While filming at home during quarantine, he found an able co-star in Benny, whom he describes as a "sexy beast."

Stephen Colbert
Credit: Courtesy Stephen Colbert

Benny is not my family’s first dog — that was Cookie, whom we lost two years ago. But I think we had forgotten what a full-time job caring for puppies is when Benny came into our lives last year. He’s the puppy of my sister-in-law’s dog, Millie, and was born near Charleston, S.C. He’s a Boykin spaniel, the South Carolina state dog, so there are several Southern associations with his name. First, he was born near the Ben Sawyer Bridge; second, benne wafer is the name of a traditional Low Country sesame cookie; third, he is a very good boy — bene in Italian; fourth, Benjamin is a Hebrew name that is sometimes translated as “son of the south”; and fifth, when he is good, he is Ben, but when he is bad, he is Kylo Ren.

When we first got him, he used to chew everything, but now that he has hit his teen years, he’s simmered down to gnawing just on our feet, arms, legs, books, thumb drives, DVDs, board games, puzzle pieces, gloves, shoes, socks, towels, rolls of duct tape, and aluminum cans. He fits perfectly into our lives, as long as we don’t put anything down where he can get at it, which is anywhere.

I love a lot of things about Benny, though. He’s got swagger. He’s a sexy beast, and he knows it. He’s curious and energetic but not a people pleaser. He doesn’t so much give you a kiss on the face; he investigates your whole head. He is stubborn too, and that’s probably where we are most alike. I also think we eat at the same speed.

My favorite thing to do is take him around on errands. I have a used Jeep, and when the top is open and he puts his head on my shoulder to smell the air, it’s a lovely feeling. I really do like to spoil him. There is no problem that another chew stick won’t solve.

Stephen Colbert

Benny is loving the home confinement. The quarantine can leave you listless and drifting, but he is full of excitement for each new day. Long walks in the morning, another in the afternoon. Wherever we go, he turns back to make sure that we are there and ready for whatever comes next. He gets lots of belly rubs, which also gets our arms close enough for a good gnawing. And when it’s chilly, he will sometimes lie on my feet.

He also keeps my family from loitering too much. When he wants to play, he will sneak up and, with just his tiny front teeth, take a little nip on your thigh meat. He apparently finds it quite interesting when you leap out of your chair. That might send me around the bend one of these days.

Since I’ve been filming The Late Show at home, I’ve learned that he isn’t camera shy. I’d say he is “camera indifferent.” He’s very much his own man, so getting him to do anything on cue requires meats and cheeses. It’s purely transactional. I do think there will be a rude awakening for Ben when any of us can go back to the office. Then again, my office allows dogs, so maybe not.

For more stories like this, pick up the July issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download June 12.