Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orleans

Baby boomers like me might have vague memories of a TV show from the 1950s that was rerun in the 1960s involving Rin Tin Tin, a heroic German shepherd dog. I was surprised to learn that Rin Tin Tin was an actual dog who later became a movie and TV star.

The original dog was found in a bombed-out dog kennel in France in World War One.  The man who found him was Lee Duncan, who had been raised in an orphanage, and to Duncan, that surviving puppy was a miracle that he wanted to share with the world. It didn’t hurt Duncan’s cause to find out that the dog was smart, athletic and had natural acting talent.  Rin Tin Tin starred in 23 blockbuster silent films that actually saved the Warner Brothers studios from bankruptcy. Over the years, Rinti, as Duncan called him, and his descendants, transitioned from acting in silent films to talkies, from black and white films to color, and from movies to TV shows. The author explores how the relationship between humans and dogs has evolved from a time when dogs were only valued for the work they could do and has morphed to a point where dogs are now valued members of our families.

This was a very interesting and informative book about a dog, Rin Tin Tin, and the people who loved him. It’s also about how Rin Tin Tin, helped create a perception of a dog as a loyal friend, and heroic companion.