In Lila Ash’s drawing, a young woman wearing sweatpants with the word PLINK emblazoned across the bottom is addressing (questioning? scolding?) a dog who’s looking down, as if shamed. Behind the dog are the outstretched legs of a murder victim. He’s lying in the doorway in a pool of blood, and there’s a bloody handprint on the wall by the door. Scattered on the floor is a package and some mail.
The most obvious caption, and therefore the one I thought of first, is, “Bad dog.” A similar but less obvious caption is, “Why the hell did I spend $20 on obedience school?” Though I typically like short captions, the longer version is better because it explains why the dog is bad—the owner is too cheap to pay for effective obedience classes.
My next caption—“You really went postal”—addresses the violence of the scene while incorporating a reference to the trope of the mailman-attacking dog. The New Yorker has a proud history of publishing cartoons that rely on this cliché. Many are by Leo Cullum, who, as you’ll see, came up with the “dog going postal” joke first:
Here’s a similar but more gruesome caption: “Sniffing it wasn’t bad enough. You had to tear it right off.” In 1977 there was a National Lampoon comedy album called, “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick,” and that same charge could easily be levelled at my caption.
The following two captions have the woman scolding the dog, but not for the right reason:
- “Can’t you do that outside?”
- “Never in the house!”
Those of you who are fed up with my constantly railing against exclamation points may be eager to call me out for my hypocrisy, but I’ve never advocated a complete ban on that form of punctuation. I just want it used sparingly or, to quote one of Elaine Benes’s boyfriends on Seinfeld, not so “haphazardly.”
My next caption refers to a common but in this case woefully inadequate tactic for addressing and stopping a dog’s bad behavior: “I guess now I have to rub your nose in it.”
Many dog owners just can’t bring themselves to punish pets who are, like the one in the drawing, so cute. My last caption acknowledges this fact: “How could I stay mad at someone so adorable?”
Now let’s see how you did:
I really like the following captions, which allude to both a dog’s habit of digging holes and the need to cover up this dog’s crime:
- “Okay, time to dig another hole.”
- “Now go bury the body.”
- “Well, you like to bury things, don’t you?”
The next caption (which I love) also addresses the need to destroy evidence of the crime, but through a method that alludes to another common activity for dogs: “Fetch the bleach.”
Like I did, many of you assumed the woman is scolding the dog not for killing the man but for doing it inside and causing a mess:
- “I told you to do your business outside.”
- “Once again, NOT in the house.”
- “You couldn’t have done this outside?”
- “We don’t do that in the house!”
- “When are you going to learn to do that outside?”
And here’s a caption recognizing, as did one of my captions, that many dog-owners can’t stay mad at their pets for long, no matter what transgressions these pets commit: “Awwww, I can’t stay mad at you.”
A similar caption alludes to both a common euphemism for a dog’s making a mess on the carpet and an indulgent owner’s willingness to believe her sweet pet could never intentionally do something bad: “Did you have an accident?”
The next three captions presume the victim is the dog’s traditional enemy—a mailman:
- “It seems we both have a thing for men in uniforms.”
- “You could have at least waited until I signed for it.”
- “Must you succumb to cliche?”
- “You had to go postal.”
That last caption is similar to (and frankly better than) my own “going postal” caption, but, as mentioned above, Leo Cullum came up with the joke first so neither of us gets credit.
I’m grateful for the next caption, as it confirms I’m not the only sick bastard who thinks it’s funny to make a joke about a guy getting attacked in his most sensitive area: “Not what I meant when I said tear open his package.”
And here’s a much less disturbing caption that makes a reference to the package that has not yet been torn apart: “Looks like the muzzle arrived a little too late.”
Where there’s a drawing of a dog there’s a way to reference his hostile relationship with cats, and one of you did that quite nicely: “You really expect me to believe the cat did this?”
Like I did, one of you made a reference to the disciplinary tactic of rubbing a dog’s snout in the mess he created: “Don’t make me rub your nose in him.” I like the use of the word “him” instead of “it,” and therefore find this caption superior to my own.
Here’s another caption that’s similar to one of mine: “We’re going to be late for obedience school again.” I would like it even more without that last word. “Obedience school” is the punchline, and no words should follow it.
Here’s a terrific caption that puts a clever spin on the close relationship between dogs and men: “Well, you’re sure not that man’s best friend.”
In the following caption, which makes a nice allusion to the scattered mail on the floor, the dog’s owner has skewed priorities: “Just tell me you didn’t chew up my Cosmo.” And here she’s attuned to her pet’s expression but oblivious to everything else: “I know that guilty look. What did you do?”
I struggled to come up with a caption that incorporated some reference to the sweatpants, which take on a perhaps unintended significance because the word “PLINK” is so prominently displayed on the back, but I couldn’t do it. One of you, however, succeeded where I failed: “And do you think these pants make my butt look too big?” Like the “Cosmo” and “guilty look” captions, this one succeeds in part because it highlights the woman’s lack of awareness.
This week, unfortunately, I cannot choose a winner because I can’t decide between these two captions:
- “Fetch the bleach.”
- “Well, you’re sure not that man’s best friend.”
Both address dogs and the bloody crime scene in as few words as possible, and both made me laugh. I therefore declare a tie.
I’ll be interested to see which captions Bob selects as the winner and runners-up.