Dual Identity

Friday, September 2, 2011

I photographed a dog with a dual identity a couple of weeks ago. I am not suggesting that this particular animal suffers from a multiple personality disorder or works undercover for a secret organization. The dog simply has two names—one is “Bear” and the other is “Scooby.”

Bears & Scooby-Doo

My only direct experience with bears is what TV fed me in the 1960s–insipid escapades of Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo. Yogi was Hanna-Barbera Studios' cartoon version of a scheming and stupid bear. Scooby-Doo, or Scooby for short, is another Hanna-Barbera creation.

H-B also produced The Jetsons, Huckleberry Hound, and scads of other inane and hastily animated cartoon shows for children. Don Messick was the voice behind Scooby-Doo and Astro—the Jetsons’ pet dog that sported a weird atomic collar. Scooby-Doo and Astro are, in my opinion, Hanna-Barbera’s greatest contributions to the 20th century American cartoon lexicon. I attribute this praise solely to Mr. Messick for his terrific hybrid human-canine vocalizations.

Cold War Era Digression

For all I know, Hanna-Barbera Studios may have been an instrument of the Communists. Perhaps Nikita Krushchev's ministers realized that it was possible to arrest human intellectual development by subjecting young Capitalists to cartoon pablum. H-B's shows consisted of insipid plots and characters. Backgrounds, music, sound effects, and animation sequences were bland and recycled from one episode to the next.  American youth became addicted to junky cartoons. This caused the best and the brightest to eschew the hard sciences and mathematics for vapid, mind-numbing “entertainment.”

While H-B churned out substandard fair, Jay Ward Productions produced The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Like H-B, JWP did not employ sophisticated animation techniques. Despite visual simplicity, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show exuded intelligence, charm, and wit along with a measure of snappy Cold War satire. For all I know, this was NATO's response to Hanna-Barbera's mindless cartoon fair. Perhaps Rocky and Bullwinkle detoxified more than a handful of H-B junkies.

Bear AKA Scooby

The real dog, and the photographic subject of this blog, is super cute and sweet. He does not remind me of the abovementioned cartoon characters. Bear AKA Scooby is part Labrador and part Beagle. He is a delightful blend of each breeds' best qualities. Although I have only seen him a couple of times–once to take his picture and another to deliver the photos to his owner, he has worked his charm on me.

I conjecture that one spouse or child named him Bear, while another member of the family preferred Scooby (or vice versa). I presume that in order to maintain domestic harmony, the family decided to let the dog assume both names.

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