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Benjamin Noah was born in New Braunfels, Texas, in the spring of 2002. Due to catastrophic flooding there in early July, he was relocated to the Dallas SPCA. After the sudden loss of my wire fox terrier, Ruby, my mom and I found ourselves in the SPCA in mid-July–just looking, of course, and only for a female dog, which we found. The cute, black terrier puppy was adopted, but the man at the shelter pointed out her brother, a little brown puppy who he was sure was part border terrier and would look like the dog in “There’s Something About Mary.” Well… I knew that dog. I loved that dog! I had to have this puppy. This male puppy.

And so Benny came home with me the next day after getting neutered. I named him Ben because I’d never met a Ben I didn’t like… but mainly after Ben Folds. And Noah, of course, because of the floods that sent him to North Texas.

He was a tiny pup with a long tail. He lived so long that I don’t have any puppy pictures at my fingertips… I guess there are prints in a box or on some dusty hard drive somewhere. He came around before Facebook… but, as most of you know, he had plenty of time to get famous there. I think he worked his way into many hearts on there and on Instagram.

For those of you who know me in real life, it may surprise you to know that Ben and I did go to PetSmart’s obedience school. I think we may have skipped the last day, but I know I can’t blame his anti-social behavior on that. He lived with a hermit… what can I say? He loved me like no one else ever could, and I did the same for him.

In his younger days, Ben loved to walk, sniff everything in sight, find any chicken bone that people had tossed out, and play with his Babies. (He never stopped *ahem* loving his Babies.) Before he got pancreatitis, he used to love treat-and-peanut butter-filled Kongs. He would sleep in my bed–under the covers, if it was too cold. He loved to cuddle right next to me and take up way more than half of the bed. I’ve probably bought him at least 10 dog beds in his lifetime… but he scoffed at those. Obviously they were made for other dogs. Lesser dogs.

In the mornings, he would walk up to me, lie down on my chest and roll around on my neck. And then he’d stare at me with the cutest, scruffy face. It was the best way to start any day.

When I would shower, he would always cry. For years. Like he thought I’d snuck away without him. I used to be able to soothe him by talking to him… in the past year, I’d poke my head or hand out and wait until he was close enough to find me, just so he’d know I hadn’t left him.

Aside from me, Ben loved two other people–my dad and my mom (aka his Nana). And that’s pretty much it. He learned to tolerate company as he matured, as long as they didn’t bother him. He was the alpha dog, and he knew it. I knew it. Everyone knew it.

He began losing his sight first a few years ago, and then his hearing went, too. He was still able to get around really well in our small apartment because it was familiar. Over a year ago, I noticed that dementia was beginning to set in… and he didn’t always recognize me or trust what I was doing when I was simply putting a leash on him or picking him up to carry him to bed. He’s always been a biter, but he was getting more and more aggressive as his mind continued to deteriorate.

And I realized it was time. When I realized the only thing he really looked forward to anymore was eating, my heart kind of hurt. And as I planned his last days, and thought of doing his favorite things with him, I realized he didn’t really have any anymore–and that’s when I began to think it was not only time, but maybe past his time. Perhaps I’d waited too long for him. Perhaps I was too selfish.

There were moments when he knew me, though. I think he knew me every day when I got home from work. Or I like to think he did. He wagged his tail. Walked right up to me. Let me pet him. And last night, I rubbed him behind his ears for a good 15 minutes, much to his delight. This morning, we cuddled on the couch while I cried. He licked the tears off my nose a few times. I know he wouldn’t behave so kindly to a stranger.

Maybe he still found pleasure in a few simple things. Maybe he still loved me.

Benjamin Noah lived to be 16 years and 1 month. He was the best friend and companion of my life, regardless of the number of scars he’s left on my skin. They’re just reminders that he lived. I’m grateful to have so many pictures and silly videos of him so I can always look back at that little face that brought a smile to my own every single morning. I loved him with all my heart and will miss him with all my soul.

Find peace, baby bear. Peace of mind… and enjoy sight and sounds again! No more darkness and silence. No more mind-playing-tricks-on-you. Knowing you’re not living like that anymore is the only way I can accept this is the right thing for you.

I love you, Benny. Always.

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Benjamin Noah Otto 5/1/2 – 6/1/18