Many dogs are happy enough chasing sticks and tennis balls. But Benny, a Labrador retriever in Las Vegas, has a different pastime.
He likes to chase hockey pucks. And he likes to ice skate.
“I just started teaching him the same as teaching a small toddler and incredibly he took right to it. He was able to stand and skate on his own the first day we tried it,” Benny’s owner, Cheryl Del Sangro, said, according to People. “He continues to improve all the time.”
Now videos of “King Benny’s” exploits on the ice have been seen all over the world. Some show Benny, skates strapped securely to his front paws, zipping down the ice with a hockey stick in his mouth and an American flag flying behind him. Others show him crouched at the goal, waiting to defend the net.
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Del Sangro, a former professional skater and instructor, said she got the idea to lace Benny up after she noticed him having a blast on the ice while helping a friend with a photo shoot, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“That’s when it clicked for me that I could teach him how to skate on actual ice skates,” Del Sangro said, according to the paper. “If I could teach our daughter to skate back in Cleveland at the age of 17 months old, I could teach Benny to skate.”
She took some skating blades and dog boots and put them together, and from there, Benny was off.
“He was very comfortable and immediately started to skate. I corrected his feet positions a few times and he was off on his own,” Del Sangro said, according to the Review-Journal.
But it almost never happened. Just before Benny was adopted, he was scheduled to be euthanized.
“I can’t even imagine how close he came to being put to sleep,” Del Sangro said, according to the South West News Service.
“He had spent six months in a kill shelter in Utah and eventually was put on the euthanasia list. A local Las Vegas rescue had pulled him on his last day and transported him to Las Vegas but nobody had put in to adopt him,” she said, according to People. “But as soon as I saw his eyes in the photo I knew he was meant for me. I filled out the forms, finally got to meet him and it was instant love.”
Now safe and sound with his new family, Benny is practicing his skills and getting better all the time.
“I had him on a leash first in the rink and I helped him along with his feet. He knows how to turn now, and do crossovers, and he can do little bunny hops with his front feet,” Del Dangro said, according to the South West News Service. “He’s getting more powerful and soon we’re going to have to get the skates professionally put together.”