09/27/2011 03:01 pm ET | Updated Nov 27, 2011

Rin Tin Tin Book By Susan Orlean Explores Dog's Life, Career And Relationship With His Owner

Move over, Lassie.

Rin Tin Tin might be considered "the most famous dog in the history of movies and television," and now Susan Orlean's latest book, "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend," explores the famous German Shepard's career and the tender relationship between owner Lee Duncan and his beloved dog.

Duncan was a corporal during World War I in France when he rescued Rin Tin Tin, his mother and her other puppies. Duncan, who was placed in an orphanage as a child, soon formed a special bond with the pup, which led Orlean to describe the pair as soul mates, she told the New York Times.

Duncan brought the dog back with him to Los Angeles, where he trained him to "act." Rin Tin Tin went on to star in several silent films, and his descendents have continued his legacy through television, movies and public appearances long after his death in 1932.

Orlean points out that during the 1920s, dogs were seen more as heroic figures, working on farms and battlefields, instead of pets. The portrayal of Rin Tin Tin, the character, shifted dramatically from his first silent-film debut to his offspring's role in the television series, "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," in the 1950s, when dogs were seen more as children, according to the New York Times.

The book's inside jacket describes Rin Tin Tin as the "dog who was born in 1918 and never died." News of his death interrupted regularly scheduled programming and included an hour-long broadcast on his life, according to NPR, but his offspring continue to carry on his legend through today. Rin Tin Tin the XXII recently presided over the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, CBS reports.

Orlean has been working on the book since 2004, conducting research in France, California and other parts of the US. The Simon & Schuster publication, which was officially released Sept. 27, is available for purchase for $26.99.

Orlean is a veteran staff writer for The New Yorker. She has written other books, including "The Orchid Thief."

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