In What Bizarre Fashion Was the Original Lassie Purchased?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The dog Pal was acquired TWICE for sums that, in retrospect, seem to be quite astronomically low.

The dog known as Pal came from a classic lineage of collies, but when Pal was born, his large eyes and that white spot on his forehead “ruined” him for anything more than being a straightforward pet dog.

Well, the man who ended up buying him was an animal trainer named Howard Peck. Peck brought Pal to a Hollywood animal trainer named Rudd Weatherwax because of Pal’s constant barking and annoying habit of chasing motorcycles. Weatherwax worked with the 8 month old dog for awhile, but while he made strides in other areas (like the constant barking), he couldn’t get Pal to stop chasing motorcycles. Peck, however, did not want the “not completely taught” dog back, so he agreed to give him to Weatherwax in exchange for the training fees that Peck owed him.

Weatherwax then gave the dog as a gift to a friend.

It was at this point that Weatherwax heard rumors that they were planning on making a movie adaptation of Eric Knight’s Lassie book, and Pal would fit perfectly for the role, so Weatherwax then bought Pal back from his friend…for $10!!!

You know what’s coming next!

Pal then went on to star in the aforementioned film adaption (1943’s Lassie Come Home, ALSO with Roddy McDowell, oddly enough!)…

Pal played Lassie in films and on TV for the next decade or so, and Pal’s lineage have played Lassie on TV for a number of decades, as well.

Pal’s son, Lassie II, was the main Lassie on the Lassie TV series…

Years later, Pal’s great-great-granddog, Boy, was Lassie in the popular 1979 Lassie film, The Magic of Lassie…

Pal’s descendants have played Lassie for more than four decades!

So you might imagine how well off this made Weatherwax (although Weatherwax WAS extremely attached to Pal – his family remarked that he was depressed for months after Pal died in 1954), and all for ten bucks and a few dog training lessons (Peck, of course, later tried to sue for ownership of Pal, but lost).

The legend is…


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