Names: Bella (aka Minx, Bella Bear) + Benji (aka Benj, B Biscuit)
Age: 8 & 5 Breed: Kelpie x
Bella + Benji in three words: Crazy, hyperactive, intuitive.
Sometimes, things in life don’t always turn out the way you expect.
This was the case for Katie and Jim, a young couple living in Melbourne’s south-eastern outskirts with their two black Kelpies, Bella and Benji. One night without warning, Benji suddenly experienced an epileptic seizure. It was to be the first of many that would change the shape of their everyday lives.
Unsure of how much time they had left with Benji, Katie got in touch with us to capture some precious family moments together. Knowing the heart-breaking reason behind the shoot, we prepared ourselves for what would be a sad day behind the camera. What we didn’t expect were non-stop laughs, his-and-hers matching dog socks, and even a live rendition of Katie’s favourite lullaby (Cinderella’s ‘Lavender’s Blue’ to be precise).
Ultimately, this shoot became a celebration of the love and joy that dogs bring to our lives, even when the future looks uncertain.
Katie, tell us a little about your family.
I’m very driven and organised, and would describe myself as a vego tree-hugging hippie. I’m stressed, but I try to be relaxed! Jim is a hard worker and a driven person too. As a family, we are very loving and quite calm. We have simple tastes, we believe less is more and are both conscious about ethical and sustainable consumption.
Bella came into our lives when she was 18 months old. We adopted her from a home that didn’t want her and treated her very badly. Benji we’ve had since he was a pup – we purchased him from a property near Toowoomba.
How would you describe Bella + Benji’s personalities?
Bella runs off my vibe; if I’m upset, so is she, if I’m stressed, so is she. She is the most intuitive dog I’ve ever known. Bella knows when Benji is going to have a seizure – she sees the aura first and she stands over him, growls and nudges him, then growls at me to let me know. She’s an amazing little helper. She protects Benji and me, and the poor thing is highly strung like me. But she loves to play and cuddle!
“Benji is the most chilled, relaxed little dude EVER. He’s just a big goofy comedian. He lives for play time – balls, toys, anything. Throw it and he will retrieve it! Due to his epilepsy, unfortunately his brain is a bit scattered these days.”
Do you think you spoil Bella and Benji?
No, I don’t think so. But others would disagree! They live inside, and they’re often on the bed. They are given the best in the way of food and toys, and they go to their Nanna’s for play dates most weekends. Benji in particular does whatever he wants because his brain is broken, so I’m very soft on him.
What do Bella and Benji love to do the most?
Playing ball is their favourite thing to do, and they love to follow me everywhere I go. Bella and Benji always have fun visiting their Nanna’s house, as well as our family farm, where they get to chase cows all day. And they definitely love their food and their cuddles.
“Bella loves being like a little police dog; she’s always on guard and if we can’t see Benj, we say ‘Bella, get Benji!’ and she will run off, round him up and bring him back. She’s amazing.”
How has your life changed since Benji was diagnosed with epilepsy?
Epilepsy has changed our lives dramatically. We wake at all hours to our baby seizing. Benji will howl and cry, and often wet or poop himself. It stresses Bella out so much too. We wait for it to stop (which takes about 1-4 mins) then recovery begins. He’ll twitch on the spot for about 30 minutes, then when he’s able to move, I take him outside to feed him, then I’ll wash him.
“I’ll then wait for Benji to ‘come back’, because he doesn’t know who we are for at least an hour. While I’m with him, Jim will mop the floor and wash his bed. Then hopefully we’ll get back to sleep before our alarms go off. But I usually don’t…I just watch him.”
What do Bella and Benji mean to you?
We love our pups so very much. They give us so much love and teach us responsibility. I’m so obsessed with them, but sadly epilepsy runs our lives in every possible way.
“There’s nothing we wouldn’t do to protect them and care for them. We just want them to be happy and know that we love them. We are a very tight knit family, and we are very much a team.”
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