For The Love of Benji

Benji Doodlewash by Charlie O'Shields

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


Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. ArtsyDot 7 years ago

    Lovely cutie!

  2. Jacob 7 years ago

    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 😛

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! Glad you liked him. And yeah…no surprise that you haven’t seen these. But I’m sure there are clips on YouTube that would give you the whole idea in 3.45 minutes! Hehe…not a lot to those movies.

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        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!!!

        • Author

          Haha!! Oh my… That sounds about right. Not sure much more happens than that. If it’s the first one though…he’s a stray in search of his forever home so that had the usual heart string pull as we watch to see if he will find it. 😉

          • Jacob 7 years ago

            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! <3 And I can now appreciate your doodlewash even more.

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

          • Author

            Oh my? The whole thing, seriously!? That’s amazing! You just scored points that will probably get you out of some of those other movies I’ve put on your watch list. Lol 😉

  3. jotsfromasmallapt 7 years ago

    I’m with Jacob…and his great sense of humour. Grinning…..

  4. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    I’d never watched the Benji movies but who doesn’t love a little scruffy dog? 😉 Your rendition is an awesome likeness and so sweet! ❤️🐶

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa!! 💕😃Yeah I happened to be at the exact right age for these movies I think. They were fun for a really little kid at least! Hehe

  5. Teri C 7 years ago

    Awesome painting!

  6. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Very sweet Charlie, I did watch the Benji movies with my kids. I loved them. I’d like to see them again. 😄
    Cool Doodlewash today!

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! 💕😃 And cool to the movies! I may still have to check them out again someday and see. I might end up loving them all over again! 😊Hehe

  7. Jodi 7 years ago

    Charlie – I have a question – you often mention neutral tint – and I have no idea what this is…. can you elaborate? Great job with Benji! 🙂

    • Author

      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.

  8. Kari 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! 💕😃I bet Jojo was super cute!! Yeah…I was thinking as soon as I started that Benji was a job for colored pencil! 😊hehe…would have made more since for all that scruffy hair! Lol

  9. Nancy 7 years ago

    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!! 😊

    • Author

      Thanks Nancy!! 💕😃And too funny…I had that song stuck in my head too! And I also immediately thought of the Witch Mountain movies. They were during the exact same time! Haven’t watched them again though…I bet they didn’t age quite as well as we did. 😉👍🏻hehe

  10. Snehal Kank 7 years ago

    Hehe he is sooo cute ☺️🐶

  11. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    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. 😄👍🐱🐶💜

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jill!! 💕💕😃 And I’ve never been a cat person, but later found I had allergies to them, so I guess it worked out well. Lol Mugsy sounds super cute! Pets are amazing companions… I can’t imagine not having one around! 😊

  12. Arvind 7 years ago

    This is cool! Thanks for reminding me about Benji, I think it was the first movie my mom took me to. Great drawing, especially for capturing the different hues in the eyes

    • Author

      Thanks Arvind!! Appreciate it!! And yay that you also saw Benji! I wasn’t sure how many people actually saw the movies, though the dog is still pretty recognizable since he was plastered on posters for a couple decades. Hehe

  13. DrawingConnections 7 years ago

    I am detecting a bit of grit and cheekiness in this little character ☺️

    • Author

      Hehe…yeah.. I think that’s why I always liked Benji. My kind of dog! 😉Lol

      • DrawingConnections 7 years ago

        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 😊

        • Author

          Hehe…I’m not sure on Benji as I never really knew about his owner. But I think it’s true with our dog Phineas! 😉 And I agree with those aspirations! Lol

  14. 7 years ago


  15. Nice job, Charlie; I loved those movies too! Beautiful eyes in particular in this one and not an easy subject but it looks great! 💜

  16. kirkistan 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      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.

      • kirkistan 7 years ago

        I saw a metallic blue Lamy pen that really caught my eye. Perhaps one fine day I could own such a pen.

  17. Cathe 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Cathe! 💕😃 And haha… yeah, it’s a bit mixed on whether going back is charming or atrocious! But Benji was a super cute dog at least! 😉

  18. Edvin 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Wow thanks Edvin!! What a wonderful dog! That’s so cool to hear! Yeah, I think mixed breeds often end up with the best of everything. Yours sounds wonderful!! 😃

  19. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    What a great face!! 🙂

  20. memadtwo 7 years ago

    This is definitely a face to love.
    And so true about childhood memories. Lots of smiles for me too. (K)

  21. jmnowak 7 years ago

    I really love how you’ve captured this cutie’s characterful face. And such fine detail. Lovely!

  22. Rachel Murphree 7 years ago

    Oh my gosh, I think I missed this one earlier in the month. I LOVE IT!

  23. Lemon 7 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Nancy!! 💕😃 Thrilled to know you’re a Benji fan too. I remember that rescue! Benji was sooooo cool!!

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