Top Notch Toys January 2017

We met Patti and Benji at the airport and within hours headed back to Min- nesota. The trip was hard on Benji. He didn’t know us and he was very anx- ious. Then the plane stood for three hours on the tarmac during which time he was forced to stay in his car- rier under the seat. I felt so bad for him. But, we finally got him home! We intro- duced Benji to our other two dogs, Win- nie, a mini Poodle mix and Smudge, a mastiff. After the initial “sniff period”, Benji was welcomed into our family as one of the pack. We had learned previously that Benji was actually ten years old and he cel- ebrated his 11th birthday on January 2, 2016. We knew that Benji was owned by a girl for his first five years, whom we met at the airport, but we did not have much information as to where he went after that. From the beginning, I realized that Benji had a wounded spirit. He was very sweet from the very beginning, but was very shut down. He was very fearful about any “potty” issues. He was afraid to go potty inside the house or out and cringed every time he went potty, but he was paper trained. So I decided to just start from scratch and potty train him as if he were a puppy. Benji is an exceptional dog! He is very smart and is about 99% potty trained and for me, that is good enough! Whether he gets that last 1% or not is unimportant to me. Like most dogs, Benji thrives on the praise for lis- tening and following our lead. I believe that nobody took the time and patience to guide him in the right direction, and for that, I am glad he will never have to bear that heartbreak again! Benji has severe allergies. We had a complete allergy panel done. He is very allergic to many foods, common household prod- ucts, common mold and dust, mites and other household bacteria found in older buildings. We improved our dusting methods, have added two air filters and Benji still remains on medication for his allergies. We periodically check to see if he notices if we cut back on the medi- cation and will continue to do so until the time when and if he doesn’t need them. The limp Benji had was from him chewing his foot due to mites (invisible to the naked eye) from his allergies. Even with medication and all of these measures taken, he still suffers effects of his allergies, but he so much better and is relatively comfortable most of

the time! Benji is also on prescription kidney food, has cataracts and is prone to ear infections. Through all of these challenges, Benji has remained sweet, affectionate, loving, funny and eternally grateful! When we first got Benji, he was very shut down. He would come out to eat meals, then would retreat to a quiet, dark room to spend time by himself. It is possible that he was used as a breeder and was kept in a cage for several years. He has nearly doubled his weight. His hair, although sparse sporadically, has filled in and looks healthy. One day, it was as if someone flipped a switch and Benji decided that he wanted to be with us as “one of the pack”. Wherever we were, that’s where he wants to be. He has become my constant companion which is very endearing to me. Benji is my personal hero, as he has overcome amazing odds! Benji rests assured that he will nev- er go hungry, he will never be hit, he will never be abandoned and he will be loved and cared for the rest of his life. 2 ND RUNNER UP MY LITTLE ALEX by Angie Soule My little Alex was a gift from God above, a true blessing and life saver when he came into my life. I recently lost my beloved father to stroke and Parkinson’s Disease, my cherished fur baby Max (an 18-year-old Lhasa Apso that I rescued as a puppy) to kidney fail- ure and my precious 16½-year-old dis- abled Yorkie Jessie Bean (that I rescued at age 14 from the shelter) to congestive heart failure. They all died within a year of each other. This was a loss that can’t


called the shelter several times until I finally talked to a real person. They told me that a rescue had put a hold on him, which I realized was a great thing, because I knew he would be saved. The shelter would not tell me which rescue had put a hold on Benji, so I did some digging around in the internet search- es and found that it was the YTNR. I wrote an e-mail expressing my interest in saving the dog. Patti Kushnir of the YTNR called me and requested back- ground information, references and photos of our house and yard. After providing all requested documenta- tion and pictures, we were thrilled when Patti said we were approved! The first issue we had to resolve was transportation, Benji was located in Cal- ifornia and we live in Minnesota. I had originally hoped that an organization such as Pilots and Paws could help us get Benji to us. Although we contacted many organizations, nothing really worked out, so my husband and I decid- ed to fly to California to personally pick up Benji.


102 • T op N otch T oys , J anuary 2017

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