The new reboot of the TV show Murphy Brown has much of the charm and incisive bite of the original show. In one very vital way the new show has really kicked it up a notch -- Murphy now has a dog. Not just any dog either. Little Benny Brown is a handicapped dog in a wheelchair. While it may sound a bit gimmicky, the dog is adorable and, for the most part, just treated as a regular dog.
Image via EW
Off camera the dog's name is Ari and he is a Frenchton. That is a French Bulldog Boston Terrier Mix. Two years ago he lost the use of his back legs and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Aside from his stint on Murphy Brown, Ari is a registered therapy dog with Pet Partners. He works at his local hospitals and elementary schools. He helps out with reading programs and special needs kids. The talented pup is not completely new to show business either. He has also done a Samsung commercial.
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Ari is 6 years old and lives in Connecticut with his human mom, Susan Demetrius. Their vet thinks that he may have been born with Intervertebral Disc Disease and on September 14, 2016 he either had to have surgery on his spine or be put to sleep. Demetrius had to decide whether or not to save his life. She chose to spring for the expensive operation because she loved him so much. He will never regain the use of his back legs -- but watching him it seems he doesn't care. He is one happy, and much loved, little dog.
"Many tell me he is their inspiration to try harder and overcome their hurdles.” ~Susan Demetrius
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Ari was introduced as a cast member in an episode titled The Wheels on the Dog Go Round and Round which aired on December 6, 2018. Murphy (Candace Bergen) gets guilted by Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford) and Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) into doing an on-air segment at a local animal shelter for Adopt-a-Pet Day. While Murphy is not really an animal person she becomes appalled that some of the dogs are on death row. In an act of bravado she blurts out that she will take the next dog that is up for euthanasia. In comes 256. Check out the scene below:
Murphy, aghast at having talked her way in to having a dog tries to figure a way out of this without looking like a complete jerk. So she takes 256 home and gives it to her grown son Avery (Jake McDorman) who is living with her. He immediately loves the dog. Unfortunately fate is still messing with Murphy. Avery has to leave town for his TV show and Murphy still ends up having to care for the dog.
Left with no other choice than to take care of him, she ends up taking 256 to work with her. This leads to hilarity starting with Murphy almost leaving him on the elevator and Miles (Grant Shaud) being terrified of him.
Of course the dog can't remain named 256 (though at first it seems like he will) so a number of names are tried out. Murphy claims to have wanted to name him Franklin Roosevelt in reference to his wheelchair. When Avery returns to D.C. he and Murphy are talking and he says “My dog has wheels,” he says. “Sure, but in a noble way, like a champion. Like he’s driving a chariot, like Ben Hur!” A name is born and 256 becomes Ben Brown, or Benny.
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Benny is a perfect foil for a character like Murphy Brown. Quite innocently he challenges all of her narcissistic tendencies to create great comedy. Little by little Murphy is drawn in by Benny's innate charm.
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Millions of people tune in to check out Murphy's take on politics and current events and get a good laugh. Now they have one more little furry reason to watch. Oh, and he can ring a bell to ask for snacks. It is cute to die for! Ari doesn't have to be a great actor -- he was made for the part and he is always doggone genuine.
Murphy Brown airs on CBS at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. You can follow Ari on Facebook.