A Tale of Two Jack Russell Terriers, Bill and Ben

This story is taken from the book Whispers From Heaven, Eddie Corkery, By Diane Thrift

Guiding By Instinct, Leading by Love

Is helping others an intuitive response or is it taught by example or training?Consider the story of Bill and Ben, a couple of Jack Russell terriers who now live a comfortable life in the English seaside town of Brighton. Not long ago, both dogs were strays who wound up in desperate trouble in the village of Averley. When shelter owner Michael Feiler responded to a distress call, he found two terrified little dogs.  One was cowering, with a blood-streaked face and obvious eye injuries; the other was barking hysterically and guarding his injured companion. Using all of his charm-and a few of the dog biscuits he usually carries with him-Feiler managed to calm the dogs, and he wasted no time in getting the injured one to a veterinarian. When the vet realized it was impossible to save the dog’s eyes, they were removed, and the eyelids were sutured shut. Soon Ben, as the blind dog came to be known, grew healthy enough to be released to the shelter and reunited with the other pup, who by this time was called Bill.

Then,intuitively, Bill began to do what it usually takes seeing eye dogs months of practice to accomplish: He became a guide dog for his newly sightless friend. Ben seemed to understand exactly what he was supposed to do.  He would grab a mouthful of the scruff of Bill’s neck, and in this way the two walked a slow circuit around the shelter’s yard. They kept this up until Ben knew exactly where to find food, water, the doorway, and a place to sleep.

Feiler had never seen anything like it, and word of the amazing little dogs quickly spread. After footage of their routine appeared on TV, five-thousand people offered to adopt the pair.  Bill and Ben were eventually placed with an elderly couple in Brighton who already had a femal Jack Russell terrier named Rosie.  The dogs’ new home, however, was a three bedroom townhouse with a two-tiered garden.  Would this pose a problem for sight-impaired Ben? Not with the help of his good buddy Bill, who offered the scruff of his neck, a nudge here, and a tug there, until Ben became familiar with his new surroundings.

Like Bill, there are special dogs across the country who help others in small but profound ways every day: They guide the sight-impaired through crowded streets, help people in wheelchairs go shopping, alert hearing-impaired parents to a baby’s cries. While assistance dogs are specially trained to respond in certain ways, Bill’s intuitive response to his canine friend shows that love and kindness are two fundamentals that don’t need to be taught. 

Bill and Ben now sleep snuggled together like young pups, and the bond between them is stronger than ever thanks to Bill’s loving, intuitive responsiveness. A story that might have ended tragically had a happy outcome instead, testifying to the innate goodness of all who helped and remnding us of the special power of friendship. 

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