'Downward Dog' star discovered at PAWS shelter in Chicago

The canine star of ABC's new series "Downward Dog," which debuts on May 17, was discovered by casting agents in Chicago.

On Wednesday, Ned - who plays Martin the dog in the show - was honored at a special event at the PAWS animal shelter in Chicago, where he was found. He got a cake because it was the day before his third birthday.

Ned was in bad shape when he first arrived from Mississippi at PAWS Chicago, a no-kill shelter on the North Side. But they got him healthy and ready for his close-up.

"We had to show him the world, we do fun runs here, we take him to the lake twice a week for 3-mile runs with a pack of other dogs. They do play groups up on the roof and of course our volunteers some in take them around the neighborhood so he gets to see people, things like that," said Joan Harris, a PAWS trainer.

The American coonhound mix became is such a handsome fellow that Hollywood came calling, primarily because of this face.

"It was all about the eyes, his eyes, we could see into his soul that's what it was about," said Nicole Handley, Ned's trainer.

On set, Ned doesn't always follow the script and sometimes he's right on cue.

Co-star Allison Tolman admits that Ned is a scene-stealer.

"I'm the only one he associates with getting on the couch and he eats sausages out of my pocket," Tolman said.

Next week, "Downward Dog" will sponsor adoptions at PAWS Chicago's adoption center. Fees will be waived for all cats and dogs over one year old at their North Clybourn Avenue location.

"Downward Dog" premieres 8:30 p.m. May 17, but then airs regularly at 7 p.m. Tuesdays afterwards.

WATCH ONLINE NOW: First episode of "Downward Dog"
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