By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Book Worm Sez
He was a once-in-a-lifetime dog.
From the moment you brought him home until the day he left, you never had a minutes’ problem. He was easy to teach, easy to trust, easy to love and, unfortunately, too easy to lose. You’ll never forget your once-in-a-lifetime dog – nobody does – and in the book “My Boy, Ben,” David Wheaton tells you about his.
Years ago, there was always a dog or two at the Wheaton household.
David Wheaton remembers several of them: big dogs, Husky-dogs, always ready to join a Minnesota boy with adventure in his heart. As the youngest of four kids, Wheaton cherished those dogs as his favorite playmates.
As an adult and a world-traveling tennis pro, though, Wheaton knew that having a dog would mean asking his parents to help with the care while he was on the road. That was something they weren’t willing to do, so Wheaton continued to dream – until he received a note from his mother that mentioned a dog she happened to notice.
The pooch, a Lab from a kennel in Iowa, had an easy-going demeanor and was textbook perfect, with a wedge-shaped head and soft brown eyes. Smitten, she didn’t waste any time in contacting the owner of the kennel and she quickly put down a deposit on a puppy that wasn’t even yet conceived. Wheaton was stunned at her uncharacteristic behavior – and he was overjoyed.
A few months later, they picked up Ben.
In the upper Midwest, says Wheaton, there are four distinct seasons and each had a memory
attached to his years with Ben. In wanting a hunting dog, Wheaton turned to a reference book for guidance; fall, therefore, reminded him of taking Ben afield. Winter was spent skating on a nearby pond, with Ben loping along behind. In the spring, as soon as the ice melted to reveal one of Minnesota’s lakes, Ben was in it. Summers were spent at the family’s cabin, exploring nearby woods and swimming.
But as Ben aged, Wheaton tried to remember one thing: at the beginning of loving a dog, you know there’ll always be an end. His and Ben’s, he hoped, was years away…
I liked “My Boy, Ben,” but there are two big surprises inside this book.
I don’t think I’m ruining anything by telling you the first one: unlike other books that finish with the death of a dog, author David Wheaton puts Ben’s demise about halfway through this story. I wasn’t expecting that, and it was a pleasant aspect since it gives readers a leisurely chance to see what happens next.
What happens next was the second surprise: this book then takes a heavy Biblical turn. That isn’t bad but, despite a few early-page Bible references, it was unexpected and therefore bears mentioning.
Still, how could a dog parent resist a book like this? You can’t, so bring a box of tissues and settle in. For the inveterate Lab fan or anyone who’s every truly loved a dog, “My Boy, Ben” could be a once-in-a-lifetime book.