In the midst of the Great Depression, a small abandoned Cairn terrier puppy was adopted by a lovely German couple.
This puppy was so traumatized she hid under a bed for weeks. But when she came out, her intelligence and spark were evident.
She was a good girl.
She was also a very lucky girl because her lovely German father was Carl Spitz, owner and operator of Carl Spitz’s Hollywood Dog Training School.
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Her name was Terry, and within five years of her adoption, she was cast as “Toto” in what would become the most-watched movie in history.
Initially, Spitz and his wife, Alice, hoped to keep Terry as a household pet, but the terrier had bigger dreams, and she had begun to learn some tricks. Terry caught the attention of Hollywood executives, and soon she was accompanying her trainer to Paramount Studios for auditions.
Terry had become Spitz’s most famous performer in no time. When Spitz learned MGM was making plans to translate L. Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” onto the silver screen, he began training Terry to sit, bark and chase witches. In addition to Terry’s talent as a performer, based on Baum’s illustrations, she was a perfect match for Dorothy’s canine companion.
On the set of The Wizard of Oz, Terry pulled down $125 per week (gulp…that’s $2640 per week in 2022), more than many of the human actors in the film.
But she earned every penny.
After The Wizard of Oz was released in August 1939, Terry, who was re-christened Toto, became Hollywood’s most beloved dog.