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Dog stays by dad’s side to the bitter end

Scott Ballenger picture collage © Alexis Nazarino – Facebook

Scott Ballenger knew his dog Benny for only a year and a half but in that time the pair became inseparable. On the day Ballenger passed away, Benny knew he needed to be with his human dad.

By Nick Whittle, 11 Sep 2019

Benny was rescued in 2017 from the teeth of Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm that raced across Texas. He was adopted in the end by a family from Seattle, Washington State: Scott Ballenger, his girlfriend, and his daughter Alexis Nazarino.

The dog was nervous at first especially around men but seemed to take instantly to Ballenger.

Ms Nazarino recalls, “Benny was unsure of men and we don’t know his background, but he loved my dad and heard his car coming even before [Benny’s] mom did after work.”

Beset by illness

In August this year Ballenger was hit by a serious illness which caused him to be hospitalised. The prognosis was not good. On numerous visits to the hospital Nazarino brought Benny with her.

Benny would sniff his head and face but was really unsure what was going on,” Nazarino said. “He would sit with dad for a few minutes here and there.

Benny became withdrawn and was clearly concerned for the wellbeing of his soulmate. On his next visit to the hospital Benny refused to leave Ballenger’s side, and curled up beside his dad’s head.

Writes The Dodo Benny “sat next to him all day, snuggled up as close as he could be, lying his head gently on his dad’s arm”.

The following day Ballenger died.

Aftermath

Dogs have an innate sense when it comes to illness. Some dogs are even deployed to detect cancers, diabetes, tuberculosis and malaria. It is thought the canine sense of smell is what provides the dog with the means to seek out illnesses before they manifest.

Benny was distraught at his owner’s passing, and according to Nazarino has pined for Ballenger ever since. The family is now caring for the bereft dog and trying to support him, as well as managing their own grief.