Ahh Benny. He's funny, loveable, goofy and cute. And undeniably insane.
Need some examples?
Let's start with snow shoveling. If one of us takes on this task and Benny has been left in the house, he will jump at the glass door incessantly while yipping, barking and emitting mournful cries until the person who is stuck inside with him can no longer stand it, and allows him to go out.
Once released, Benny has a huge dilemma on his paws. "Do I wait at the bottom of the deck so that I can eat each shovelful of snow as it comes over the railing...
...or do I attack the shovel and derail it by emptying it just before they are about to toss it over?"
Being a relatively good problem-solver, he runs back and forth between the two and does both. The trick is to fake a snow toss in one area so he'll run to get it and then actually discard the snow where he won't be so that 1) he doesn't get buried in it and 1) he doesn't add its contents to his already full belly and increasingly extended bladder. Even clearing up after a small snowfall will result in a shivery, nauseated, manic dog. He spends the next hour throwing up and peeing excess melted snow, while never losing focus on where each and every one of those shovelfuls landed. Crazy!
Benny does not know how to enjoy a dog treat. Oh he wants the treat. He sits pretty and waits patiently while it's being retrieved from the drawer - his tail wagging and eyes focused. He'll take the offered goodie very gently from the obliging hand and that's when the crazy kicks in. All of a sudden, everyone is his mortal enemy whom he believes wants to take that treat away from him. He walks over to his bed with a paranoid skulk and tries to bury it within the folds of his blanket. If anyone dares to approach his bed over the next day or so (or until he has forgotten about it), he utters a low warning growl. He never ever bites but the closer you get to Benny and his hidden treasure, the louder and more vociferous his growling becomes. If you lean in REALLY close, he'll merely lick your face. Usually, we have to just retrieve the treat and throw it away again. Clearly he doesn't really want it but he does want to want it. He just doesn't know how to enjoy them without paranoia. He will however take cat food from my hand and happily eat it right away. Yup, crazy!
Why do we keep trying? Because it wasn't always this way. He used to love his treats. Only the odd one would evoke that reaction. Then more and more, it became a habit and there's only one treat he won't act like that over. Back in the day, he used to try and retrieve them himself, if he could. This image was taken just over three years ago at Frank's family cottage. We caught Benny trying sneak over to the treats by climbing on the sofa which backed onto the desk where we had put them during our visit.
Caught in the act, he merely closed his eyes because when it's dark like that, we obviously can't see him.
He's a good dog, for the most part and generally gets along well with visiting animals but one pooch did not go over very well with him. Frank's son Francis has always belonged to Benny and there has never been other canines with which to compete for his affection. Until recently. Frank's sons filled the void that Benny left when we moved up here by getting themselves another dog.
Meet Stella. She's a pretty good natured Olde English Bulldog and she would have been a great friend for Benny if he hadn't figured out that she stole Francis from him. He spent much of her visit being rather unpleasant to her. There were a few times that they seemed to get along better when they were outdoors with plenty of room to romp and frolic but when Stella was anywhere near him inside, Benny was not very happy. Crazy!
About a week ago, we had some mild weather. The already-frozen lake was beginning to get mushy in parts and the edges had begun to recede a little bit in places.
It was still pretty solid though, as evidenced by our neighbours taking their grandchildren out on the ice for a game of hockey. Some had boots and some had skates. All of this was very wrong to Benny. He's not used to seeing people walking on the ice to begin with. And the sound of the skates and hockey sticks made him uneasy. He spent a fair bit of time barking at them but it was later, when nobody was around that he became very fearful of going outside.
We wondered if the skating was still playing on his mind but his fear became such that he would not go out to pee unless Frank accompanied him. That's when he figured out that the lake itself was scaring Benny. Because of the melted edges, the lake was burping and belching water and gasses from underneath the surface of the ice, and releasing it where the ice no longer quite met the shore. This was a near constant sound which became loud enough over the next couple of days to be heard indoors, in the still of the night.
At one point, I tried to outsmart Benny by letting him out the kitchen door on the other side of the house. Forgetting his woes, he happily scampered down the stairs but must have heard a lake burp. I closed the door behind him and turned around just in time to see him waiting impatiently by the lakeside door to get back in. Crazy... like a fox!
Not all of Benny's hyper-awareness is troublesome. During the Christmas holidays, he ran to the kitchen door and barked at what sounded like a vague tinkling noise to me and my visiting son Alex - sort of like hail hitting the window. Only it was a clear but very windy day. Nothing we could see was causing that sound. It stopped after a few seconds but Benny was clearly spooked by it. It had us perplexed but we quickly forgot about it.
A few minutes after Alex left for home the following day, he pulled over to phone me to report that two large trees were partly blocking the road a few houses over. This had to be what we heard the previous day. It was far away enough that the sounds were subtle to us but to Benny's alert ears, the breaking timber was a very troubling noise. I called the roads department and the trees were soon removed. I believe it was really just one tree, broken in two - the pieces landing quite far from one another, so my guess is that it fell from the top of the steep hill. And though I didn't notice it at the time, I can see in the picture that it seems to have taken a power line down with it. Many of the homes here are seasonal and so a specific power outage might not be noticed by anyone until spring or summer. Our own power remained intact, thankfully. Not so crazy!
This is Soul. She was not impressed with a curious Benny when he approached her by dancing, dodging, hopping and woofing. All Benny wanted to do was play but this little five month old kitty was unsure of him. Her story is a sweet one.
One of our neighbours stopped by, one November day to tell us that this little sweetie had been hanging around her place for a few days - a bit underweight (she's puffed up to look threatening to Benny in this image) and very hungry. I stopped by to have a look and we opened some cat food and watched her make short work of it. This is when I decided to join the local lost and found animal group called Home Again, on Facebook - to see if anyone might be missing this very friendly, purry cutie. I snapped the above photo and posted it to the group.
Within ten minutes, someone came forth and claimed her as hers. She had been missing for a month - since the day the teen split up with her boyfriend and he moved out. Soul must have escaped through the frequently-opened door on moving day. The astonishing part is that the distance between Soul's home and mine takes about twenty-five minutes to drive. My guess is that somebody found her wandering around close to her home and decided to bring her to live with them up my way. Soul probably got lost again up here or tried to find her way home and settled instead for the warm, blanketed box that my neighbour set up for her. Anyway, she was on her way to her home with me the next day, to be reunited with two other cats, three dogs and a couple of bearded dragons. Nothing crazy here!
But then there's Christmas. Remembering last year, Benny made it near impossible for me to wrap any gifts in his presence because all he wanted to do was get at the paper so that he could rip it to shreds. He stole the rolls from me a couple of times and whined and whimpered his way through the process each time the paper, tape, tags and bows came out. Of course, when it came time to opening gifts, he was just like a toddler. He cared not a whit about what was inside of each package, or for whom it was intended, as long as he could get at the paper. And he did a lot of that.
An awful lot of that. Crazy!
It's exhausting work.
Yes, I know there are far worse character traits than eccentricity in a dog. And Benny has a boatload of good ones. But this post is about Benny getting his crazy on and so that's what I'm sharing.
In case you haven't seen enough of his insanity to be convinced, here's an older photo of Benny "helping" my previous neighbour wash her car. Crazy? Hell, yeah!
And here he showing everyone he can float just like a bubble. Whacko! (Nah.. adorable)
I think that's just about enough crazy for one Benny post. He's not always this insane and really, there's only one time when his behaviour becomes even more loony and that's when there's a...
Oh crap.. that's tonight!