Category Archives: famous dogs and cats

Frank Inn, Hollywood Animal Trainer Extraordinaire

By Langley Cornwell

This guy is such an inspiration to me! I’d love to have a chat with him, but since he died in 2002 at the age of 86, I’ll have to settle for reading and writing about him. To catch you up, here are a few facts about Frank Inn:

He was a pioneering animal trainer who turned shelter pets into movie stars.

The animals that Frank Inn trained won 40 PATSY Awards, which is the animal kingdom’s equivalent of the Oscar. Three of the animals he trained won the award multiple times.

This legendary animal trainer was the first inductee into the International Association of Canine Professionals’ Hall of Fame.

One of the most recognized 4-legged movie stars that Inn created was Higgins, of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame. Other animals he trained included:

• Francis the Talking Mule

• Orangey the Cat (Rhubarb in Rhubarb, and Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

• Bernadette the Dog (Cleopatra on Jackie Cooper’s TV series The People’s Choice

• Arnold Ziffel, the pig on Green Acres 

• All of Elly Mae Clampett’s animals on The Beverly Hillbillies

• The chimpanzees that starred in the children’s TV show Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp

Frank Inn was known to visit animal shelters and take home healthy pets to keep them from being euthanized. There was a time when Inn and his assistants had over 1,000 animals in their care. The feeding bills alone came to more than $400 per day.

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Animal Trainers Know the Value of Shelter Pets; Do You?

By Linda Cole

When it comes to finding animal stars among the masses, Hollywood producers and animal trainers know talent when they see it. They understand the value of a good pet, and search the shelters to find the next pet star waiting to be discovered. Broadway producers also scour animal shelters when searching for the perfect pet to cast in a Broadway show. Just what kind of pets can you find in shelters? Some of the most talented, well behaved and smartest pets around.

I previously wrote an article on famous TV and movie pets adopted from shelters and trained for their specific roles. Many of the most recognized and loved pets on TV or in the movies did time in a shelter. Some of these famous pets were just hours away from being put down when they were discovered. I think it’s safe to say that the performance a Black Mouth Cur named Spike gave us in “Old Yeller” made us all a little teary eyed. Spike was found in a California animal shelter. Morris the orange Tabby was found in a shelter in the nick of time, and became famous as the finicky feline in TV commercials. Higgins, the lovable and talented mutt that starred on “Petticoat Junction” and known as “Dog” from 1963-1970, went on to delight children in one of his other famous roles as Benji. He was found at a shelter in Burbank, California.

A two year old Terrier mix named Sunny is one of Broadway’s newest stars. She will be playing the role of Sandy in a remake of the musical “Annie,” due to open later this fall. Sunny was rescued from a Houston, Texas kill shelter and was on their list to be put down when her picture was spotted online by animal trainer William Berloni. He prefers searching for animal talent in shelters because, “The most talented animals are right there under your nose. The message is: Animals in shelters are not damaged, just unfortunate,” Berloni said to the Associated Press in a July 2012 interview. He continued “I always say anybody could have gone into a shelter and adopted any one of the animals that I’ve turned into Broadway stars the day before I did. And they would have been great dogs in someone’s home.”

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Justice for Bow a Huge Success on Facebook!

By Suzanne Alicie

Everyone who uses social networks like Facebook and Twitter is aware of the possibilities of increasing awareness and receiving donations for worthy causes from the caring communities. Fellow RPO blog contributor Linda Cole has written about this phenomenon in her post “How Facebook Helps Pets in Need.” Today I’ll tell you how Facebook has been a huge success story for a special kitty.

A few months ago I saw that a friend of mine had “liked” a page called Justice for Bow; the notification had a picture of a cat so I went to check it out. I was horrified when I saw the pictures of Bow and read the story of what had happened to him.

Poor Kitty

Neighbors near Burton and US131 in Grand Rapids, Michigan often saw and fed a stray cat living in the area. When a few days went by without seeing the kitty, the concerned citizens began to worry. On May 10, 2011 the cat, which has now been named Bow, was found with an arrow through his face. Someone had shot the defenseless cat and left him to suffer or die all alone. The arrow had entered Bow’s left cheek, pierced his esophagus and exited near his right shoulder.

Saving Grace

The wonderful woman who found Bow took him to Michigan Veterinary Specialists, but she only had $200 to put towards his care. The caring staff at MVS removed the arrow and donated the antibiotics and IV fluids to keep Bow alive. Amy Smith Velthouse, a veterinary technician at MVS, also volunteered at Carol’s Ferals, which was the first place she turned for assistance for Bow. Carol Manos of Carol’s Ferals arranged for Bow to be transferred to the Animal Hospital of Lowell where Dr. Bruce Langlois took over his medical care.

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World Record Pets

By Suzanne Alicie

Do you believe your pet has what it takes to break a world record? Oh sure, we all think our pets are award winners, because we love them. But people and their pets have set world records for many years, and these records aren’t easily broken. Take a gander at these incredible animals and how they found their way into the books.

