I recently wrote about putting my dog Jupiter down, and the emotions that went with it. He was part of the Bencik Family Pack, and he is greatly missed. The below section is a description of each of the dogs, and how they were part of our lives.
The Bencik Pack
Jupi was always an old spirit, even when he was young. I pretty much always considered him an old man, who was apathetic to life but at the same time in his own way very loving. It was a relationship where you would not get big sloppy kisses, but on rare occasions, a small lick on the hand. But he always wanted to be with you. He was amazing also in the way that he seemed to be impervious to pain. He fell forty feet from my brothers top deck to the ground, hitting a glass patio table flipping it over end. He got up, shook it off, and acted like nothing happened. That alone would have killed me. During the last year he took more tumbles, hit more walls, fell down more stairs than any dog I have every met. At Christmas time we had him locked upstairs in a bedroom so not to disturb him with the six nieces and nephews going nuts downstairs for Santa. My nephew accidently let him out when he was looking for my sister. As he was coming down the stairs all we saw was a blur of black and Cole flying down together. Jupi clearly followed Cole out, and with no balance or means to stop, just slammed right into him. They were both ok, though Cole looked a hell of a lot more dazed as he had no idea what happened. He was our last true family dog, having lived at different points with my sister, brother, and parents as well as me. He was a rescue dog from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and lived in four different states.
Aspen was the grand matrioch of all our dogs. She was a husky malamute mix that my brother had gotten when he was in his twenties in Indianapolis. She was the toughest of the bunch, and had pretty tight control over all our families dogs. Even when she got older, she would still put the younger dogs in place. She managed to escape so many times that it was just normal to have a neighbor bring her back to Jeff’s. She also loved to wake you up with giant kisses that would leave you dripping. Who needs a shower in the morning when you have Aspen. I went rollerblading once, and only once with her. We went over a wooden board walk and the sound scared her so much that she started sprinting. I ended up flipping over the rail with a loud plop six feet down. She kept going and it took me an hour to catch her again. Most huskies don’t live longer than 12 or 13 years, but she She was reached the ripe age of 18. Every year we were like, well, lets drink to Aspen, because theres no way she’s going to make another year. Happily for everyone, we ate our words, because that dog just kept going and going. Truly remarkable.
Bourbon and Tequila were two stray dogs my sister and I picked up in the pine barrons in New Jersey. Hunters would dump dogs that did not meet their expectations, and we found these two living in the woods. I convinced them to get in my car with tick tacks, so we tossed the idea of calling them tick and tack. But that did not ring so good, so my non drinking sister Sherrie was like Tic, hmm, Tequila. The dog was an amber color which fit perfectly. It just seemed natural to call the other dog with the dark fur Bourbon. Bourbon was rock steady, built like an ox, and I swear a car could hit her and the car would be damaged. One day I was walking her through South Philly, near Rocko’s Cheese Steak place, and the owner came out and started threatening to “hatchet” my dog to death, for no reason what so ever. People were so scared of this dog who never did anything. She barely even barked. I was so happy to see that place close down, in the end, Bourbon won, and he went out of business. One other funny but disgusting story about Bourbon, (Warning Gross Story) was when she got really bad worms. I put her on medicine, but she still made a huge disaster in her cage. I was on a first and not surprising last date with this girl, and we stopped at my house and the smell was horrible. Poor Bourbon had a accident in her crate. So I went in there and started wiping it all up with a cloth, being in a hurry to get back to my date, I scrubbed it quickly, forcing the nasty liquid to the other end of the crate. It hit the back wall and sprayed me all in my face. Hard to get a first kiss after that. But lets not remember shit in my face as the last thing for Bourbon, who was the most protective of all the dogs. When I first moved to Philly, I was so worried about crime that I went to the bar to help me sleep. Well I ended up passed out on my couch, front door open, and Bourbon sleeping on my legs protecting me. She was the best!
Quite possible the biggest dog of them all, she was the size of a room. Grand Pyrenees are lovable, huge, and fluffy. One of the biggest breeds out there, my sister was enamored with her giant snowball and would take her everywhere. She would fit it in her small station wagon, and I swear all you could see was fur in the windows. I often thought of her as a big mop, but for Cambrie it was more like having a polar bear to ride around with.
My parents got a husky malamute mix around the same time my brother got Aspen. She was a loving dog that never did anything wrong. She was quick with the kisses and always ready for a cuddle. She was always a skinny little thing compared to Aspen, but when she got older she ballooned out. Aspen and her would go insane when they were near each other, all you would have to say is the other dog’s name and they would start yelping.
Pisco was my baby for sure. I got her as a puppy wandering the streets of Miami when I visited my Peruvian friends for New Years 1991. We were drinking Pisco Sours so it seemed like a good name, especially when he took a piss all over the floor. He was my most loyal dog, and the most beautiful too. For a dalmation he had perfect mix of spots across his whole body. On the ride back to Michigan from Miami we hit some black ice and the van spun off the road. There was a layer of ice two inches thick over a foot of snow that peeled the tires right off my rims. So we bunkered down for the night in the gas station, three guys and a puppy. At 4 AM in the morning a guy opened the door, turned white when we all looked up, and stammered about looking for the keys for the mechanic. It was a few minutes before our sleepy minds realized he was breaking in the van. I am pretty sure it was the fierce little Dalmatian that scared him off. Even though they say dogs can’t speak, when Pisco howled, it most definitely sounded like “I love you”.
Bourbons brother, Tequila was a very unique dog. He had a fierce temper, and was an escape artist. There was not a chicken around that wasn’t afraid of him. His life living on the streets was hard before we found him, so he was defidently the diamond in the rough. But underneath that was an incredibly loyal and protective dog. He climbed an 8 foot fence with an large trash can tied at the end of his leash, and still managed to kill the neighbors goose next door. Nothing kept him in.
A big, pudgy black lab that was all about love. She also managed to kill a few chickents her self though moving fast was not her thing. She was so sweet and lovable.
My first dog that was all mine. I got her for getting all A’s my freshman year in High School. She was all white with one ear that always flopped down. She slept at the end of my bed every night. Even though she was my dog, I think in the end she took more to my dad, and followed him around the garden all the time. She would love to go swimming.
A cocka poodle, Keetchie as we called her was a scruffy, curly haired mop. My aunt came over for my sister Kristins 13th birthday and said she could pick the dog of her choice. I don’t thing my dad has forgiven my Aunt Barbara for that yet, but he couldn’t say no to his daughters tears when he threated to take her away. Same thing happened when she went to the overpriced University of Penn. So we got a new dog whos entire exixtance was to chase balls. Kisláni means “little girl” in Hungarian.
Gypsie was an old mutt that we found at a gas station. He was not the smartest of the dogs, nor the fastest, but he was a good dog. Great around all us kids, even though I am sure we tortured him. We accidently left him at a gas station, but he was waiting when we came back and got him. Something about gas stations with that dog. He seemed to be the slowest dog in the world, but he still managed to escape many times. Near his end he chose to just wander off and die somewhere. No matter how many fliers we put up and how many days we searched, we never found him. My dad swears he had nothing to do with it.
The last of the noble line, Hoochie was a samoyed, which is like a giant white furballs. Beautiful dogs for sure. I used to ride on her back when I was four years old, and she was great with all of us. Nothing like hugging such a soft furry beast tha licked you up and down so much you never needed a shower. After having him all I wanted was another samoyed.