If Pluto is a dog, what is Goofy?

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Dear Cecil: Wil Wheaton, in Stand by Me, posed a very interesting question. Mickey’s a mouse, Donald’s a duck, Pluto’s a dog … what the hell was Goofy? Enclosed is a bribe — the largest I could afford. Britt R., Seattle

Cecil replies:

Dear Britt:

A year-old Seattle Mariners ticket is your idea of a bribe? Not to cast aspersions, but a current Mariners ticket isn’t exactly a siren’s call to my ears. Equally depressing is your failure to grasp cartoon conventions. For starters, Pluto isn’t a dog, he’s a dawg. So is Goofy. The difference is that Goofy is a human dawg, whereas Pluto is a dawg dawg (or dawg2, if you’re into the new math). You can tell a dawg dawg from a human because the dawg gets naked and walks on all fours and the human doesn’t, though admittedly this isn’t the acid test it used to be.

Educated people — leastways, educated people who’ve just chatted with the Disney archivists — know Goofy first appeared anonymously in “Mickey’s Revue” (1932), looking essentially as he does today except older. In the wonderful way of cartoons, he then got younger, meanwhile adopting various aliases, including Dippy Dawg, Dippy the Goof, and Mr. Geef before settling on Goofy in “Orphans’ Benefit” (1934). So if the guy has an identity crisis, it goes back a long way.

Cecil Adams

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.