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September Hero

Rin Tin Tin



A german shepherd who changed the history…

You may have seen Rin Tin Tin ’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Strongheart and Lassie?

This Hollywood superstar German Shepherd was rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier named Lee Duncan, who nicknamed him “Rinty”.

Following advances made by American forces during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Lee Duncan, an aerial gunner of the U.S. Army, on September 15, 1918 was sent to the small French village of Flirey to see if it would make a suitable flying field for his unit.

The area had been subject to bombs and artillery, and Duncan found a severely damaged kennel which had once supplied the German Army with German Shepherd dogs. The only dogs left alive in the kennel were a starving mother with a litter of five nursing puppies, their eyes still shut. Duncan rescued the dogs and brought them back to his unit. After they were weaned, Duncan gave the mother and three of the puppies to members of his unit but kept Rinny and his sister Nanette, both named after good luck charms French children would often give to US soldiers.



In July 1919, Duncan managed to bundle the dogs aboard a ship taking them back to the US at the end of the war.

But how did Rinny change history?

By 1923, Warner Brothers were near bankruptcy and were in desperate need of a hit film.

Rin Tin Tin’s first starring role was in Where the North Begins, playing alongside silent screen actress Claire Adams. This film was a huge success and has often been credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. It was followed by 24 more screen appearances. Each of these films was very popular, making such a profit for Warner Bros. that Rin Tin Tin was called “the mortgage lifter” by studio insiders.



His descendants went on to play even more roles, to be spokesdogs for the American Humane Society, and distant relatives can even be found as service dogs, today.

"a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself"
Josh Billings
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