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.

Comments (43)

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.

Andrea Lewis-Taggart

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… terrific, free dog!

Susan Achenbach

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.

Donna Boeger

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

Cheryl Gordon

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

Paul D. Guthrie

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!

Shirley M Hanson

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 : )

Kim Thomas

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


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.

Rita DeMontis

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!!!