Benjamin: A Beautiful Life

21 November 2010

เบนจามิน: ชีวิตสวยงามที่ดับไป

Tonight is Loy Krathong night. People in Thailand are celebrating, floating lanterns in the water to wash away their bad luck, while wishing for happiness and fortune.

But it’s one incredibly sad night for me. I just lost my dog this afternoon. His name was Benjamin, a Chihuahua. This is Benjamin just a few hours before the unexpected end came.

Ben_last_pic_alive

Benjamin on his final day
He was just trying to catch bugs underneath the window behind me, until I asked him to sit and took this picture.
เบนจามินในวันสุดท้ายของชีวิต
มานั่งให้แม่ถ่ายรูปนี้ หลังจากที่ไล่จับแมลงใต้หน้าต่างข้างหลังเก้าอี้ทำงานแม่

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Since 4pm when I was given his lifeless body I haven’t stop crying. I just don’t know how to make my tears stop running. Benjamin was bitten by a neighbor’s dogs because he got out through the back gate, which he had never done before – he rarely went through the tall grasses. But he did today. I am not mad at the dogs that killed him because that’s what dogs sometimes do. They are territorial. And Benjamin invaded their territory. It didn’t matter that he was small. He invaded their territory. Ben didn’t know he was small. A mere 3-kg Chihuahua who thought he was a big dog.

Our family just moved to live in the country part-time. We thought the dogs would be happy with so much space to roam, 5 rais or about 2 acres. They do. I think even Benjamin did since they have been all so lively here. But Benjamin was more than the others a city and inside dog. I can’t help thinking I could have kept him inside. Only if. He was no match for big rural dogs who wouldn’t tolerate his barking like the pack in our family. But City or country life, inside or out, it doesn’t matter any more for Benjamin is dead.

Last time I cried like this was then I lost my dad when I was still a young teenager. How long will I grieve over Benjamin’s death? Only time will tell. I dreamt about my dad for five consecutive years, every single night. All beautiful dreams. Happy and loving dreams that gave me the unbelievable feelings of warmth and closeness with my dad, that he was always with me as his young handsome self and I was a little girl. Then finally I just stopped dreaming of him. I believed he moved on to his next life, or a quiet solitude in some form of existence. Will I be so lucky again to have warm and loving dreams about little Benjamin and the final completely reconciled farewell with him thereafter? I am not expecting too much, since I’m older now and have probably lost a child’s self-protective mechanism against profound grief.

If wishes could come true I will wish with all the Krathongs it would require to return Benjamin to me. I want him barking and dancing and snuggling with me again. But he won’t. He’s now lying in the ground. I dug a hole and put him there myself because there was no one else around today. My husband was in Bangkok and all he could do was listening to me sobbing and comforting me on the phone.

Benjamin’s was a beautiful life. A dog’s life well lived. In fact a very privileged dog’s life. He had the best of everything and more love and care than he knew what to do with. But this doesn’t help me feel less sad. He was very happy while he lived – so I’ll try to remind myself when I fall into sadness because, perhaps selfishly, I feel Ben’s life was too short. Far too short to help me reconcile with his sudden passing. He lived a total of 2 years, 7 months and 6 days. I took for granted that he would live to be at least 15. So another lesson of impermanence and uncertainty in life. He was the baby of the pack but the baby was outlived by the 14-year-old. Never take anything for granted is another thing I’ll remind myself. I will worry later about how to tell my mother and the housekeeper and her husband, especially my mother. Benjamin was her closest companion for most of his life until 2 months ago when she went to stay with relatives.

Farewell My Little Benjamin. Rest In Peace, My Baby.

ลาก่อน เจ้าตัวเล็กเบนจามิน ไปสู่สุคตินะลูกรัก

(15 April 2008 – 21 November 2010)

ชาตะ ๑๕ เมษายน ๒๕๕๑ – มรณะ ๒๑ พฤศจิกายน ๒๕๕๓

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There are many memories of Benjamin that will stay with me and my family. I hope when my mother knows, I can use these pictures as a reminder of what a beautiful and happy life he had even if it was too short. I will come back to write Thai captions later so that my mother can understand them.

