Book Review: “Four Feet to Fame: A Hollywood Dog Trainer’s Journey”

Every now and again, I’ll be posting a book review on this fansite.
The inspiration for today’s book review came after writing about a particular Ōkami fan artwork in my previous post, which reminded me of the great “Lassie” story.
I’ve read lots of dog-related books, and watched lots of dog-related movies over the years. This particular book I’ve read in June 2017, about a remarkable dog trainer whose work has positively influenced my own life.

Lassie TV series intro screenshot - Lassie standing on a rock.
A heroine on four paws – Lassie!: Wrather Corp/DreamWorks

Superstar Lassie, the on-screen TV and movie icon who has since the early 40s positively-and-forever influenced millions of people around the world for generations.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the “behind the scenes” book about the genial and original dog trainer and owner of the dogs known to the world as “Lassie” – Rudd Weatherwax. The book was written by Rudd’s son Bob Weatherwax – a legendary dog trainer in his own right, and author Richard Lester.
Rather than a training book, this book is more of a tribute to Rudd Weatherwax and also a personal recollection of memories and insights into the Weatherwax family of legendary dog trainers, whose legacy – in an increasingly synthetic world – invited a more personal and natural understanding of man’s oldest and best friend:
“Four Feet to Fame: A Hollywood Dog Trainer’s Journey”.

Cover page of "Four Feet to Fame: A Hollywood Dog Trainer's Journey"
Four Feet to Fame: Bob Weatherwax & Richard Lester

Like with everything else in life, greatness comes at a cost. However, the Weatherwax family of dog trainers with their groundbreaking and enduring efforts in bringing the hearts and minds of people and dogs closer together, have as a result helped inspire an immeasurable amount of goodness around the world.
These are just some examples: From something as simple as proving to a viewer young or old, that dogs share with humans more emotions, intelligence and heart than first believed, to inspiring careers in caring for animals, believably presenting innocent virtue on the TV screen to those seeking it, extending empathy towards nature-and-animal life and helping create stories and images in peoples’ minds that are remembered with untarnished fondness.

Chances are, that you also would have experienced some form of positivity in your own life – perhaps, when the nurse or veterinarian who cared about the wellbeing of your pet, had been positively inspired in his or her own life by (the achievements of) this dog trainer family’s remarkable and outstanding lifework.

Lassie emerging from a river.
“Lassie had emerged”: MGM, DreamWorks

Like many others, I had watched old TV episodes and movies of Lassie when I was very young (back in the late 80s, early 90s). Those impressive dog stories and their experiences left on my young mind, a lasting positive impression. The Lassie dogs’ “film-acting” had reached a level of authenticity I had never seen before.

My parents and grandparents did own dogs before I was born, but not for the first 12 years of my life. They told me that dogs were a great friend to mankind and much more than mere creatures driven by instinct, as was still a dominant belief at the time.

Thanks to stories like Lassie on TV and in books, I could see just how true my family’s experiences were. The positive things I already knew about dogs were confirmed when my parents had adopted them again, and since then we have never been without our best doggie-friends.

Collie dog sniffing "Four Feet to Fame" book.

A lot of quality talent needs to come together, to create a great movie – when there’s a canine character, the trainer’s positive engagement and leading role is especially vital.

In “Four Feet to Fame”, you will find stories of some surprisingly pivotal decisions and moments, that could have resulted in Lassie never making it beyond a single black-and-white movie. There are also personal behind-the-scenes insights into the process of movie-making, dog training and the teamwork of influential Hollywood figures of the time (including members of the Weatherwax family and friends). However, Bob Weatherwax made a point to mention that the main focus was to remain on his father Rudd and his tireless efforts and role in helping bring the Legendary Lassie into our lives.

In my opinion, one doesn’t need to be a fanatical “dog-person” to find inspiration for earning accomplishment through bad (and good) times, when reading Bob Weatherwax’s “Four Feet to Fame”. In fact, the Weatherwax dog trainers have in their chosen profession achieved an outstanding greatness that can’t ever be taken away from them; nor their big love for dogs, and also profound understanding of their positively-influential passion and business:

Such remarkable insights offered in the mentioned book will forever find my interest, as they provide a personal reflection of a life not only dedicated in trying to bring something rarely positive and lasting to the world, but also being successful in doing so.

Cover page of "Four Feet to Fame: A Hollywood Dog Trainer's Journey"
Four Feet to Fame

You can order the book from the publisher “BearManor Media” (paperback and hardback), and at “Barnes & Noble” (paperback):

Title: Four Feet to Fame: A Hollywood Dog Trainer’s Journey
Barnes & Noble:
Bob Weatherwax website:
Published: 2017
ISBN-13: 9781629330921

Extra info:

  1. The father of “Rudd Weatherwax” is “Walter Smiley Weatherwax” (May 31, 1867 – January 19, 1943)
    Website –
  2. The original “Lassie” owner and trainer is Ruddell Bird “Rudd” Weatherwax (September 23, 1907 – February 25, 1985), commonly known as “Rudd Weatherwax” and is the person on the cover of “Four Feet to Fame”
    Website – and
  3. The son of “Rudd Weatherwax” is Robert Walter “Bob” Weatherwax (born June 4, 1941), commonly known as “Bob Weatherwax
    Website –

As with all my recommendations, I don’t receive any “kickbacks” for making them – there is no payment or “affiliate linking” and it’s 100% my own opinion.

By Web Developer Ben – Fansite Founder and Owner.
Passionate dog person, but also likes cats and animals in general. Web developer and online producer, who became an Ōkami fan after coming across nice fanart eleven years ago and then playing the video game. Now inspired to do the same for other potential fans.

Feel free to get in touch or leave comments, below:

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