Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This entry is all about Toto, who is a very famous fictional dog that most people have heard of.  And the reason so many people have heard of him is because he was the hero of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, and also of the movie The Wizard of Oz.  There are some who think that Dorothy was the hero of the book and movie, but the real hero was actually Toto, who did all sorts of brave things such as pulling back the curtain to show that the Wizard was not a real wizard at all.

When Mr. Baum wrote the first Oz book in 1900, he did not say what kind of dog Toto was, but the illustrator of the first edition of the book made Toto be a Cairn Terrier.  We don't know how Toto got his name, but back in the 19th century, "Toto" was a popular name for dogs.  Also it was used a lot in France back then as a nickname for young boys.

Some people who study the meaning of literature say that Toto is a symbol of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death who had a dog's head.  They say this because Toto keeps doing things that make it so Dorothy can't get back home, such as running off just when she is going to go home in the hot-air balloon.

Other scholars say that Toto was the only one who brought joy to Dorothy's life back in Kansas because he loved her unconditionally.  But Dorothy lets Toto run through Miss Gulch's garden because Dorothy is trying to get more attention from Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.  So that means that Toto is the part of Dorothy that is creative, but which also gets her into trouble.  And by getting into trouble, she learns some important lessons.

But the fact is that I don't really care about any of that symbolic, deep meaning stuff.  I just like to think of Toto as a dog who loves his human and wants to go wherever she goes.  Dorothy and Toto take care of each other and help each other out, which is the way it should be when a person and a dog love each other.

The movie The Wizard of Oz was made in 1939, and the dog who played the part of Toto was a female brindle Cairn Terrier named Terry, who had been born in Chicago in 1933.  Terry was in a couple of films before she got her role as Toto, including one with Shirley Temple.  For being in the The Wizard of Oz, Terry earned $125 a week, which was more than some of the human actors made, such as the Munchkins, who only made $50 a week.

One day while the film was getting made, Terry got stepped on by a Winkie guard, and her foot was broken.  It took two weeks for her to get all better again, and she stayed at Judy Garland's house during this time.  Ms. Garland really liked Terry and wanted to adopt her, but Terry's owner and trainer, Carl Spitz, said no.

Terry attended the opening of the film at Grauman's Chinese Theater, and because the movie got to be so popular, Mr. Spitz changed Terry's name to Toto in 1942.  That was the same year that she made her last film, which was Tortilla Flat, and it was directed by Victor Fleming, who also directed The Wizard of Oz.

When Toto, who used to be Terry, died on September 1, 1945, she was 11 years old.  A man named Willard Carroll wrote her autobiography, which was called I, Toto.  The famous terrier was buried on Carl Spitz's ranch in Studio City, California.  But sadly, when the Ventura Freeway was built in 1958, her grave got destroyed.  Then on June 18, 2011, a permanent memorial was dedicated to Toto at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.  It's nice that people did this, but I don't think anyone who loves the Wizard of Oz books or movie really needs a memorial so that they can remember a wonderful dog like Toto!


  1. RIP Toto - may you forever run!

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