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Dogs and their stories matter to us: My Evening with Susan Orlean and Rin Tin Tin

GP_Logo_Cleo_ImageOnlyYou may not know this, but, our Grouchy Puppy logo is drawn from my first dog as adult, Cleo. Some people have told me that the image looks like a hero dog, or a super dog. Cleo may not be a super dog, but she is loyal and we have had some heroic experiences together, some of which have been written about on this blog.

The original American hero dog, who I just found out is actually from France, is Rin Tin Tin. On October 9th, I had the chance to learn this fact, while I spent An Evening with Susan Orlean and Rin Tin Tin at the San Francisco Film Society.

The event was part film screening and part literary Q&A. The SF Film Society theatre was filled with Susan Orlean the author fans, Susan Orlean the New Yorker staff writer fans, film buffs and many people who looked like they watched the original 1950's television series, as opposed to the reruns.

What everyone had in common, regardless of age, was the belief that the career and life of Rin Tin Tin is a sensational story, and says a lot about the animal-human bond. I love that Orlean combines her book tour with a screening of Rin Tin Tin's silent film, Clash of the Wolves, it is a great mix and made for an engaging evening.This was my first time seeing a Rin Tin Tin movie. As a child, I couldn't sit through anything where a dog was in danger, abandoned or hurt. I cried when Snoopy was left out in the cold, and when the 101 Dalmatians were stolen.

The love and respect that I have for dogs, and specifically working dogs like German Shepherds, goes back to my earliest childhood experiences. Seeing Rin Tin Tin work so hard in this movie, watching his, and his mate Nanette's expressions, and knowing that the movie were made decades before the "No Animals Were Harmed (R) disclaimer was seen on a film, made even this silent film tough for me to watch.

Orlean_Susan_01I do believe dogs make us human, and Ms. Orlean did a wonderful thing, deciding to explore this dog's life and legacy in a book. As the Christian Science Monitor writes, "A must-read book that is both an excellent piece of cultural history and a remarkable story of the animal-human bond."

A highlight for me was seeing a surprise guest in the theatre audience, a German Shepherd from the Golden State German Shepherd Rescue. We sat in the same row of the theatre, and he did amazingly well, considering this Western had many gunfights that called for loud piano music. 

I hope more authors combine film screenings with their book tours, this mix made for an entertaining evening, with a charitable component. 

If you live in the area, October 22nd will be a fundraiser and gala for the California Golden State German Shepherd Rescue. Tickets available until October 14th, or until they sell out.

During her introduction to the film, Ms. Orlean also said a portion of her book proceeds will be going to the Pedigree Foundation. Given my previous support of the Pedigree Foundation, that was a nice bonus.


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