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6 Amazing real-life dogs immortalized in film

SERGEANT STUBBY

Wikipedia PD

Paul Asay - published on 04/21/18

Don't miss these movies in which "man's best friend" show us why we love them so.

As much as we love our dogs, it’s a rare pooch that truly earns their keep. Sure, they’ll bark at the occasional stranger, but they’ll bark at the occasional butterfly, too. They may run with you, but they’ll run away from you, as well — especially if they see a passing squirrel. They dig. They chew up furniture. They may be like family, but last time you checked, I bet your Aunt Edna didn’t rip apart your favorite throw pillow or leave a special “gift” on your living room floor.

But as a new movie out this past weekend, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, reminds us, sometimes dogs can put the “wow” in the bow-wow-wow. They can save lives, capture German spies, perform incredible feats of athleticism and be so loyal as to jerk a tear or two. They can be so amazing, in fact, that sometimes we can’t help but make movies about them.

Let’s take a look at some real dogs who were so amazing that we can enjoy watching their exploits — through movies or TV — anytime. And let’s begin with the newest Fido to get his own film …

Sergeant Stubby (circa. 1916-1926)

Film: Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (2018)

SERGEANT STUBBY
Wikipedia PD | Fun Academy

Many a dog has served with distinction in the military, but few can match the exploits of this one-time stray. Stubby showed up on Yale University’s military training grounds in 1917, just as America was preparing to enter World War I. Robert Conroy took him under his wing and, after he taught Stubby to salute the commanding officer, the Boston Terrier became the regiment’s unofficial mascot. He was smuggled aboard a troop ship to France and quickly became an indispensable part of the unit — scampering into no-man’s land to find injured soldiers, warning troops of gas attacks, serving as an all-around morale booster and even capturing a German spy by biting the poor guy on the rump. It was for this last act of derring-do that Stubby earned his unofficial promotion to sergeant and sent him home an honest-to-goodness war hero. A veteran of 17 battles, Stubby lived to a ripe old age. And when the animal did die, his remains were sent to the Smithsonian.

Balto (1919-1933)

Film: Balto (1995)

BALTO
Wikipedia PD | Universal City Studios Inc. Amblin Entertainment Inc.

A deadly diphtheria epidemic was raging in upper Alaska in the winter of 1925, and the children of Nome were at grave risk. Alas, the only serum was in Anchorage, more than 600 miles away. And with a massive blizzard hammering the territory, it looked nigh impossible to get the medicine to the town on time. The only option: Dog sleds. Several sleds took part, but Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and lead dog Balto pushed through the final stretch — staying on the trail in whiteout conditions and saving the rest of the team at the Topkok River. When the team cruised into Nome with the serum intact, Kaasen was naturally greeted as a hero. But Kaasen deflected some of the praise to Balto, his four-legged partner. Not only were the children saved, but the event inspired the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which takes place every winter.

Rin Tin Tin (1918-1932)

Film(s): Numerous

RIN TIN TIN
Wikipedia PD

You may have heard of the Barrymores and the Redgraves, two of the most famous acting families in history. But the Tins — as in Rin Tin Tins — may outshine them both. The original Rin Tin Tin already had a distinguished career in the military before coming to Hollywood in the early 1920s. His first on-screen role came in 1922’s The Man From Hell’s River, when he replaced a prima-donna wolf. He went on to appear in nearly 30 films — often playing himself — and allegedly would’ve won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929 had the Academy not insisted he was ineligible. (Rumor has it that “Rinty” actually got the most votes.) Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, but his son (Rin Tin Tin Jr.) became a big star, too, appearing in 14 movies. Rin Tin Tin III had his own starring role in 1947’s The Return of Rin Tin Tin, but was perhaps better known for his work helping to train around 5,000 other dogs for World War II. After that, the Tin acting genes appeared to get a little … ruffer? Rin Tin Tin IV nominally starred in his own television show, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, but most of his alleged screen time was actually taken by a pooch named Flame Jr.

Chips (1940-46)

Film: Chips, the War Dog (1990)

CHIPS
AP | Walt Disney Productions

Chips, a Siberian husky/German shepherd mix, began his military career in 1942 as a sentry dog. But when he and his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, were shipped out to Sicily, Chips showed he could do more than just guard. When he and his owner were pinned down by gunfire, Chips bolted from Rowell, leapt into the Italian pillbox and attacked the gunners: Four of them quickly surrendered to Allied forces. (He allegedly helped capture another 10 Italian soldiers the same day.) Chips was injured in the fight, earning him a Purple Heart—one of several medals Chips earned, including a Distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star. Alas, the Army later revoked his medals on account of the fact that Chips was, y’know, a dog.

Bobbie the Wonder Dog (1921-27)

Film: Call of the West (1924)

BOBBIE
Wikipedia Fair Use | YouTube

Problem: Bobbie was just two years old when he was attacked by three other dogs in Indiana and, in a panic, dashed away from them and his very own family, the Braziers. Bigger problem: The Braziers were on a road trip at the time. They actually lived about 2,550 miles away in Silverton, Oregon. The heartbroken family headed home shortly after, stopping for the night at service stations along the way. Six months later, Bobbie somehow found his way home — covering, as estimated by Ripley’s Believe It or Not — about 3,000 miles. His toenails were worn down to nothing and he apparently walked, swam and even crossed the Continental Divide (in the winter!) to find his way back to Oregon. More incredibly, Bobbie apparently tracked his family down by scent sometimes months old: Bobbie visited each and every service area the Braziers spent the night at on his way back home. When Hollywood came calling a year later to make a movie about Bobbie’s trek — called Call of the West — Bobbie wound up starring in it himself. And when Bobbie died a few years later, the famous Rin Tin Tin laid a wreath at the dog’s grave.

Hachikō (1923-35)

Film: Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)

HACHIKO
Wikipedia PD | Hachiko, LLC

If Bobbie the Wonder Dog earned a measure of fame by walking, Hachikō, an Akita Inu, earned his by staying … for nearly 10 years. The dog belonged to Japanese professor Ueno Hidesaburō, and every day Hachikō would meet his master at the train station after Ueno came back from work. But on May 21, 1925, Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while giving a lecture. Hachikō waited for him at the station as always, but Ueno never showed up. No matter: The next day Hachikō returned, looking for his master. And the next day. And the next. More than seven years later, one of Ueno’s old students saw the dog at the train station and followed him to the home of Kuzaboro Kobayashi, Ueno’s former gardener, where the student learned of Hachikō’s long-term loyalty. In the last years of his life, Hachikō became a national celebrity, even getting his own statue in 1934 at the very same train station the dog had so faithfully visited. No word as to what Hachikō thought of the honor: But he was at the same station too, waiting for his owner to come home.




Read more:
Meet Colt, the dog that helps its owner during epileptic seizures (VIDEO)

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