The Labrador Retriever’s on-ice performances at Golden Knights NHL games in Las Vegas have recently gained prominence.
This year’s recipients of the American Kennel Club’s Award for Canine Excellence include an ice-skating canine from Las Vegas (ACE).
For his work with the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights and several local organizations, Benny, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever owned by Cheryl DelSangro, was awarded the American Kennel Club’s 2021 Exemplary Companion.
Benny rose to prominence as a result of his visits to Golden Knights hockey games at T-Mobile Arena, where he dazzles fans with his custom skates.
According to the American Kennel Club, the idea arose in August 2018 when photographer Rick Vierkandt asked DelSangro whether her dog would participate in a Golden Knights cheer video (AKC). Benny carries a hockey stick in his mouth and prances around the ice chasing pucks in the video.
DelSangro had a lightbulb moment after watching the video. “I began to believe that I could teach him to skate. I began teaching our daughter at the age of 17 months, and I reasoned that Benny had better balance than a child “According to the AKC, the retired ice skater
Benny quickly gained his footing on the ice. No one anticipated the Labrador to learn to skate on his first try, let alone enjoy it, according to DelSangro.
Following the astounding find, DelSangro developed Benny a pair of unique skates, which she sculpted with the help of a friend, and which had an altered dog boot at the top of the shoe.
Benny has come a long way from his first time on skates. In videos put to YouTube by Bark Gallery in January, the dog demonstrated his many skills, including his smooth transition from a lying-down position, rounding corners, and stopping on his own.
“With his skates, he no longer goes front to back, but instead pushes out to the sides,” DelSangro told the AKC. “He’s also taught himself to cease doing a reverse snowplow maneuver. He’s also mastered skating in reverse for a short distance. He is self-taught to a large extent.”
Benny skates for charity with Spectrum On Ice, an ice-skating program for children with autism and other developmental problems, while he isn’t skating for the Golden Knights.
DelSangro told the AKC, “He’s like a magnet for the youngsters, and he creates an instant comfort zone.” “As one mother told me with tears in her eyes, her son had never touched an animal before, but he had patted Benny on the ice and followed him about with a smile on his face. For me, that put everything into perspective.”
According to AKC, Benny also pays a visit to Opportunity Village, where he does amazing antics during visits with people with various disabilities. According to DelSangro, the dog interacts with people one-on-one and has “an unbelievable knowledge” of when to be excited and when to be kind.
“He connects with children who, like him, may have to skate or learn uniquely,” she noted. “They understand he doesn’t judge or care how they skate; all he cares about is how excited and joyful they are when he’s around.”