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Asta The Wire-Haired Fox Terrier – June 5th, 2007

This week’s name is:

Asta

Asta (born Skippy) was a Wire-Haired Fox Terrier best known for his acting work in the 1934 detective comedy The Thin Man. He was trained by owners Henry East and Gale Henry East, and Frank Weatherwax. His other notable film performances include The Awful Truth (1937), as Mr. Smith, the subject of a custody dispute between Cary Grant and Irene Dunne; Bringing Up Baby (1938), as George, the bone-hiding pup belonging to Katharine Hepburn’s aunt; and Topper Takes a Trip (1938), as Mr. Atlas. Due to the enormous popularity of Asta, interest in pet terriers skyrocketed.

Interestingly, the original character of Asta in Dashiell Hammett’s book of the The Thin Man was not a Wire-Haired Fox Terrier, but a Schnauzer.

The American Magazine detailed Asta’s professional life in an August 1938 profile of the East kennels, titled “A Dog’s Life in Hollywood”:

His owner is Mrs. Gale Henry East, once a prominent movie comedienne. … “When Skippy has to drink water in a scene, the first time he does it he really drinks, If there are retakes and he’s had all the water he can drink, he’ll go through the scene just as enthusiastically as though his throat were parched, but he’ll fake it. If you watch closely you’ll see he’s just going through the motions of lapping and isn’t really picking up water at all. And, because he has a sense of humor, he loves it when you laugh and tell him you’ve caught him faking but that it’s all right with you.

“Treat a dog kindly and he’ll do anything in the world for you.”

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