Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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74 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 and with dogs." He was impressed by Benson's desire to know more about communicating with his own dog. Duffy began teaching him; Benson was a quick study. When Duffy had an opening, he hired Benson part-time. Eventually, the job became full-time, and, in time, Benson was lead trainer. Although Benson learned dog training from him, Duffy says the younger man has given it his own flavor, as any good trainer will. But at first, Benson says, he simply copied Duffy, using even the same words and tone. "His family used to make fun of me. ey said they couldn't tell who was in the training room, if it was me or him. Even my voice started to alter," Benson says. But where Benson and Duffy are most unalike, Duffy says, is compassion. "I like the company of animals much more than I like the company of people. My good friends, my family, I love them, but I wasn't nearly as empathetic toward the human condition as David has been all his life," Duffy says. "I have grown into a much more compassionate human being because of my experiences. David came into the world that way." In June 2005, Benson's brother-in- law, Army Maj. Chuck Ziegenfuss, was in Iraq. It was his first trip there but one of many deployments in a 22-year career. ey were on patrol, following up on a report of an improvised explosive device. en they found it. "It went off about three feet from where I was standing," Ziegenfuss recalls. Launched from the bridge he was on, he landed in a canal that was more like a drainage ditch. His second-in-command dragged him from the water. "I started giving orders, telling people where to go and what to do. ey were kind of looking at me, like, 'Uh, boss? I think you might want to lay down for a bit.'" He'd lost part of his left hand and suffered major trauma to all of his limbs. e nerves in his arms were damaged. His right thigh was injured. His eardrums were blown. Shrapnel pierced his face. e concussion of the explosion caused traumatic brain injury. He needed skin grafts. He was rushed to the major Darren Bennett and Hoss. Wendy Dickens; to Darren Bennett and the golden-eyed Hoss; to John Wells and Johnny Cash; to scores of inmates in a Kentucky prison; and, in the last few years, to a growing number of men and women who say their lives will never be the same because of his work. And the funny thing is, it all sort of started with cats. And television. "As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my house with nobody there but the cats," Benson says. "I think there was just a level of comfortability. ey were just always there, always hanging out." Besides the cats, there were hamsters and gerbils and Guinea pigs, and he talked to all of them. "e animal connection was constant because there was nothing (else) constant." His sisters were out with friends. His mom, divorced, worked three jobs. It was him and the cats and the television at home in Franklin, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh. He would watch TV shows about animals. And from a television show, he got the idea that he might want to train animals. His cats, however, proved too independent to tame. He kept the notion of animal training tucked away when his family moved to Louisville when he was 16, and when he enrolled at Eastern Kentucky University, and when he left school and worked as a server at the former TGI Fridays on Linn Station Road. He mentioned it to a regular at the bar one day. "You need to go see Matthew Duffy," the customer told him. Duffy is a dog trainer and runs Duffy's Training Center in Jeffersonville. Benson thought he'd get into dog training, build up his resume and who knows where that might lead. Matthew Duffy, 60, wears a leash over his shoulder like a bandolier and gives off an aura of compressed energy, as though he might, at any moment, dash from the room, or fly around it. e center's big training rooms echo with the smallest sound, but on this May afternoon they are mostly quiet. When David Benson showed up at Duffy's 16 years ago with Spiral — a dog named for the Nine Inch Nails album e Downward Spiral — Duffy saw a young man with "a very happy, open spirit interacting with people

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