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Corgi Benson: how to live life to its fullest!

This is a story of the life of Benson, a very talented Welsh Corgi Pembroke, and his owner Aileen from Victoria.

We should start with introducing you formally to Benson, aka Grand Neuter Ch Windyle Black Brocade CCD PT RN as he's extremely proud of all his achievements.

At the time of writing this article Benson is 17 years and 3 months and he's still doing very well, thank you for asking! 

A little bit of background about Corgis

Princess Elizabeth (in 1930s) with Dookie,
one of her first beloved Welsh Corgis
The Welsh Corgi (Pembroke) is a cattle herding dog. It is believed they were brought into Wales by invading Vikings and the Flemish weavers around the eleventh century. 

The Pembroke was initially made popular by being the chosen breed of Queen Elizabeth II. She received her first Pembroke from her father in 1933. 

They have become the ideal family dog because of their good nature and desire to please.

The Pembroke is active and intelligent with an outgoing and friendly nature and is said to be highly trainable. 
Benson certainly turned out to be a poster boy for his breed! 

Benson, the early years

Benson was born on April 10th 2005, one of eleven puppies! There were only two tricolours in the litter with all the others red and white.
The litter was bred by Ray Barwick and David Smith (Windyle Pembrokes).

Benson was always front and centre. He is the tricolour puppy on the right of this photo, clearly saying "please pick me!"
He came to live with Aileen at the age of 10 weeks. David Smith delivered him to Aileen’s house on Friday May 27, 2005. 

This was a very momentous day as it was also the day Aileen retired after twenty seven years of service to Safeway and then Woolworths. 

Driving to work one day Aileen decided she would rather be home spending more time with her beloved Corgis so she handed in her resignation. This was the start of her wonderful journey with Benson.

Here is a summary of Benson’s milestones.

He has worked as a therapy dog, story dog, promotions dog, he has performance titles and is a show champion.

Benson aged 8 weeks, 3 months and 1 year (2006)

Corgi Benson in 2010, 2016, 2018 & 2022

Benson, the Therapy Dog Ambassador

At the age of two, Benson qualified as a therapy dog and continued in this role for the next 10 years. 

During this time, he and Aileen made regular visits to Tower Grange Aged Care, Cumberland View Aged Care and Waverley Valley Aged Care. At the nursing homes and aged care facilities he was allowed on the beds as he was so gentle with the residents.

He brought many a smile to the faces of the residents, who were always so pleased to see him.

Part of his work as a therapy dog was working in promoting the therapy dogs at the Melbourne Pet and Animal Expo in 2007 and 2008, the Dog Lovers Show in 2014 as well as the very first Big Day Out for Dogs at the State Dog Centre (KCC Park).

Not only did Benson star in the promotion of therapy dogs at the Big Day Out for Dogs but also won the competition for the Longest Sit back in December 2010, sitting for an incredible thirteen minutes without moving!

Benson also likes to put in his Christmas wishes with Santa as Santa comes to all good dogs.

Benson wins the Longest Sit (13 mins) - Benson sitting on St Nick's lap
Benson, the competition years

Benson gained his first obedience title Community Companion Dog (CCD) in 2009.

Benson was able to compete in dog shows when Dogs Victoria offered a competition for dogs that were desexed. Up until the Neuter competition was introduced only entire dogs could be shown. Benson started his show career and quickly gained his Australian Neuter Champion Title in 2012 with some lovely wins along the way.

Benson won the Neuter Sweepstakes at the Inaugural New Year's Eve Show run by Dogs Victoria.

New Year's Eve Championship Show 2009 (Left) - Winning Best In Neuter Sweepstakes (Right)

In 2010, Benson decided to get his paws dirty and have a go at herding. Corgis are cattle dogs bred for driving cattle over the rugged hills of Wales and down narrow lanes into the milking sheds. 

Benson had a lot of natural drive at herding and gained his HT (Herding Test) and PT (Pre Trial) titles.

