Ben, Charlie & Tessa | Pittsburgh Pet Photography

A couple of weeks ago I met Jim and Ginny and their dogs to capture portraits for their feature in Our Best Friends Calendar 2013. When Ginny told me the story of their pets I basically wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.

Jim and Ginny had an amazing dog Britty that passed away at the age of 14 in September of 2003. They still had their dog Sophie and Jim was convinced that with Sophie along with their 2 cats, Leo and Lily, that they were good. They still had one daughter at home and one at college. In addition to both of them having full time jobs they had a small pet sitting business to keep them even busier.


As a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner working 24 hour shifts, they occasionally had some down time while waiting for an admission. Ginny decided to look on Pet Finders and check out the pups available...just to "look". Ginny always wanted a Lab and would only go through a shelter. In the search box, she put their zip code and the words "Lab or Lab Mix".  The first dog that showed up on the screen was Ben and he was described as a Lab mix with special needs who was 18 months old. As she read his bio, it explained that he had recently had to have right hind leg amputated at the hip due to injury resulting from abuse. He was thrown out of a moving vehicle by his leg. He was immediately rescued by a witness and taken to "Lucky Pups " in Mt Morris PA. After 3 surgeries to try and save his leg, the decision was made to amputate it. Shortly after that surgery he was put up for adoption.

Ginny quickly dismissed the possibility of "Ben". She tried to convince herself that he was special needs, they had steps... he was big, and on and on. A week later sitting at home, she did the same search and only put in Lab this time. Ben's pic was first again. She immediately clicked off the site. The third time she was very careful to pick Lab, Pittsburgh, Medium size, female. Ben's picture popped up again and as you can see by his picture, he was not in a Pittsburgh shelter, he was not a she, he was large and he is definitely not a lab.

Ginny considered it fate and convinced her husband and daughter to drive to Mt Morris to just "meet Ben". When they pulled into the shelter, he was in a side yard running around with an even bigger mastiff. He ran to the fence and looked at them and cocked his head to the side. Took them about 30 seconds to decide that he was meant to come home with them. They were going to name him Charlie.

While Ginny filled out the necessary paperwork her husband and her daughter Kelsey went to "look at the puppies". Ginny did not and would not look because there is no such thing as just "looking at puppies"... Kelsey comes out of the room holding a big furry black puppy saying "Please Please". To be honest, Ginny told her that she was out of her teenage mind and that that puppy was too big and hairy. Ginny marched into the puppy room and said that "if " we were ever getting a puppy then it would be a scared little runt of a pup, pointed to this beagle mix pup behind a dog house shaking and hiding  and said "like that one". Well... the end to this story is that the runt of a puppy came home with them, her name is Charlie and Gentle Ben got to keep his name.

Many years later, Ben will be 11 and Charlie turned 9. Jim and Ginny says that they are wonderful, lovable family pets and we are so lucky that they chose us. Charlie is still somewhat timid and territorial but is a very content pooch. Ben is lovable, a protector, and even at his advancing age is very active. In fact , during their walks, he balances himself on his front legs and lifts his only back leg to pee. Go Figure.

"They bring joy, peace and companionship and refuse to go without a walk. Good for all of us". - Jim & Ginny


This is Ben.

This is Charlie and their daughter's dog Tessa.