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Comic Strip: Footrot Flats
Footrot Flats is a comic strip from New Zealand, by Murray Ball, about the life and times of a farmer's dog, known simply as The Dog, his owner and his friends, and the various animals that live in and around the farm. The comic itself does not exist on-line, but more detail can be found at an unofficial site.

The characters include:
  • 'The Dog': The main protagonist and mascot of the strip, a border collie whose name he never lets anyone reveal. Much like Garfield he seems as intelligent as a person but can only talk through thought bubbles. Has shades of Lovable Coward and Small Name, Big Ego, but generally good at his job and devoted to his master.
  • Wallace 'Wal' Footrot: The Dog's owner, a no-nonsense farmer, amateur rugby player and more or less The Everyman (at least for farmers). Runs a large farm on his own with a large variety of animals, including sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese. And at least one goat and one turkey, which is more than enough.
  • Cooch Windgrass: Wal's neighbour, best friend and right hand man. A Friend to All Living Things whose farm is rather overgrown, and his house has a large tree growing through the middle. He farms goats, which are the perpetual bane of Wal and the dog, and owns Jess, the dog's girlfriend.
  • Aunt Dolly: Wal's aunt, the dog's original owner, who runs a home for cats and owns a Welsh Corgi named Prince Charles. Something of a overbearing mother figure for Wallace, though she often helps him out on the farm, and the dog has a grudge against her for giving him his name.
  • Horse: A tough, mean, near-indestructible stray cat that acts as an enemy, sometimes ally and sometimes point of interest to the dog. Based on a real cat.

In 1987 there was a feature-length animated film adaptation, Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale.

The tropes the comic uses include:

