Before Lassie, before Rin Tin Tin, even before broadcast television itself, there was Petey — the canine character in the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedies who sported a distinctive dark circle around his right (or was it left?) eye.
Just as plenty of myths have floated up and been deflated around the kid actors who played roles in the series — like Spanky, Alfalfa and Buckwheat — the historical record is so fuzzy when it comes to Petey that trying to separate the facts from the fictions can leave one … well, stymied.
I knew the dog who played Petey was a pit bull (though some dispute that). I assumed the ring around his eye was entirely fake (though some dispute that, too). I’d heard he, in real life, was murdered and that he was buried in a Los Angeles pet cemetery (though not everybody agrees on the specifics of those events, either).
When it comes to the canine star of the Our Gang/ Little Rascals comedies, there’s not too much one can say definitively — partly because there was more than one Petey, partly because 80-plus years have passed, and partly because it all happened in Hollywood, a land where truth and myth often spill across their borders and into each other.
But I’m relatively sure this karma-filled episode — in which Petey is put into a gas chamber by a cranky dog warden who goes on to get what he deserved — was, ironically, Petey’s last. (Or at least the second Petey’s last.)
Entitled “The Pooch, it came out in 1932 — like all the “Our Gang” comedies, in movie theaters. Not until 1955 were they syndicated to appear on television as “The Little Rascals.”
The episode stars the second Petey, son of the first Petey, both of whom were owned by trainer Harry Lucenay.
Pal had appeared earlier in the role of Tige in the Buster Brown comedies.
It was for that role that, with dye, a partial dark circle around his eye was turned into a permanent full circle.
After signing a contract with Hal Roach Studios, Pal reportedly became the second highest paid actor of the “Our Gang” series.
Pal’s last appearance was in the 1930 episode, “A Tough Winter.”
Legend has it that Pal, in real life, died after eating meat tainted with poison, or glass. Some reports say the culprit was someone with a grudge against Lucenay.
Then again, legend also has it that Pal was buried with the actor who played Alfalfa, which — given the decades that passed between their deaths — is likely not true at all.
After the death of Pal, who appeared mostly in the “Our Gang” silent films, Lucenay turned to one of Pal’s descendants, a pup with slightly different coloring.
The second Petey, named Lucenay’s Pete, was just six months old when he took over the role. He lacked Petey One’s distinctive eye circle, so one was supplied by a make-up artist named Max Factor, according to Wikipedia.
Likely unaware that it would lead to confusion, the trainer had the second Petey’s circle applied around his left eye, while the first Petey’s encircled his right eye.
Eight decades later, the migrating eye circle remains one of the most hotly debated pieces of Little Rascals trivia.
As a rule, if you see a Petey with a circle around his right eye, it’s the first Petey; if you see a Petey with the circle around his left eye, it’s Petey two.
All that gets further complicated, though, by the fact that many of the images one can find of Petey are the result of reversed negatives, and even more complicated by the fact that, all along, multiple dogs, with slightly different markings, were used in the filming of the series.
Apparently, continuity was not too much of a concern among directors back then.
In any case, the second Petey served from 1930 to 1932, when Lucenay was fired.
There were multiple subsequent dogs — all from different bloodlines — who played the role of Petey between 1932 and 1939, when the final Our Gang episode was released in theaters.
The second Petey retired with Lucenay to Atlantic City and would die at age 18.
Like so much else about them, the second Petey’s final resting place, as with the first Petey’s, is disputed, according to Roadside America.
While Petey was a pit bull, an American bulldog was used in the 1994 “Little Rascals” movie.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alfalfa, animals, buckwheat, circle, dog, dog warden, dogs, dye, entertainment, eye, gas chamber, harry lucenay, little rascals, our gang, pal, pete, petey, pets, pit bull, pitbull, rumors, spanky, stymie, the pooch, trainer, trivia, urban legends
A few minutes of doggie CPR brought some fame to a well-known Washington state dog trainer, some notoriety to the dog’s owner and — more important than either of those — new life for a 4-year-old boxer named Sugar.
Sugar and owner were attending an obedience lesson last weekend when the dog suffered a seizure and stopped breathing.
Ron Pace, 54, who owns Canyon Crest K9 Training Center in the Tacoma area, used a version of CPR to get Sugar breathing again — with everything after Sugar’s seizure being captured on videotape.
Sugar’s owner, Tiffany Kauth of Bremerton, has received numerous interview requests and some Internet fame, not all of it positive. Among those who have commented on the video on YouTube, many are critical of her crying during the traumatic experience.
Pace has been getting calls for interviews as well, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “E-mails are coming in every five minutes, Facebook posts. It’s pretty amazing how quickly it can spread nowadays,” he said.
A dog trainer for 34 years, Pace helped launch the Tacoma Police K9 program. He also started a program that trains service dogs to assist people with diabetes.
In the video, Pace calmly checks the dog’s airway and continues doing chest compressions until Sugar finally moves.
Sugar was rushed to a veterinarian and has been diagnosed with a heart problem, for which he’s being treated, his owner said.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, boxer, canyon crest, canyon crest k9 training center, class, cpr, dog, dog cpr, dogs, first aid, health, life saving, lifesaving, obedience, pets, rescue, rescued, rescusciation, ron pace, safety, saved, seizure, sugar, tacome, tiffany kauth, trainer, video
“We are sad to announce that after 16 years of marriage we have decided to file for divorce. The decision was made after much consideration and time. We remain caring friends, and are fully committed to the co-parenting of our two boys,” said a statement posted on Millan’s website Friday.
People magazine reports that Ilusion Millan filed for divorce at Los Angeles court Friday, citing irreconcilable differences. She is seeking primary physical custody of the kids with visitation for Cesar, 40, as well as spousal support from the longtime host of the National Geographic Channel’s “Dog Whisperer.”
