Have you seen? Sparky (formerly known as Guard Dog) is the cover story for the March 2024 issue of Animal Culture magazine! For the article, writers Patricia Denys and Mary Holmes interviewed Patrick about his Guard Dog freedom story and the plight of real-life tethered dogs. 

The article, titled "Guard Dog's Guardian: The Work of Patrick McDonnell" discusses Patrick's journey of becoming a cartoonist and the profound influence that Peanuts creator Charles Schulz had on his work. The piece also includes tips from PETA about how to help real dogs like Sparky.

Read the full interview now — and while you're at it, check out this month's other stories, including a review of Patrick's award-winning book Me...Jane, a feature about a "secret" pet memorial tree in the heart of NYC's Central Park, and much more. 

Animal Culture is an online, bimonthly publication that features exclusive interviews with artists, writers, and other animal advocates, along with book reviews, humane education, legislative alerts, and more. Want to read it every month? Head to Patreon to become a paying subscriber and support their team's wonderful work. 

Comments (9)

I’d never thought of it until reading Jane H’s comment here, but are we the readers like the moon for this sweet character — watching and witnessing Guard Dog’s plight with love and sympathy and hearing his thoughts and words, and now checking in on him through the framed panels of Mutts as the moon looks in through the window to see him finally sleeping soundly on Doozy’s bed? And when we carry Sparky’s story out into our world and act to help the real guard dogs out here, we become Doozy… and together we’re also Earl and Mooch and Ozzie and everyone else who worked together to make a difference, and then ran from house to house to share the news about Guard Dog. Such a meaningful story with the ending we’ve been hoping for all these years. Thank you, Patrick!


Guard Dogs story was one I read as my mom was dying from cancer and I just wanted to take off her chains to her hospital bed and help her break free of her earthly existence. About the time Guard Dog was freed and adopted my mom passed away and I was in awe of how Guard Dogs story mirrored my moms! I will always be grateful to Patrick O’Donnell for his wonderful daily strip!

Kim Bantle

Knowing that the Kingdom’s little Court Jester, Brutus Augustus, actually suffered like Guard Dog (now Sparky) did in the same cruel manner makes his plight that much more real. Brutus has either forgotten or forgiven (or maybe both) his past life and loves us unconditionally and wholeheartedly. I am hoping Sparky wakes up smiling every day like Brutus does. I’m pretty sure they both do!

Andrea Bledsoe King

Sparky and Doozy, with Sparky’s moon out the bedroom window, hang on my bedroom wall. I had to have that print. I look at them every morning and think about how wonderful and hopeful dogs are, and how they are loved so deeply by their people. In three little panels, Patrick says that every day.

Elaine Loeser

My heart soars now that Sparky is FREE! Thank you, thank you!!

Monica Skaggs

and I am still crying – as I relive this story – guard dog – over the years, just tore at my animal loving heart and when this all started to release him, I was out of the country to a wedding in Cambodia and was more or less out of touch and yet, there it was – Guard Dog and the Mutts Team, doing what they do best – making all of us better people and thanking the good Lord for Sparky today – but, I am still crying for those who are subject to this cruel way of treatment to our best friends – thanking you, all of you, each one of you – for giving and showing the promise – that the Moon, the faithful witness of the sky, was a solace when on the chain and now the sign of love as it shines thru the window on the forever bed ..

jane hunsberger

I cried and rejoiced and ran to read Sparky’s story first thing every morning. I shared the strip with all my non-subscribing friends and felt my heart and their hearts grow bigger everyday. Mutts and Patrick have been a part of my life everyday since 1997. Couldn’t live without them. Sparky’s freedom was the best thing that could have happened.

Jeanne Desmond

Thank you for guard dog. I cried for a month as I raced to get the morning paper.
My husband secured a signed copy of ‘Of course. He’s a Dog’for me
Thank you


Sparky’s running free!

Tyla Hall