When the ABC comedy series Downward Dog makes its debut as a mid-season replacement, television viewers can tune in to cheer for the acting chops of a dog who has gone from life in a shelter to a life in the spotlight.
A dog named Ned portrays Martin, a shelter dog who finds his forever friend in Nan (actress Allison Tolman, an Emmy nominee who gained fame for her role in Fargo). Ned’s journey to Tinseltown began in July 2014 when he was “discovered” at a rural shelter in Mississippi. His big break led him to PAWS Chicago, a non-profit which has been saving lives since its start in 1997.
Conquering his behavioral quirks (fear of loud noises, large people and children; growling at strangers and turning away repeatedly from human touch) with help from the PAWS Gold Star program, fame soon loomed on the horizon for Ned thanks to his adoption in the fall of 2015 by professional animal trainer Joy Ronstadt.
By stepping on to the small screen, Ned is following in the footsteps of other rescued Rovers who play vital roles in TV series and movies, among them Dodger (a Jack Russell Terrier from Dogs Trust, who stars alongside Martin Clunes in the British dramedy Doc Martin); Barley, a rescue from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, who portrays Demelza’s devoted dog Garrick in the BBC production Poldark; Higgins, who was adopted from the Burbank Animal Shelter before capturing the collective heart of film fans in the iconic role of Benji, and Marti, a Golden Retriever/Chow form a New York animal shelter who played Sandy in the 2015 movie adaptation of Annie.
Downward Dog is based on a web series by the same name, which was co-created by the “voice” of Martin, Samm Hodge. While viewers will have to wait until early 2017 to watch Ned in action, fans of Fidos can find out more about Ned in the summer 2016 edition of PAWS Chicago magazine– he’s the issue’s cover dog!