Millan came to the U.S. from Mexico with $100 in his pocket and a dream of becoming a famous dog trainer. He succeeded – with the help of some famous Hollywood clients — establishing an empire that includes dog products, a television show, a new magazine and several best-selling books.
His show begins its sixth season Oct. 9 and his fourth book, “How to Raise the Perfect Dog,” is in stores now.
Millan and his wife also founded the nonprofit Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, which promotes animal welfare by supporting the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of abused and abandoned dogs.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: books, cesar, cesar millan, divorce, dog whisperer, dogs, empire, filed, filing, husband, ilusion, los angeles, magazine, marriage, milan, national geographic channel, pets, splitting up, trainer, tv, wife
Lee Mannix, a Texas-based, internationally respected dog behaviorist, was killed Sunday in a one-car accident.
Mannix, 40, was founder of the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior in South Austin, and his clients included musician Jimmie Dale Gilmore and author Kinky Friedman.
“There are very few people who have the touch, and Lee certainly had it,” said Friedman, who co-founded the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. “His ability to relate to animals was second to none. He could take a dog that everybody’s having trouble with and thinks is ferocious and untameable, and two or three weeks later it’s a totally different dog. Lee came in as an equal, and the dogs just loved him.”.
Mannix, 40, was killed in a single-vehicle accident Sunday in Hays County. His brother Kevin, also in the vehicle, survived, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Mannix wasn’t always drawn to dogs; for 12 years he avoided them entirely. When he was 8, a German shepherd bit him so severely he required 130 stitches. He shunned dogs until he was 20, when a friend gave him a dog.
Mannix worked at the Austin Humane Society and DogBoy’s Positive Power Kennels in Pflugerville, and headed a local humane society in Colorado.
As a trainer, Mannix specialized in canine aggression problems.
“I can get a dog to do anything I want it to do. The thing is training the owner to do it,” Mannix said last summer. “So I don’t train dogs per se; I train owners to understand their dog’s behavior and get it right.”
Author Friedman noted: “There are lots of important people out there, politicians and the like. But I think Lee Mannix was significant. And there is a distinction there … He’s the kind of guy who has opened the gates of heaven wider.”
Memorial donations may be made to the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, aggression, animals, austin, auto, behavior, behaviorist, canine, car, dog, dogs, killed, kinky friedman, lee mannix, lee mannix center, news, pets, texas, trainer, training
Here’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.
Breed: Scottish Terrier
AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)
Age: 4 years
Residence: Rialto, California
Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.
Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.
Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.
Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill
Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.
Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.
Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.
Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.
Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, beauty, best in show, california, dog show, dogs, exercise, family, fetish, grooming, habits, mercedes of maryscot, owner, pets, purebred, rialto, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, shoes, statistics, trainer, treats, vital, westminster, westminster dog show
Coming up on his first birthday, Scooby-Roo has come a long way since he was found five months ago — with no front legs, living with his sister in a wrecked car in a gang-ridden neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
His first break came when a good samaritan picked him and his sister up. His second came when they were taken in by Fuzzy Rescue. Since then, his story has led to offers of help from Demi Moore, Alyssa Milano, Michael Jackson’s children and many others.
Today, still under the care of Fuzzy Rescue, he has a therapist and a personal trainer and can look forward to a masseuse and acupuncturist, the Associated Press reports.
Not long after Roo arrived at Fuzzy Rescue in Santa Monica — caked in blood from scooting around on the asphalt — the non-profit organization’s director, Sheila Choi send out mass emails looking for donations and other support.
After that, celebrities began tweeting about Roo, from Demi Moore to Shannon Elizabeth. Alyssa Milano saw a YouTube video of the dog and called Choi, promising to help any way she could. Michael Jackson’s children, Prince and Paris, saw a TV report about Roo and began raising money to help out.
With the celebrity help, Choi collected $2,000 for a set of custom wheels for Roo, who is believed to have been born without legs.
On Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough, this sweetheart of a dog turns one.
Here’s an updated report on Scooby-Roo from Fuzzy Rescue:
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, alyssa milano, animals, birthday, celebrities, challenged, demi moore, dog, dogs, emails, first, front legs, fuzzy rescue, gangs, handicapped, legs, los angeles, michael jackson, missing, paris, pets, prince, rescue, roo, santa monica, scooby-roo, shannon elizabeth, sheila choi, south central, therapist, trainer, tweets, twitter, two-legged, valentines day
The body of the Pacific Northwest’s most famous dog trainer still hasn’t been found, but authorities have charged his ex-wife’s boyfriend with his murder.
T. Mark Stover was the Seattle area’s dog-trainer-to-the-stars, with clients that ranged from members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana to Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz to Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who entrusted Stover with his Shiba Inu.
Last month, employees at the kennel, Island Dog Adventures, 55 miles north of Seattle, found Stover’s dog, Dingo, shot in the face, but authorities could find no signs of Stover, other than smears of his blood in a downstairs bedroom and hallway.
Prosecutors have charged his ex-wife’s boyfriend, Michiel Oakes, with murder, according to an Associated Press report.
Stover, 57, and ex-wife Linda Opdycke, 45, opened Island Dog Adventures in the early 1990s on an island owned by her wealthy family. Her father was one of the founders of Washington’s biggest winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: arrest, belgian malinois, blood, chateau ste. michelle, dingo, divorce, dog, homicide, ichiro suzuki, island dog adventures, kennel, linda opdycke, mark stover, michiel oakes, murder, nirvana, northwest, pacific, pearl jam, seattle, shot, stover, suspect, t. mark stover, trainer, washington, winery