HE MIGHT not have the purest blood-line, but Ben the mongrel is a dog with royal approval.
The German Shepherd Corgi cross caught the eye of Prince Charles on a visit to Rothbury and he could not resist pointing Ben out to his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.
But the royal acclamation came as no surprise to his owners, who think their accident-prone pooch is a pet in a million.
Ben’s owner, Christine Williams, of Riverdale, Rothbury, Northumberland, said: “We’ve had him for 13 years and absolutely adore him.
“He was found wandering the streets of Wallsend as a five-week-old puppy and handed into the police station. We just thought he was an Alsatian puppy.
“But by the time he was three months old he was about 1ft long but only 5ins tall. We knew he wasn’t just an Alsatian.”
Throughout his 91 dog years, Ben has proved to have as many lives as a cat – but he lives to tell the tale.
At six months old he was run over, suffering a dislocated jaw and collapsed lung.
At 10 years he dislocated his spine resulting in him being paralysed from his front legs down for six months.
Last year he swallowed a stone and narrowly escaped death when it became stuck in his intestine.
Mrs Williams, 36, said: “A week after his operation for removing the stone, his scar opened and his intestines were hanging out.
“After he dislocated his jaw it didn’t quite heal properly and now he whistles when he breathes. It’s the Corgi in him that makes him so tough to recover from things like this.”
But Ben’s recovery from these accidents might also be accredited to his daily nutritional breakfast of cucumbers, carrots and cod liver oil.
With a German Shepherd mother and Corgi father, Ben has inherited the bark of the former and the sausage dog features of the latter.
Mrs Williams said: “Nobody believes it when they hear Ben’s bark then see the size of him.
Mrs Williams lives with her husband Stephen, 44, a caretaker at Rothbury First School, and her three children, George, nine, Catherine, eight, and James, five.
She said: “Ben is such a friendly dog and brilliant with children. My youngest son once had one of his fingers in his nose and another in his ear but Ben didn’t bat an eyelid. Wherever we go, people always point him out. I wonder if he knows he’s becoming a celebrity.”