seen bravery as great as I have in this pint sized fellow, which leads me into part two – Benny’s first big adventure…Join me next time to find out more.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your four legged friends – and a picture too! Nothing brings me more joy than seeing the furry friends people share their lives with 🙂

Until next time,