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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cooler VS CatGut: A Pound Puppies Cage Match

What do you get when you cross the Fonz from the TV show "Happy Days" with a stuffed Pound Puppies toy?  That would be Cooler, one of the talking, clothed Pound Puppies introduced in 1985.  Cooler and his friends (and their rival, CatGut) were part of a merchandising spin-off of the 1984 Tonka Pound Puppies toy line.

Scrounger and the other clothed Pound Puppies could walk on two legs, but some of the other dogs in the pound could not.  It was sort of like "Animal Farm."  Well, maybe not.

A special collection of miniature Pound Puppies Golden Books (and bookmarks) were available at Hardee's restaurants.

The original Pound Puppies include Louie (a chef), Howler, Bright Eyes, Cooler, the Nose, Barkerville and Scrounger.  Cooler's love interest, Violet, is curiously not shown with the cast here (from one of the books sold at Hardee's), but appeared on a great deal of merchandise.

Figurines of these characters were available in stores and by mail through offers on boxes of Post cereals (like Cocoa Pebbles).

Cooler and his gang were always having trouble with Dabney Nabbit, the dogcatcher.

The pups had a friend in veterinarian Doc Weston.

In addition to outwitting Dabney Nabbit, the dogs helped other pups find homes.

In addition to Golden Books, Hardee's also sold plush Pound Puppies and Pound Purries (the cat version of Pound Puppies).

Dabney Nabbit's pet is the villain CatGut.

CatGut was the only cat in the pound, as the Pound Purries toy line had not yet been created.

The Pound Puppies also had to watch out for vicious guard dogs, dobermans named Itchey and Snitchey.

Merchandise (PVC figurines) of Dabney Nabbit and the guard dogs is very rare.

Adopt a Pound Puppy, or these wabbits get taken out!

The Pound Puppies failed to save Old Yeller.

Hanna Barbera created a syndicated animated Pound Puppies special for the Fall of 1985.  The cast includes Dan Gilvezan (Cooler), Ron Palillo (Scrounger), Alan Oppenheimer (Barkerville), Gail Matthius (Violet), Don Messick (Louie, Itchy), Adrienne Alexander (Bright Eyes), Frank Welker (Howler, CatGut, Snichey), Joanne Worley (The Nose), and Henry Gibson (Nabbit).

The special (directed by Alan Zaslove and written by Tom Ruegger) closely follows characters and situations established by the toy line.  The female dog shown here is Violet, and I love that she is a droopy looking bloodhound and not a stereotypical fussy poodle.

When the Pound Puppies became a Hanna Barbera Saturday Morning TV series in 1986, the dog doo seemed to hit the fan.  Many characters were dropped or redesigned and the story changed.  CatGut got a new owner, Katrina Stoneheart (voiced by Pat Carroll, AKA Ursula from Disney's "The Little Mermaid").  Even more changes were made when the Saturday Morning show was renewed for a second season.

Before the Internet, things like this happened and kids were left to wonder what was going on, or if anyone else even noticed.  In 1988, I was happy to learn more about what happened from animator Will Finn (of "Aladdin" and "Beauty and the Beast" fame) in an article in a magazine called Cartoon Quarterly.

Will Finn's quote here about the character of Bright Eyes is hilarious:  "Q-5 even re-designed one of last season's Pound Puppies because she wasn't cute enough!  Who's gonna help re-design you?  Besides, haven't they ever seen a Pound Puppy doll?  They're not supposed to be cute.  They look like a cross between a dead dog and a sack of Gold Medal flour."

Will Finn speaks the truth.  The Pound Puppies were so ugly they were cute, and that was part of their charm.

To add to the confusion, there have been many, many different versions of the Pound Puppies (and different names for them) all over the world.  The Pound Puppies are still around today, but sadly, they no longer look like a cross between a dead dog and a sack of Gold Medal flour.

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