Shared from the 2/1/2020 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition

Movie dogs get star treatment in fun read


• “Citizen Canine: Dogs in the Movies” (Laurence King, 128 pages, $16.99) by Wendy Mitchell (publishes Feb. 11)

If your favorite movie dog is Toto, Old Yeller, Marley, Bruiser, Hooch or another pooch altogether, you probably will find him or her in “Citizen Canine: Dogs in the Movies.”

Wendy Mitchell’s slim book, with lots of pup photos, is a pat on the head for the hundreds of dogs who, from silent film days on, have appeared — and even starred in — feature-length films.

Dogs from 60 films are profiled, beginning with Scraps, who appeared with Charlie Chaplin in “A Dog’s Life” in 1918, through to more recent film dogs such as Bailey, the reincarnated star of 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Mitchell’s style is that of a true dog lover: She adores canines and appreciates the directors and dog trainers who facilitate their performances — and she makes time for quips, puns and anecdotes from filmmaking. For example:

• Twenty adult dogs and 230 puppies — all from litters from private homes — were used in Disney’s 1996 film “101 Dalmatians.” Dog lover Glenn Close, who played Cruella de Vil, felt bad that her voice frightened little Perdy enough to “slink off the set with her tail between her legs.”

• Egg whites were used to create even more slobber emanating from Hooch (Beasley, of the breed Dogue de Bordeaux) who, without direction, all on his own managed to trash the apartment of the investigator played by Tom Hanks in “Turner & Hooch” (1989).

• “Benji” (1974), which starred the mixed breed Higgins, was a guilty pleasure for “Psycho” director Alfred Hitchcock, who loved the doggie film.

• A male collie named Pal, who broke gender ranks and starred in 1943’s “Lassie Come Home,” was so adept at his job that a critic dubbed him “Greer Garson with fur.” For her 60th birthday, Elizabeth Taylor, who was 11 when she appeared in the film, was given a collie puppy that was a great-grandchild of Pal.

Each one-page description of a film and its lead dog or dogs is accompanied by photos and a brief critique: a movie might have been a bit of a stinker, but the dogs always came out smelling like Westminster winners.

By the way, the dogs from the terrific 2000 movie “Best in Show,” a parody of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, are included: Miss Agnes, Beatrice, Hubert and Winky, the subject of “Ode to Winky,” sung by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara.

On the book’s cover is Uggie, the incredibly talented dog from 2011’s “The Artist,” holding an Oscar statuette in his mouth. He had been the subject of a failed campaign to be nominated as best supporting actor. But Uggie did make a cameo appearance at the 2012 Academy Awards presentation where the best actor statue went to human Jean Dujardin, who starred in the film.

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