The Benji Chronicles

March 19

I saw an ad online for a Maltese puppy. I talked with the breeder on the phone and decided to go meet this little white puppy. It was over an hour’s drive to get there, so the whole time I was thinking, “If I like this puppy, I’m going to take him today. I don’t want to drive up here again!” So I was pre-disposed to come home with a puppy.

The minute I walked into this lady’s home I knew she was not just a breeder – she was a hoarder. The place stunk like animal urine and spray. There were dogs everywhere. I counted 12 dogs in the main room, and heard tons of dogs barking in other rooms to which the doors were closed. The dog owner was a 70-something lady who seemed very nice, but was also extremely confused about the individual dogs. I spent 90 minutes there, and during that time she admitted that Animal Control had been to her house twice and told her that she needed to get rid of all but 3 of her dogs. But she told me she had no intention of doing that. In fact, she told me that one of the big dogs in the main room had just been bred that day. And she brought out two little 3-week-old Yorkie puppies while I was there. So she had a lot more, and didn’t intend to reduce her herd. All the dogs I saw were very, very depressed. They just sat around with sad looks, and if I attempted to touch them, they quietly slunk away from me. I felt so sorry for them.

The little Maltese I went to see was extremely shy when I first arrived, and so scraggly looking. I met her mother and that was the only dog among all I saw who was at all receptive to me. The breeder spent a lot of time trying to get the Maltese puppy to come to me, but this pup (5 months old) was so skittish and afraid he wouldn’t come to me. Then she went in the other room and brought out the 2 baby Yorkies. When she came back, another little dog slid between her feet. He was an older Yorkie, trimmed but not brushed, and his personality was very much like the Maltese pup. He was alert and interested, but if I attempted to touch him he would carefully avoid me. If I moved too quickly toward him he cowered, as though he’d been hit. For some reason, I was instantly attracted to this little black-and-brown guy. The breeder obviously wanted me to take the Maltese, but I kept trying to get the little Yorkie to come to me. She told me he was called Tipton, and he was 7 months old, and was ¾ Yorkshire Terrier and ¼ Maltese – a Morkie. He looked totally like a Yorkie, though. His temperament was very, very shy and fearful. He seemed quite interested in me, but only in a submissive, fearful way. If I went to sit on the couch where he was, he would sit still for a minute, and then slowly move away.

After trying to get both dogs to come to me (pretty much without success), I realized I was leaning toward the dog called Tipton. The breeder became a non-issue to me when I kept asking questions about the dogs’ background and parents, and her answers were so vague it was apparent she didn’t know much about him – even though he lived in her house and she had bred him! In fact, she kept calling him and the little Maltese “she,” and I kept correcting her, “But this is a male, right?” She said, “Yes, but they’re so fluffy they just look like girls.” But I didn’t care – I liked the little Yorkie called Tipton. I was totally aware that I should select a dog that comes to me and shows an interest in me, and to never take the last dog of a litter (this one was the last left from his litter), and that I should ask to meet the puppy’s parents. Still, I was drawn to the little black Yorkie.

I called Ted and asked if he preferred a white fluffy dog or a black and tan dog, and he said the black one. I’d already decided I wanted Tipton. I just felt like he was my dog. So I bought him. The breeder had to scurry to get his papers, and even when she found them she flipped through the folder and pulled different pages out, and seemed confused about when he’d gotten his last shots, though the paper she gave me said he had received a shot and been wormed only the day before.

He trembled all the way home, but sat still in the passenger seat beside me. I was soon to learn that trembling was his normal state. And oh, he stank! I could hardly stand to be in the car with him. On the way home I went to Petsmart and bought a crate, bed, food, treats, toys, leash and collar.

The breeder told me he had not been crate trained, but he took to the crate immediately. From the first night, he liked his crate and never made a single sound in it all night long. He also never whined or made a single sound of whining, though I expected him to be upset at spending his first few days without other dogs around.

The breeder also told me Benji was trained to the Pee Pee Pads – NOT TRUE! He has no idea what they are, and goes potty wherever. Also, he has never been outside – ever! When I first took him outside into the grass, he was stunned. He walks with a high-stepped pace, as if he’s afraid of the ground. Which he probably is, since he is afraid of everything.

Ted is such a softie. He didn’t want a dog, and only agreed to let me have a puppy because, as he said, “You’re not going to let up until I say yes, so okay. Go ahead and get one.” But he liked Benji from the first. He’s the one who came up with the name Benji, which is SO MUCH BETTER than Tipton! (Of course, since he’s a Morie, I wanted to call him Orson, but Ted vetoed that. If you remember Robin Williams’ television show, you’ll know why I came up with that name.)

So…a very busy and eventful day. And now we have a new member of our family! Welcome, Benji.