Every once in a while, we here at Flip’s Friends meet an animal we would love to take home and adopt. It isn’t always rational, but we instantly take stock of our situation and ponder how things would be with an extra cat or dog. My house currently has two dogs, a cat, two small children, and two immature adults. It would be fair to say that there is no room at the inn. This month we met a guy who made us think twice about whether we could handle another member of the family. The dog that got us thinking was a little scruffy guy named Benji.

I feel bad for little dogs named Benji. I think it’s because of the “Benji” movies that little dogs are easily stuck with the name. In my exhaustive research for this piece, I found out that the original Benji, played by a dog named Higgins, was rescued from a shelter and is actually a mutt (my favorite breed). The first “Benji” movie was released in 1974, and has grossed almost $40 million to date. That’s a lot of kibble. In the original movie, Benji saves some children from kidnappers. There have been six “Benji” movies total, including one staring Benjean, one of Higgins’ offspring. So, while Benji was a shelter dog, he was not neutered.

We met our very own Benji at the shelter, and while he didn’t foil any kidnapping plots, he did show us some cool tricks. Benji can stand up on his back legs and clap his front paws together — pretty impressive for a 2-year-old stray from Reno. We don’t know what breed Benji is, but we are guessing he is a mix of terrier, corgi, and Ewok. Benji wasn’t too sure about my person when they met, but was soon snuggling in his lap. We took a nice stroll to our favorite spot on the Truckee River, and Benji was a joy. He has what we call in the industry “a soft mouth.” That means he takes treats without biting off a finger. He strikes me as playful and smart, but also someone who will need to be kept busy. These are the qualities of the best dogs, in my opinion. While none of the dogs in the “Benji” movies ever received an Oscar, we think our Benji is a star.

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Another star in our area is Nanette Cronk. Nanette has been the animal programs manager with the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe since 2005, and recently stepped down. Nanette had a part in saving the lives of many local and out-of-area animals, including Benji and my brother, Indy. While HSTT has the ability to run a no-kill shelter, many nearby shelters cannot. Nanette had the tough job of choosing animals from other shelters that she could easily find homes for, among other not-so-glamorous duties. My friends are forever grateful.

In other HSTT shelter news, Sam is a nice border collie mix we met on our last visit. We have also heard rumors of adorable chocolate lab-looking puppies. Adoption hours have changed and are now Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come on down and meet your new friend. For more info on Benji, Sam, or HSTT, visit hstt.org.

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