Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Dog Named Rin Tin Tin

Here are some important things to know about Rin Tin Tin:

1.  He was a real, live dog.
2.  He had a big career in movies and on TV.
3.  He was the sire of lots of puppies, and one in each generation was named Rin Tin Tin.
4.  The current Rin Tin Tin is Rin Tin Tin XI.
5.  The Rin Tin Tin name is copyrighted, so I will probably have to go to jail because I used it in my blog.
6.  Rin Tin Tin is a weird name for a dog, but it's fun to say.

So now I will tell you the true story of this famous German Shepherd dog.  It all started in France during World War I, where a dog kennel got bombed, and an American soldier named Lee Duncan found a mother dog and her five puppies.  These were not just stray dogs.  They were Dogs With Pedigrees.  And at that time, the puppies were only five days old.

Corporal Duncan and his battalion took the mama dog and her pups back to their camp.  Later on, Corporal Duncan found out that the German Kennel Master from the bombed kennel had been captured by the Americans, so he visited him in the prison camp and learned more about the dogs and about the German Shepherd breed, which he didn't really know much about.

When the war ended two months later, Corporal Duncan took two pups on the ship to go back to the U.S.  These two were Rin Tin Tin and his littermate Nannette.  During the trip, Nannette got sick with distemper, and shortly after she got to America, she died.

You may be wondering where the name Rin Tin Tin came from, and now I will tell you.  In France, the children used to play with little puppets named Rin Tin Tin and Nannette.  And the children gave these puppets to the American soldiers for good luck.  This luck must have been pretty good because it helped the Americans and their allies win the war.

Anyway, after Mr. Duncan got home to Los Angeles with his dog, he taught Rin Tin Tin to do a bunch of tricks, including jumping and stuff like that.  And Rinty (which was his nickname) performed in dog shows, where a film producer saw him and decided that he could be the next Strongheart.  Of course, you will remember that I already told you about the famous movie star dog, Strongheart.

So Rin Tin Tin began his film career by playing the role of a wolf  in The Man From Hell's River in 1922.  And he played a wolf in some other films, even though he didn't really look much like a wolf.  Rinty's first starring role was in Where the North Begins, which was made in 1923.  This movie made so much money that it probably saved Warner Brothers from going bankrupt.

Rin Tin Tin went on being a movie star for some years after that, and he was also the star of a radio series. He did his own sound effects on most of the radio shows until his death.  After that, his son, Rin Tin Tin, Jr. took over.

When Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, he was 14 years old.  Mr. Duncan had Rinty buried in his home country in the Cimetiere des Chiens.  This is where Barry, the famous St. Bernard, is also buried.

In 1954, Rin Tin Tin IV starred in a TV series called The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.  This series was on TV until 1959.  Mom remembers watching it when she was a little girl.  She liked it because she liked dogs.  She also liked horses, but her parents wouldn't let her have either a horse or a dog, which doesn't seem fair to me, but I wasn't even born then, so nobody asked for my opinion!

Anyway, in this TV show, there was a boy named Rusty, and he was an orphan because his folks got killed by Indians, and Rin Tin Tin was his dog.  And Rusty got adopted by a cavalry unit, and they all lived at Fort Apache in Arizona in the late 1800s.  They had lots of adventures, and Rin Tin Tin was the hero who bit the bad guys and saved a lot of people.

Mr. Lee Duncan, the original owner of Rin Tin Tin, died in 1960, and a woman named Jannettia Brodsgaard Propps continued breeding Rinty's descendants in Texas, and then her granddaughter, Daphne Hereford, went on doing it after Mrs. Propps died.  The current Rin Tin Tin has his very own website here:  and travels all over the country making appearances.  On April 10, he was at an art auction to raise money for a library in Danville, and last year on July 4, he was right here in Kansas City at the World War I Museum.  If I had known Rinty was here, I would have liked to meet him, but I didn't know, and neither did Mom.