Benjamin - A Beautiful Life RIP

Ben_sleeping_w_momBenjamin loved to sleep on my chest and snuggled in the crook of my neck when he was tiny puppy. It was sometimes hot and itchy but it also felt so good so I endured. When I let him, he loved to go under the bed cover and snuggled against me and slept through the night.

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Ben_in_condoWhen he was little Benjamin loved to be inside what we called his “condo”, where he liked to sleep – on the bottom shelf of a bookcase. I just woke him up by the clicking sound of my phone camera in this fuzzy picture.

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Ben_ETBenjamin ET. He was often cold after given a bath when he was little, so I wrapped him up in a dry towel. He toughened up when he became “a man,” however. 🙂

Ben_parched_garden.

He didn’t really like wearing clothes, but I insisted when it was a little “chilly”. I think he looked particularly handsome here. He was about one year old then.

Ben_plays_w_Shelby1.

Benjamin was crazy about Shelby, whose size was I presume something he could relate to. Shelby is my next youngest, now 6 years old and weighs 9 kg.

Ben_plays_w_Shelby2

He was always begging Shelby to play with him. Shelby indulged him – sometimes. Considering he’s a Jack Russell, Shelby took Benjamin’s playful badgering in good spirit and incredible patience.

Ben_FBIPlayful as he was, Banjamin enjoyed his quiet watchful moments. He was often solitary.

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Ben_on_pillowHe also loved to be around, seldom so needy. With me he was a great companion while I worked, he would be lying on a couch nearby.

Ben_under_desk.

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Some other times, he liked to be underneath my desk, near my foot stool.

Ben_bikeride2.

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Benjamin liked to be ridden on a bike. My mother started that favorite activity, but we didn’t get to do much of it.

Ben_bikeride1.

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After an enjoyable bike ride, Benjamin could fall asleep right there in the basket.

Ben_grandma.

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Benjamin’s life wasn’t all play and leisure, he also had a job. To keep my mother’s company. And what a great job he did! Oh, how am I going to tell my mother!

Ben_interest.

That’s one of Benjamin’s less dignified habits. His interest in Shelby was bordering on excessive. When he tried to kiss me, I always said “Ew, I know where your mouth has been!”

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Ben_playfulBenjamin had to be part of anything Shelby was. He just couldn’t get enough of Shelby. That was our housekeeper holding Shelby.

Ben_vitamin_gel.

Benjamin loved doing everything with Shelby. After I buried Benjamin this evening, Shelby searched for Benjamin’s scent. Shelby seemed upset too. He came to sit for me and licked my tears. But by tomorrow Shelby might already forget about his little “brother”. How lucky of him.

Ben_standsI taught Benjamin to stand on two legs.

Ben_in_cave.

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Benjamin loved cave-like places. If I couldn’t see him, this would be the kind of place I looked for him – some small crack or little tent of space somewhere in the house.

Ben_mom.

Benjamin loved to be held. (Of course, who wouldn’t, huh?) But I like to think he felt his mom holding him was special.

Ben_ordinary_day.

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An ordinary day. 21st of November 2010. 2 years, 7 months and 6 days after his birth, it came to an end. Too soon for mommy and the family.

Ben_farewell.

I was the one who brought him home as a two-month-old puppy over two years ago. We were also alone in his entry to his permanent resting place. He now rests inside his puppy’s bed with his toy ball he liked to chase as a puppy. The flowers were from the garden hiding his wounds. He did look like he was asleep.

Ben_RIPHave a long restful sleep, my Baby.

Thank you for coming into my life and gave me so much happiness. I will always love you and remember you.

That’s all I could manage. The plant plot marks your grave. And I know that you’ll always be nearby, and I can look out and see, and know that you rest there – in nature, in my heart.

Farewell, My Little Benjamin.

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Post script: During the few hours I was writing this tribute to Benjamin, I cried more and then less, and less. I hope I will be able to go to sleep tonight. My husband begged me to go to sleep, but at least I am not sobbing anymore. I have been writing with the company of my remaining three dogs who are now sleeping soundly around my desk. I’ll feed them in the morning and then leave for Bangkok to join my husband. My housekeeper will return to take care of them.

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UPDATE: On 4 December 2010, Benjamin was joined by Marlowe, who outlived him by 14 days.

