Updated May 27, 2023 - 10:49 am
The Labrador retriever who skated his way into the hearts of Golden Knights fans has died.
Benny the Ice Skating Dog died May 6, the pet’s owner Cheryl DelSangro reported Friday. The famous pet had suffered from a tumor in his spleen, removed in February, but by April the cancer had spread.
DelSangro made the wrenching decision to have her pet put down.
“It’s such a shock,” DelSangro said Friday. “We are completely devastated.”
DelSangro says Benny was about 12 years old. A former pro skater and instructor, DelSangro noticed Benny’s agility soon after she adopted the pet. She laced up a pair of skates on his front paws, and the dog raced across the ice.
Benny made his T-Mobile Arena debut at the Golden Knights-Flames game in November 2019. He jumped over a little fence brought in for the between-periods show. He also put his skated paws on the boards. “Is that a shift change?” in-arena announcer Mark Shunock called out, as the crowd cheered.
We first noticed Benny in September 2018, when DelSangro explained her idea to feature Benny at a Golden Knights game. Originally from Cleveland, she taught skating for 20 years before moving to Las Vegas with her husband, Flory, to operate Boulevard Bar & Grill on Las Vegas Boulevard South, across from South Point.
“I have always had a big interest in dogs, and after we adopted Benny I sort of fell into dog training as a replacement to teaching skating,” DelSangro says. “Benny is easy to teach and can learn anything.”
The popular pooch would go on to appear at holiday-season events at the Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. In December 2021, the rescue dog won the American Kennel Club’s Exemplary Companion Award.
The AKC noted Benny’s appearances at Golden Knights games, and work with Spectrum On Ice, an ice-skating program for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
The Nevada SPCA has planned a daylong celebration for Benny on June 3 at their Las Vegas headquarters at 5375 S. Procyon St., Suite 108 in Las Vegas.
DelSangro recalled Benny’s unlikely rise to fame in Las Vegas.
“He was a once-in-a-lifetime dog that touched so many people,” the pet parent said. “He did more, and had more adventures, than most people and took us with him on his journey. He also was the poster dog for what you can get rescuing a dog.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.