BONZ: Golden Retriever has a statue made for him

Hi, Pet Buddies! This week I yapped with Bennett Saidel, a big, good-lookin’ Golden Retriever who lives in Sea Oaks with his human Mom and Dad, Judith and Peter. He’s a super cool, easy-going poocheroo. If I could have a big brother, I’d pick him.

“Great to see you again, Bonzo,” he said. (We’d met briefly at a fundraiser.) “This is my Mom and Dad.” And we all went to sit on the back patio.

“So, now we’ve got more time, tell me about yourself,” I suggested.

“Not to brag, but I do have a pretty serious pedigree. Lots of champions in the family. I came from a really important breeder, and, when I was just a fluffy pupster, back in ’03, I went to live with my Mom and Dad on a big place near Albany, NY, called Bennett Hill Farm. Dad says it’s a Hysterical Landmark. I’m not totally clear on what that means, but I know it’s really old. Dad says the oldest part of the house that’s still there was built in the 1820s. I mean, that’s, like a thousand dog years old or more.”

“Are you woofin’ me? “

“Nope. Dad said so. And it’s the most wonderful place! It’s where I grew up. I had 15 whole acres to run and play in. There were farm animals. And my favorite spot to hang out, ever since I was little, was on the big stone front steps. I could survey my whole domain. When people walked or biked by outside the fence, I’d run around on my side barking hello. And I was very fond of the UPS man. He had treats. He came by a lot ‘cuz we lived pretty far from town and had lots of stuff delivered.

“But the farm did take some getting used to. My first night there, I had just recently stopped drinking mommy milk and I was sleepy and tired and really missed it. Well, there was this other dog on the farm, Daisy, and I thought she was my mommy. She looked like my mommy. Well, long story short, she let me know she wasn’t, and scared the fluff out of me. I got so scared I ran and hid behind the freezer and wouldn’t come out for the longest time. Mom and Dad were basket cases. They thought I’d be traumatized for life. But it turned out OK. When I finally came out from behind the freezer, Daisy turned out to be my teacher. I learned lots of important dog stuff from her.”

“I’m glad it ended up OK. So, your name, Bennett, like the farm?”

“Yep, named after the farm, but Mom and Dad and my buddies call me Benji. You can call me Benji, too! Anyway, for years, when Mom and Dad came down here, I’d stay at the farm with a nice neighbor. But I’m not a young pupster anymore, and the cold up there was getting hard on my hips.”

“I hear ya,” I said.

“So this is my very first year here. It’s real different, but I like it. ‘Specially the warmness. I don’t have a ton of space like on the farm but I get lots of walks. There’s lots to explore, too. Mom says I see through my nose and that I’ve explored every single blade of grass. I’m not sure about that, but I do like to be thorough. I mean, you never know when you may find THE blade of grass, y’know?”

“I think we’re all on that quest, Benji,” I said seriously. It’s a dog thing.

The backyard was fenced, with a nice patch of grass and lots of bushes. I was looking around when I saw this other dog – looked like Benji – sitting over in the bushes. It startled me and I jumped. “Whoa, who’s that?” I asked.

Benji laughed. “Come ’ere, I’ll show you,” he said, trotting toward the other dog. Feeling like a doof, I followed him.

“It’s ME!” he said.

When I got closer I saw that it was a perfect replica of Benji – a statue. Then I really felt like a doof.

“It’s so real-looking,” I said. “It’s wonderful.” It was his same size and everything.

“My dad had it made special. He went to a bronze casting class at the Museum and got the idea. He’s an artist, and he worked with a guy who knows how to do that stuff. And look what it says here.” There was a plaque at the bottom of the statue. “Dedicated to the life of Bennett Saidel and our love for all our dogs.”

“Awww! That’s really something.” We stood there admiring the statue for a while. Then I went back to my notebook.

“What do you get to eat?”

“Fancy food makes me itch,” he said. “I’ve been eating Ol,’ Roy from WalMart my whole life and it’s okey dokey by me. “

“Any special buddies?”

“Dad’s my No. 1 buddy. I was the first male in the household after him, so we stick together. We sometimes arm wrestle – male bonding, y’know.”

“Seriously?” Arm wrestling?

“Oh, heck yes. And me and Charlie Bernard are really good buds, too. He’s that Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from the fundraiser. And,” he lowered his voice, “I have a lady friend. She’s my dream dog. She’s a Golden, too.” He sighed. “Lady Jandorf. She’s snuggly.”

“Nice,” I said sincerely. I could’ve stayed there yapping all afternoon but I had to get back.

Thanks, Benji. It’s been great!”

On the way home, I was thinking about the UPS people. Several of my dog buddies have told me those guys always have treats. Maybe I could get my Mom to order something.

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