Samantha Korman manages a sad smile when she glances at the brown-eyed boxer by her side. The sixteen-year-old never expected to be Mia’s caretaker, a job she volunteered for when Mia’s family died last week in a tragic double murder/suicide.
Now all Korman has left of her childhood best friend is his traumatized 55-pound boxer. Ben Bynaker named her Mia, and she was his pride and joy. He would frequently show off pictures of her at school, and the two of them were said to be inseparable. That’s why Korman says she’s relieved to be the one taking Mia in: the dog was present when Gary Lee Bynaker, Ben’s father, shot and killed Ben’s mother, Tammy, and 17-year-old Ben, before turning the gun on himself.
Because Mia and Ben were so close, Korman says she’s struggling to adjust and seems listless. Korman has scattered Ben’s clothing about her home to provide a familiar scent for Mia, but is otherwise at a loss for finding means to comfort the mourning dog.
“She doesn’t really understand what’s going on. I think she’s getting used to it because she’s always laying on or chewing Ben’s clothing like he’s here,” said Korman.
She volunteered (without hesitation) to take Mia when Ben’s sister posted a note on Facebook mentioning that the dog would need a home. She had known Mia through Ben for years, and had watched her at the Bynaker home when Ben was raising her. “I always said I was gonna steal his dog,” she said. “But not like this.”
Korman says she sees some small signs of progress, but they are infrequent and fleeting in nature. Mia’s heartbreak is still apparent: Tuesday night, Samantha walked into her bedroom to check on Mia and found her laying in front of a photo. It was an old homecoming picture. Smiling back from it was Samantha in a pretty red dress. And there by her side – looking handsome in his black suit – was Ben Bynaker.
“She was just sitting there, looking at that picture and whining,” Korman said. “She just sat there crying.”