Feb. 20, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

They say dog is man’s best friend, and if that is true Brady Benton is a pretty popular human.

The senior captain of the Wheaton (Mass.) College softball team is a life-long dog lover, but she is not your typical family pet owner.  Benton’s family has also fostered dogs for the last several years and then fell into the breeding business after agreeing to foster some Rottweilers, whose owner had passed away from skin cancer, when Benton was in seventh grade. The native of Concord, N.H., made the connection through a kennel she volunteered at near her home during middle school.

“We weren’t originally going to do it but my mom gave in because she had just been diagnosed with the same type of cancer,” said Benton.  “She had a soft spot for the whole story.  We took in four Rottweilers not knowing that two of them were pregnant, and they had puppies.  We fostered those litters and found homes for them.”

The Benton’s breeding business was born after the experience.  Along with Rottweilers, the family has also bred English bulldogs, and eventually Benton began breeding rat terriers by herself in high school.

Since coming to Wheaton campus in Norton, Mass., in the fall of 2005, Benton has taken a break from breeding, but she visits her family’s five dogs and even brought her Chihuahua to live with her last semester. 

Benton is studying psychobiology, but is concentrating her efforts on animal behavior as she looks to become a dog trainer after graduation, although that was not her original plan.

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals and when I was younger I really wanted to be a veterinarian thinking that was my only and best option to work with animals,” said Benton.   “In college is when I realized that wasn’t exactly the field I wanted to get into.  My academic advisor saw that I was more of a behaviorist and that’s what I liked about the animals as opposed to being in an office seeing sick animals.  She helped me realize the other options, and that’s how I discovered dog training.” 

The centerfielder, who boasts a career batting average of .332 and ranks ninth on the school’s all-time home run list, interned at a dog training center last semester, and learned some interesting aspects of the job.

“One of the main things that I learned from Fran Masters, who I worked with at the business, is that it is usually the person who is causing the problem and they do not realize they are doing something wrong,” said Benton.  “It’s not intentional, but if they change their behavior, it will usually help fix their dog’s behavior.  I found it very common with people that I worked with.”

Last year, Benton added another element to her impending occupation as she began producing her own dog treats called “Brady’s Biscuits”. She has nine flavors such as chicken, cheese and peanut butter, and the biscuits are made with organic, healthy ingredients. Benton first started making them for her family pets, but then her mother suggested she sell them as a way of raising funds for her internship and upcoming softball spring training trip.

Over the semester break, Benton stockpiled the treats and brought them back to school, and sells them to faculty members and at the facility she worked at last fall.  Her mother is also helping get the project off the ground by making business cards.

Before Benton begins down the career path that her life-long passion led her to, she hopes to complete her softball career on a high note as the Lyons look to earn their first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance since 2004.  The Lyons will travel to Fort Myers, Fla., for a week-long spring trip, and open the season against Elms on March 7.