Working Dogs - Performing Dogs
Most bands of strolling players had little dogs who walked on their hind legs, jumped through hoops, turned somersaults or pretended to be dead, as did most circuses until very recently. A troupe of poodles called ‘The Ball of Little Dogs’ delighted Queen Anne when they appeared before her in 1700.
One of the best music-hall dogs was ‘Nino the Wonder Dog’ who appeared in all the top theatres in support of great stars like Judy Garland. A black-and-white Fox Terrier type and a very skilled ‘performer indeed, his special talent was to appear on stage by himself; no handler was ever seen. He loved his work and never missed a performance, to the great disappointment of his understudy, who was also his uncle.
Shakespeare wrote a part for a dog, Crab in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Others have achieved international stardom in films. A German Shepherd puppy was rescued from the World War I trenches by a US serviceman - and went on to become the legendary Rin- TinTin, star of many silent films. Then there was Lassie (though there were many Lassies in every film, a different one for almost every scene.)