Hang On, Snoopy

I remember my wife telling me that she’d heard how Charles Schulz thought it was stupid to talk to dogs, and reflected this somewhat with Snoopy’s relationship with Charlie Brown. I can’t find any corroboration of this, and indeed Snoopy’s intelligence makes it seem weird that anyone would ever consider NOT talking to him. That said, Snoopy developed quite a bit over the years, with some earlier gags having him not remember Charlie Brown’s name and only really appreciate him because “the round-headed kid” feeds him.

This is a common stereotype of pets that I’ve never found to be quite true in practice. Hey, I usually feed our cat Wally, but he still favors my wife.

Pretty much every website on Schulz will tell you that Snoopy was largely based on his own rather intelligent black and white dog from childhood, a mostly-pointer mixed breed who would eat just about anything. Apparently Schulz had originally wanted to name his creation Sniffy, but since that name was in use in another comic strip, he went with Snoopy instead. The dog first appeared in the strip in October 1950, but didn’t start expressing himself in thought balloons for almost two years after that, and began walking upright in 1957.

In the animated specials, Snoopy’s thoughts are not verbalized (unlike, say, Garfield, another animal character who communicates in thought balloons in the original strip), instead just making noises.

Some of those don’t sound particularly dog-like, and he definitely doesn’t sound like a beagle, a breed known for being especially loud.

He doesn’t look like a beagle either, but then, neither do the Beagle Boys. He’s often shown typing out boiler-plate novels, and while human characters do read them, he apparently never uses typing as a way to express other ideas to humans.

I do, however, recall one television special that mixed animation with live action, and was narrated by Charlie Brown reading Snoopy a letter from his brother Spike. I guess nobody in this universe thinks dogs being able to type but not talk is unusual. Woodstock and the other birds seem to be able to understand Snoopy’s thought-speech, and he their vertical lines.

While usually thought of as a happy character, with his most famous move being his happy dance, Snoopy seems to experience failure and ennui fairly often.

The thing is, he can deal with them better than many of his non-canine fellows because he can retreat into his imagination. His flights of fancy where he pictures his doghouse as a plane he uses to battle the Red Baron in World War I has proven especially popular, but I’m not sure how he learned about Baron von Richthofen in the first place. (I seem to recall that, when I was a kid, I thought a baron was a kind of pilot.)

There are some pretty fantastic aspects to Snoopy’s everyday life as well, even if he doesn’t always see it that way. For instance, his doghouse is bigger on the inside than the outside and contains a lot of outlandish things, although he still spends most of his time on the roof.

He can play musical instruments, roller skate, ride a motorcycle, and play shortstop on Charlie Brown’s baseball team.

As much as Charlie Brown laments that he can’t have a normal dog like everyone else, I’m not entirely sure he’d really want to.

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5 Responses to Hang On, Snoopy

  1. rocketdave says:

    I believe the only time we hear Snoopy’s thoughts is in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

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