I loved having a Boston Terrier so much that, after finishing my master’s degree in 2000, I wanted another one. So I looked through the ads in the Orlando Sentinel and saw that someone in Kissimmee was selling Boston Terrier puppies. (Again, I would approach getting a dog in a different way today, but even then, I still didn’t know much.) I called the number listed and spoke to a man, who said he had one puppy left, a boy, 12 weeks old. I’m sure I asked a few different questions, but the only one I can remember is, “Is he playful?” The man chuckled. “Oh, yes.” I made arrangements to come meet him. The guy told me that one other woman was coming to meet the dog that afternoon but that the first person there would get priority.
I ate lunch at Taco Bell, then got on the road. Kissimmee was about an hour from me, so I took toll road 417, the quickest, most direct route. After what should have been my last toll, I missed my exit. This meant getting off at the next exit, getting back on the highway and paying the toll I’d just paid, exiting and entering the highway again, and paying that same toll a third time. I was out of change. And, thanks to the large Diet Pepsi I’d had with lunch, I now really had to pee.
When I got to the breeder’s house, a family of three–the man I’d spoken to and his parents, I believe–met me at the door. I had beaten the other woman there! The first thing I said was, “I hate to be so rude, but can I please use your bathroom?” They seemed surprised, but they let me use it. When I came out, I met the puppy.
His ears back against his head in excitement, he ran up to me and put his front paws on my leg. He wagged his stumpy little tail. At eight pounds, he was about twice Petey’s puppy size, but he seemed so tiny, especially next to his parents, who were both very muscular. They definitely belonged to the larger weight class of Bostons. His markings resembled Petey’s; he had the same black spot on the top of his head and a full black mask. But his coat was coarser and had streaks of gold throughout it.
He chased his mom and dad, who ran outside. As I talked to the family about things like health history and how much they wanted for the pup, the dogs ran back in, and the puppy quickly peed under the dining room table before bouncing back to me. I sat on the floor and played with him. In the meantime, the doorbell rang, and the man went to answer it. I could hear him telling someone that the dog had been claimed. “Are you serious?” I heard a woman’s disappointed voice say. When they guy came back, he said he was glad that I’d gotten there first.
I asked if they’d been calling the puppy anything. The man I’d spoken with earlier grinned and said, “Homer.” The mom said she’d been calling him “R.J.” for “Rocky Junior.” His father’s name was Rocky, and a little later, I heard someone call the mother “Adrian.” Rocky and Adrian! Perfect names.
As we left, I sensed the family’s sadness. He was the last puppy from the litter, and they had considered keeping him. They told me he would sleep on my pillow all night long without making a peep. The oldest woman gave him kisses.
My boyfriend at the time drove my car so that I could hold the dog on my lap. He was such a warm puppy. As I stroked his back, he whined. It was a constant puppy whine that, in the 13 years of his life, he would never outgrow. His head lowered, he looked up at me through his eyebrows. That’s when I thought, Ben. Benjamin. But Ben or Benji for short. It just fit his demeanor.
After a stop at PetSmart for puppy food, some new toys, and another kennel, we took Ben to meet Petey. There was a park right next to where I lived, so we took both dogs there and had them meet in a neutral spot. Then we all walked back to my apartment together. Ben took a long nap on my bed, and when he woke up, Petey danced around him and dodged him, wanting to play. Ben growled this adorable noise that sounded like a slow, quiet power drill. He didn’t like Petey in his face. Oh, but he’d get used to it.