A beloved comic strip character, Sparky the dog, was recently “unchained” by MUTTS comic creator Patrick McDonnell.

Introduced in 1995, the heartwarming story features Sparky the dog — formerly known only as “Guard Dog” — being adopted by his young neighbor named Doozy. For over 25 years, Sparky has illustrated how lonely, cold, and miserable life is for chained dogs.

Through his thoughts, dreams, and conversations with the neighboring animals, Sparky’s character has also demonstrated how resilient and desperate for love chained dogs are.

But after 25+ years on the chain, McDonnell knew it was time to rescue Sparky and provide the loving family he desperately desired. 

“I’ve been promising for too many years that someday Guard Dog would be free,” Patrick McDonnell, creator of MUTTS, told Lady Freethinker. “It pained me (and my readers) that he remained in a terrible situation for so long. While a few animal advocates have continued to lobby that Guard Dog still has a job to do in reminding people that it is never OK to chain a dog, many more agreed it was time. I was so happy to set him free and for Guard Dog (now Sparky) to find his forever home with Doozy.”

McDonnell generously shared a few key moments from Sparky’s story with us.

Sparky Unchained 1

Mutts © Patrick McDonnell, Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc. reprinted with permission.

The storyline begins with Guard Dog watching as the man who chained him drives away. He cries out in fear as he’s abandoned. Left behind without food or water, he eventually collapses. 

Eventually, Guard Dog’s compassionate neighbors find him and remove his chain.

Sparky 2

MUTTS Comic from Nov. 30th (Courtesy of King Features)

The sweet dog is rushed to a vet to receive life-saving medical care. Later, at the shelter, Guard Dog is in awe of the warm bed, food, and kindness he receives from shelter staff. 

Sparky Unchained 3

MUTTS Comic from Dec. 8th (Courtesy of King Features)

He’s eventually adopted by Doozy, the little girl who alerted neighbors to Sparky’s suffering. Sparky is overjoyed from the love and care of his forever home.

Sparky Unchained 4

MUTTS Comic from Dec. 16th (Courtesy of King Features)

Although Doozy gives Sparky a cozy sleeping spot of his own in her bedroom, he is shown cuddling with Doozy in her bed later that night.

To see the heartwarming comic in full, click here.

MUTTS Comics regularly promote compassion for animals. In another recent storyline, Butchie — a human character who owns a deli — switched to plant-based foods after visiting a farmed animal sanctuary. 

Lady Freethinker applauds Patrick McDonnell for using his art to raise awareness on the cruelty and dangers of chaining dogs, as well as highlighting many other animal welfare issues.

Just like Sparky, dogs are loving, feeling beings who deserve to live indoors as part of the family.

Dogs in the United States continue to die while chained. Lady Freethinker has campaigned for years to save dogs from this cruelty. If there are dogs near you suffering on chains, you can help.