Terry: Best Known as Toto

Terry was in several films, but her most famous was The Wizard of Oz. The audience loved her character so much that her name was officially changed to Toto.

Terry, a purebred Cairn terrier, was born in November 1933 in Aalta Dena, California. She was soon taken in by a married couple in nearby Pasadena. Soon after, the owners brought the dog to Carl Spitz, who ran the successful Hollywood Dog Training School in the nearby San Fernando Valley, to be trained to stop wetting the rugs. Once trained, the couple had no intention of picking Terry up or paying the bill so Spitz kept the dog.

Terry was an intelligent dog and Spitz saw potential in her for acting. She appeared in several films before her role as Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Her first major appearance was in 1934 with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes as Rags. When the choice of dogs for the part was narrowed down, it was up to Shirley (and her own dog who was not part of the film, a Pomeranian named Ching-Ching) to decide who would get it. Terry and Ching-Ching hit it off, and Shirley gave her approval: "She's hired."

Hundreds of dogs auditioned for the part of Toto, but Spitz prepared Terry well for the part. Judy Garland, who played Dorothy, took an immediate liking to Terry, as well as the other cast members. Terry was selected to play the part.

Terry did the part well and even performed all the stunts during the filming, including being put in a basket and withstanding three wind machines mimicking a tornado. According to American Girl Magazine in 1940 "The hardest thing this little dog ever had to do was during the drawbridge scene in the Wizard of Oz, when she was chased by the huge Winkie guards of the Wicked Witch. Toto had to come running out of the castle and was trying to cross the drawbridge. She had almost reached the middle when the drawbridge was pulled straight up. The only safety Toto had was by clutching the edge of the bridge with her little paws and balancing herself thirty feet in the air. One of a dog's greatest fears is the fear of falling, so it took a great deal of courage to follow her master's orders that time."

During the filming on the Witches Castle, a large Winkie accidentally stepped on Terry's paw causing the dog to squeal. Garland insisted Terry was given a few days off to recuperate. Terry's hard work paid off well. She received $125 a week, more than many of the human actors made. Garland fell in love with the little terrier as she worked with her, and even wanted to buy her from Spitz, but he refused to sell. Although a great actress, apparently Terry wasn't all that perfect. According to Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft, her mom said Terry had the worst breath in the world, making it hard to not wince when the dog would pant in her face.

In 1939 when the film was released, Terry was there at the premiere held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. She became an instant star, began making public appearances, and was called Toto by all her fans. Spitz felt it was only right to officially change her name to Toto.

Toto went on to make more films, the last released in 1945, shortly before she passed away of old age on September 1 of that year. Spitz buried her on the kennel grounds which was later destroyed during the construction of the Ventura Freeway in 1958. On June 18, 2011 a memorial at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA was unveiled in memory of Toto - funded by an active group of Toto fans.


Turko: Accused and Executed for Biting the Crown Prince

Turko made history for being put to death for most likely licking, not biting, the Prince of Sweden.


Turko, a mastiff, was born in England in the mid 1870s and later came to Sweden at a young age. In January 1880, Turko and his owner T. Amilon, a wholesaler, were standing outside the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm when guests were arriving to attend Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House. Among the guests was the Crown Prince, Gustaf V, who later became the King of Sweden in 1907. According to initial reports, Turko bit the Prince as he walked pass him. However, several witnesses agreed that the dog only licked the Prince causing no harm.

Whether it was a bite or a lick, the victim was royalty and Turko was to be executed for his actions. Turko's owner pleaded for his dog's life, and the Prince seemed to agree that the attack was not vicious. But, for some reason, Amilon changed his mind and felt his dog should pay the ultimate price for what he did. Turko was put to death. His body was stuffed and sits in the National History Museum in Stockholm.

I want to thank Annika Kromsten, editor of the Swedish Mastiff Club magazine, for sending me the information/picture to this story.


Moustache: A French Poodle Who Served in Two Wars

Moustache became famous in history for having participated in two wars - the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War.

An engraving of Moustache at the Battle of Austerlitz

Moustache, a black French poodle, was born around September 1799 in Normandy. At the age of six months, the dog belonged to a kind hearted grocer in Caen. Despite a good life, Moustache found a new one after having seen a regiment of French grenadiers passing through town. The poodle took a liking to the men and followed them as they marched along the streets. After three days, the drum major allowed Moustache to accompany the unit on campaign.

Moustache headed to Italy, crossing the Great St Bernard Pass through the Alps, with Napoleon Bonaparte's army. On one stormy night in the spring of 1800, while the regiment camped near Belbo, Moustache alerted the soldiers of a sneak attack as the Austrians approached. His early warning allowed the French to repulse their attack. For his heroism, Moustache was formally placed on the roll as a grenadier. He was given a collar bearing the regiment's name, and was entitled to a grenadier's rations and a once a week grooming from the unit's barber.

Shortly after, while en route to Spinetta Marengo, Moustache was injured in his left shoulder from a bayonet. He was treated but not fully recovered during the battle of Marengo. Despite his injury, he participated in the battle. "He marched always keeping close to the banner, which he learned to recognize among a hundred: and... never ceased barking, until evening closed upon the combatants of Marengo." It was also around this time that Moustache saved the life of an officer who was being attacked by the enemy's dog. Moustache fought the larger and stronger dog until the other dog was shot dead, but lost an ear from the musket ball that killed the Austrian dog. Shortly after the French victory at Marengo, Moustache left the grenadiers and joined a company of mounted cuirassiers.

In 1805, during the battle of Austerlitz, Moustache received a medal for his bravery and dedication after recovering the French flag from a fallen regimental standard bearer, and losing a leg from an artillery blast while doing it. His medal was engraved with the words "He lost his leg in the battle of Austerlitz and saved the colors of his regiment." Moustache's reputation was well known and orders were given that wherever he goes "he should be welcomed, en camarade; and thus he continued to follow the army. Having but three paws and one ear."

In 1809, during the battle of Essling, Moustache met a female poodle amongst the enemy. She followed Moustache back to the French camp, they stayed together for about a year, and even had a litter of puppies which the women in the camp took care of.

Moustache moved on, following a unit to Spain. On March 11, 1812, the heroic poodle was struck by a cannonball and killed during the battle of Badajoz. It is said Moustache was buried on the battlefield with a gravestone engraved with the words "Here lies the brave Moustache."