Benedict: 9.june.2007 - 19.october.2015

Of all my goldens, Benedict was the one who constantly wanted to please, and tried hardest to be obedient. It was not easy for him- very hyperactive and nervy, all his life he would be set off by loud noises, flashing lights, or rapid movement. As a young dog, he burned more calories than he could eat, and was severely underweight, until 3 years on an extra high-protein diet finally resolved that problem. He struggled for self-control, but this too was very hard. He became well known and loved at the Magnuson off-leash area as (with people) the sweetest of goldens, but he was defensive with any dog he was unsure of, including puppies, big dogs, fast-running dogs, or anything unusual. So walks were always a challenge, needing to be constantly alert for other dogs, cats, squirrels, banging doors, creaking trees, and even falling leaves. Very sensitive to noise, he would instantly recognize and howl at the NPR All Things Considered Theme tune: it seemed that to him it was like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Occasionally, another tune would start on the same note, and he would start up, give a slight yelp, but then cock his head and look sheepish as he realized it was not the dreaded theme. He was terrified all his life by thunderstorms, high winds, and the creak and then whoosh of snow sliding off the cabin roof.

Clearly agility was not for him, and so Joshua and I gave that up, and for seven years participated in an "Advanced Obedience" class. Although (like Cicero and Joshua before him) Benedict had aced the puppy obedience class, the advanced class, with off-leash dogs, was far from easy for him. For Joshua it was a big fun game, but Benedict was happiest when the group was only a small number of regulars, and happiest and (relatively) relaxed on the rare occasions when only one or two other dogs were there, so that both he and Joshua could attend together. In a larger group he was overexcited by meeting his human friends, and very stressed by the presence of dogs he did not know. While Joshua achieved his Canine Good Citizen certificate without difficulty, happening to be present one evening when tests were being given, for Benedict it was a far greater struggle. However, with a rather lenient assessor, he did finally achieve this in 2013, and basked in the praise of all his human friends at class.

With Joshua he was an avid digger, especially at the cabin. For several years Joshua was the committed digger, digging anywhere and everywhere, and Benedict was the follower. Benedict was anxious, not understanding why some digging was disapproved of. Suddenly he understood: round the cabin was "bad", down on the back field was "good". It was as if a light bulb had turned on. From then on, he became the leader in digging, rushing off down to the field as soon as we arrived at the cabin for a weekend. From then on, I also had much less trouble with Joshua, who understood the rules perfectly well, but would choose to disregard them. Benedict would clearly say --"No, we have to go to the field", and Joshua would acquiesce.

Benedict loved to paddle. One of his biggest joys was trawling for sunken treasure in the shallows at Magnuson off-leash area -- usually a half tennis ball or part of a dog toy, but sometimes just a sunken piece of wood. However, he absolutely refused to swim. As a younger dog, attempts to encourage him led to flailing panics and a terrified rush to dry land. In September 2015, on what turned out to be his very last real hike , he spotted a fish jumping at one of our favorite lakes on the east side of the North Cascades, and leapt in without thinking. He swam--a good solid dog paddle! Sadly there was never the opportunity to see if he would do it again.

Just before Christmas 2014, Benedict was diagnosed with lymphoma. After a tough few winter months adjusting to the oral chemo drugs, he bounded through Spring and Summer with no symptoms at all. Into October 2015, he was dancing round the oncology clinic at his monthly checkup, greeting all his friends there with wild enthusiasm, and afterwards celebrating with Joshua in a mad chase round and round the back yard. Just 10 days later, aged only 8, he went down to multiple organ failure from what turned out to be a tumor on his heart, probably unrelated to the lymphoma. At least, I was there for him, between two east-coast work trips. Also, if there is any plus in losing one so young, it is maybe better he went first. Joshua missed him badly, but Benedict would have been totally lost without Joshua.