When Frank Inn found the fluffy black-and-tan mixed breed dog in a Burbank, California animal shelter, little did he know what a treasure he had uncovered. Inn named the dog Higgins and set to work training him. Higgins was a quick study, and he ultimately came to be known around the world as the original Benji in the movie of that name and as the canine star of the television series Petticoat Junction.
Higgins was much more than a money maker to Frank Inn, however. The two of them developed an inseparable bond that lasted up to — and beyond — Higgins’ death a few weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday.
Inn — who trained countless animals in his career — was so impacted by the loss of Higgins that he penned a poem in his honor:
My Gift to Jesus
by Frank Inn
I wish someone had given little Jesus
a dog as loyal and loving as mine
to sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
and adore Him for being divine.
As our Lord grew to manhood His own faithful dog
would have followed Him all through the day
while He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
and knelt in the garden to pray.
It is sad to remember that Christ went away
to face death alone and apart
with no tender dog following close behind
to comfort His masters heart.
And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn
how happy He would have been
as His dog kissed His hand and barked its delight
for the one who died for all men.
Well the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine…
My old pal so dear to me
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone
knowing they’re in eternity.