Sunday, October 21, 2012


    Benjy was hit by a car recently and died.  His small, sturdy, blood encrusted body was lying near the curb where he’d either been thrown or placed after the incident that took his life.   Dave came home with that sad news and although we were not surprised at what happened to him, we were saddened by Benjy’s death. I could not imagine seeing him as Dave did, as street cleaners scooped him up off the ground---- workmen just doing their job and getting rid of a dead dog. So, you might ask, who was Benjy?   Early in our time in Dilijan, we began to see a scruffy, shaggy, tail-wagging dog who slept on the street near the curb in front of what we hoped was his home. First, I saw him as I walked to my college, then when our routes changed and David walked by the house, he would see the dog.  Dave named him Benjy due to his resemblance to the movie star dog bearing the same name. Dave started giving him a treat every day, sometimes left- overs and occasionally real dog biscuits when we could find them. The dog gradually became Dave’s friend and would jump up to see him as he approached, as if he recognized Dave’s red coat and kind voice. He learned to like me, too, and one day as I was sitting at the bus stop not far from Benjy’s spot on the sidewalk, he came over and let me pat him on the head.  Benjy was the dog we could not have in Armenia and a reminder of ones we had owned and loved in the U. S.
   In Armenia , dogs are  usually either tied up to short chains  or left to run loose in the streets, often to be hit by passing cars or taunted by obnoxious children.   The tied- up dogs spend their days and nights barking at passers-by, eating whatever is thrown to them by their owners, and often sleeping out in the open even in the frigid winters of Armenia. The freer dogs risk their lives for their freedom, are sometimes skittish around strangers, and occasionally act aggressively.  They fend for themselves by eating from the strewn garbage which litters our town or by literally jumping into the dumpsters as if it was their cafeteria----what will be served today?   Very few people in our town seem to have real pets but Benjy gave us the impression that he was cared for. He was usually in front of the same house every day, up until the past few months when we began to see him all over the neighborhood. Benjy’s untimely death occurred and made an impression on both of us. We miss seeing him and wish he had experienced a better dog’s life.

Benjy eating treat given by Dave as he goes to work in Dilijan

          The death of this dog, who we really did not know, saddened us. Then a few days later a neighbor who we had never met, died of an alleged heart condition.  We saw the cars at her home as friends and others paid their respects. We wondered about who she was, what she was like and what kind of life she had led here in Armenia.  We’d never know those facts.  Then yesterday at my school it was announced that our director’s sister-in-law who lives in Russia, had died of lung cancer.  Although I do not know this person, I do know, respect and care about my college director.  I felt sad for her and all that was ahead as she dealt with a loss in her family.
       The common thread which runs through each of these stories is that I knew about all 3 living beings who died. Their deaths came 1-2-3, one after another within just a few days of each other. Even though they were only marginal and distant beings in my life the knowledge of their passing prompted thought. Do events of a certain kind come in 3’s, as the old superstition claims?  Or is it mere synchronicity that I heard of deaths in this sequence? I wondered about the old superstition and found that there is a Biblical connection to the number 3, but is there more to learn about this old belief?  Wikipedia (who doesn’t believe Wikipedia??) says that the superstition about events occurring in 3’s comes from the “three on a match” among soldiers during WWI. According to Wikipedia, if 3 soldiers lit their cigarette from the same match, 1 of the 3 would be killed. The first soldier would light the match, then his cigarette, and the enemy would see the light. When the second soldier lit his cigarette, the enemy took aim. Finally, when the 3rd soldier lit his cigarette the enemy would fire and kill one of the men.  In reality, though, there was NO such superstition in WWI, but it was invented by Swedish Match tycoon Ivar Krueger in an attempt to get people to use more matches! Wikipedia also confirms this latter story.
Whether the rule of 3’s means anything or not is insignificant. What is important is that these 3 living beings I’ve described are no longer with us and there are people who loved and now miss them, even Benjy.  Their lives were meaningful for that reason alone. May this piece be a tribute to each of them
3 final words……………….REST IN PEACE.                                 Judy

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