On Guard Dog | MUTTS

On Guard Dog

Animals Books & Art

Lately we have been getting letters from new readers concerned about Guard Dog. If you have been following along for years, you probably know his backstory, but I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about one of my favorite characters.

Published October 18, 2014

When I first created MUTTS, I thought that Earl and Mooch might need an antagonist, a “villain” as a foil to their sweet natures. So, 25 years ago, I sat down with my sketch pad and created a big, mean-faced dog with a spiked collar. Almost unconsciously, I added the chain. Immediately I could see that Guard Dog was actually a tragic character. Instead of a villain, Guard Dog was born to shed light on how unfair and cruel it is to chain a dog.

From the beginning, several animal welfare groups implored me to keep Guard Dog in the strip as a symbol for all chained dogs, to remind people that no dog should have to live in such conditions. Since then, many states have made it illegal to tether dogs. Michigan State University has published a list of 23 states, plus D.C., which all have passed laws, some stronger than others, that restrict the use of tethering. California’s law is pretty comprehensive: SB 1578, otherwise known as the tethering law, makes it illegal to tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object for more than three hours within a 24-hour period.

Though this is great news, this is less than half of the 50 states. It means more needs to be done.

Over the years, I have promised to eventually create a story in MUTTS to free Guard Dog from his chains. I know it’s been a long wait, so here’s a little secret. There are two projects under development where Guard Dog’s storyline gives him his freedom. My plan was to have Guard Dog released from his chain in the comic strip simultaneously with the release of the first of these two projects. Unfortunately, both projects are currently on hold.

Ten years ago, I made a promise to have Butchie and his Fatty Snax Deli go plant-based, along with giving Guard Dog his freedom. In 2020 I kept the promise with Butchie. Guard Dog will be next.

As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring about all dogs, even those in the comics.


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40 thoughts on “On Guard Dog

  1. Every day before I read Mutts, I think, “Maybe today Guard Dog will be freed.” It pains me that Guard Dog (and other dogs) are tied up on cruel, short tethers. Please, Patrick, release Guard Dog soon. A dog’s freedom (imaginary or real) should not hinge on a project.

  2. I saw you speak at a Barnes and Noble in New York City, many years ago. You mentioned freeing Guard Dog some day, and I was so happy to hear it. I’m overjoyed that he’ll be loosed soon!

  3. I am so excited “our” guard dog has freedom in his future. The only thing better would be adoption by Doozy on Valentine’s day, or Independence Day.

  4. Thank you for the update. I went back over several months to see if I somehow missed Guard Dog’s release. I have tears in my eyes thinking about all the dogs that are chained up. So cruel. Please find a way to launch the project that will release Guard Dog. I have to believe that Guard Dog’s release will lead to the release of other dogs.

  5. I love your comic strip it’s so much more, and I get it. I laugh, smile, and sometimes cry. Thank you for your gift to us that love all your family they are family not characters to me. I can’t wait for guard dog to be release, but like you said we need to teach many people that leaving a dog on a leash is cruel. God Bless
    Miss Deidre Kranich has

  6. Our brittany, Lucy, was left at a local shelter after spending the first year or so of her life chained up outside. We suspect she was also probably taken from her mom and siblings too early. She never was allowed to socialize with other dogs or with humans. It’s taken us years to get her to the point where she’s comfortable with other animals and understands how to play with people. Still, she’ll never be a “regular” dog. She’s a good girl, though, and we love her to pieces. Folks just don’t realize how doing that to a dog messes with their brains, cuz, after all, they’re just dogs.

  7. I love guard dog so much! I’d bring him home in a heartbeat! <3

  8. Until there’s a law passed across the United States, that fines and or punishes people for tethering an animal, how can you let the guard dog go? Isn’t it the reason he is chained to begin with? We are 50 states of the union, and we can’t let it be paradise for some and not for others. That’s the problem we have here in the U.S. Our voices must be heard to represent animals in all of these united states. Run this by Champ and Major and see what they think. We now have representation right here in Washington D.C. Now that’s start!

    1. Last sentence should be…..Now that’s a start!

  9. Maybe when you plan to unchain Guard Dog, it could be a fundraiser to support legislation or something similar.

  10. Yes, I agree with Voolavex – Guard Dog needs a name! And I love her suggestion of Fiorello. Anyone else agree?

  11. I am often brought to tears by the stories you tell about Guard Dog, and the shelter stores you share with us each year. i look forward to Guard Dog being set free, and hope that his antics as a free dog will continue to be brought to us through your magical talents, Patrick. I have been a fan of yours, and your wonderful characters, since your beginning. And, I plan to continue my daily homage until your pen drops from your nand, and the characters you have given life are no longer with us.

  12. I didnt know the whole story, and now I do. Thank your sharing this info again to all of us. Looking forward to his freedom, and understand why he is still tied; which no pet should have to endure. Thank you too for all the daily ‘toons that make me smile and give me a great start to my day.

  13. Guard Dog needs a name too – when he is finally let free to sniff and dig and snog, perhaps he could be come Fiorello (La Guardia) the sweetness of a flower and a protector of animals. A thought. Love that he will be let free and soon. We don’t tether our dogs in West Hollywood. I don’t think our Pet Centric City Council would allow it!!!

