Rin Tin Tin wasn't the only German Shepherd on the screen “back in the day,” nor was Hollywood the only source of drama, pathos and heroism on four paws.

In the late 1950s a black and white film made in Canada that was about the travels of a remarkable German Shepherd Dog who eschewed the comforts of a comfortable, secure home to travel wherever fate led him, assisting those in need, introduced a big, wooly Shepherd dog named London as The Littlest Hobo.

London was owned and trained by a professional baseball player named Charles Eisenmann, who had, for that time, a unique perspective on the capabilities and training of dogs. Eisenmann believed that dogs learn, think and work for us for three reasons, respect, faith and attitude. He taught his dogs as if they were thinking, sentient creatures and in between the filming of the two separate iterations of The Littlest Hobo television series, he wrote three books on the subject, Stop, Sit and Think; The Educated Dog, The Better Dog and A Dog's Day in Court. He also produced a videotape of The Educated Dog.

The premise of first the movie, then the series, was unique for a story line built around an animal and involved convincing the audience to accept, at least for the sake of a few hours of entertainment, that Hobo was not only extremely intelligent, but uncannily intuitive, always able to appear when and where someone needed him and not only intuit exactly what they needed from him, but to be able to communicate to them as well.

Each episode was set in a different place with a different ensemble of characters with unique troubles.

In his initial 1958 movie, Hobo hops a ride on a train to a city in California where he disembarks, makes friends with the station attendant who gives him water and a bath (if that won't teach a dog not to stow away on a train I don't know what will), picks up odd jobs clearing trash around a hamburger stand, earning his supper and spends the majority of the movie rescuing a boy's pet lamb from a butcher and evading the police. He leads the lamb to the governor's mansion and the attention of the governor's little daughter (one has to wonder if her name was Mary) who adopts the lamb as her personal pet -- from mutton to mansion.

The popularity of the movie paved the way for a television series, a Canadian production. It had two different runs, the first from 1963 to 1965. It had a successful outing as a syndicated program, and was revived for a longer run from 1979 to 1985.

The format was one that is familiar to us now, but at that time it was still somewhat unique, and the casting of a dog in the role of wandering hero/protagonist was unconventional. Most of the folks Hobo stopped and helped in his travels gave him a name and offered him a home, but contrary to normal notions of dog behavior, Hobo's longest loyalty lay with his freedom, and he'd decline that chance for comfort and ease and go on his way to wherever fate called him.

Perhaps part of his appeal to audiences was an almost wolf-like streak of wildness, coupled with the uncanny, almost eerie intelligence that was out of the average viewer's belief in his own dog's capabilities and a saint-like drive to help those in need. Hobo was the ultimate romanticized wanderer, an Odysseus in fur, a questing knight and lone wolf -- but tame. The beginning of his story coincided with the North American fascination with James Dean and Marlon Brando, and like both of those stars he was a rebel, only Hobo played a rebel with a cause.

Author's Bio: 

Shelly writes for Discount-Pet-Mall.com: Where you can find Pet Stairs and Dog Tracking Collars such as the Garmin Astro 220