Cheryl Del Sangro is a retired ice skater and coach. When she adopted a bright, talented rescue dog named Benny, teaching him to skate was inevitable.
The 6-year-old Yellow Labrador has become the world’s first ice skating dog and mastered more than 50 tricks during his time with Del Sangro. But life was not always so good.
“He had spent six months in a kill shelter in Utah and eventually was put on the euthanasia list,” Del Sangro told PEOPLE.
Luckily, fate brought Benny to Las Vegas, Del Sangro’s hometown.
“A local Las Vegas rescue had pulled him on his last day and transported him to Las Vegas but nobody had put in to adopt him, but as soon as I saw his eyes in the photo I knew he was meant for me. I filled out the forms, finally got to meet him and it was instant love.”
Benny is a high energy pooch, making him a perfect candidate for canine sports. After trying his paw at agility training and dock diving, Del Sangro decided to see what he thought of the ice.
Benny did not skate during his first visit to the rink. Instead, Del Sangro’s friend, photographer Rick Vierkandt from Bark Gallery, suggested shooting a video in honor of the Vegas Golden Knights’ spot in the Stanley Cup.
“We were able to get ice time from the Las Vegas Ice Center and we made a video with Benny running on the ice carrying a hockey stick and puck and doing some tricks but without really skating,” Del Sangro said.
The video was so popular on social media that Del Sangro decided to teach Benny to skate for real. She made a custom pair of doggy skates for him to wear on his front paws and headed back to the rink.
“I just started teaching him the same as teaching a small toddler and incredibly he took right to it. He was able to stand and skate on his own the first day we tried it,” the skating coach said. “He continues to improve all the time.”
Benny skates by pushing himself along with his hind legs, then gliding on his skate-clad front paws. According to his mom, he loves every second of his time on the ice.
“When people see Benny on the ice they immediately smile and say they can’t believe how happy he is doing it,” Del Sangro said. “His tail wags the entire time. And they always ask have I ever have seen another dog actually ice skate. The answer is ‘No.’”
Del Sangro hopes Benny’s talents will catch the attention of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He already has thousands of online fans, and his skills are sure to draw a crowd on game nights. In addition to his entertainment potential, Benny is a shining example of just how amazing rescue dogs can be!
H/T to PEOPLE
Featured Image via Rick Vierkandt of Bark Gallery
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