Tag: German Shepherds

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

by Susan Orlean


A Little Rin Tin Tin History

rin tin tin

On Sept. 15, 1918, an American soldier named Lee Duncan discovered a litter of German Shepherd puppies in the wreckage of a recently shelled German WW I encampment. He kept two of the young puppies, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, and managed to get them onboard when he shipped back to the United States from France at the end of the War.

I felt there was something about their lives that reminded me of my own life,” Duncan later wrote of the puppies. “They had crept right into a lonesome place in my life and had become a part of me.

Lee Duncan

The lonesomeness in Lee Duncan developed because he’d spent part of his young life in an orphanage in Oakland when his father abandoned his mother and his young mother simply could not feed or support Lee and his sister.

Lee loved his dogs and seemed to have quite a knack for training them. The thought entered his mind that perhaps, his dogs could become canine movie stars. He always thought Nanette was the smarter of the two, but there was something about Rin Tin Tin.

After the war, Duncan pursued his dream, taking Rin Tin Tin to California, where the dog got a big Hollywood break when one of his spectacular 12 foot jumps was caught on film at a dog show. Rin Tin Tin’s first part was a small one in a 1922 sled-dog picture. Then in 1923, “Where the North Begins,” based on a story written by Lee Duncan, gained the dog national attention.

rin tin tin

And as they say, the rest is history! I can still remember those Rin Tin Tin TV shows! Much better than Lassie …

Now, about the book …

I must admit, however, I was a little disappointed in Orlean’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her book actually has very little about the dog, Rin Tin TIn, or the training techniques that produced the original Rin Tin Tin’s amazing skills and feats.

On a side note, as a German Shepherd owner myself, I was not that surprised to learn that the heroic German shepherd who could leap 12 feet, crashing through plate-glass windows was buried with his squeaky doll! That fits the German Shepherd perfectly!

rin tin tin

But Rin Tin Tin is strangely absent from most of his story. Orlean tracks down loyal fans who now own descendants of the original Rin Tin Tin. She talks to many of Lee Duncan’s family members like ex-wives and or his daughter. She writes about business associates and Rin Tin Tin’s co-stars.

Susan Orlean’s story seems to be more about how family members profited by selling off everything related to Lee Duncan’s dream and his dog. She writes about people looking for some way to capture past glory, or perhaps the means to create new value from an old piece of intellectual property.

Susan Orlean also writes about the many tangled legal disputes such as the one between Daphne Hereford and Bert Leonard, the producer of “The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin,” and the confusing story of Lee Aaker, a child actor who played the dog’s TV sidekick, and who might or might not have become a special-needs ski instructor in the Eastern Sierras, but who was once definitely sued for impersonating himself.

You also learn that, since the death of the original Rin Tin Tin, this American canine hero has been played by no less than 20 other dogs.

What became clear to me from reading this book, is that the leap from heroic canine fame to mundane triviality is much shorter than 12 feet.

My thoughts …

rin tin tin

On the whole it is not a bad book, that is … if you want to read about everything surrounding Lee Duncan and his efforts to make a good living with the German Shepherd he trained to do really amazing feats, and how tough that actually was.

Maybe it was naive of me, but I wanted to read about the dog, Rin Tin Tin!

I wanted to read about his movies and his TV shows, and how he was trained, and to have the author paint a picture in my mind of this heroic German Shepherd leaping 12 feat and crashing through a plate-glass window to save the day.

On that, score, I was badly disappointed. And for that reason, I gave this book two stars …

I did love the cover …

Egad! Deer Flies in North Carolina?

Let me just say up front, I hate Deer Flies!

If you’ve read my collection of short stories called Adirondack Bear Tales, you probably know I grew spending my summers at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. I made my first camping trip at all of 6-mos-old. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, my mother made my first sleeping bag out of an old flannel blanket and a paper bag.

Summers at Raquette Lake were filled non-stop adventures that many boys only dream about. Fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, swimming, exploring, and even getting lost in those deep North Woods.

However, there are just one or two things that could be a bit of a pain when spending time in the Adirondacks. One of those is Deer Flies!

You can avoid the worst of the black flies and mosquitoes by waiting until mid-summer or early fall before venturing into the area. By then, the black flies are about gone and the mosquito population has been reduced to a tolerable level. However, deer flies are quite another story.

