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Part woof in a woof-woof series where we’re sharing our favorite dog characters from television, movies, and comics. Today we’re focusing on live-action doggies, whose wagging tails and capacity to learn numerous commands instilled in us a greater appreciation for the sitcoms and films they starred in.
Real name: Pal (original actor)
Why she/he makes our list: Loyalty. Beauty. Wisdom. Lassie encompasses these traits, and we imagine many pooches decorate the interior of their doghouses with a poster of her; even though a male actor played the character. A testament to her impact on humans, she made Variety’s list of 100 icons of the century, the lone animal listed. She is also one of the few animals to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Notable moment: From Lassie’s 1994 film. The young April tells the young Matthew that raising sheep is difficult, almost deterring him. Lassie then herds the sheep and makes it look as easy as wagging her tail, basically telling April to stop stomping on her best friend’s dreams.
Toto (The Wizard of Oz)
Real name: Terry (name later changed to Toto)
Breed: cairn terrier
Why he/she makes our list: Before Paris Hilton meandered about with Tinkerbell in her purse, Dorothy cavorted Kansas and Oz with Toto in a basket. His seemingly pampered life does not soften his character in the film however. The fearless little dog barks at a cantankerous lady who wants to have the sheriff put him down, at a wicked witch, and at the occasional flying monkey. Similar but reverse of Lassie, the character Toto is male, but a female stars in the role on film.
Notable moment: When Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man argue with the faux-Wizard of Oz, Toto unveils the real Wizard by pulling back the curtain on the man’s secret booth. S-M-A-R-T.
Real name: Moose
Breed: Jack Russell terrier
Why he makes our list: A rags to riches story, Moose was a rascal puppy, but someone saw a spark in his boisterousness and introduced him to television. On the show Frasier, he is loyal to his owner, Marty, and has an endearing but strange relationship with the show’s protagonist, Frasier; Eddie likes to stare at Frasier as if to say, “I think it’s important you know I’m here. And that is all.” Frasier never defeats Eddie in a staring contest.
Notable moment: Any of the stare-offs between Eddie and Frasier. Simply one of the best running gags on television.
Murray (Mad About You)
Real name: Maui
Breed: border collie mix
Why he makes our list: He comes off as stubborn and unintelligent to his owners on the show, Jamie and Paul, but he knows what he is doing. When Jamie or Paul tell him to get off the couch or the bed, to sit or lie down, he is often unresponsive. Unless they have something he wants. He chases a mouse throughout several episodes, but the owners think it is invisible, some game Murray plays with himself — until they find it themselves. He also saves his owners by pulling a Lassie and barking at neighbors to free Jamie and Paul locked in the bathroom.
Notable moment: Paul leaves Murray in the car, and the car is quickly towed. When Jamie and Paul get to the impound, Murray runs past Paul and hugs Jamie. He growls at Paul and won’t listen to any commands. Another smart pooch.
Rin Tin Tin
Real name: Rintintin
Breed: German Shepherd
Why he makes our list: A second rags to riches story, he was rescued as a puppy in World War I and brought stateside. His uncanny ability to leap high and far got people talking, and he landed a role in his first movie, The Man From Hell’s River. His first performance on film created a buzz, especially after people learned that he had replaced a wolf in the movie. His acting abilities were so sought after, that he was allowed to make his own noises on the radio program The Wonder Dog. He is another of the few animals to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Notable moment: How about replacing a wolf in a movie? This gave him bragging rights until his death in 1932.