  • The Ace: Wal's brother.
  • Alien Lunch: Happens as Wal is scoffing down the lunch Cooch made him in the back country. Wal remarks that he loves freshwater crayfish only for Cooch to remark "Yeah, but how do you feel about them cave wetas?"
  • All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: Horse's girlfriend belongs to a bikie gang, and his ferocity endears him to them.
  • Angry Guard Dog:
    • The three Murphy dogs.
    • Major on occasion.
    • The Dog wishes he was this, but can only build up the courage when burglars touch his food.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Zig-Zagged. The trope applies to most of the animal characters, except for Cecil the ram, who has very prominent testicles. Jess the dog and Dolores the sow also have mammaries when nursing.
  • Badass: Horse.
  • Berserk Button: The Dog will go to amazing lengths to make sure his name remains secret. At a dog show, he sticks himself halfway into a loud speaker trying to get the mouthy beggar inside. Once, to stop Aunt Dolly from saying it, he actually sticks his tongue inside her mouth, much to their mutual disgust and horror.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pongo to a tee.
  • The Bully: Lex Murphy
  • Casanova Wannabe: 'Spit' Murphy
  • Cats Are Mean: Horse, hoo boy Horse.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Sometimes the Dog doesn't have a full understanding on the fate of the animals he helps raise.
  • Corrupt Hick: The Murphys, Wal's neighbors.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: At times, the Dog is positively saccharine in his love and devotion to Wal, at the same time the amount of effort he invests in his Zany Schemes to drive away Cheeky Hobson at times rivals what he goes through to keep his name secret.
  • A Darker Me: The Grey Ghost or the Iron Paw; the Dog's invincible alter egos (he wishes).
  • Dinosaur Doggie Bone: An early strip has the Dog dragging off a moa bone bigger than he is.
  • A Dog Named Dog: As noted above, he actually has a real name, but he will die before he lets anyone so much as utter it.
  • Editorial Synaesthesia: Whenever Jess is in heat (read nearly all the time) she gives off little hearts.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Dog is "The Dog" because he wont let anyone know his real name.
  • Everything's Messier with Pigs: Wal's many farm animals include pigs. His neighbors the Murphys have slightly completely feral ones, known and feared as 'Croco Pigs'.
  • The Faceless: Cooch's cousin Kathy never has her full face appear.
  • A Farmer And His Dog (went to mow a meadow...)
  • Feathered Fiend: The turkey is a recurring enemy of the Dog, and the Goose isn't keen on Wal either.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Cooch. Unlike most examples though, he's not vegetarian and will kill to eat. Not the most conventional animals, mind you.
  • Full Boar Action: Major, Wal's other dog, is bred and trained to help hunt feral pigs.
  • Gag Boobs: Dolores 'Cheeky' Hobson, we are looking at you.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Rangi does this to Lex Murphy in one strip. Not having any sand available, he improvises by using a handful of dried sheep droppings.
  • Hello, Nurse!:
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Inverted with Dolores the sow and poor Horace the boar. She's about twice his size and a bit overbearing.
  • Intellectual Animal: The Dog seems to be one of these in a world otherwise populated by mostly normal animals, and even he can't actually speak.
  • Kilroy Was Here: Wal makes a moving speech about how insignificant it makes one feel knowing that an ancient tree will still be standing centuries after he's dead. He then carves "Wal Footrot Was Here" into the trunk.
  • Kindly Vet: The vet is usually depicted as being kind and good at his job, if a little rough around the edges (as country vets are wont to be).
  • Kissing Cousins: Cooch has a pretty poorly hidden attraction to his cousin Kathy (and it's hard to blame him)
  • Large Ham: The Dog.
    Dog: Curse this accursed rain! Forty days and forty nights adrift! Well, a day and a half anyway...
  • Lovable Coward: The Dog. He wants to be brave, but...
  • Mister Muffykins: Prince Charles
  • Odd Name Out: 'Irish' Murphy's three dogs are named Tiger, Wolf and Creampuff.
  • Pet the Dog: Horse when with lost kittens - not to mention his own children.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: The Dog, within the introductory sections of each issue, due to uncertainty about spelling. Rather good handwriting for a dog though.
  • The Power of Love: Used once to let the dog walk on water.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Wal's dreams of rugby glory in always end with him a bloodied heap being trampled into the mud. Even that one time he scored a Try after being on the field for 10 seconds.
  • Scary Black Men: The Maori bikers are probably the New Zealandic equivalent of this trope.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Dog and Horse whenever they team up. Likewise the Dog and Major.
  • Soap Punishment: Aunt Dolly does this to Wal after she hears him swearing at the livestock in an early strip. She runs across several paddocks to reach him.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The Dog alternates between poetic, flowery language and New Zealand slang at the drop of a hat.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Wal is not the great sportsman he thinks he is.
    • He has nothing on the Dog at times.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: The Dog's attempt to describe Cousin Kathy includes that she only has hair on the top of her head and she walks on her hind legs, because all humans look alike to him. Fortunately, Wal can't understand him anyway.
  • Terrible Trio: The Murphies, and their dogs.
  • Thought Bubble Speech
  • Upper-Class Twit: Townies fill a similar role.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Rangi Jones learned all of his fighting moves from watching kung fu movies.
  • Widget Series: It's very... New Zealandy.
  • Write Who You Know: Horse, of all people... er, cats.

Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale provides examples of:

  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Wal is voiced by New Zealand-born, Australia-active satirist John Clarke.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: During the rugby game, Wal throws an uppercut in the scrum... and punches himself. To add insult to injury, the referee tells him that next time he punches himself, he'll be sent off.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Early in the film, the Dog starts drowning, prompting a flashback to his first day on the farm and his first encounters with Wal, Major, the Murphys, Jess, Cooch, and Pew.
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying Over You: In the Dog's flashback, Wal's reaction to the new puppy going missing. He's too busy telling Cooch what a great little fellow the Dog was to notice that the reason for Cooch's visit is that he's found the Dog and brought him back.
  • Third Person Flashback: The Dog's flashback is in third-person — and includes Wal waking up, getting dressed, spotting Aunt Dolly's car approaching, and rushing around clearing up... none of which the Dog (who was in the car with Aunt Dolly) was there for.

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alternative title(s): Footrot Flats
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