Maybe the world's best known, best loved German Shepherd Dog, protector and best friend, Hollywood star and World War I survivor, Rin Tin Tin's line survives and thrives to this very day. Pretty good for an orphan pup, sole survivor of a bombed German war dog kennel in Lorraine, France.

Rin Tin Tin, named for one of the tiny French puppets the grateful locals gave to the U.S. GIs as good luck charms, was well named. Luck followed the dog and the man who dug him out of the wreckage of the bombed kennel, Corporal Lee Duncan. Duncan and his fellow soldiers initially found Rinny's mother and litter mates alive and brought them back to their base. They were only about five days old. Duncan kept Rin Tin Tin and his sister, Nannette (named for the other puppet of the pair of French good luck charms) and the sister and brother were, sadly, the only two to survive to be taken home.

It was discovered that the German kennel master who had run the kennel where the pups were found had been captured by the allies and was a prisoner of war. Cpl. Duncan was able to meet with the man and learned much about the care and training of the German Shepherd Dog and devoted time and effort to laying the foundation for teaching the dogs in the German style.

Permission was obtained to transport Rin and Nannette back to the U.S. and then to his home in Los Angeles, but Nannette came down with distemper on the trip, and although the premier breeder of German Shepherds in the U.S. stepped in and offered to try to save the sick puppy, Nannette did not survive. Mrs. Wanner, understanding Col. Duncan's great love for the breed, sent him a female puppy from her own lines in place of the lost Nannette.

Back home in Los Angeles, Duncan and Rin Tin Tin went about their lives, but, his
fascination with the breed growing, Duncan took his dog with him to dog shows. At one fateful outing, they met Charles Jones, who watched as Rin Tin Tin performed, jumping nearly twelve feet. Jones had a new motion picture camera with him that he was wanting to try out and he asked Duncan if he could film the dog. Jones paid $350, got his film and Duncan realized that his dog could have a career in films.

So, he hit the pavement, visiting studio after studio with his dog and a script, only to be rebuffed. Finally, the pair stumbled across a crew trying to film a scene using a most uncooperative wolf. Duncan asked if they wouldn't give his dog a try, that his dog would do the scene in one take.

They weren't buying it.

At first.

A few takes later they were ready to give the dog a try. Rinny performed as promised -- one take. He became a contract talent for the studio whose fortunes were on the skids. His first film was Man from Hell's River. Moviegoers adored the big, heroic dog and flocked to all twenty-six of his films, helping to turn the fortunes of the studio around.

The name of the studio was Warner Brothers.

Rin Tin Tin died in August of 1932, just before he was to start filming a new movie. Rin had sired several litters, and Lee had kept one of the male pups and named him Junior. Warner Brothers put off the beginning of filming and sent Lee and Junior, the Son of Rin Tin Tin on tour to win America over, which he did in style. America's enduring love for the German Shepherd Dog that began with a war orphaned puppy became a part of the culture and remains so to this day, as does Rin Tin Tin's line.

Author's Bio: 

Written by Shelly Seigler of Discount Pet Mall: Find low prices on Dog Kennels, Dog Training Collars, and Dog Doors.