A Dog with Bite: Asta

While many know this canine cutie as “Asta," the Wire Fox Terrier’s actual name was Skippy.

He began his career around age 1 when he made appearances in shorts and films, including one with The Three Stooges.

But his big break came thanks to the The Thin Man. The adorable pooch charmed audiences, so much so that he got top billing alongside his human co-stars William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Skippy received training from his owners, Henry and Gale East, as well as Frank Inn and Frank and Rudd Weatherwax. The Weatherwax brothers also trained other famous dogs like Toto, Old Yeller, Benji, and Lassie (read more about him here).

Skippy (sometimes called the “Laurence Olivier of Dogs”) knew how to play hide and seek, do a backflip, howl on command, and cover his face.

In order to get Skippy to do tricks, his trainer used a rubber mouse named “Oslo."

“He did everything for a little squeaky mouse,” Myrna Loy said. “I’d squeak the mouse and put it in my pocket, and then Asta would do whatever he was supposed to do.”

When he wasn’t performing, Skippy was often in his dressing room, so as to not to break his concentration. He ate a healthy diet of vegetables and made sure to get at least 12 hours of rest. After all, he did his own stunts.

Skippy’s rate was approximately $200 per week (more than the average dog in Hollywood), while his trainer got $60.

Some of Skippy’s credits include The Awful Truth (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne), Bringing Up Baby (Grant and Katharine Hepburn), and It’s a Small World (Spencer Tracy and Wendy Barrie).