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Canine couple, formerly strays, adapting to home

– Both Ben and Jade have run away from home – Ben for several weeks, and Jade for a half-day romp around her Youngstown Meadows neighborhood.

But the canine couple whose undying puppy love brought them much attention, from near and far, came back. They’re still together and living with owners Jason and Courtney Lawler and their son, Peyton, who will be 4 in February.

“It’s been fun,” Courtney said. “We’ve had to deal with Jade’s chewing. We’ve lost quite a few pairs of shoes.”

As long as the Lawlers keep a supply of rawhides and bones in stock, that seems to satisfy Jade’s craving and stave off shoe attacks.

Both dogs are former strays. Ben is about 5 1/2 years old and around 70 pounds, while Jade, a German shepherd mix, is about 2 years old.

On Tuesday, the pair huddled in a corner of “their room,” a supply of toys and chew bones close by. The former strays are still shy animals. “Jade has improved the most,” Courtney said.

If Jade is approached by one person at a time, she’s fine, Courtney said. If the Lawlers are walking the dogs and several neighborhood children get too close, both dogs will back off.

But or Ben, “I think the trust issues are way too deep,” Jason said. Ben’s behavior indicates he was abused, and he remains timid.

For a long time, Ben and Jade were strays living near Fruitridge Avenue and Fort Harrison Road, where people made sure they were fed. When Jade got pregnant in summer 2012, the dogs were trapped and taken to the Terre Haute Humane Shelter, where it was clear they were a bonded pair.

Initially, the Lawlers adopted only Ben, but they soon learned the canine couple was inseparable.

One year ago, the newly adopted Ben ran away from the Lawler’s home in Youngstown Meadows; traversed 10 miles across busy streets, railroad tracks and lonely fields; braved the cold and his own hunger; and somehow, some way, in about 24 hours, found his way back to the Terre Haute Humane Shelter.

There, he eventually rejoined the love of his life, his soulmate and the mother of his children, Jade.

While he wanted to be with Jade, he did not want to get caught, and it took shelter workers and volunteers two days of epic effort to finally capture him – which they did on New Year’s Eve 2012.

The Lawlers realized that the two former strays would not be happy without each other and adopted both – and the arrangement is working.

“Ben is my buddy,” Peyton said.

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