After a successful stint in the movies, Lassie made the move to the small screen in 1954, and began what turned out to be the best career for an animal in the history of TV. The stories in each Lassie episode might seem quaint now, but at the time this was the perfect family-oriented entertainment to get people’s minds off of complete nuclear annihilation during the Cold War.

The basic plot of every episode was pretty similar: bone-headed Timmy would get himself into some sort of trouble and it was up to Lassie to get him out of it. But there was something about watching that dog save the day that captured the hearts and minds of a generation of viewers. The way Lassie was trained and filmed provided a blueprint for other studios on how to introduce animals into their series the right way.