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Hancock County News

Bentley passed away; sparked kids reading program

It’s been said a dog is man’s best friend, and in the case of Bentley, that was absolutely true.

However, there was one main difference – the 94 pound Great Pyrenees was a child’s best friend as he was the Bentley in Bentley’s Buddies and Friends, a reading program aimed at helping children across Hancock County.

Bentley, who was 10, passed away recently, according to his owner, Nickie Scott. Bentley had developed a blood disorder and pancreatitis. Scott and her husband had Bentley for a little over eight years.

After helping to develop another reading program in neighboring Hamilton County, Scott started a reading program at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Greenfield.

“The program didn’t grow like we had hoped in Greenfield, so I left the group. My husband told me if I wanted to continue then he would back me if we wanted to start our own program in Hancock County. So we started out of my home with one dog and four classrooms. Five-and-a-half years later, we are 40 dogs strong and in over 40 classrooms,” said Scott, who guesses more than 10,000 students took part in Bentley’s Buddies and Friends, which is aimed at aiming children with dogs and working on boosting students’ reading skills and confidence.

Scott told Giant FM Bentley “loved everything about his job.”

“He loved dressing up on those special days and stealing marshmallows when nobody was looking. He loved all the pets and kisses he received and loved giving the love back with a gently paced paw on a reader. He loved the animal crackers he would get from a classroom, until he discovered he could hold out and they would give him biscotti cookies,” Scott told Giant FM.

And, he even loved training other dogs to be a reading buddy and reaching as many children as they could.

“He enjoyed making others happy, and that is how he lived his life. The pure joy of watching him interact with the public was pure magic. He never missed a beat,” Scott said.

As for how Bentley will be remembered, Scott said that is easy.

“I think B will be remembered as a furry friend, who believed in you, a leader who changed a community by just being himself and a role model on being kind and treating people with the respect they deserve,” she told Giant FM.

With Bentley’s passing, Scott said there are no plans to discontinue the program.

“Bentley’s Buddies and Friends will go on as long as kids need help reading and reading buddies are available. He has left us a wonderful legacy and path for the future. I will not disappoint him and will strive to make him proud,” Scott told Giant FM.