It seems so insignificant to say that Benny Thomas is just a dog. But, by definition, the Burnese Mountain Dog and daily fixture at Selah Middle School, is 100% canine. Down to his wagging tail, perfectly marked fur, big, brown eyes, and open mouth grin, Benny is definitely all pooch. He even has the “bones” to prove it.
As some may have noticed, Benny has not been at school much lately. His health has prevented him from being at the place he loves most; with kids. Benny has touched many lives and has enjoyed being a part of the Selah Schools’ family. Due to his health issues Benny will not be coming back.
Benny’s bones are not the kind of anatomy fixtures that comprise a canine’s skeleton, but the “bones” that remind us of joy, even after assumed to be gone. Think of it as the bones a dog hides in his safe place, only to believe they are lost, because he can’t remember his hiding spot. The bones, that when eventually found, elicit a dog’s reaction of delight because of the memory conjured. Those are Benny’s bones.
For the past seven years, Benny has been the fur baby of Karon Thomas, a security monitor at Selah Middle School. However, for the past six school seasons, Benny has served as the campus’ unofficial mascot where he amassed a rock-star following. Benny first stole the hearts of Selahites as a one-year-old pup, when his original call of duty placed him as a therapy dog at Selah Junior High. Then, as construction of a new middle school facility was completed, Benny transitioned to that site with his extended family of students and staff. There is where he dutifully remained.
As an official staff member, with his own school ID badge and employee photo on the website, Benny, in his canine way, helped in the educational process of students. Granted, he did not lead math lessons, or teach reading and writing. After all, that would be a different story if Benny possessed those capabilities. However, in the Viking culture, where the belief system is strongly rooted around the C’s of Character, Capable, and College and Career readiness, Benny’s tutelage centered around lessons of compassion, feelings and acceptance. And, in the trade of education, where students prepare to be their best selves, those lessons are important too.
Throughout his tenure in Selah, Benny has been an uplifting presence. He exudes goodwill and during his time on campus, he has definitely left his bones.
Benny has empowered students to savor their young heart. After all, many of us have childhood memories derived from feelings of absolute happiness when having a special pet by our sides. Also, Benny serves as a tangible prop of unconditional love; authentic, with no strings attached. Benny has much affection to give and simply has wanted to be with people who enjoy being with him. Similarly, Benny’s gentle demeanor has provided students with unprejudiced support, which helps them know a trusted friend. With that, Benny helped instill the importance of how to care for and treat another living being; after all, it was only with kindness and tenderness, that students have treated him. Further, even with his large exterior, Benny has taught students how to be gentle, how to give love, how to accept love, and how to show empathy. But, above all, Benny has proven that everyone matters. You see, Benny is blind to prejudice. He didn’t just mingle with the “coolest,” or “smartest.” He has love for everyone and it is genuine. With his canine senses, Benny would make his school rounds, and sniff out those who needed an uplifting visit, or the comforting look of sweet puppy eyes. Benny could detect when someone needed a friend—that is why he is loved. Through Benny, students have experienced the significance of being sought after, and feeling wanted. It is accurate to say, Benny has brought a boost of smiles and confidence to many.
Even Benny’s absence at school leaves us one last heartfelt lesson—one last bone to chew on. It is to find happiness in granted moments, long or short, and, when the time comes, accept life; whatever it brings; and move forward. That does not mean the circumstance at hand is ideal. Sometimes, like now, the situation is sad. But, when faced with adversity, uncover strength, tackle the moment, move ahead with your tail wagging. That is life. And, somewhere along life’s path, when thought to be out of mind, we will find one of Benny’s bones—the lessons he has sweetly provided us. In his spirit, we will remember unconditional love and unprejudiced kindness; how to treat others, show compassion, and exhibit empathy; and, how to be an unwavering friend who makes everyone feel, they matter. It will be substantiation that Benny is always at his post, always here.
It seems so insignificant to say that Benny Thomas is just a dog. But, he has the “bones” to prove it. And, he has left them hidden; buried deep within our hearts. That is why we love him.