Cheryl Del Sangro is the retired professional ice skater and instructor who rescued Benny the Labrador Retriever from a kill shelter in Utah. Del Sangro spotted Benny’s love for being on ice when he was just a puppy. She did what any mom would do- she made certain Benny had plenty of time to enjoy the ice. She brought him to a local Las Vegas arena so he could train on the ice, and the ice has not been the same since.
Benny had spent six months in that Utah shelter and was on the shelter’s euthanasia list. Just one day before Benny was scheduled for euthanasia, a Las Vegas rescue pulled him from the shelter and brought him to Las Vegas so that someone could adopt him. Del Sangro told People magazine that she knew Benny was meant for her when she saw his eyes in a photo. She adopted the beautiful golden-colored lab and brought him home to join the family. Del Sangro thought that his high energy level would be a perfect match for the three puppies she already had. She also believed that Benny would be great with training. Before Benny ever put foot on an ice-skating rink, he had learned to do many dog tricks. It was part of keeping him healthy and active. Labrador Retrievers can be happy dogs when they have plenty of opportunities for exercise.
Del Sangro took Benny along with her to the skating rink for fun. It was really a fluke because she had returned to skating the previous winter “just to keep in shape”. She let him play on the ice at first, but she discovered that he loved it. He “followed her around on the ice” and “rolled around on his back”. She thought that Benny might have just been enjoying coming in to cool off from the Nevada heat. But for whatever reason, Benny seemed to be a natural on the ice. It seemed like time to make his skating career official.
Benny’s custom ice skates were made using dog boots and skating blades which Del Sangro glued together. She said that it only took a few times adjusting his paw positions and he was comfortable enough to skate around by himself. Even better, Benny’s tail wagged the entire time he was skating. Del Sangro said that she started teaching Benny to ice skate just the way she would teach a small toddler. Del Sangro began skating herself at the age of four and developed into a semi-professional skater by the time she was in her twenties. Eventually, she decided to pursue a coaching career which lasted for 20 years.
Del Sangro had also taught her own daughter how to skate when the child was just 17 months and realized quickly that Benny might also be taught to skate. Of course, Benny started out on the rink with his own leash on. But the first day of Benny’s lessons he could stand and skate by himself. A video of Benny skating with a hockey stick held firmly in his mouth went viral. Who could resist the cute pup with an American flag flowing out from his hockey uniform?
Beginning with that first viral video, Benny has made many more which showcase his exception talents. As a result of his every two weeks training schedule at the Las Vegas Ice Center, Benny has learned how to turn, do crossovers, and make bunny hops. Del Sangro told SWNS TV that she’s been offered money several times from folks wanted to buy Benny. But she also said that she would “never, ever sell him”. She’s adamant that there’s not enough money in the world to convince her to sell him because she feels a “special connection” to Benny and wishes that he had been with her “since the day he was born”.
These days, Benny is enjoying life as a social media regular. Benny made a cheer video when the Las Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup finals and that kicked off his star status.His star status is secure now that he’s six years old. He and Del Sangro often perform at public skating sessions and earn funds which support different charities. Benny skates with the people and they respond with smiles and laughter. On November 1, 2019, News 5 Cleveland leaked the news that Benny might be able to skate at a home game with the Golden Knights. Cleveland caught the story because Del Sangro was originally a native of Parma, Ohio before she moved to Las Vegas.
On November 18, 2019 Benny got the chance of his lifetime. He’d practiced for a year to prepare for the performance, and finally his moment had arrived. He performed for the Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena during the intermission. The Golden Knights were playing against the Calgary Flames that Sunday night. In addition to the gripping rivalry, Benny was the hit of the night! Benny skated across the arena with a hockey stick in his mouth wearing his custom skates and team uniform. The Vegas Golden Knights posted the video @GoldenKnights and it has had 679K views to date.
Benny is so popular now that he has his own merchandise line. There are pins for sale featuring Benny wearing his sweater, doggy skates, and a hockey stick engraved with his name. His association with the Gold Knights prompted the team to post a video showing Benny going though his skills challenge. He’s done so well that he now goes by the name of “King Benny”. Fans have even taken to posting that Benny is their “favorite member” of the Gold Knights.
Anyone who can’t get enough of watching his routines can head on over to Twitter to see what he’s up to now. King Benny @vegaskingbenny is the place to learn about where his next Skate With Benny event will take place. Even more fun than watching him on video is having the chance to skate with him live for charity. His pins are usually available at these events so everyone can have a chance to collect a nice souvenir of their time with Benny. One thing is for sure, Benny has caught the hearts of most everyone who sees him enjoying skating. It’s something quite splendid, indeed.