When I was little, I adored Lassie. The idea of being rescued from a burning building or the bottom of a deep well by a devoted, perfectly groomed collie appealed to me much more than the standard knight-in-shining-armour routine.
Lassie could drag a full-grown human from the flames, bark for help, fend off a grizzly, or dig a hole around your body - pinned under a fallen tree - allowing you to crawl free. Lassie would save your life week after week, yet expected nothing more in return than a bowl of dog chow, a pat on the head, a warm place to sleep. Lassie was a very handy dog to have around.