The young dog wasn’t doing well in the shelter. He didn’t trust anyone and, if he kept snapping at potential adopters, it was likely he’d be put to sleep. Then a couple wanted to meet the sad little pup; surely he’d scare them off too?
Some people don’t feel like their family’s complete without a dog in their lives. Animal-lover Jessica Williams is among them, but something always got in the way. For instance, her living arrangements didn’t permit animal companions. But all that was about to change.
That’s because Williams had moved into a new apartment with her partner Jared, and their landlord was pro-pet. For the first time, Williams could get the canine company she had always craved. Between them, Jared agreed with Williams that a dog would make a great birthday present.
Consequently, the couple decided to adopt a shelter dog for Williams’ birthday, a date which fell later in the year. However, enthusiasm overwhelmed Williams, and she decided to do some premature searching. She subsequently paid a visit to some shelters on the internet.
That’s when Williams spotted a sorrowful-looking little pup called Benji in a Los Angeles shelter. Although his past is murky, whatever had happened in Benji’s early life had led him to the streets. From there, someone took him to the shelter, where he was put up for adoption.
Unfortunately, since his arrival at the pound, Benji’s behavior hadn’t endeared him to either staff or visitors. Williams explained as much to animal news website The Dodo in August, 2018. “He was at the shelter for ten days and wasn’t handling it well,” she said of the pup.
It’s possible that Benji didn’t know what happy domesticated life was like; it would certainly explain his reactions. “He would snarl and snap at people as they walked by,” Williams elaborated. That wasn’t the only reason visitors may have passed Benji by, either.
The pup also suffered from a severe reaction to a flea infestation from his time on the streets. As a result, Benji was missing a large portion of fur. Williams’ heart broke when she saw him, and Benji’s image haunted her.
“I had never seen a sadder dog,” Williams told The Dodo, “and [I] knew we couldn’t leave him there.” With this in mind, she and Jared decided to adopt earlier than originally planned, and arranged to meet Benji. There was one big catch, though: the couple lived many miles away.
In fact, the adopting pair lived in Sacramento, meaning they were no fewer than 380 miles from Benji’s Los Angeles shelter. But the determined duo didn’t let that stop them. Knowing Benji was in dire need, Williams and Jared set out on an epic 12-hour road trip.
Shelter staff must have been surprised that someone had come so far to adopt Benji. In fact, according to the couple, they didn’t seem to think it was a good idea at all. They did everything they could to stop the pair meeting him, but Williams wouldn’t be dissuaded.
“The shelter also told us he wasn’t friendly,” Williams told The Dodo. Apparently, they wouldn’t even let her in a quiet room with Benji. She elaborated, “Because ‘he wouldn’t be a dog that would come over to us to be cuddly.’”
Unfortunately, Williams and Jared were acutely aware that the situation didn’t bode well for Benji. “We knew that he had a high possibility of being euthanized and didn’t want him to die,” she explained. The couple may have been Benji’s last chance, so they took ownership of him regardless.
The long car ride home troubled Benji; he remained very nervous and distrustful of his new humans. This stand-offish behavior continued for days after his initial adoption. But the couple’s patient and loving nature eventually won the pup’s trust.
Benji soon came to enjoy family living a lot more than either life on the streets or in the shelter. Consequently, the little dog’s guarded nature melted away to reveal his true personality. As it turned out, all Benji needed to make him happy was love and affection.
Williams said that the dog is completely different to the shy, sad creature she saw at the shelter. Benji has embraced his inner puppy, and he’s discovering new ways to appreciate life every day. Additionally, he’s a lot fonder of car trips now.
Benji’s mommy described how her furbaby can’t wait to take a ride. “He will …start barking the second we get in the car,” she said, “as if to say, ‘We have to start moving! Let’s go!’” Benji’s a lot more affectionate these days, too.
The Los Angeles shelter staff stated they didn’t think of Benji as the cuddly kind of dog. Well, they’d be surprised to see him now. “He loves to come up and lick our faces and play with his toys,” Williams told The Dodo in late August, 2018.
“He is such a goofball now,” Benji’s mommy continued, “[and he] has crazy zoomies after he gets bathed.” In fact, the pup’s parents take him everywhere they go, so he’s getting a lot better at socializing. He even joins them in restaurants!
Although Benji hasn’t lived with his human mommy and daddy for very long, by all accounts he’s making amazing progress so far. Hopefully, he will only improve from here on in. And if any dog’s living proof of the difference a loving family can make to a dog at his lowest, it’s Benji.