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