When I was a kid, we did have color TV! LOL! Yes I am old, but not that old. Back then, all we got was 3 TV channels. Yup just 3. Imagine that! Kids today would die with just 3 channels.
TV was something that me and my sister loved to watch. We were so excited when my parents would let us watch a show or movie. I still remember sitting on the floor next to her so excited for the show to start.
With only 3 channels we of course didn’t have a huge selection to choose from, but the shows that we did love to watch were big shows in our world. Many of our shows were ones that included dog TV shows.
Now eventually we did manage to get cable TV in the early 80’s and that was a real game changer for us. We were able to see so many other shows.
Shows like the Littlest Hobo, Lassie and of course Charlie Brown aka Snoopy.
Were these the best television dogs? Now I am talking about the past of course.
To start, we need to go back to the beginning of TV dogs. Lassie started airing in Canada in 1954 and ran until 1973. The show followed a heroic female Rough Collie dog named Lassie with her human and dog companions. Through many adventures and epic journeys to help and save people.
Lassie was a very smart and brave dog who would always manage to save the day. She rescued a runaway orphan boy called Timmy who instantly became part of her family.
The show was so popular that it is still today the 5th longest-running US show of all time. That is quite the amazing run for a show that was centered around a super smart dog. 17 amazing years of great TV.
The popularity of Lassie has gone far past 1973. There was even a movie released in 2005 still called Lassie. Just goes to show that what was good in the past can still be relevant today.
The Littlest Hobo
The TV show The Littlest Hobo was also a Canadian show that aired on the CTV channel. It first aired in 1963 – 1965 in syndication and then re-emerged again for 6 more seasons from 1979 to 1985.
This show followed a German Shepherd dog who had no owner around as he moved from place to place. All the while helping people in need along the way.
In many of the episodes people would try to adopt him, but at the end of every episode he would always leave and hit the road alone. The theme song to the show, was so recognizable that just a few bars into the song, you would start to sing or hum along.
When I think TV dogs whether real or animated one of my top favorites is Scooby-Doo. This Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo Where Are You came out in 1969 – to current. Created by the Hanna-Barbera Production company.
The show was made up of four teenagers Fred, Velma, Daphne, Norville aka Shaggy and their talking Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Every episode the gang is tasked with solving mysteries that also surround supernatural creatures.
There are many missteps and crazy antics along the way. In the end of every episode, of course the great mystery is always solved and somehow Scooby manages to help save the day.
Scooby-Doo started as a cartoon TV show just on Saturday mornings. Due to it’s early success, it became theatrical movies, TV movies, spin-offs and even brought out other characters to help Scooby solve more mysteries.
This show and Scooby’s character has remained as funny and current today as it was when it first came out. Touching generations after generations of kids.
Honestly to this day, I can still sit down to watch an episode that I have of course seen many times but still laugh and am totally happy. That is the sign of a great dog character that is always captivating to watch.
Snoopy Snoopy Snoopy!! What can I say about this animated dog. He has to be one of the most well-known TV dogs of all time. Definitely top of my list.
Snoopy of course is part of the Peanuts gang. The Peanuts first appeared in 1950 in a comic strip created by Charles M. Schultz. Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s pet beagle dog whose character was drawn based on Shultz childhood dog Spike.
In the beginning comic strips Snoopy wasn’t even Charlie Brown’s dog, he was Peppermint Patties dog. Very quickly he became Charlie Browns’s dog when Charlie Brown asked Snoopy to sit and stay, Snoopy never left him from that moment on.
Snoopy at times is portrayed as being a bit of a lazy dog, but really overall is shown to be very loving and loyal to his owner Charlie Brown. The funniest part of his character is he never actually speaks out loud. He does talk to himself but it appears in talking balloons above him.
Charlie Brown and Snoopy may have started out as a comic strip, but in 1983 became an animated television series called The Charlie Brown and Snoopy show. The show aired on Saturday mornings on the CBS Network starting in 1983-1985.
After this show was canceled, the Peanuts gang of characters did go on to achieve amazing success in several TV specials.
Some of the most famous holiday specials were of course “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In our house holidays weren’t holidays until you watched the Charlie Brown specials.
Both specials are still shown today on those special occasions. TV Guide ranked the Peanuts television specials the fourth Greatest TV cartoon of all time.
Peanuts has even managed to make it to the big screen as a movie in 2015, called “The Peanuts Movie”.
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Clifford made his debut in an American children’s book series about a giant red dog. Published in 1963, written and created by Norman Bridwell.
Clifford is a 2-year old giant dog whose disposition and behavior are solely based on how big he is. The interesting thing about his size is it consistently changes from 25 feet tall to much larger.
His owner is Emily who is an 8-year-old girl and can be seen at times riding Clifford as if he was a horse.
In 1988 Scholastic Studios released the books into a video series. The first videos were Clifford’s Birthday Surprise, The Scavenger Hunt, The Rhyme Cat Rescue, Clifford Goes to Hollywood and The Pet Show.
These books were used as teaching and training children to learn to read.
Due to the success of the first 65 episodes, they then released a 39 – episode prequel series, that showed Clifford as a puppy. This ran from 2003-2006. The big finale came in a 76-minute film released in 2004. No new episodes were released after the tragic death of John Ritter.
Clifford is not done as in 2019 Amazon Prime Video will be releasing a new Clifford series that will also be seen on PBS Kids.
Growing up watching these amazing dog shows is the reason why I love dogs so much today. Seeing all the adventures that these television dogs would go through helping people and solve mysteries or crimes was so exciting to see.
They always had a happy ending after each show which would leave me with that feeling that dogs really can do everything. There never seemed to be a situation that they weren’t capable of getting out of.
Even the animated dogs showed me that through laughter and miscues there are still ways to have things turn out ok.
When you are young and impressionable, watching positive shows that included dogs left me wanting my own dog. After years of hounding my mother, she finally gave in and allowed us to get a family dog our Cocker Spaniel named Buffy.
Having our own dog taught us really how much love and laughter dogs provide in your life. It taught us responsibility and how to care for someone or something else besides ourselves.
I realize that these dog shows may age me as most of them were many years ago. But honestly some of these shows still today are relevant to young kids. There are still lessons for children to learn just from watching these amazing shows.
Anytime you can watch something that provides joy and teaches a lesson for young kids, is a win-win in my opinion.
The best television dogs shows of my past still bring me such happy memories. All of these dogs are true TV dog heroes.
I hope you that you enjoyed a trip down the memory lane of my life.