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Sunday, October 4, 2009

We're all going to the dogs

We're all going to the dogs...at least, the old dogs. When I wrote about Max, the oldest dog in the world at 26, I heard from Eric Shackle in Sydney. (FYI: Eric is copy editor of Seattle-based A Word A Day -- wordsmith.org -- a free newsletter for 'wordies.' He blogs at lifebeginsat80.blogspot.com Eric likes the old stuff and recently did a run-down of old dog age claims. One was reported to be 141 years-old... actually a mere 20 in dog years.)

Anyhow, reading his blog, I found out that someone thinks Scoobie Doo, who turns 40 this year, is the oldest 'non-real' dog. Sorry, not even close. He is, however, the best at discovering ghosts, and to this day, remains scared-to-death of 'em. I could swear it almost sounds like Scoobie is 'talking' when he whines.

So who are some of the other old dogs still around today?

Snoopy
is 69... today, in fact. He first appeared on Oct. 4th, 1950. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SNOOPY! Give us one of those happy, levitating moves... you know, the one where your eyes squint and your ears wiggle.

Lassie, the world's most famous dog (so says her website) first appeared in the 1957 movie, The Wayfarers. Being a real dog, she would be pretty old... except Lassie was played, over time, by 10 different dogs... all males. (Is there a dog glass ceiling too?) My favorite Lassie movie line: "What is it Lassie? Timmy's in the well?" If it wasn't for Lassie, Timmy wouldn't be here today.

We can't forget Marmaduke. This loveable great dane was first seen in the spring of 1954, so he is 53... still pretty old for a dog... especially an overgrown lap dog.

Hagar the Horrible's dog, Snert, is just a kid in cartoon dog years at 46. He is supposed to be a hunting dog but never pays any attention to Hagar. Snert occupies a special place in my heart because one of my favorite, early dogs was a poodle-mix character of characters that I named Snert. He loved me more than any other person, place or thing ever could. That's what dogs do. Snert did have a companion dog, Hagar.

Can't forget Disney's Pluto. His first movie was The Chain Gang in 1930. So Pluto started collecting Social Security 14 years ago. Only one Disney character was more 'goofy' than Pluto.

However, the crown goes to Chic Young's Daisy, who beat out Pluto by a few months. Daisy, of course, was Blondie and Dagwood's dog... the one who helped raise Cookie and Alexander. I'd say she did a fine job of it except that those kids are still... kids. I wish I aged like comic strip characters.

Since Daisy (I wrongly thought) wins the oldest dog title, real or imagined, I looked her up on Blondie.com . Interesting website filled with fun facts (if comics are facts). The Blondie strip (and it is called Blondie) originally began with Dagwood as her beau.

Blondie Boopadoop was a looker who every 1930s zoot-suited guy dreamed of, even though she came from the wrong side of the tracks. But it was Dagwood, with all his clumsiness, that caught her eye. Now Dagwood had credentials. He was the bumbling son of J. Bolling Bumpstead, the fabulously wealthy railroad man who not only owned all the property on this side of the track, he owned all the property on the other side too... and the 3,000 miles of track that separated them.

The 'strip' changed abruptly when the depression hit America and millionaires went out of vogue. So Dagwood was disinherited when he married Blondie, his true love, forsaking all the money. A 'true' fake love story.

Whoops! The Queen is dead. Long live the King. Just recalled Buster Brown's dog TIGE, who first appeared in a comic on May 4, 1902. So Tige, an American pit bull terrier, is 107 years-old and still appears regularly in the inside sole of every pair of Buster Brown children's shoes. Buster's side-kick is Mary Jane, another shoe type. (Hmm. Coincidence?) The Buster (named after Buster Keaton) Brown association with the shoe company happened early in Tige's 'life,' at the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis where a shoe company purchased the rights to the name and it's characters.

I do remember an early kid's radio show, Let's Pretend, sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes. My favorite show character was 'Froggie, the Gremlin,' who was invisible to do his pranks until he "plunked his magic twanger. BOINGGGG!" The Buster Brown commercial lead off with a barking dog, Tige. Buster would say, "That's my dog, Tige. He lives in a shoe. I'm Buster Brown. Look for me in there too."

OK. That's enough old dogs for now. You can't teach em new tricks anyway.

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