The Simpsons’ dog

Narrated from: Curious Dog Facts

Dogs are an integral part of human society, and thus they are used quite often by the media. The number of dog movies, dog shows and dog stars is staggering – and more often than not, dogs aren’t depicted quite as they ought to be.

However, accurate portrayals of dogs can sometimes be found in unexpected places – including a parody show such as “The Simpsons”, dedicated to making fun of all things sacred or non sacred.

How did the dog become part of the family?

If you’ve watched The Simpsons, then you are well aware that the family has two family pets – a dog and a cat. That’s one of the principals on which the show is built.

However, how did the dog become a part of the family? Was it there from year 0, episode 1?

No, actually, it wasn’t – in their official debuts the Simpsons had no dog, and thus the family started the show dog-less.

However, the first notable thing to happen in the show was that the Simpsons acquired… a dog! This happened in the very first episode, the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". Now, in the beginning the show was concentrated as much on humor as on telling an emotional story. Thus, this episode depicted the plight of Homer Simpson, as he found out that after his Christmas bonus was cut, he couldn’t get presents for his family.

However, after his son convinced him he should never give up, Homer took his last money (and his under-age son) to the dog track, where he bet it all on a dog race – and lost it.

All seemed doomed – until the departing Simpson duo noticed the owner of the hound they had bet on yelling and screaming at the dog. Finally, he kicked the greyhound out, disowned him – and the dog ran straight for Homer, thus becoming his Christmas gift for the family.

A family reaction

Of course, introducing a dog to the family caused rather strong reactions.

Lisa Simpson, while stroking the new family pet, exclaimed: “So, love at first sight is possible!”, while the ever cautious Marge was overjoyed, and (much to Homer’s surprise) said that a dog was “the best gift of all”. As she claimed, the dog was “something to share our love – and frighten prowlers!”

Still, initially Homer Simpson found it quite hard to accept a loser of a greyhound as his pet. He claimed that the dog was “a loser”, “pathetic”, and – after a quick lick from the canine and a morose whimper – “a Simpson”.

The name of Bart’s dog

The dog, which is rather more of a family pet than Bart’s dog, is Santa’s little Helper. If you’ve read the previous story, then you know why – this dog actually saved the first Christmas of the Simpsons, and it was only natural to assume that Santa Claus had something to do with it! Who knows, maybe Helper is part of the Santa Secret Service, eh?

Serious Canine Themes

As we said in the beginning, Santa’s Little Helper has become an embodiment of some rather serious themes throughout the show. If you watch the series carefully, you will notice that as well as the jokes, there are some rather accurate portrayals of the canine world.

For instance, on several occasions the dog gets neglected by the family, resulting in rather serious anxiety. Also, in the episode Dog of Death, Santa’s Little Helper suffers from bloat, a really serious dog disease. Only through the efforts of the whole family are they able to save his life. Take note, and learn more about bloat in dogs!

And finally, there is one theme that is a serious problem on a national level – and that is abuse toward racing greyhounds. Santa’s Little Helper is a greyhound, discarded because he is not a good racer – however, since this is a family show, the dog is simply kicked out into the cold winter night.

In reality, many racing greyhounds are subject to horrendous mistreatment, and if they are deemed too slow, they get “retired” – with a shovel on the head! If you ever think about supporting this horrendous sport, think carefully – even though there are many new pieces of legislation and constant campaigns for reforms in greyhound racing, a lot of illegal practices still go on “unofficially”.

In reality, Santa’s Little Helper may be suffering in a cold shack even now!

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