As you walked up and down the sandy dirt roads of Burketown, the deer flies would circle your head incessantly, looking for an opportunity to swoop in and nail you. The only positive was that, since they did continuously circle you, you could often snatch them out of the air and squish them … which always gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Of course, wearing a hat helped. But I have always really hated wearing hats and only do so now when there is really no choice.

deer flies

Meet the Deer Fly!

A deer fly looks like a cross between a horsefly and a yellow-jacket. While their bites do hurt, fortunately they are nothing like a yellow jacket sting. Note the swept back delta-type wing. I always thought with a wing like that, they should be able to fly so much faster. Of course, that would make them harder to snatch out of the air and squish.

So, what prompted this post on the deer fly you might ask (or you might not, but I will tell you anyway!). I thought I had left them behind (other than for the occasional trip back to Raquette Lake). I moved to Tennessee at the age of 19 and lived there 36 years, and never saw a deer fly.

I moved to Cary, North Caroline and lived there 3 years and never saw a deer fly either.

But recently I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and there (while exercising my GSD, Sophie) just the other day, I snatched two deer flies out of the air and squished them. And, while I did get an enormous sense of satisfaction out of squishing them, I am thinking seriously about moving back to Tennessee!

deer flies

Sophie has seconded that motion. She is not overly fond of the deer flies either.

If you are looking for a good quick read, check out Adirondack Bear Tales. I think you will get a real kick out of it. Sophie even stars in one of the stories. She likes to tell how she “saved me” from the mother black bear with her two cubs on our last trip to Raquette Lake.

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Interview: Success Comes One Step At A Time!

What are you doing to succeed as an author?

My first ever interview as an author!

interviewAfter reviewing my novel, Serpents Underfoot, John Purvis was gracious enough to interview me for a post on his blog, John’s Notes! I feel honored! My very first interview as an author! How absolutely cool is that? I will do my level best not to get the “big head.” I do still need to get through doors! I guess if I get too cocky … Sophie can knock me down a peg or two.

John had some really good questions!

John did ask some really great questions. I hope my answers inspire other aspiring authors. Or, at least give them a few practical tips they use to further their writing careers. I got some really great tips talking to other authors. Christopher Woods, the author of the SoulGuard series and other works took time at a book signing to offer me a few tips that were very helpful. This is actually one of the main reasons I do attend writer’s conferences … to talk top other writers. It can certainly make a difference.

A few segments from the interview

John:  How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Me: There is an old saying, “write you know.” That may, in fact, be kind of limiting. I say, “write what you enjoy.” If you are not interested and enjoying what you write, how can you be good at it? I think I tell the story and then see what genre it fits in.

John:  I think that is very good advice for the prospective author. Where do your story ideas come from?

Me: I start with a character or an idea. Then I let the story unfold on its own.

John  I know that you say you prefer just to see where an idea takes you, but do you work to an outline at all?

Me: I do use a loose outline. That functionality (essentially drag and drop chapter and scenes) is built right into the tool I use for my first drafts. I think working from a plot is too confining or limiting.

If you are interested in reading the rest of the interview, here is the link!

https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/2018/06/28/interview-with-author-darren-c-gilbert/

And if you are interested in acquiring a personalized copy of my novel, Serpents Underfoot, check out my online store!

interview And, here’s Sophie!

Reviews and Other Odds and Ends!

Great Reviews for Serpents Underfoot!

What awesome reviews! ReviewsThank you, Brad Glentrier, for the great review on my website.  I do really appreciate any feedback, both positive, and even negative! Positive because it feels good, and negative because it will help me to ensure the next book, will be even better!  That being said, if you have the time, and are willing, please also review the book on Amazon.com!  That would be very helpful to me.  Thanks again!!

Sales are good!

Serpents Underfoot UpdateHardcover, paperbacks, and Kindle versions are selling pretty well. I know it takes time and hard work to get the word out, get some good reviews, and increase sales, but I am happy with how things are progressing. Yesterday, someone I know who had bought the Kindle version originally asked me to sign the hardcover edition that had arrived from Amazon.com the day before. It was quite an honor and exciting to sign my first hardcover edition autograph!  It was actually kind of humbling!

New Exposure

My books can now be found at AUTHORSdb and on Pinterest!  I am just trying to get a little more professional exposure.  This is a very interesting and exciting journey. Headed to an Author’s Cocktail Hour at the Bond Brother’s Brewery here in Cary next Wednesday. When you go, you take a copy of your book to put on the book table. Then when you leave, you take a copy of someone else’s book with you. Sounds interesting!  I have had a few of Bond Brother’s beers at different locations and events around Cary.  Looking forward to it!

