National Pets in Film Day (June 19) was created in 2011 by Celebrity Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert Colleen Paige to remind people to spend more time with their four-legged family members. In honor of the day, here are 15 movies and TV Shows where the dog either had top billing or stole it from his two-legged cast members. Whose your favorite canine actor?
#1 – Benji (movie series)
We all remember Benji. But did you know the real Benji, named Higgins, was a rescue from Burbank Animal Shelter? He was adopted by dog trainer Frank Inn, who said that out of the thousands of dog he trained, Higgins was by far the smartest. (www.adoptandshop.org)
#2 – Beethoven (movie series)
If you grew up in the 90’s, then you probably grew up watching the first Beethoven, who stole our hearts as soon as we saw that roly poly puppy. A number of dogs played this iconic Saint Bernard, but in our hearts they were all “Beethoven.”
#3 – The Artist (movie)
Uggie the Jack Russell shot to stardom with this film, but his beginnings were humble. He was found at a shelter where his original owners had relinquished him for being “too wild.” (www.adoptandshop.org) Now he has his own paw print on The Walk Of Fame. Not too shabby, Uggie!
#4 – Dog With a Blog (TV series)
This hit Disney Channel show is about a dog that blogs (he also talks!). Stan is played by Mick, a Border Collie mix owned by Steve Solomon, an animal trainer for Good Dog Animals.
#5 – Frasier (TV series)
Frasier ran for 11 years, earning many Emmy Awards and nominations. Often, the comic relief came from Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier Martin Crane owned. Eddie was played by Moose, an incredibly talented dog who received more fan mail than any of the other Fraiser cast members. (imdb.com)
#6 – As Good As It Gets (movie)
While the movie was okay, the dog was certainly a star. I mean, who can forget that adorable scene where Verdell avoids stepping on the cracks along with Melvin (Jack Nicholson)? Well Verdell was played by Jill, a female Brussels Griffon who also played in the movie Carolina.
#7 – Marley & Me
This tear-jerker of a movie starred 18 yellow Labs in order to show Marley growing up. Each of these dogs is a talented actor with over-the-top cuteness.
#8 – The Mask
His role may be small, but Milo definitely steals the show when he steals the mask. Come on, you know it was what you were waiting for the entire film! He was played by Max McCarter, a five-year-old jack Russell terrier. Max’s favorite training treat? Fig Newtons. (www.wooftunes.com)
#9 – Lassie (TV series/movies)
I think it’s safe to say that Lassie was the reason many of us wanted a dog growing up – we wanted the best friend, protector and partner in crime that Lassie was to Timmy. The original Lassie was played by Lad, a male collie. Since then, all the Lassies have been descendants of the great Lad.
#10 – The Ugly Dachshund (movie)
This is one of my favorites – I still watch this classic! The star is by far the Great Dane, who had to be trained to act like a pint-sized doxie. Brutus the confused Dane was played by Pirate of Martincrest and Diego of Martincrest. They also had a stunt dog – Duke, who played in Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson as well. (www.6Stardanes.com)
#11 – Hotel For Dogs (movie)
This movie is great (not only because of the many talented canine stars) for the message it sends to kids. Looking for a movie to watch on June 19? This one is a great pick.
#12 –Homeward Bound: An Incredible Journey (movie)
Another movie I grew up with, the dogs in this are amazing actors (and don’t forget Sassy the cat!). Four Golden Retrievers and 4 American Bulldogs were used in the film to play Shadow and Chance. (www.hollywoodpaws.com)
#13 – Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (movie)
This movie is a double whammy. It’s a true story of incredible loyalty and is played by three brilliant Akitas – Leyla, Chico, and Forrest. Fun fact: the animal trainer Mark Harden adopted Chico after the movie was completed. (www.boonesanimals.com)
#14 – Zeus And Roxanne (movie)
This cute family film features a dog that (to many) probably looks like a mix-breed dog. However, the dog is actually a purebred Portuguese Podengo Medios, a medium size breed that is very enthusiastic and trainable.
#15 – Our Gang (TV series)
While there was no way for them to know, Petey has become an important piece in the fight to end BSL legislation and the stereotyping of pit bulls. The original Petey was Pal the Wonder Dog who had a natural ring almost all the way around his eye – dye was used to compete it for the show. A few other dog’s played Petey after him, including a descendant of his, Lucenay’s Peter.