When I was very young in the 70’s, there was only one dog that could possibly compete with my affection for Snoopy and that was a little dog named Benji. The original “actor” was a rescue mutt from the Burbank Animal Shelter named Higgins who first played “Dog” in Petticoat Junction. He only got to do one a feature film, as he sadly passed away the year after its release after enjoying a 14 year career in show business. The role for many of the subsequent Benji movies and the big screen fame went to his daughter, Benjean, shown here in doodlewash.

I remember having a Benji plush that looked somewhat like the real dog, though the scruffy hair and markings were hard to replicate. It didn’t matter, as I still counted it as having my very own Benji dog, who was also a famous movie star! Benji was equally hard to replicate in doodlewash and so I struggled with this one a bit and ended up just hoping something that looked roughly like a dog would appear.

Benji was a dog who always found himself in the middle of adventures and would always save the day in some clever way. My love of dogs today could probably be credited to this little mangy pooch. Though the movies are rated rather poorly on IMDB, and probably because they were indeed bad, I still think of them fondly. I haven’t watched them as an adult, of course, as I don’t wish to discover they were actually terrible. Sometimes memories are better than the real thing.

An attempt to revive the franchise with a brand new dog was made as recent as 2004 with Benji Off The Leash. I never saw this one, but the ratings are even harsher for it. Apparently this time, Benji must save his own mother from a backyard puppy mill, which is extra disturbing when you consider how old his mother must be. I’ve made no plans to see this one.

It’s fun to think back to childhood and remember the pieces that made it so memorable. Though it’s different for everyone, depending on when you grew up, there’s always those little things you look back on that make you smile. It could be a toy you loved dearly, or it could even be a little movie star dog who always knew how to warm your heart and make you smile.

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink, second Lamy pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal


Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

58 replies on “For The Love of Benji

  1. I can’t claim to have seen these films – which will hardly be of surprise to you (though the fact that they’re reputedly awful is somewhat tempting, for a laugh) – but I love your doodlewash! It definitely ended up looking canine, don’t worry😛

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a full eighty-five minute film on there. So far it’s just been Benji jumping out of a broken window and running around over the opening credits. He’s so adorable though!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was the first one. I ended up watching the whole thing… I’m not entirely sure what I sat through, but it was very sweet. Such love for Benji – he’s so cute!❤ And I can now appreciate your doodlewash even more.

        My jaw dropped when that kidnapper turned and kicked Tiffany though😮 Christ!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jodi! ❤️😃 And Neutral Tint is just the name of one of the M. Graham colors I use. It’s basically a black watercolor that’s wonderfully neutral (not purple or bluish) so you can use it as black or mix it with other colors to darken them without changing their base hue.


  2. I loved Benji! I had a dog named Jojo that looked a bit like Benji. Your doodlewash is just adorable! I tried sketching my dog with watercolors and it was so difficult! I much rather use colored pencil! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think your Benji turned out really sweet! I did watch the movies but I didn’t know he was the same dog that was in Petticoat Junction (by the way, thanks loads for getting that theme song stuck in my head!). You are smart not to watch the film again. They do lose their magic as we age. My favorite growing up was “Escape to Witch Mountain”. I made the mistake of watching it with my kids. They ended up thinking I had very questionable taste in movies but I swear it was much better the first time I saw it!! 😊

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  4. I can’t tell you struggled with this doodlewash, Charlie! It looks incredible to me! 😄👍🎨 I remember Benji and also, Lassie. As a kid, I was more the cat person and my sister, the dog person. I realize this probably sounds a bit strange. 😜 We did have a dog that we both loved named Mugsy that was a mutt. Fond memories of this sweet pooch much like your Benji I think. 💖💕 Pets add such sweet devotion that we are fortunate to have them in our lives. 😄👍🐱🐶💜

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Many have said dogs have similarities with their owners. In the case of Benji I can’t comment on appearance (because I would not know!) but wonder if any truth in terms of character? 😌 BTW cheekiness and grit are definitely important characteristics to have or aspire to 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Really great image. So much great work capturing that face. I caught that little comment “second Lamy” pen. I looked at a Lamy yesterday at a locally owned art supply store. I was just about to plunk down my jar of pennies when we started talking about how it is not recommended for permanent ink. I left the store with an extra fine point Platinum Carbon Ink pen and I am really enjoying it . Such a thin little line!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kirk!! Yeah… people keep mentioning that, but as long as you use it regularly there’s no problem that I’ve found yet. But Platinum Carbon pens are great…I still have a couple of those. Weirdly it’s their permanent ink that seems to work best in the Lamy pens. I just picked up the Platinum Carbon Sepia ink and love it! Like the color when you don’t want a harsh black line. This is the first doodlewash that I used it in.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your Benji is adorable Charlie. He has such sweet eyes. I never saw the movies but vaguely remember when they were in the theaters. I guess there is no going back from what I read in the comments. I’ll just linger over your Benji and feel satisfied. He’s a charmer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love dogs! I have a mixed breed, he reaches up to my hip, and he is one of the most kindest, loving induviduals I know. We usually have tug-of-wars with each other, something which I can’t do with the little one, a jack russell, because he always takes it too seriously. He has a gigantic heart and mind, yet such a small body🙂. Just had to share this energy in this wonderful place!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OH my gosh…Benji!! I totally loved those movies, especially when Benji rescues the mountain lion cubs. But you’re right…I don’t want to revisit them. (Unless one day my daughter happens to.) I think you did a great job on Benji’s portrait.

    Liked by 1 person

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