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Canine Stars: From Rover to Cosmo

Updated May 04, 2011

Starting in 1905 when Rover rescued a baby, dogs have been cinema’s unsung heroes. We look at some of the finest.

Cosmo (Arthur)
Blair (Rover)
Etzel von Oeringen (Strongheart)
Rin Tin Tin (Various Roles)
Skippy (Asta)
Pal (Lassie)
Pal (Petey)
Terry (Toto)
Spike (Old Yeller)
Buddy/Air Bud
Moose (Eddie)
Cosmo (Arthur)

Cosmo (Arthur)

One of the most beloved stars of Mike Mills’ poignant drama Beginners is Cosmo, the Jack Russell terrier who plays Arthur, the dog Oliver (Ewan McGregor) inherits from his father Hal (Christopher Plummer). For Mills, Arthur is Oliver’s “co-passenger” through the film. As a living connection to his deceased father, Arthur becomes for Oliver a friend, a confidant, and a sentient example of how we can love something we can never really understand. Rescued by trainer Mathilde de Cagny (who also trained the famed Moose/Eddie from the TV sitcom “Fraiser”), Cosmo made his screen debut as Friday in the comedy Hotel for Dogs, and then showed up again in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. At 9 years old, Cosmo may be a professional, but he continues to move those with whom he works. “I loved working with Cosmo,” McGregor acknowledges. “It’s tough, though, because you develop a bond with this wee dog, and then you have to say goodbye.”  To be sure, the history of dogs trained to perform in films, television and other entertainments has not always been either noble or humane. Yet many of these star canines (some of whom we spotlight in the following slideshow) continue to embody for filmgoers those qualities that make dogs both honorable in their own right and an essential part of the human experience.