Mid-March flooding may have saved a dog named Bentley.

When a landlord went to repair a water-damaged home in Fremont last spring, the property owner found the dog abandoned in a small carrier in the basement.

The emaciated dog, believed to be part Dachshund and part black Labrador retriever, weighed 15 pounds — half of what his weight should be.

“He was very withdrawn and very hungry,” said Tamar Reed, executive director of the Dodge County Humane Society in Fremont.

Brought to the shelter on March 22, the dog was taken to a veterinarian for medical care and started on a healthy diet.

“They think he went a couple weeks without food,” Reed said.

In stark contrast to current photos, early pictures of Bentley show a sad, hesitant-looking dog. The animal’s ribs poke out under a thin layer of skin and black fur. The bones in his spine look like a small mountain range on his back.

But Bentley’s life would change — for the better.

One day, Mary Tripp asked her husband, Adam, to pick up their sons from school and daycare.

There was a 20-minute gap between the time Tripp picked up their youngest son, Rawley, 7, and oldest son, Jackson, 10.

Rawley asked if they could go to the Humane Society and his dad agreed.

That’s when they met Bentley.

“He followed Rawley around everywhere,” she said. “And Rawley fell in love.”

Mary remembered when her husband called.

“What do you think about having another dog?” he asked.

The family already had a female beagle, named Frazier for the former Husker quarterback.

Unsure how Frazier would adjust to having a second canine in the family, Mary wanted to think about it.

“Well, we have a dog in the car,” her husband said. “I didn’t adopt him, yet. I signed up for fostering the dog.”

Bentley and Frazier got along great.

And he loved Mary — following her around everywhere.

“Which was a really good call on his part,” she said, laughing a bit, “Because I was the one who was hesitant.”

Bentley hadn’t gained all of his weight yet and still looked kind of scary at first.

He was missing some teeth, which Mary believes was because he’d tried to chew his way out of the pet carrier.

Despite that, the dog — thought to be about 3 ½ years old — touched family members’ hearts.

“He was just so sweet, so gentle, very cuddly,” Mary Tripp said. “One of the things that touched us was that he didn’t seem to know what giving puppy kisses was. So he’d watch our other dog.”

After seeing Frazier give that type of affection, Bentley tried it, too.

They’ve enjoyed watching the dogs play together.

“We live on a lake and those dogs are having the time of their lives,” she said.

The Tripps adopted Bentley almost immediately.

“It was a perfect fit,” she said.

And if dogs could be described as confident, Bentley now appears to have that trait in a photo taken of him on a sandy beach.

One recent evening, Bentley — who’s gained weight — meandered toward the Tripps as they sat in their living room. Gone were the sad-looking eyes, replaced by what most dog owners would describe as love.

Bentley even posed for a photograph with family members as they sat in front of a fireplace decked out with Christmas stockings — which include one with his name on it.

This will be Bentley’s first Christmas with his new family.

The dog is still recovering from his ordeal last spring.

“Whenever we would leave, he would panic, because he’s thinking, ‘That’s it. I’m not going to get fed again. My life is gone.’ And so he would rummage and try to get into anything to try and get some food — just thinking that was the end,” Mary said.

The Tripps have a trash can in a sliding cabinet door.

Somehow, Bentley got the cabinet open, climbed atop the trash can and was digging the trash out and eating from it.

The Tripps’ adopted daughter 16-year-old Stormy Poast, and her friend caught the dog in the act — and got a video of the animal’s industrious maneuver.

“Right at the end, it looks like he’s smiling with his tongue out. He’s happy as can be,” Tripp said.

The Tripps have learned to keep cupboards shut and make sure all edible items are on a countertop.

Bentley is showing positive progress, however.

“He has relaxed now,” she said. “It used to be when we would leave, he would frantically try and run out the door with us and jump in the car.”

Adam Tripp doesn’t think Bentley would have lived much longer had he not been found by the landlord.

But Bentley’s future looks pretty bright now.

“He’s with us for good,” Mary said.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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