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Elmo Got A Pandemic Puppy — Meet Sesame Street's Newest Character

<em>Sesame Street's</em> Elmo adopts a puppy in a new special, <em>Furry Friends Forever</em>.
Sesame Workshop
Sesame Street's Elmo adopts a puppy in a new special, Furry Friends Forever.

Aw. Sesame Street got itself a little pandemic puppy!

The suits at HBO Max apparently gave in to Elmo's entreaties for a pet, after all these years. (Perhaps they concluded a pet doggie made more sense than Elmo's earlier request for a pet dinosaur. Or maybe they thought new puppy coverage would be irresistible for news organizations after a long holiday weekend? Ahem.)

Meet Tango, a brown-and-white, floppy eared sweetie who loves to dance, hence her name. Found wandering the streets in an animated origin story, the pooch is eventually adopted after Elmo and Grover take her to a local adoption fair.

Tango's character was in development long before the pandemic sent pet adoption rates soaring, according to a press release from Sesame Workshop and HBO Max. (HBO began acquiring original Sesame Street content in 2015.) But obviously, the timing could not be better, it adds. Given that thousands of families have welcomed pets into their homes over the past 16 months, according to data from the Shelter Animals Count National Database, more children than ever need guidance on how to be a responsible human companion to a small animal in need of care.

"For generations, our Sesame Street Muppets have been kids' first friends, modeling valuable lessons about life, learning, and friendship," said Sesame Workshop's Executive Vice President of Creative & Production Kay Wilson Stallings. "After nearly two years of development, we are thrilled to introduce Tango, Elmo's spirited, adventurous, and adorable furry friend."

Tango will first appear only as a cartoon dog on HBO Max this fall, but she'll eventually manifest as a live-action Muppet as well. She'll show up on PBS KIDS streaming programs starting in 2022. Meanwhile, those of us without access to premium cable jonesing for feel-good content featuring favorite Muppets and dogs, have options, as ever, on YouTube. Those ranging from vintage performances of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" that would raise a few eyebrows today to an unofficial encounter, unsanctioned by Sesame Workshop in which Elmo attempts to enlist a real, adorable puppy as his evil minion.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.