Saying goodbye to a gentle giant, Brady Benjamin

On March 31, we had to say goodbye to our beloved golden retriever Brady Benjamin and help him cross the Rainbow Bridge.

The old man came to us with the name “Brady” and my Steelers fan husband added the middle name “just in case” he was named after the Patriots’ Tom Brady.

At 12 1/2 years old, Brady was a gigantic, yet spunky older dog, although clearly dealing with disintegrating hips and rear muscle mass. When we adopted Brady in late September 2018, we knew then he was having severe problems standing up and laying down and that his back hips were almost worn out.

We immediately got him in to see Doctor Jess, our vet, who started him on Rimadyl twice a day and eventually Gabapentin, when it seemed like nothing was going to help him feel better.

Brady fit right into our crazy clan from the moment we brought him home. Rio, our youngest, wasn’t quite sure of what to make of Brady’s appearance, but soon followed the lead of our other pets and accepted him right into the pack.

Goldens, by nature and according to my own bias, are one of the gentlest breeds of dogs. They are so loving, unassuming, easy-going and happy. All of those described Brady.

Brady was excited to see us come downstairs in the morning (his legs wouldn’t let him attempt steps), he was excited for any meal time, snack time and happily went out to do his business even when the severe winter weather and ice wreaked havoc on the area.

He was always up for a head rub and loved to lay his big noggin in your lap for attention. He loved to get excited when the other dogs started barking (at imaginary noises) and gave barking along a good attempt, although he was quite hoarse. We never figured out if he was hoarse from old age or a past injury that we’d never know about.

People often ask me how I (and now my husband who’s been thrown into this act) adopt senior dogs knowing their time is so limited on this earth. My response comes so easy from the heart. I tell everyone who will listen that if we can give these sweet souls the best last days of their lives then my heart is full.

Yes, my heart is broken each time I lose one of these gentle souls, but I also believe there’s enough duct tape to keep mending my heart so that the next dog in need can come along and fill the unbroken parts.

I can’t thank my husband enough since I’m pretty sure when we married that he didn’t give a lot of thought to all that comes with losing seniors so suddenly. He knew he was taking on an entire zoo of dogs and cats but I’m not sure it’s something anyone can prepare for when you lose a pet — whatever the circumstances.

Like all of our pets, we had Brady cremated thanks to Wilber, Maryann and the staff at Chimney Rocks Animal Rest. He is back home with us and we’ll keep his remains close by so that we can continue to include him in our daily rituals, even if in spirit.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a lot of friends who adopt older pets and take on the challenges of pets with special needs. Because of them, I don’t even realize there are perhaps people out there who couldn’t take on such a challenge! These folks are my heroes, my lifeline, my support and my encouragement. We find strength in numbers and my numbers are plentiful.

We will certainly miss our sweet Brady boy. He filled such a big spot in our hearts and his absence is immense around the house.

Sweet memories, however, are more powerful. We will continue to keep his memory alive as we move to heal from the heartache of his loss. It never gets easier, only a tad harder each time, but again, if we can be the ones to give these sweet souls the “best last days of their lives” then by gosh that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode is the author of the new children’s book, “Oakley’s Great Cape Escape,” as well as, “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna@altoonamirror.com or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.

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