    1. Fiorello! A good suggestion. I grew up in New York City when he was mayor, and remember him as being an active and inclusive man. He was elected three times and, as a pre-teenager, I couldn’t understand how there could ever be a different major.

      One popular story about him was that when the fire bells rang in the local fire station he would ride with the firemen on one of the trucks.

  14. I look forward to seeing Guard Dog released! It is indeed a sad existence except for those visits from Shtinky Puddin’, who is our conscience. I am lucky to live in California where we don’t allow this sort of thing. I am not naive enough to believe this doesn’t still happen sometimes, but at least I know I can report it.

    Thanks, Patrick!

  15. I was surprised at the deep sorrow I felt just seeing that guard dog strip. Heartbreaking.

  16. my goodness, just reading your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, but at the same time, hurry and free Guard Dog. I think the sweetness of his release will go a long way in healing many hearts trampled by the current covid pandemic. And – I love Guard Dog. He deserves a happily-ever-after.

    1. Exactly my thoughts!

    2. YES! Please!!!

    3. My thoughts too, thank you! And bless you, Guard Dog, and bless the day you get your freedom!

  17. Thank you Mr. Patrick. I know you have Guard Dog’s best interests at heart. Love you and all the four legged ones you have introduced to me. Blessings!

  18. Thank you for letting us know! Seriously, even since you announced his eventual freedom, I open the Daily Mutts in my inbox and hope today is the day! I’m glad to know it’s still in the works : )

  19. I’m happy to know Guard Dog will get his freedom! Also, thanks for turning the deli plant based.

  20. Patrick, thank you for this information about dear little Guard Dog…we love all your sweet characters…God bless ‘em every one! ❤️🐈🐕❤️

  21. I have been a fan for years. I love reading the comments below. It helps to know there are so many people who love animals as much as I do. Thank you for your wonderful stories and sweet characters. Mutts brightens my life.

  22. I would love to see more hamsters in your strip. Hamsters also need a voice as they are far too often forgotten, left behind. I’m a member of the Ontario Hamster Club. We advocate for proper care, shelter and feeding of these wee creatures.

  23. When I worked in a restaurant in FlintHill, Va., I used to look out the window at the dog who lived across the street who was chained up every day. of the year, with a small dog house to seek shelter in when the weather was horrible. On afternoon I walked across the street to talk to the owned and asked if my friend and I could tale him to our farm to live. He said “Yes”. We named him Timber, and he lived on the farm, free and happy for the rest of his life. When Timber died, he was buried on the farm, in the family grave yard…..one terrific, free dog!

    1. Susan’s account of the chained dog in Virginia is touching. She made a difference in the life of a sweet being. All dogs need is a chance in life. Unfortunately, there seem to be many more good dogs than good, caring homes.

    2. What a great thing you did–compassionate and brave. May your kindness return to you a thousand times.

  24. Thank you, Patrick. Mutts is a daily whisper to my heart. It reminds me that there is still good out there, and in me. Guard Dog’s story has broken my heart for all the right reasons, and I’ve always seen him as an invaluable symbol. No good comes from averting our glances from cruelty. I will rejoice when Guard Dog is free, and I have also appreciated what he has meant to all of us all in the animal kingdom.

  25. I am just glad Guard Dog has someone to love him and sit with him and hug him like Doozy. She gets it. Love is the answer, and you know that for sure.

  26. I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel to know that Guard Dog will be released. The impact of the drawings with him always tear at my heart and without any effort tears form in my eyes. I am so grateful for the animal welfare issues that Mutts gently but poignantly shares with the public as well as the humor that so often leaves me smiling. Reading Mutts makes for a better day each day.

  27. I am so grateful for your talent Patrick. It truly gets me through the day. I’ve always know that Guard Dog was drawn with good intentions and by someone with a good heart. Thank you for all the hard work, laughs and smiles. Take care. Dana

    1. correction – I’ve always known not know

  28. Love this insight. Thanks for explaining.

  29. I love that you have continued to feature Guard Dog, even though everytime he shows up my heart hurts. Thanks for the update on anti chaing legislation. I look forward to the day that G.D. is free!

  30. As the mommy to many adopted dogs who were abused, I cannot wait to see Guard Dog enjoy his release from bondage. On Feb 7th, I will honor the1-year anniversary of the death of the sweetest little girl, Poppy, who was subjected to the worst sort of abuse which left her crippled, brain damaged and deaf. Though she endured such profound horrors, she made more progress than I could have imagined. She learned how to play, enjoyed warm blankets and treats, romped with her sister Nicki, tossed the water bowl when it was empty, and snuggled with me every day. The painfully short three years she was with me, taught me more about her incredible spirit to enjoy life, and defined who I became because of her presence in my world. She was handicapped, but I like to think she was other abled; capable of so many abilities. Her spirit reminds me of Guard Dog. On the day Guard Dog is released, what he will do, learn and experience is something to look forward to. His adventures are waiting to begin, to show the world the incredible joy he has to share with us all!!!

  31. I am almost in tears! Thank you so much for your compassion & the encouraging words. Even on my crappiest days, and I have many, Mutts NEVER FAILS to put a smile on my face and even though it may be for only a minute, it’s the often the best minute of my day & for that I am truly thankful to you!

  32. I love the sweet expression on Guard Dog’s face! Happy to hear he will be untethered sometime in the future.

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