These famous dogs made us laugh and cry. Not all of them were actors, but they were all exceptional dogs. In their own way, they taught us about life, devotion and loyalty. Each of them left a lasting memory in the hearts of the humans who loved them and the ones we knew and loved are forever in our hearts as well. Ten famous dogs we knew and loved.
Higgins, 1959-1975, was a miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel and Schnauzer mix breed. He was the famous dog on Petticoat Junction, a popular TV comedy from 1963-1970. We know him best as Benji. Frank Inn, who was a renowned animal trainer found Higgins in an animal shelter in Burbank, California in 1960. Higgins played “Dog” on Petticoat Junction for 6 years and won the Patsy award in 1967. The Patsy award is given to honor animal actors and stands for Picture Animal Top Star of the Year. It was the motion picture, “Benji” that made him a household name. Frank Inn said Higgins was the smartest dog he had ever worked with. Higgins could sneeze and yawn on command and had a wide range of expressions we fell in love with. Frank was very fond of Higgins and when he died, Higgins was cremated. His ashes were placed in an urn and Frank kept the urn at his home until his death in 2002. Higgins ashes were placed inside Frank’s coffin at his request and they are buried together.
Spike, You remember that lovable dog from the 1950’s. Spike is best known as Old Yeller which was based on a true story of life in the 1860’s. He had everyone in tears by the end of the movie. Yeller contracts rabies after being bitten by a rabid gray wolf. The scene where Travis is forced to shoot Yeller is one of the highest ranked tear jerker’s in the history of movies. And if anyone tells you they didn’t cry, they’re lying. A yellow lab mix breed, Spike was found at an animal shelter in Van Nuys, California and trained by Frank Weatherwax. Spike went on to another role in the Dog of Flanders. When he died, Spike was buried at sea.
Terry, 1933-1944, was a Cairn terrier better know to us as Toto from the Wizard of Oz. She is buried in the backyard of Carl Spitz’s training center, her owner and trainer. Carl was so distraught when his famous dog died, he wrote an autobiography about Toto and buried it in a metal box near his San Fernando Valley training center. He died in 1976 and it wasn’t until 1993 when the manuscript was discovered during major highway construction in the valley. It was re-edited and published under the title, “I, Toto”. Terry’s favorite actor during the shooting of the Wizard of Oz was the Wicked Witch, Margaret Hamilton, who was just as fond of the little dog. Terry received $125.00 weekly on the movie and was actually paid a higher salary than many of the human actors. Terry opened the door for small dogs proving they could be heroic actors in films.
Jim the Wonder dog, 1925-1937, was a Llewellyn Setter who had a nose for playing the horses. Jim lived with his owner, Sam VanArsdale in Marshall, Missouri. Before each Derby race, Sam would place the names of the horses in front of Jim. For 7 years in a row, Jim was spot on, picking correctly each time. This famous dog could also distinguish cars by their color, make of car and license plate. He could recognize people and understand multiple languages. And there was none better as a hunting dog. In his lifetime, Jim bagged over 5,000 birds. He’s in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Even after his death, Jim continued to gain fans and in 1998, a statue of him was erected in a small park in downtown Marshall to honor him. Jim is buried in Ridge Park Cemetery.
Greyfriar’s Bobby,1856-January 14, 1872, proved just how loyal a little dog could be. His owner, John Gray passed away in 1858 and was buried in Edinburgh, Scotland in Greyfriar’s churchyard. Bobby, a black Skye Terrier, refused to leave his master’s side, even in death. Back then, stray dogs were put down and Bobby’s life was uncertain until the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stepped forward and paid to renew Bobby’s tags which then made him a ward of the city council. Nothing could move him from the grave of his owner and for 14 years, Bobby lay on John Gray’s grave only leaving the cemetery to eat. It was said people could set their clocks by Bobby. He left the cemetery everyday at 1 P.M. on the dot. People in Edinburgh looked out for the little dog and made sure he was fed and had protection from the worst weather. Bobby is buried just inside Greyfriar’s gate close to the grave of his beloved owner. Written on his headstone is, “Greyfriar’s Bobby-died January 14, 1872-aged 16 years. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.“
Moose, December 24, 1990-June 22, 2006, Literally, barn in a barn in Florida, this famous dog is known to most people know as Eddie, Frazier’s dog. He was a rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier who was given away several times because he was so hard to handle, until he was adopted by Kathy Morrison. Moose made his acting debut in Universal Studios Animal Showcase. Kathy and Moose moved to California shortly after that and the rest is history. He got more fan mail than any of the other actors on Frazier. At the time of his death, Moose was living with his trainer, Mathilde Halberg.
Gidget, 1994-July, 21, 2009, the Taco Bell dog, was only meant to be used in one Taco Bell commercial, but because she became so popular, the commercials starring this famous dog ran for 3 more years. A Chihuahua with big ears who seemed to know she was a star, Gidget made her movie debut in Legally Blonde 2, Red, White and Blonde. She played Bruiser’s mom. Bruiser’s real name is Moondoggie.
Rin Tin Tin, September 10, 1918-August 10, 1932, was one lucky little 5 day old pup when he, his mother and 4 siblings were found in a bombed out dog kennel in France during WW I. The dogs were the only survivors in the bombed out kennel. Corporal Lee Duncan rescued Rin Tin Tin and one of his sisters, but she didn’t survive. His mother, Betty des Flanders and the rest of the litter were adopted by Duncan’s unit, but unfortunately, his mother and 3 other siblings didn’t survive either. This famous dog is considered to be the dog people identify with the German Shepherd dog. Rin Tin Tin has the longest history (107 years) in continuous bloodline in the breeds’ history. Warner Brothers Pictures had Rin Tin Tin to thank for saving them from bankruptcy during the early years of silent pictures. He single handily kept the studio afloat. Rin Tin Tin died unexpectedly on August 10, 1932. Duncan made arrangements to have this famous dog buried in his country of birth and Rin Tin Tin was laid to rest in the famous pet cemetery the Cimetiere des Chiens located in a suburb outside Paris called Asnieres-sur-Seine.
Pal, June 4, 1940-1958, was a male Rough Collie and is the most recognized dog in the world. Think about it for a minute. You know who he is. Timmy’s sidekick, Lassie. Because of Pal, the Collie breed became one of the most loved breeds of all time. All of the Lassie’s were males, not females like we were led to believe. Males were used because they are larger than the females and could be used longer with the child actors. Pal was owned by Rudd Weatherwax, brother to Frank Weatherwax who had trained Toto for the Wizard of Oz. Rudd was devastated when Pal died and never watched another episode of Lassie after Pal’s death. Pal is buried in a special place on Rudd Weatherwax’s ranch.
Marley, 1991-2003, was an adorable Yellow Lab who was described by his owner, John Grogan as the world’s worst dog, but you knew just how special and loved Marley was when you walked out of the theater at the end of the movie, “Marley and Me”. Marley became a famous dog because his human dad needed something to write about for a column he wrote at his newspaper. Marley unknowingly supplied Grogan with all the material he needed. Marley was buried at the edge of the woods on his Pennsylvania country home where the Grogan family lived at the time of his death. He was recently relocated to the current home of John Grogan and his family and now has a special place overlooking a bluff behind the Grogan’s barn.
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Famous Movie Dog Names, dog-names-and-more.com
More Famous Best Loved Dogs from Film and TV, FamousPaws.com
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