I'll bet everybody has heard of Lassie, even if they don't even like dogs! And the reason for this is because Lassie was very famous in the movies and on TV. Mom used to watch Lassie on TV when she was a little girl, and it was on at 6:00 p.m. every Sunday night, so Mom's mom and dad had to make sure that Mom was home then so she could watch it.
Well, guess what! The dog who played the part of Lassie in the movie was actually a BOY dog, and his name was Pal! He was born on June 4, 1940 in North Hollywood, and he had a very fancy pedigree that went back to some famous collie in England in the 19th century. But the problem with Pal was that he had large eyes and a white blaze on his forehead, so he was not really a show quality dog, and he was sold as a pet.
Pal had some bad habits, like barking a whole bunch and also chasing motorcycles. So he ended up going to see a trainer named Rudd Weatherwax, who trained animals for the movies. Mr. Weatherwax was able to teach Pal not to bark so much, but he couldn't teach him not to chase motorcycles. Anyway, Pal's owner gave Pal to Mr. Weatherwax as payment for his work. But then Mr. Weatherwax gave Pal to a friend of his. But when Mr. Weatherwax heard that a movie was being made of Lassie, Come Home, he decided that Pal was the perfect dog to star in it, so he bought Pal back for $10.00.
The movie was a big hit, so MGM made, like, seven more Lassie films. But after 1951, the studio decided not to make any more movies about Lassie. So Mr. Weatherwax and Pal went out traveling to fairs and rodeos and places like that.
All of these boy Lassies were descended from Pal, who died in 1958. Mr. Weatherwax was very, very sad when Pal died because he loved Pal so much. He buried Pal in a special place on his ranch, and he visited the grave a lot. And he could never stand to watch one of the Lassie movies again because he didn't want to see Pal and be reminded that he was gone.
Anyway, Lassie was on TV for nineteen years, which is a really long time. The last episode was on was March 24, 1973. So this means that the show started when Mom was two years old, and it ended when she was a junior in college. I think people liked this show a lot because it was about a boy and his dog who really, truly loved each other, and the dog was incredibly smart and could rescue the boy from whatever scary situation he got himself into. Or if she couldn't rescue him herself, she could go get help.
But the main thing is the love between a dog and a human. That is a very old story, but no one ever seems to get tired of it.