Benny B163

This is the story of Military Working Dog Benny B163 , a skilled, 10 year USAF Veteran patrol/drug detection dog, who has happily traded seeking drugs for giving comfort in his second career as a Therapy Dog. In October 2007, Benny had reached the end of his useful military service because of degenerative joint disease. He was slated for euthanasia by January 2008. Fortunately, my husband and I located and adopted Benny just in time!

Once safely in our home, Benny made it clear that he was not content to languish by the fireplace taking it easy…he wanted a job! When we witnessed Benny’s affectionate, outgoing personality with people and animals (even cats!), and his puppy-like affinity for young children, it was clearly evident our Benny had the ideal temperament to be a Therapy Dog! Benny quickly completed Therapy Dog certification and also earned his AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate!Ultimately, Benny was selected as a Honorable Mention Recipient for the 2008 AKC American Canine of Excellence Awards (A.C.E.)

Though isolation from public interaction was a necessary part of his Air Force MWD career, it has not hampered Benny’s desire in retirement to enjoy people. With a goofy “doggy smile”, he delights in their pleasure at his sweetness, readily offering them his large paw for a friendly shake. Benny intuitively gravitates to those who are withdrawn. “Mr. Big Dog” sits patiently before them waiting for his presence to be noticed. Somehow, he knows exactly what each of “his people” needs…and willingly gives to them regardless of any situation’s newness or unfamiliarity.

Whether Benny is visiting a traumatic brain injury facility or a Veterans’ Hospital, he seems to strike a poignant chord with our honorable U.S. Veterans. They love the idea of a Therapy Dog visiting, but a unifying attitude of “oneness” occurs when they discover this particular Therapy Dog, Benny “is one of US”. While caressing Benny’s head, smiles wreath their faces as they fondly reminisce about dogs they have known or handled. Many have confided to Benny about K-9 partners they were forced to leave in Vietnam. I remember one aged Vet in particular who stroked Benny with a weather-beaten hand as he muttered, “I sure could have used you to protect me back in the Pacific in ’42!”

Somehow, Benny seems to know what each Veteran is feeling, as he relates to them with compassionate dignity. Particularly moving was Benny’s interaction with several amputees. He connected and related to the spirit of the whole person! As a military veteran, Benny shares their ethic of “getting the job done” no matter what the personal or physical sacrifice might be. Having also been regarded as an “excess” entity and “damaged goods”, Benny seems to express a more innate understanding of these heroic Veterans than most people.
The USAF Core Values are integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all. For ten long years, MWD Benny B163 bravely protected and defended our great nation. Now, in his second career as a certified Therapy Dog, Benny consistently manifests these same noble values in the comfort, love, unique understanding and devotion he joyfully gives to all!

Debbie from NM