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Are You a Good Owner Or a Bad Owner?
A Pop Quiz From the Wiz

by Anne Leighton

Dog Camp

As much as Dorothy Gale of "The Wizard of Oz" adored her dog Toto, she was not always a responsible owner. When watching this classic 1939 movie musical, we're reminded of the good and bad ways Dorothy treated Toto and how we as real-life owners can refresh our dog care skills.

For example, Dorothy's continuous refusal to leash Toto is actually how the famous movie begins. The story starts with the little terrier and Dorothy running home in a panic. Dorothy tells of Toto running through Miss Gulch's garden and chasing her cat. Miss Gulch hit Toto with a rake, and the dog bit her.

Miss Gulch arrived at the Gale homestead and showed a warrant for the dog to be disposed of. Despite Dorothy's protests, Auntie Em realized she had to follow the law.

Realizing Miss Gulch would probably come back for the dog, Dorothy decided to run away. Their first stop? Sharing hot dogs with a traveling psychic. He showed them that Auntie Em was worried. Feeling guilty, Dorothy started to go back home. But, upon arriving home, a tornado came and brought her, Toto and their house to Munchkinland where they met the Good Witch of the North and the Bad Wicked Witch of the West. The Wicked Witch wanted to kill Dorothy because her house killed The Witch of the East. That's when the good witch Glenda, asks Dorothy that famous question: Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Let's change that around a little and ask:

Are you a bad owner or a good owner?

Scene: When the tornado hits the house, Dorothy and Toto are spun around in a violent whirl with the windows wide open. Why weren't there any window screens in Dorothy's bedroom? What if Toto had fallen out of the window during the tornado?
Real Life: Do you have window screens or safety bars on your windows?

Maugeri Dog Salon

Scene: Even after her brush with Miss Gulch, we still don't see a leash anywhere in the movie: not when Dorothy entered the unfamiliar Munchkinland, not in the scary forest with the lions and tigers and bears, nor the loud and smokey chambers of the Wizard. Has Dorothy forgotten she's not in Kansas anymore?
Real life: Do you keep your dog leashed when you're in an unfamiliar neighborhood? And at home, do you have window screens? Would you bring provisions like food if you decided to run away from home? Or, unfortunately, if you had to get you and your dog out of the house-quick? Are you prepared to?

Scene: In spite of her dog care mistakes, Dorothy defended Toto like she was a Presidential bodyguard. When the Cowardly Lion threatened to eat Toto, Dorothy slapped the bigger animal hard. She even offered to give the Wicked Witch her protective ruby slippers in hopes Toto's life would be spared.
Real Life: If a stranger acts in a way toward your dog that makes you uncomfortable or uneasy, move on. Remember: this is a living being you've made a commitment to.

Scene: In Oz, when Dorothy and her two legged friends were groomed, so was Toto!
Real Life: Take care of your dog's grooming with the same care you do your own. It will help them be happier, more comfortable, and healthier.

Scene: As she waited in the Wizard's hot air balloon, Dorothy was sure she was going home. As the Wizard lifted the anchors, Toto jumped out to chase a cat. Dorothy ran after him, possibly losing her chance to get home forever.
Real life: We can learn from this by keeping our dogs in our sight at all times and teaching them commands like "stop" or "no" or "come" are to be obeyed, immediately. That way, whether it be to keep them from chasing a tempting cat-or jumping out into the street-they know to obey.

The real Toto was a female Cairn Terrier originally named Terry. Her first film was 1934's BRIGHT EYES with Shirley Temple. The WIZARD OF OZ was a pivotal career move for Terry, who earned $125 a week and then followed in the footsteps of her costar (Francis Gumm who became Judy Garland), 'cause Terry changed her name to Toto.

One of the extras accidentally stepped on Toto's paw and sprained it while filming OZ. Animal trainers--who work on films-- don't allow anyone near their animals except when it comes to rehearsal and actual taping--and then it's only the people directly involved.

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