My parents had taken the dogs away for the weekend; Benjy had run free when they'd attempted to put his lead on, straight into the path of an oncoming car.
My mum said it was instant and he wouldn't have known it was happening. He must have died on impact.
It was obviously a shock to us all. I think more so because he was, as my brother and mum kept stressing, 'an accident waiting to happen'. I've lost count of the times that he's run straight out of the door, whenever it's been opened a mere smidgen, and the countless hours that my dad and I would drive around searching for him. In the end, he'd ultimately come trotting down the road, an hour or so later, as nonchalantly as if he'd been out for a casual stroll.
That's why it's so awful to think he would go in this way.
He'd always pulled through or escaped bad situations before. Only a few weeks ago, on another weekend excursion, he ran loose of his lead and decapitated a chicken on a nearby farm. It was the second time in as many years that he'd done this.
Every time he had to go to the vet or was ill, it was always down to something he'd brought on himself. The last time I was living in Israel, my mum called to say that I shouldn't worry (I did), but that Benjy had been admitted to a human hospital, suffering from 'dog flu'. Now, I'm no idiot, but I was willing to be gullible; a meta-search of terms related to 'dog flu' garnered no results. It transpired he had actually eaten a piece of rubber, and it was stuck somewhere in his digestive system.
He managed to pull through then, and every other time. He was the best dog - loving, energetic, happy and highly intuitive. When I lived at home, he'd break into my bedroom every morning and night just to snuggle up to me in my single bed, which he inevitably found a way to claim wholly. I never minded. He would do the same whenever he'd sensed I'd had a bad day at school/uni/work; he'd sit with me when I was unwell; he'd be so incredibly, inexplicably happy to see me, even when I'd only left the house for a couple of minutes.
Later, when I moved out and would return to my parents' home, he would be the first to greet me, as happy as if I was made of solid gold wrapped in chocolate. His eyes would bulge happily, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth, and he'd struggle to jump all over me, nuzzling me and bashing me with his waggling bum simultaneously.
He'd stay that way for the rest of my visit. In quieter times, he'd remember a trick I'd trained him to do from our summer of puppy training together. I'd make my legs into a circle - when he was younger, he'd sit in the middle and try to climb up me; now he was bigger, he'd plonk himself down, trying to fit as best as possible.
And the licking! He was the lickiest dog you'd ever seen. Everyone would get at least one lick, surely the happiest, most loving kiss in the world (at least from a dog). I would be lucky enough to be licked repeatedly. I didn't mind; in fact I used to look forward to it.
He was the most beautiful puppy we'd ever seen (Dylan, our other dog, looked like a messed up rabbit, and we thought we'd been shortchanged by the breeders). I'll never forget those human eyes peering at us shyly from my mum's hands as she brought him home that first time. He was black and grey beneath all the fur, which would grow into a 'Jewfro' (he was a Jewish dawg) and make him look fatter than he truly was. On top of his shining black head was the white 'wishy spot' - a white streak that only enhanced his beauty.
I can only half believe he's gone. There's a physical pain which won't shift, even after the paracetamol and ibuprofen. there's nothing tangible I can do to help it. I feel like the child I helped to raise has been cut down, far away from me. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to protect him from it.
Regarding my impending aliya - I knew these sorts of things would happen eventually. You can never be there, when you live plane rides away, for the (please gd) best times and the (gd forbid) absolute worst. I will hopefully (naively) never know if it's better to be here, closer, than further away and feeling some distance.
My mum's told me there is nothing I can do, and that I'm literally weeks away from an exciting new time in my life. But with so much change ( I haven't even touched on the saga of packing the bookshelf up, or the meeting with Corny's prospective parents) in the air, I hadn't anticipated something as awful and out of the blue as this. As selfish as it sounds, I'd assumed all of this would happen in the future, at a time I wouldn't have to deal with it all at once.
I love you, Benjy. As the song that made you wince said, 'I will always love you'. You were the best thing to ever happen to me; the most loving, giving and supportive pet/additional younger brother I could wish for.
You will always be my baby. My black beauty. My Benjita.
You said goodbye before I had the chance to. At least you'd spared me that pain.
England holds one less tie for me. You'll always be with me, though
I'm so grateful to have had you and known you for as long as I did. Through the pain, in the utmost loving memory.