Learn Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Famous Dogs in This Excerpt from Citizen Canine

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Learn Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Famous Dogs in This Excerpt from Citizen Canine

Dogs in films tend to steal scenes, and we love them for it. From Toto trotting down the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz to Bruiser popping his head out of Elle’s purse in Legally Blonde, dogs have stolen the spotlight in iconic movie moments for decades.

citizencaninecover.jpgWendy Mitchell’s new book, Citizen Canine: Dogs in Movies, profiles 60 “of the bravest, cutest and furriest pooches to ever grace the silver screen.” Spanning a century of films, it reveals behind-the-scenes facts about both blockbuster stars and indie darlings. Household names like Lassie and Beethoven make an appearance alongside lesser-known characters, like Scraps from Charlie Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life.

Citizen Canine hits shelves on February 11th, and we’re excited to share photos and an excerpt from the book ahead of its release. Read on to learn more about two beloved icons: Toto and Fly (yes, the dogs who played Fly truly adored the pigs who played Babe).

You can purchase Citizen Canine here. If you click through and buy a book, both Paste and independent bookstores will receive a small commission through this affiliate link.


Photo courtesy of Laurence King Publishing, © 2020.

Toto from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Breed: Cairn Terrier

Oz might not exist without Toto. Kansas farmgirl Dorothy would have never run out into that tornado if she hadn’t been trying to protect her beloved pooch. Toto is in nearly every scene of this classic, from the opening serenade of “Over the Rainbow” to the emotional “there’s no place like home” finale. It’s Toto who rounds up the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion to rescue Dorothy; it’s Toto who ventures behind the curtain to expose the Wizard.

MGM had famously considered a man in a dog suit to play Toto; it’s hard to imagine that scenario after seeing legendary terrier Terry play the role.

Trainer Carl Spitz adopted Terry as a shy, meek one-year-old and brought her out of her shell. Terry still had some spooked moments on set, as she was scared of the wind machines and startled by the steam that came out of the Tin Man’s hat. But Terry’s friendship with Judy Garland bolstered the pooch after a mishap: the dog suffered a sprained foot when accidentally stepped on by one of the Wicked Witch’s guardsmen. Terry took two weeks off the shoot and spent recovery time at Garland’s house. Terry, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Pup’s paycheck: Spitz was paid $125 per week for Terry’s services—not as much as Judy Garland’s $500 a week, but more than the $50 a week some of the Munchkins earned.

What’s in a name: Terry starred in 16 films, but Oz became so iconic that Spitz later changed the dog’s name to Toto.


Photo courtesy of Laurence King Publishing, © 2020.

Fly from Babe (1995)

Breed: Border Collie

No doubt, Babe is the finest talking-animal movie ever made, and maybe even the finest animal movie ever. Its numbers are impressive: 970 trained animals, 57 animal handlers, 18 months of animal training, six months of filming and 12 months of post-production. All that helped to rake in $250 million at the box office and earn seven Oscar nominations (including one win for visual effects).

As in Dick King-Smith’s 1983 book on which the film is based, when an orphaned pig arrives at Hoggett’s farm, Fly the sheepdog becomes his adoptive mother. On his first night at the farm, she puts her paw on Babe’s little head and they are inseparable ever after. She gives Babe’s face a grateful lick when he calls her “Mom” for the first time, and despite her mate Rex’s ego-driven objections, Fly helps Babe become an unlikely sheepherder.

Fly (voiced by the jolly Miriam Margolyes) is good at dashing around the sheep as well as delivering emotions—looking confused, concentrating or looking forlorn (like when her pups are taken away). The snuggly chemistry was real between the dozens of pigs that played Babe and the several dogs who played Fly—they had all bonded playing during weeks of pre-production. That’ll do, pig (and dog).

Reality bites: About 80% of the film was made with real animals and 20% using animatronic creatures. Digital computer animation was added to help them “talk” in post-production.

Puppy love: Veteran animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller supervised all the animals and handlers and also had a small role, playing the happy man who buys Fly’s puppies.

Excerpted from Citizen Canine: Dogs in the Movies by Wendy Mitchell. Copyright © 2020 by Wendy Mitchell. Excerpted by permission of Laurence King Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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