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As a care for life sanctuary, Home for Life® does not often have many puppies and kittens in residence. But Ben, a young German shepherd cross puppy, was a special case.

Ben came to HFL through a Chicago shelter called the Animal Rescue League. The Chicago Police found a gang of boys on a street corner beating and kicking the puppy who was only 6-7 weeks old. Horrified, the cops broke up the gang and seized the puppy. They rushed Ben in their squad car to the Animal Rescue League hoping they would not be too late to save him.


The shelter vet found that Ben was suffering from brain swelling. He had been beaten so badly that he was bleeding behind his eyes and in the brain. The cops themselves were traumatized by the chilling cruelty they had witnessed, at the hands of children no less.

The shelter staff fought for Ben's life and their dedicated care saved him. But the abuse had left Ben blind and prone to occasional seizures. The shelter felt that Ben would do best in the protected environment of Home for Life® Sanctuary, where his special needs could be accommodated, and where he would be safe. Home for Life® could also offer Ben training that would help him make the most of his abilities.

Shortly before the holidays, the shelter staff drove Ben to Home for Life® along with Harry, a feisty Maltese puppy who needs liver surgery to correct a birth defect. Harry and Ben are close in age and best friends. They love to romp with each other until they are completely worn out. Then they snuggle together into a cozy little sleeping heap.

Ben has also become friends with Laren, his roommate, a black field cocker spaniel who is 12 years old and exceedingly gentle. Dogs learn quickly from other dogs, and Laren has patiently guided and tenderly mentored Ben.

For his part, Ben is incredibly patient, alert, and determined. Upon his arrival, though Ben was blind and unsure of himself, he devoted himself to learning. Each day presented new obstacles, but also new opportunities and experiences. Ben quickly learned the shape and length of his new home. He walks with a high stepped march, as he reaches out in front of him to assess his surroundings, just as a visually impaired person uses a cane.

Ben will soon begin a puppy training course for basic obedience to build both his self-sufficiency and confidence.

Ben quickly took to his new name. His floppy little ears perk up each time he hears it. He loves people and he was recently one of our biggest crowd-pleasers at the Mall of America Holiday Event. His visits gave him the opportunity to socialize. The positive attention he received help rebuild his trust in people again. This event was another positive step Ben has taken towards a safe and rich life and finally experiencing what love really feels like.

Young Ben has grown since arriving at Home For Life, but judging from the size of his paws, we expect him to be a smaller adult. Ben has a soft, fawn-colored coat with deep black points and a sweet, intelligent face. There is still a lot of life behind his deep brown eyes, even though they are blind. Ben has an intense gaze and you are able to watch him think through his eye movement.

We are so proud of all that Ben has already accomplished. We feel fortunate to share in his journey of recovery and discovery.



Ben jumping in the snow
Ben jumping in the snow

Ben's first friends at Home for Life®, Laren and Harry, passed away, but Ben who is now a senior dog, still lives on at Home for Life®. He misses his close dog friends who treated him kindly, especially the golden retriever Piper, who had suffered brain damage as Ben had, and with whom he would play.

Ben never regained his eyesight and due to the brain damage he suffered from the beating as a puppy, he is slow to learn new skills. For instance, he learned his name and knows how to go in and out with the dog door but has never learned to walk on a leash or climb stairs.  Despite the traumatic start to his life, Ben has been in good health except for some low thyroid for which he receives daily medication.

He currently lives with a group of small dogs, some younger and some older like Ben. This placement has been for his protection as he has gotten older and lost his old friends. Ben is content with his current group of comrades and loves to be able to go outside in all seasons, winter and summer, through the attached dog door to stretch his legs in the meadows on the soft grass or the snow. The other dogs are respectful and kind to him.

The safe and serene haven of Home for Life® has given Ben the security he needed to reach his potential. Because we were determined that the tragedy of his first months would not define him, the savage cruelty which marked the start of his life has never defined him and because of Home for Life®, he has been able to have a life of peace and happiness.

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