Benson was a multi-tasking all this time keeping Aileen busy during her “retirement”.

Benson and Aileen continued their community work and over the years were invited guests at Probus RSL, where Aileen gave talks on the work of the therapy dogs in the community.

In 2014 Benson took part in a study by Monash University on the positive effects dogs have on wellbeing and memory. This involved attending an Aged Care Facility four days a week for a month. Benson attended the Mooroolbark Primary School as the children were doing a project on therapy dogs. The students had lots of questions about therapy dogs.

In 2014, Benson gained his qualification as a registered Story Dogs. In the Story Dogs program the dogs attend the school and children who are not confident in reading read to the dogs. Dogs don’t judge or correct. 

Benson is responsible for many children learning to read and developing a love of reading. In this role, Benson was sponsored by The Lions Club of Reservoir.

Benson has been involved in advertising doing a photo shoot with “The Queen” for a software company in 2013. 

This involved Benson and his sister Puzzle posing with the actor at several landmark venues around the Melbourne CBD.

Benson's Lifetime Achievements

Aileen & Benson presented with the
 award at Dogs Victoria AGM in 2018.
Benson’s incredible long standing work in the community was recognized by Dogs Victoria in 2018 when he was awarded their Outstanding Canine Contribution Award.

This award goes to a dog’s contribution to community activities outside of sanctioned performance and competitive events.

Benson continued with his very successful show career and in 2018 obtained the title of Grand Neuter Champion – the first Pembroke in Australia to gain this title. For reference 100 points are required for the Australian Neuter Champion title but for the Grand Champion, one needs 1000 points!

During his competition days, Benson won an impressive 24 Best Exhibit in Group awards, 17 Runner up Best In Group awards.

Benson with handler "Jan"

Additional achievements include 8 Best in Show awards and 9 Runner up Best Exhibit in Show awards.

Many people have helped Aileen show Benson to these awards.  I feel privileged that I was able to show Benson to many of these awards and was on the end of his lead when he gained the final points for his Grand Neuter Champion title

Benson was a wonderful dog to show as he absolutely loved to be in the ring!

Featured below (right) is the night Benson got the final points for his Grand Champion title pictured with proud breeders Ray Barwick and David Smith.

Benson did a final lap around the show ring in the Veterans class at the Welsh Corgi Club of Victoria at 16 years of age handled by David – pictured above with breeders Ray Barwick and David Smith (
Windyle Kennels) with Judge Mr Peter Flynn (SA).

Benson’s last podium photo was taken at the Canine Museum Championship Show in 2022. Benson has eaten Advance dog food all his life and Advance were the sponsors for the show. Benson got lots of treats to celebrate his 17th birthday.

Benson is featured in the recently published book Comparative Study Cardigan Welsh Corgi; Pembroke Welsh Corgi: A face to face overview based on the FCI standards by Beatrice Quinio in 2021.

Benson's retirement days

Benson’s job is not quite done yet. He still makes sure Aileen walks every day and is still doing his lap around the block. 

He loves sleeping over the heating duct in the house and whilst his eye sight and hearing are not what they used to be, he knows where everything is at home and has full trust in Aileen that she will guide him when they go walking. 

Benson still loves a ride in the car and loves his dinner. Benson is still a regular at dog shows, no longer competing but cheering on his buddy, Pembroke Brooke.

Benson will be remembered by all those who have met him as a wonderful show dog, a character in the performance rings, an ambassador for the breed in his role of Therapy Dog and Story Dog, all testament to his wonderful temperament.

Neuter Grand Champion, Obedience Dog, Herding Dog, Therapy Dog and Story Dog & Aileen’s Buddy 

Sadly, this remarkable life came to an end on Tuesday 21st February 2023. Benson was 17 years, 10 months and 11 days - a life well lived...

as told by Jan West (Llandaff Cardigan Corgis), a lifelong friend of Benson, to Australian Dog Lover (July 2022)

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