Got a big dog or cat on your hands? To break the record, your dog needs to outsize Hercules, a friendly English Mastiff, weighing in at 282 pounds. A gentle dog with a 38-inch neck, Hercules barreled into the record books after the passing of yet another English Mastiff who weighed 296 pounds.

There have been some pretty big kitties too! The longest cat award is currently held by Stewie of Nevada, a 48.5 inch long Maine Coon. The largest cat on record weighed in at over 46 pounds: dearly departed Himmey, with a 15 inch neck, a 33 inch waist, and 38 inches from nose to tail.

If you have a tiny pet, they have big shoes to fill to break a world record too. Lengthwise, the tiniest dog on record is a Chihuahua named Heaven Sent Brandy who measures a staggering 6 inches from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail tip. The lightest dog record is yet another Chihuahua named Ducky, weighing in at 1.4 pounds.

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Pets That Have Called the White House Home

By Suzanne Alicie

Each time a new family descends upon the White House, it seems that another pet gets thrust into the spotlight. From George Washington’s menagerie of horses, hounds and a parrot to the current Portuguese Water Dog “Bo” that is owned by the Obama’s, there have been all sorts of presidential pets through the years. Some have lived up to their station and some have had a bit of “sibling rivalry” going on. The Obama family has had to learn about being responsible pet owners with their new puppy, since they haven’t owned a dog before.

The first year I was old enough to vote for the President was the first time I really became aware of presidential pets. I’m not a political person, so I had never really made an effort to learn much about our presidents or government except what I was required to learn in school. I was very surprised to see that after President Clinton’s election, their family cat “Socks” got quite a bit of press coverage. There were even tabloid reports of Socks not getting along with “Buddy,” the chocolate lab who was also part of the Clinton clan.

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Famous TV and Movie Pets Adopted From Shelters

By Linda Cole

Shelters are a great place to find wonderful animals, and you need look no further than the dogs and cats you’ve seen in TV sitcoms, commercials and movies. Many famous dogs and cats were found in local shelters where millions of animals are just waiting for the right person to come along. These famous pets show how special all animals are no matter where they come from, and prove that with patience and commitment all pets are trainable. Here are some of the most famous TV and movie pets adopted from shelters.

Higgins played “Dog” on the popular TV show Petticoat Junction that aired from 1963 to 1970. He became a famous pet and a household name after starring in the 1974 movie Benji. A well known animal trainer, Frank Inn, adopted Higgins as a puppy from the Burbank, California animal shelter. Frank said Higgins was a dog filled with talent, and the dog proved it by learning new tricks on a regular basis. His specialties were yawning and sneezing on command as well as climbing ladders and opening mailboxes. He was a dog with facial expressions that could say it all.

Spike of Old Yeller fame, was adopted from a shelter in Van Nuys, California by the famed dog trainer, Frank Weatherwax. Working with the young Black Mouth Cur, Frank trained him to be a well adjusted family pet who was eager to please. When Frank heard they were looking for a dog for the movie Old Yeller, he took Spike to audition for the part. The casting executives at Disney thought Spike was too easy going. They wanted a meaner and tougher looking dog. After a few weeks of intense training, Weatherwax got a new audition for his dog, and Spike entered the history books as one of the most memorable canines of all time. I bet you cried at the end of the movie – I know I did.

Nora became a YouTube sensation with her amazing rendition of Bach. The talented piano playing cat was adopted from a shelter in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Nora is a self taught kitty musician who really seems to enjoy her practice sessions. Nora is indeed an amazing feline and her unique ability to tickle the ivories earns her a spot on famous pets adopted from shelters. Nora is definitely the cat’s meow when it comes to pets with musical talent.

Clyde played Marley in the film Marley and Me. He is one of 22 dogs used in the movie. Five dogs were adopted from shelters and Clyde was rescued from a breeder. He is the dog with the most screen time and was perfectly cast to play the endearing pup we fell in love with.

Morris the 9-Lives cat is one of the most recognizable famous pets of all time. In 1968, animal trainer Bob Martwick was going through a Humane Society pet shelter in Hinsdale, Illinois. Lucky, aka Morris, was adopted from the shelter just hours before he was to be put down. He became known as the finicky cat and starred in commercials from 1969 until his death in 1975. Any cat now used to play Morris is required to be rescued from an animal shelter or cat rescue.

Mauri played Murray in the TV sitcom Mad About You starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser. He was adopted from a California shelter by animal trainer, Boone Narr. Betty Linn, Mauri’s current trainer, says he’s much smarter than his character on the show, who had a problem with getting lost and walking into walls. This famous pet definitely has a sense of humor and his favorite tricks are pretending to relieve himself (which gets people’s attention), shaking his head, rolling over, sneezing and crawling.

Moose was a Jack Russell Terrier we know better as Eddie from the hit TV sitcom Frazier. Moose wasn’t a pet adopted from a shelter, but he’s a famous pet who gave his first owners so much trouble that they gave him away to a Florida company who trains animals for roles in TV and movies. After six months of training, Moose was on his way to a trainer in Los Angeles, and from there TV history was made when he landed the role of Eddie and stole our hearts.

These are just some of the famous pets who were adopted from shelters, each one a unique and talented animal who left us smiling.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.