Just in case you were wondering, we can put your mind at rest: Yes, Snoopy is a dog.
We have official confirmation of that via the Peanuts Twitter account. On Thursday, Peanuts sent out a tweet to put nervous fans’ minds at rest and said unambiguously: “We can confirm, Snoopy IS a dog.”
Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but this has been kind of a weird week. The Internet ran completely amok over the official statement by Sanrio that Hello Kitty is not a cat. If that can be true, what can we be certain of?
So, it’s not unreasonable for Peanuts fans to be a little bit concerned. Just this morning, there was anxious (if somewhat tongue-in-cheek) discussion about the topic on Snoopy’s Facebook page, even though the official word had gone out via Twitter.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t blame anyone for questioning non-doggy nature. In some ways, it’s easier to understand than Sanrio’s claim that Hello Kitty is not a cat. At least one of the characters within the strip took a while to get it: For years, the character Peppermint Patty didn’t understand that Snoopy was a dog. She referred to him as “That funny-looking kid with the big nose,” and thought that his dog house was a guest cottage. It was only in 1974 (eight years after she made her debut) that her friend Marcie forced her to face up to the facts.
Also consider this: Snoopy seems to have a more active interior life than any of the other characters in Peanuts: He’s a novelist, a World War I flying ace, a doctor, a lawyer, a beatnik, and whatever else he wants to be. According to the rules of reality, he’s more human than dog.
But the reality in Peanuts, as in other comic strips, is cartoon reality rather than the reality that we know. The boundaries of species, identity, and the very laws of nature are rubbery and unpredictable. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with comics so early as a kid. Actual reality was rigid, unforgiving, and dull, and I particularly identified with Snoopy’s flights of fancy.
But no matter what we think about how Snoopy compares to real-life Beagles, he and everyone around him (except for Peppermint Patty of course) was very clear about the fact that he was a Beagle. He was born and grew up at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, and had several brothers and sisters who were also Beagles. In our hearts, I think that most of us knew that Snoopy was a dog, and he would continue to be so no matter what the official Peanuts people said.
The lesson? Dogs, cats, and children look and act very different in cartoon reality than in our reality. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but as an adult, I think I’d rather visit cartoon reality than live there. Reality can still be unforgiving, and even brutal, but I find it a lot less dull than I used to.
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