|I first met Benjy in 1965. A store owner was putting a sign above his door that read ''Puppies For Sale". Signs like that have a way of attracting children, and sure enough, I appeared under the store owner's sign. "How much are you going to sell the puppies for?" I asked. The store owner replied, "Anywhere from $30 to $50."|
I reached in my pocket and pulled out some change, "I have $2.50. Can I please ook at them?" I requested.
The store owner smiled and whistled. Out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging behind. Immediately I singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, 'What's wrong with that little dog?"
The store owner explained that the veterinarian had discovered that the little puppy did not have a hip socket) It would always limp. It would always be lame. I became excited and told the store owner that it was the puppy that I had wanted to buy. The store owner disagreed and said that he would rather give that dog to me instead.
I got quite upset. I looked straight at the store owner's eyes, pointing my finger and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as alt the other dogs and I'll pay the full price. In fact, I'll give you the $2.50 now and $1 a month until I have him paid for." The store owner countered, "Do you really want to buy this little dog? He's never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies."
To this, I reached down and rolled up my pants to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. I looked up at the store owner and replied softly, "Well, I don't run well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!"
I managed to convince the store owner who allowed me to take Benjy home. My parents did not think much of my plan of keeping a lame puppy and they were unwilling to pay for it. I could see that the only problem here was money. Getting my way this time was not going to be easy.
That was fifteen years ago. Benjy slept on my bed every night and we had long and meaningful conversations. In fact, Benjy was largely responsible for my decision to pursue a career as a veterinarian. When my new hospital opened its doors, my parents brought Benjy to me. He looked horrible. He had become quite ill that week. I did a thorough check on him and was forced to a bitter conclusion. You see, I have been in the practice long enough to know when a situation was hopeless.
It seemed fitting that in the new hospital, Benjy was the first dog whose suffering we should ease. We had the last of our long conversations before he fell asleep gently in my arms. Farewell, Benjy.
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