On the website, I found out that you can buy a puppy from the Rin Tin Tin line for a cost of between $1,250 and $2,500.  These puppies were born on March 29.  I asked Mom if we could get one, and she said no because we can't afford one, and also we already have our Legal Limit of Dogs, as she keeps telling me.  So maybe I will just get an autographed photo of Rin Tin Tin.  That only costs $6.99.


  1. We would be happy to send you an autographed picture of Rin Tin Tin. Just let us know your address Piper.

    Rin Tin Tin

    1. I would like to ask you for a photo of Rin Tin Tin for my son. Would this be possible?

    2. I, Piper, the writer of this blog, do not have any photos of Rin Tin Tin to send you. If you go to the official Rin Tin Tin site: I think you can order one there.

  2. This was a wonderful story! So many incredible things came out of WWII and the finding of Rin-Tin-Tin is just a little one but he was very important to me when I was a little boy. You see, in those days no one was telling young kids that Americans murdered Indians in cold blood and stole their land. We were told our soldiers were heroes and the expansion of the USA from coast to coast was our "Manifest Destiny". And we believed it with all our hearts. We loved the strong men and women that carved our country out of the wilderness. In a way, I still feel that way in my heart of hearts. I absolutely loved the adventures of Rusty and his dog. I admired courage and honor and wished destiny had put me in a similar place and time. Anyway, thank you very much for telling me the source of Rinty's name; you made my day! By the by ... Rin-Tin-Tin made a strange sound when he was attacking ... do you know how I can hear that sound again? - Tony

  3. Dear Tony,
    I'm glad you liked my story about Rin Tin Tin. Mom says that you must have grown up about the same time she did, because she learned all that same stuff like Manifest Destiny and she watched Rin Tin Tin on TV. Mom and I don't know anything about the strange sound that Rin Tin Tin made when attacking. You could look on his website and see if there are any sound clips there. Or there might be some on YouTube. Or maybe you can get some of the old TV episodes on DVD. That is all I know to tell you. Thanks for reading my blog!

  4. It was WWI, not II, when Rinty and Nannette were found in France. Either way...a great story. I'm reading the Susan Orlean book on Rin Tin Tin right now. Great read.

    1. I said WWI in my blog, but that person who wrote the comment said WWII, which is wrong, like you pointed out. I have heard about that book, but I have not read it. I'm glad to know that it is a good book. I will have to tell my mom to buy it so we can read it.

      Sincerely, Piper

  5. Thanks for re-posting this one, Piper!
    When I was little I used to watch re-runs of Rin Tin Tin on television, and even though I already loved all dogs (and horses, like your mom) I fell in love with German Shepherds. I wanted one so badly and I drove my parents crazy asking for one. Of course they said no and always had one reason or another. We always had other dogs that I loved very very much of course, and I'd feel a little guilty when day-dreamed about that German Shepherd that I wanted so badly! When I was old enough to take matters into my own hands, I went out and found a Shepherd puppy that needed a home. Most of his brothers and sisters were going off to do police or rescue work, but he got to come live with me- and boy was I happy about that! It was love at first sight! It was so fun to raise and train such a smart pup- too smart for his own good sometimes! Even to this day he makes me think twice every now and then. We have had lots of adventures together, and now he has a dad, and a doggy-little sister and a human little brother, and we all have lots of fun doing family stuff. Zeke will be 10 this Fall, and I think he deserves a nice birthday party! He is a great dog and has made me love German Shepherds even more. If Rin Tin Tin ever comes back to Kansas City, I'd like to shake his paw!

    1. Dear Aunt Kerry,
      My mom is so ancient that she watched the original Rin-Tin-Tin show on TV, not the re-runs! LOL Anyway, Mom also wanted a German Shepherd, and she still thinks they are very cool dogs. I don't know if we will ever get one, though, because they can be territorial and protective, and they also have a lot of hair when they are shedding. So my brother Barry may be the closest we ever get to having a real GSD. I'm glad you got Zeke. He sounds like a great dog!
      Your friend, Piper