Ben is not your typical stay at home, two runs a day kinda dog. He is athletic, sociable and always on the look out for new adventures, just like his parents!
Gavin and I live in Cane Garden Bay in a beachfront apartment. When Ben was a puppy we used take him for long runs along the beach everyday. We would try and get him to go in the sea for a swim, but he absolutely hated the water. He would’t let the water even touch his paws, let alone go in for a swim. He would play with the other dogs and he became very familiar with his surroundings. He knew his way home and often took himself back to the apartment when he’d had enough down at the beach. When we would go to work, to start with, we would leave Ben on the balcony with his bed, toys, and a bowl of water and come back at lunchtimes to check on him, taking him out for a quick run and feeding him. Once he was a little older and with Gavin and I working a lot, down at the base and going out doing day sails almost everyday, the beach became Ben’s garden. In the morning we would play with Ben and feed him, then once we were ready for work he would take himself down to the beach for the day. He had his kennel outside the door and a bowl of water for when he was tired and wanted to come back to the house, but the majority of the time he spent hanging out with his friends and cruise ship guests down by the sea.
Across the road lived another little puppy we called ‘Blondie’. Blondie had a look of a Golden Retriever, but had the shortest little legs. Most dogs living on the island have short leg syndrome. There’s only the odd few regular sized dogs. Ben and Blondie became best friends and they were inseparable. Blondie knew the routine, he would come hang out on the balcony or in the yard in the morning waiting for Ben and once he was ready, off they would go for the day. Blondie was a very hairy dog with thick fur and got extremely hot in the midday sun. He used to go swimming on a regular occasion to cool off. It was because of him that Ben got so used to the water and ended up loving being in the sea. When the two of them used to play and wrestle on the beach, Blondie always used to run into the sea to get away and Ben would stop along the edge because he was scared of it.
Cane Garden Bay is a popular tourist hot spot. It is a beautiful, sheltered long sandy bay on the north side of Tortola. With its white sandy beach, crystal clear waters, palms trees, lush greenery and an array of bars and restaurants it is the perfect Caribbean paradise. In the height of the season, bus loads of cruise ship guests would be dropped off and the beach was lively and bustling. The market stall vendors would be out selling their local goods, the music pumping and the cocktails would be flowing.
The beach was a popular area for a few of the local dogs to hang out during the day due to the amount of chicken wings, burgers and other tasty treats they could get their mouths around. Ben was friends with all of them, they were a pack and loved spending time together, although there were usually three of them always together, Ben, Blondie and Rover, ‘The Three Musketeers’.
Rover was one of the larger dogs, with long legs… a brown, kind of Labrador. He was a walker… He absolutely loved people and would walk for miles down the beach, up over the hills and into many of the different bays with any tourists that would be off hiking.
The three of them knew how to work the tourists, how to get attention, be stroked, be played with all day and most of all be given food non stop. Gavin and I went to spy on Ben one day to see what he was getting up to. Ben and Blondie seemed to have a tag team routine going. Blondie would go up to the tourists who were sat on their sun loungers, rub himself up along their legs and act all playful. The tourists would get up off their sunbeds and go and play with him in the sea. Ben would then swoop in and eat all the food that was left in their food containers, then go and fetch Blondie. Off they would go again to the next unsuspected victim. This time it was Blondie’s turn for a chow. Ben would take the tourists beach toy or shoe and make them chase him down the beach while Blondie would feast on the leftovers. BBQ chicken wings, burgers and conch fritters were definitely the favourites on the menu for these two on a daily basis.
As well as hanging out at the beach looking for food, they would join in playing beach games, chase the drones flying around and play tour guide. I remember watching Ben many times whilst we were down on the beach with him. Dinghy loads of charter guests would pull up to the beach from their yachts. Ben would swim up to the dinghy to greet them, introduce himself and have a stroke from everybody and take walks down to the local Callwood Rum Distillery. Half an hour later he would be cruising along the roads, back down to the beach with his group of guests and watch as they headed back to their boats.
One day whilst we were down at the beach watching Gavin surfing, Ben and I took a walk to get some exercise. I found something crawl underneath the sand and went to check it out. I started digging and Ben joined in with me. Eventually we found a crab and Ben was thrilled. He was so excited, he was playing with the crab and chased it down to the waters edge. From then on, that was it… Ben was hooked with digging for crabs. Every time we went to the beach his little legs would go ten to the dozen, his nose in the sand while he listened intently for those little critters. He became pro crab catcher and attracted hundreds of tourists a day who were intrigued to know what he was doing and what he was finding. They took photos and videos and watched him for hours. They couldn’t believe how far down he would dig, and if they got to close to look, many a time the onlooker would fall down the hole themselves…
Everybody knew Ben on the beach…locals, restaurant owners, cruise shippers and returning holidaymakers would be on the look out for their friend Ben.
Ben loved his days down on the beach, but he also enjoyed days out with his family. We would take him hiking up into Sage Mountain where he could sniff out his new surroundings and run for miles, he learned to sit comfortably on the paddle board with me as we cruised around the bay and we would go for fishing trips out on our little boat.
Ben is always on the look out for new friends, new adventures and new crabs to catch. He is the most sociable and adorable little dog and an amazing part of our family.
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