Man's best friend

Marlowe

Marlowe was put to sleep because he was unable to breath normally and no longer able to hold down food and water, among other complications resulted from serious dog attacks he suffered 3 months prior to his passing. Marlowe went to sleep on my lap and my husband holding him till his last breath. Marlowe was buried today near Benjamin – RIP my pups. I will post a memorial for Marlowe a bit later.

15 responses to “Benjamin: A Beautiful Life

  1. Oh how sad! So sorry for your loss. I hope that as time passes you can bear it more easily. It must be very hard for you to share this with all us anonymous internet people, thank you for showing us your lovely little dog.
    RIP Benjamin.

  2. Feeling of loss and remorse that follows – those are some of the most complex human emotions. Your writing’s touching and inspiring in an equal measure. RIP Benjamin.

  3. We are so sorry for your lost
    and hope you can go on very soon.

    Hey! Little boy – you passed away
    but still be in our mind.

  4. Kaewmala, I’m so very sorry. I know what it’s like to lose a dear member of the family. It’s heartbreaking and takes quite some time to get over the loss. Hugs sweetie. I wish I could be there for you.

  5. Kaewmala, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a cherished pet is always a hard thing because they are our true friends that want nothing more than to share in our lives and love.

    The almost 3 years you spent with him will be with you to make you smile the rest of your life.

  6. Thank you all for your kindness and thoughtfulness. I really truly appreciate your thinking of me at this very difficulty time, including so many kindnesses I’ve received via Twitter. Your being here for me really helps. But as many of you with experience of such loss, you know how it is. It is unbelievably, almost unbearably hard. How can I love and miss so much that little creature. But he was my Baby! It is slightly better today. I woke up from a medically induced long sleep. Benjamin was right there to greet me. I was happy to greet him in my first consciousness. What a wonderful little guy he was with mommy. Then I cried again and some more. I believe as many of you have comforted me that the pain will be less. But I don’t mind the pain so much, it is all worth it, even for the little time of great happiness and joy he gave me. It was all worth it. I will do it again to have my little Benjamin. 😥 😥

  7. OMG. Been following your tweets, so I thought I checked out your blog too and this was the first post I read from you. I am so sorry.. I am in tears right now.. 😦 It would kill me if I lost my dog.. I wouldn’t even have the courage to write such a post you’re a very strong person..

    My dog has diabetes so we’re kinda counting down the days here. I don’t know which one is worse.. anticipating it or being surprised by it..

    I’m so so sorry for your loss..

  8. Kaewmala I’m very sorry to read about the loss of your beloved Benjamin. Looking at the photos he was one cute pup who grew into a hell of a handsome young man. A handsome man with great big ears, hey that makes some of us feel a whole lot better. I’m sure young Benjamin will be looking over you and after you for many years to come.

    Hang in there kid, Benjamin would have wanted it that way.

  9. gnarlykitty and Martyn, thanks for coming by.

    It’s been 14 days and pain of losing Benjamin has subsided. My heart no longer feels the stabbing pain and acute sense of loss. I still miss him terribly and wish that he were still here with me, joining in activities we used to do. I visit his grave site by the pond and can see it looking out my window. I still feel very close to him.

    But today, another dog of mine joined him. Marlowe. He was 14. We’ve been nursing him in the past few weeks. In the past few days it became increasingly clear it was difficult for his body to live. The suffering became too much to bear for him today. We felt that he wanted to go. He went to sleep in my arms and my husband’s. We are very sad but glad that he is now in peace and no longer in great discomfort.

    gnarlykitty, please have strength. You have my sympathies. Seeing your dog suffering is heartbreaking. But in the end it’s all about our beloved dog. What is best for the dog – not for us. What our dogs really needs is that we’re with them till the end – with all the love and support – no matter how hard it is to bear. And if it means their going sooner rather than later, we just have to be strong enough put an end to their suffering. We felt a strange sense of calm and peace at the end with Marlowe going to his long sleep at last – breathing his last breath in our arms. Love them. Hold them. Stay with them. Send them home.

  10. Kaewmala, I am so sorry to hear of your second loss. For some reason I’m not getting email alerts from this post or I would have been up here asap. HUGS sweetie.

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