Shameless Plug

So, by the accounts of those who have read my first novel, Serpents Underfoot, it is pretty darn good. I am thinking you should order a copy!  Either a hardcover, paperback or Kindle version from Amazon or a sign hardcover or paperback from my website. My German Shepherd, Sophie, would greatly appreciate it!

Sophie

 

So You Think You Want A German Shepherd!

Sophie_10WFor a long time, I have wanted a German Shepherd. I think it stemmed from watching the show Run, Joe, Run which aired in the mid-70s.

The show centered on Joe, a German Shepherd dog in the military’s K-9 corps, and his master, Sergeant Will Corey. One day, during training, Joe was falsely accused of attacking his master, a crime for which the dog would be euthanized as punishment. However, he escaped before being killed and a $200 bounty was put on his head.

Sgt. Corey knew Joe was innocent and so pursued him, hoping to find Joe before the authorities did. While on the run, Joe would help people he encountered. Looking back, it was a silly show, but it certainly made me want a German Shepherd.

German Shepherds are probably best known for their heroic work as rescue dogs or as K-9 police or military dogs. However, there is so much more to this great breed. They are big, courageous dogs with a sensitive side.

Sophie_9WI got Sophie from a breeder in Fayetteville, North Carolina in May of 2016. She was 6-weeks-old. There were two females left in the litter, Sophie and her sister. Sophie was the smaller of the two but she bravely walked right up to me, sniffed my fingers and then squatted and piddled. It was a done deal! I brought her home that day and named her Gilbert’s Princess Sophia. Of course, that is her official AKC registered name.  I call her Sophie for short!  Sophie is now almost one year old. Over this past year, I have learned a great deal about German Shepherds.  Here are the Top 10 things I have learned:

1. German Shepherds are extremely intelligent. You cannot pull the same trick on Sophie more than maybe twice. It simply will not work on her any more after that because she has figured it out. German Shepherds also have great problem solving skills! Sophie loves solving puzzles.

2. German Shepherds are absolutely fanatic toy hoarders and they really don’t like to share at all. We are working on that one.

3. German Shepherds always happy to see you, whether it’s been all day or 10 minutes … but I guess that can also be said of most dogs. However, Sophie can also be very in tune with my feelings and will definitely act accordingly.  She also firmly believes she is a lap-dog and works hard to make me a believer too

Sophie_10M4. German Shepherds are working dogs and happiest when they have a job to do. Right now Sophie loves her training and wants to please me. One afternoon, we were working on the “Place” command and she had real trouble getting up on a high narrow brick wall. It was not easy, because it was too high to step up onto and she could not see the top to well. She had to jump up and land on a rather small area. She failed several times and become despondent when she simply could not seem to do it. It was clear we could not leave her like that! So our trainer Taylor, with Off Leash K9 dog training, and I worked maybe another 30 minutes getting her to succeed at that task. She lit up like a little kid when she succeeded … after that, we just couldn’t keep her off that wall. I am going to have to find more work for her. I am looking at agility training and getting her a backpack for hiking. Taylor, by the way, is a great dog trainer!

5. German Shepherds are very communicative. Sophie doesn’t really bark for barking’s sake, but she certainly does talk to me. She tries to tell me what she wants or needs! Sometimes she even smarts off a bit (we are working on that as well).

6. German Shepherds are always ready to accompany you wherever you go. They are truly a companion dog and with training, really know how to be well behaved in public.

7. German Shepherds want to be first in your life and will work hard to make sure you never have a quiet moment to yourself. They want to be where you are at all times. Even while running and playing at the dog park, Sophie will keep tabs on where I am at all times (must be that herding instinct!).Sophie_9M

8. German Shepherds really do shed a lot … and, by George, I do mean a lot! However, I soon discovered, upon recommendation by few folks at the local dog park, that the Furminator is a godsend to German Shepherd owners!

9. Yes, German Shepherds can certainly be fierce and protective, but they are also big lovable, fun-loving playmates when it comes to family, friends and even other family pets.

10. German Shepherds love water almost as much as they love their people. Sophie loves swimming in Jordan Lake, splashing in puddles and running around in the rain (not my favorite thing to do … but hey). She even tries to climb into the shower with me (we are also working on that). Sometimes when it gets too quiet and I wonder what she is up to, I find her laying in the bathtub gazing up longingly at the shower nozzle.

That really cracks me up!