Real-Life and Fictional Canine Heroes

USAFbombdog This is a picture of a real-life “Dynamutt,” a trained bomb-sniffing dog and member of the United States Air Force.  I first became familiar with these brave dogs’ training and work while writing Bomb Scares.  Bomb-sniffing dogs participate in hundreds, and often thousands of hours of training.  The best dogs can differentiate between hundreds of different scents, and are trained to identify two dozen or more specific odors that indicate the presence of explosive devices.

With such great dogs in the world, it’s truly hard to understand how cartoon canines could be so generally wretched.  In the 70’s, Scooby Doo (retarded detective dog – though smarter than his “master” Shaggy) had a spinoff called “Dynomutt.”

Dynomutt

Here he is – in all of his 3-color glory.

Another early 70’s cartoon canine was the horrifically-named Hong Kong Phooey.  This martial arts master with some type of rickshaw car solved crimes, while living a dual Clark Kent/Superman style life.  I remember his ridiculous voice; I was astonished to find that despite the Asian name — HKP was voiced by Scatman Crothers, definitely not an Asian performer.

Hongkongphooey

These dogs all look pretty similar after a while – the same body type, similar features, and just a color change here and there – like good old Huckleberry Hound.

The Disney dogs are a bit different than the Hanna-Barbera ones, of course.  From faithful Pluto, who acts pretty much as a dog should to Goofy – who’s classically “goofy.”

6497goofy

I’m sure we’ve all known our share of clumsy dogs and especially puppies, but I’m not sure these cartoon dogs, as differentiated from live-action hero dogs like Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin, accurately reflect even an exaggerated canine personality.

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This is in contrast to more realistic depictions – such as “Nipper,” the RCA-Victor mascot of “His Master’s Voice” fame.  Nipper purportedly got his name because he would nip at people’s ankles.  While he always seemed very Jack Russell-like to me, he was a mutt, but with a lot of bull terrier in him.

Another of my favorite live-action TV canine performers was “Meatball,” the bull terrier from the 1970’s TV show Black Sheep Squadron.Meatball01

There he is, and there’s even a “Pappy Boyington” satchel next to him.  Look at that cool chain!  I loved this dog, and loved the show too – I watched it every week.  It featured Robert Conrad (aka “James West”) as Maj. Greg “Pappy” Boyington and the rest of his crew of stuntmen/misfit actors fighting against the Japanese (multiple raids on Rabaul, I do remember that) in the South Pacific.

The thing that’s hard, I think, for people to portray in cartoons is the special canine nature.  All of the cartoon dogs I turned up or remembered seemed to feature exaggerated human traits, and hardly any exaggerated canine traits (I don’t think a die-hard “Nipper” would be a very entertaining cartoon for little kids).  Overall, I’ll take the real-life canine performers any day.  And let’s hope for a resurgence of these great bull terriers.  What great-hearted dogs they are!

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