The final chapter in this series
by Anna Ferraro
Once upon a time, on a sleepy side street in Jacksonville, IL, an adorable three-legged dog awoke from a long winter’s nap. Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about a three-legged dog. Meet Bentley Parker, a dog whose life story will top most others in creative content. In the first part of this series, we learned how Bentley was smuggled in a purse through church and work, survived a lake dive, and dismantled an entire Christmas party, all in the first six months of his life. In the second part, we learned about his penchant for hijacking pizza, his athletic somersault which led to an amputation (not his fault) and an almost unbelievable drug overdose (that was his fault). Today, the adventures continue …
Six months after his amputation, while Bentley was visiting Sarah Lafferty’s parents, he planned to go and play with his doggie friends as usual. They would come to the door and he would join them for romps across the Missouri countryside. Even with just three legs, he would run across the property, roll in the cow pond, and return to the house with bones, sticks, and … some no-longer-living things.
One day, Lafferty’s mom was leaving for work and Bentley planned to send her off with a little race. When she pulled out in her SUV, Bentley ran beside it, his three legs keeping pace with the tires. All was going well until he slipped on the ice and rolled under the vehicle. The front wheels went over him, and the back wheels too. (If you’re counting, that means he got run over twice.)
Amidst a flurry of whimpers and whines, he was rushed to the vet for a rough verdict — his back two legs and his pelvis were broken. Poor Bentley. He had one good leg left and very few good feelings.
Lafferty said, “That injury was especially difficult because he couldn’t walk for a long time. He had to lay still for six weeks. He stayed in a kennel and got carried around.” They lavished all the love and treats they could on him in that time, and he returned the love by displaying some good behavior — he decided not to overdose on any of his drugs.
Within a few months, he was back to his three-legged normal and returned for another visit to the countryside. This time, he decided to pay a visit to his friends, the cows and horses in the pasture. However, the bovines weren’t too keen on returning the favor, and one cow kicked him in the head. After walking around in circles, he fell over, indicating that he had probably had a concussion, but he had more respect for cows after that. His head was a little unsettled for a bit, but in the meantime, at least he had three working legs, right? And Lafferty cuddled on him all the more for all of it.
In his canine mind, Bentley thought that he was going to be the love of Lafferty’s life forever and always. So you can imagine his disgust and disappointment when Lafferty’s boyfriend Andrew came into the picture. He tried desperately to break them up by dismantling Andrew’s backpack and scattering his stuff around her apartment. When that didn’t work, he decided to put all of the stuff into a pile and pee on it. But Andrew stuck around, even despite Bentley’s sting operation in which he tried to incriminate Andrew for an innocent act.
When Lafferty married Andrew, Bentley was four years old. Andrew thought that dogs lived to be six or seven, so he mused, “I can live with this for two or three years.” And so they tried, but their existence wasn’t always peaceful. Bentley sat between Lafferty and Andrew when they were on the couch and deviously tried to trip them both when they were in the kitchen so that he could eat the food they would drop. He would refuse to go to the bathroom when they took him outside, and then make a mess somewhere in the house when they brought him back in.
So in desperation, Andrew brought a private dog trainer over. After filling him in on Bentley‘s history of strategic misconduct, and innocent mishaps, the trainer thought he could help. But after 10 minutes, the trainer looked at Lafferty and said, “Bentley is not the problem. You’re the problem.” Lafferty said, “Well, we’re not going to change the rules on him now, so we might as well continue on.”
And so they did. Bentley covered his incredible naughtiness by being incredibly adorable and the bond that formed on that hot July day when Bentley winked at Lafferty from his basket in the flea market, has never lessened.
In time, he’s learned to behave at Christmas parties, and instead of dismantling the trees, he brings gifts. And to date, the only exception to his good manners at Christmas parties is occasional food steals … like the time when Bentley recognized that a certain three-year-old cousin had a diaper that he could grab onto and pull her to the ground. From there, he was able to take her plate of food and run with it. Literally stealing food from babies …
Thus, perhaps his greatest love, next to Lafferty, is food. So, when it came time for Christmas baking one year, she was sure that it was going to be a fantastic experience. She had all of her baking items laid out on the counter and ready to go. When she returned from an errand, she saw that several of them were gone. Three pounds of milk chocolate? How could that have disappeared?
Oh no, not Bentley … yes, it was Bentley. He had eaten all the milk chocolate. All three pounds of it. But unlike some dogs who might’ve died from such consumption, Bentley got slowed down with a little diarrhea, and went on, as if nothing ever happened. So in reality, the chocolate affected him more than the razor he ate (with its head), the bubble bath beads, and the time he munched an apartment carpet and floor down to the concrete layer (the bad part about that was, he had barely made it into the apartment. The pet weight limit was 25 pounds and Bentley came in just under 24.6 lbs. Maybe it had something to do with the oversized bean burrito that he ate for lunch every weekday at the time).
Andrew summarized, “His diet looks more like a goat. Once Sarah brought Culver’s home, and while Sarah went to the bathroom, he ate all the food and hid the wrappers in the couch.” And that’s not all he’s hidden in the couch. Words can’t even describe Lafferty’s shock when once, while visiting with a salesman, Bentley came into the living room and pulled a bag of mini cinnamon bagels out of the couch. To date, she doesn’t know how Bentley got the bagels out of the pantry and stashed them into the couch. It’s just one more for the books … Literally.
And it’s never for lack of calories that Bentley goes to such incredible ends to procure himself treats. He eats a healthy breakfast of eggs in the morning, and for weight management purposes, Lafferty makes sure that the rest of his diet mostly consists of dog food. Were he given the option, however, he would order Little Caesar’s pizza every day.
Today, Bentley is 11 years old, and he has slowed down quite a bit. Now, instead of charging Christmas trees and racing cows, he mostly hangs out with his blankets. He can be quite grumpy, but whenever there’s food or Sarah, he is sure to sport a smile, and maybe even a wink.
He still pretends that he likes to go for walks, but he frequently ends them in his owner’s arms, because he insists on being carried most of the way home. And although he lives in a friendly neighborhood with lots of squirrels and birds, he insists that Lafferty pay attention only to him, making aggressive eye contact with her if she visits with guests at her feeder.
But his jealousy makes him affectionate too. If Lafferty is sick, he will not leave her side, and he knows when she needs comfort or support. So he will stay with her, sometimes cuddling up with one of his toys (side-note: he’s ripped one leg off of most of his toys, maybe to make himself feel better).
And so, his life of adventure continues, even if it’s more at the pace of snoring adventures now. To date, Bentley Parker currently resides in a cozy Jacksonville home where he spends most of his days napping and being loved by his adoring family (well, except for those moments when confusion and frustration overtake the adoration).