Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday March 17th 2019
Very sad news. B. texted yesterday to tell me that John, Ben’s person, died a week ago last Monday.
For long as I can remember, John has been walking his dog in Kings Heath Park. The first time I had a conversation with him, other than passing greetings, was almost twenty years ago.
The dog he had before Ben – Max, I think – was trotting along happily, his back legs supported on one of those special trolleys for disabled dogs. Ellie, whom I was walking nearby, was astonished by this phenomenon, and dashed up behind Max, spooking him and making him growl.
I apologised, but John, always one to give any dog the benefit of the doubt, explained that Max was very friendly, but since he had had the problem with his back legs, was very nervous of dogs being close behind him. John introduced Ellie to Max, and, after that, he was perfectly happy for her to trot along beside him.
When greyhound Stan ran into a jagged fence post and was fatally injured, it was John who carried him to his van and rushed him and R. to the PDSA out of normal surgery hours.
John was one of the first people from whom frightened little Isis took a treat when I first began taking her to the park.
There wasn’t much that John didn’t know about dogs, and he was always supportive to anyone who needed advice.
Over the last few years, since John began to use a disability scooter, he was mobbed by his dog friends who knew that he would give them a treat (or two) if they sat nicely.
The dogs and we humans are used to seeing him sitting on his scooter at ‘the bottom end’, that is, at the edge of the old bowling green, drinking from his flask of hot tea and eating biscuits.
He was doing just that when I came across him early this year and stopped to chat. I commented that I didn’t have an up to date photo of Ben, and asked if I could take one.
John is talking to Ben, encouraging him to pose for the photographer! Ben, always gentle and obedient, is focussed on his person.
John was a kind, generous and compassionate man. He will be missed by many people.
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk