The creator of the comic strip ‘Mutts’ frees his Guard Dog character after decades

by Chloe Baker
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Comic Strip Liberation

The creator of the comic strip ‘Mutts’ has decided to grant freedom to his character, Guard Dog, after decades of being a symbol of the cruelty of dog chaining. Patrick McDonnell, the cartoonist behind the popular strip, shared his thoughts with The Big Big News before the release of Thursday’s comic panel.

In this pivotal moment, Earl’s owner is seen kneeling beside the dog, making the announcement: “We have to remove this chain.” By the next strip on Friday, the chain will be gone, symbolizing Guard Dog’s liberation.

McDonnell revealed that he had been contemplating this decision, acknowledging that he couldn’t keep the character chained forever. He reflected on the storyline, saying, “I had a vague idea what the story was going to be, but I finally took some time and said, ‘Well, what is that story?’ And I was happy with what I came up with. So I said, ‘Now’s the time to do it.'”

The comic strip ‘Mutts’ made its debut in 1995, featuring two beloved characters, Earl the small canine and Mooch the feline with a penchant for saying “Yesh.” Guard Dog was introduced about a year later as an antagonist for the heroes. However, as McDonnell delved into the character’s development, he realized that Guard Dog was not a typical villain but rather a tragic figure.

For years, Guard Dog was depicted sitting alone in the grass or howling at the moon, often holding a piece of paper with his “To Do List,” which had only one item: “Remind people of man’s inhumanities.” Doozy, a neighborhood girl, would regularly visit him, bringing kindness and companionship, even on frigid nights.

Fans of Guard Dog had long urged McDonnell to free the character, but animal welfare groups also lobbied to keep him chained to raise awareness of the issue. McDonnell, torn between these perspectives, felt that if his work inspired even one family to bring their dog inside, it was worthwhile.

In the lead-up to Guard Dog’s liberation, McDonnell crafted a compelling seven-week storyline in which the owner moved away, leaving Guard Dog utterly alone. The other animals and children rallied to save him, emphasizing the theme of compassion.

As of 2022, numerous states and localities have enacted laws to regulate dog tethering and chaining, addressing factors like the length of time, weather conditions, and collar types. The ‘Mutts’ landing page provides resources on adoption, animal welfare, and anti-chaining legislation, reflecting McDonnell’s dedication to these causes.

McDonnell, who served on the board of the Humane Society of the United States for 18 years, looks forward to depicting a happy Guard Dog, free from the chain, while still radiating his love for life and the characters who visit him in the world of ‘Mutts.’

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Comic Strip Liberation

What is the significance of Guard Dog’s liberation in the ‘Mutts’ comic strip?

Guard Dog’s liberation in ‘Mutts’ is a significant moment in the comic strip’s history. It represents the end of decades of portraying the character chained and alone, highlighting the cruelty of dog chaining. This storyline aims to raise awareness about animal welfare and inspire compassion.

When did ‘Mutts’ comic strip first premiere?

‘Mutts’ premiered in 1995, introducing readers to beloved characters like Earl and Mooch. Guard Dog was later added to the cast as an antagonist for the heroes.

How did Patrick McDonnell come up with the idea for Guard Dog?

Patrick McDonnell conceived Guard Dog by sketching a tough-looking dog with a studded collar and a chain. However, he soon realized that Guard Dog was not a typical villain but a tragic character, leading to his unique role in the comic.

What motivated Patrick McDonnell to finally free Guard Dog?

McDonnell felt that the time had come to free Guard Dog when he developed a compelling storyline that resonated with him. He recognized that he couldn’t keep the character chained forever and decided that the moment was right to grant him freedom.

What impact has ‘Mutts’ had on the issue of dog tethering and chaining?

‘Mutts’ has played a role in raising awareness of dog tethering and chaining. While some fans urged McDonnell to free Guard Dog, others saw value in keeping the character chained to spotlight the issue. The comic strip has sparked discussions about animal welfare and inspired positive actions.

Does ‘Mutts’ provide resources related to animal welfare?

Yes, the ‘Mutts’ landing page offers resources on adoption, animal welfare groups, and information on advancing anti-chaining legislation. Patrick McDonnell has also been actively involved in organizations dedicated to animal welfare.

What can readers expect after Guard Dog’s liberation?

Readers can anticipate seeing Guard Dog as a free and happy character in future ‘Mutts’ comic strips. He will continue to radiate his love for life and the other characters who visit him, no longer burdened by the chain.

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