Also see Frequently Asked Questions in the Benji section. Click Here.

Q: How many Benjis have there been?

A: There is only one Benji at any given time, but, over time, four different dogs have played the role. According to Joe Camp, Benji's creator, Benji is an eternal character and an ever-living manifestation of love, hope, compassion, and the values of persistence toward a goal. The current Benji is the second female to play the role. Between the two they have starred in the entire library of Benji productions except the first, which starred the originnal Benji, a male, whose real name was Higgins. Before Benji, Higgins starred for years in a television series entitled Petticoat Junction.

Q: Who the heck is Joe Camp?

A: Joe Camp is the man who created the floppy-eared superstar Benji. Camp has written, produced and directed seven theatrical motion pictures cumulatively grossing the equivalent of over $600 million in today’s dollars, making him one of the most successful independent filmmakers of all time. He has also written or co-written and directed and/or produced four network television specials and a network series. Benji Off the Leash was written, produced (along with producer Margaret Loesch) and directed by Camp. And, for the first time, the canine superstar, adopted from a shelter in Gulfport, Mississippi, is living with Camp and his wife Kathleen, three kids, three other dogs, two cats, and three chickens.

When he first developed the Benji character, he was told by industry "experts" not to bother; that it wouldn't work. But Joe didn't listen. He wrote, produced, and directed Benji. And financed it with private funding. When completed, the film was turned down by every major film distributor in Hollywood, so Camp and his partner Ed Vanston had to form their own dis tribution company, Mulberry Square Releasing to release the picture themselves. That same company released Benji Off the Leash worldwide.

Joe has just finished his new book The Naked Horse to be published by Random House in the Spring of 2008, and is currently writing the screenplay for Benji's next movie (with wild horses) entitled Benji and Mustang Lost.

Q: Where did the four dogs who have played Benji come from?

A: The dog that played the original Benji was adopted from the Burbank Animal Shelter by trainer Frank Inn. The second dog to play Benji was Higgins' daughter. That pup made three movies, four television specials, and a TV series. The dog on the cover of Joe's book Benji & Me, was the third Benji and was a distant relation to the original. The fourth, and current Benji, was adopted from the Humane Society of South Mississippi after a search through shelters all across the country.

Q: Why did Joe Camp look for a dog in animal shelters?

A: He wanted to find the new Benji in an animal shelter to help draw attention to the millions of abandoned and unwanted dogs in animal shelters nationwide. The American Humane Association reported that because the original Benji came from a shelter more than one million dog were adopted nationally. Camp hopes the current Benji will inspire even more pet adoptions.

Q: How will Benji promote more adoptions of dogs from shelters?

A: The national search, and Benji Off the Leash promotion have resulted more than one billion exposures on television, radio, and in newspapers for animal shelters and dog rescue efforts nationwide. According to Camp, animal shelters are under-financed, staffs are underpaid, heavily dependent upon volunteers, and have no budgets to remind people about the wonderful pets available for adoption. It is his desire, through the publicity generated by Benji, to encourage people to look first to shelters to find pets as loving and caring as Benji.

Q: What kind of dog is Benji?

A: Benji is a female mixed breed. Owner-creator Joe Camp believes there might be some Tibetan Terrier, and perhaps a bit of spaniel because she spreads out on the floor like a bear rug with her back legs splayed out behind her, a trait of spaniels. But no one knows for sure because the new Benji was adopted from an animal shelter after being picked up on the streets of Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Q: How old is the new Benji?

A: Vets estimate that Benji wa s just under one year old when she was adopted in November of 2001. When her first movie was released she was just over three-and-a-half.

Q: How can a person find a breed of dog like Benji?

A: You may check with your local animal rescue shelter, but there are also other sources to help you in your search, such as

Q: Was this dog the only one considered for the role?

A: No. After Joe Camp decided to locate the star for the next Benji movie in a shelter, a national search was initiated to find the perfect dog. The search through the nation's animal shelters began in Chicago and traveled to Minneapolis, St. Paul, Atlanta, Anniston, Alabama, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Jackson and Gulfport, Mississippi. In addition, several national organizations and internet pet adoption services helped spread the search through shelters all across the country and thousands of photos were screened. The process led to three finalists, all of whom were put through what Camp’s wife Kathleen calls Benji Boot Camp with a week of intensive training before a decision was made.

Q: What happened to the other two dogs after the selection was made?

A: The dog adopted from a Los Angeles shelter, a male, lives with Margaret Loesch, the other producer of Benji Off the Leash, and the Chicago dog's clownish personality won him a role in the new Benji movie as Benji’s unwanted, happy-go-lucky sidekick.

Q: How many Benji movies have been produced, and what are the titles?

A: Before Benji Off the Leash, Benji has been in three actual Benji movies, plus one additional film where he and Chevy Chase played the same character. They are:

1. Benji (original)
2. For the Love of Benji
3. Oh Heavenly Dog
4. Benji the Hunted

In addition, Benji has made four prime time television specials for ABC and a series for CBS.

Also see Frequently Asked Questions in the Benji section. Click Here.