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Comic Strip / Pooch Café

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Pooch Café is a comic strip by Paul Gilligan and the first newspaper comic of the new millennium, debuting on January 1, 2000. It follows the humorous antics of a self-serving, squirrel-fearing, food-obsessed, toilet-drinking mutt named Poncho, whose life is with his master, Chazz, and Chazz's cat-loving wife, Carmen (who owns a brood of six cats), and Poncho's adventures with his fellow dogs Boomer, Hudson, Droolia (a female Bullmastiff with a drooling problem), Gus (a Scottish Terrier), Beaumont (or "Bobo", the owner of the titular cafe), Poo Poo (a Bichon Frise), and a zen goldfish named "Fish". Other semi-recurring characters are Tito (the garbage man), Sheldon (a pigeon with a pork pie hat), and Margo (the dog-walker). The strip takes its name from the cafe where Poncho and his friends gather to compare notes about life among the humans.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Droolia towards Poo Poo.
  • And I Must Scream: Played for laughs in this comic: "It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!"
  • Art Evolution: In this strip's early years, the artwork looks a bit choppy, and even Chazz has a different nose. A few years later, the style becomes much cleaner.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Goldfish should never be kept in a bowl and it's actually pretty cruel to do so, as you assure the fish a slow and painful death. Adult goldfish can't even physically fit into bowls.
  • Badass Adorable: Despite his small size, Poncho has pretty strong muscles.
  • Big Eater: Poncho.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Most of the cast.
  • Blank White Eyes: Poncho.
  • Blinding Bangs: Beaumont.
  • Butt-Monkey: Chazz.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played straight various times.
  • Cat Scare: Poncho shows a little Genre Savvy by thinking, "If this was a dumb horror movie, something would jump out at me right now." A cat jumps out. Somewhat subverted in that Poncho believes that cats really are trouble.
  • Advertisement:
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Carmen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Poncho.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Poncho.
  • Dogs Hate Squirrels:
    • Amongst the cast of animals are a bunch of squirrels that the dogs regularly chase. In one strip, the squirrels actually build their own cafe next to the dogs', sparking a war.
    • Averted in one strip in where Poncho chides the house cat about allowing mice to traverse the living room unmolested. The cat merely stares out the window, and Poncho follows his gaze to see that squirrels have set up an elaborate theme park in the back yard. Poncho grouses, "Yeah, well ... yours is in the house." Neither character budges from the couch.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Early in its life, the strip had a bad habit of doing a joke one day, spending the following day's strip explaining the joke at length, and then repeating the same joke with some minor variation the day after that. Fortunately, Paul Gilligan soon grew out of this tendency.
  • The Door Slams You: 5-26-11. Chaz warns Carmen to not stand near the door because Poncho will be coming through like a train. She doesn't believe him, and gets smashed behind the door when Poncho slams the door open and charges through with a "Choo Choo" sound effect.
  • Epic Fail: "You FORGOT that birds can FLY?!?!"
  • Extreme Omnivore: Poncho.
  • Feud Episode: In one story, the Pooch Cafe is at war with a bunch of squirrels because they illegally built their own cafe right next to the dogs'.
  • Fight Scene: This story arc. It ends with Bone Ripper finding out that Poncho and Mitzi are in love and being so amazed that he surrenders and leaves.
  • Furry Reminder: Poncho and all the other dogs.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: "We live in a flat, urban environment. Where did that waterfall come from?"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Poncho may be self-serving, but he does have a few moments of kindness.
  • Look Behind You: In this comic, Chazz uses "Look! Halley's Comet!"
  • Meaningful Name: Bone Ripper and, to a lesser extent, Boomer.
  • Mundane Fantastic
  • Never My Fault: Poncho is often a victim of this.
  • Odd-Shaped Panel
  • Organ Autonomy: There are occasional strips in which Poncho's various body parts (usually the brain and stomach) argue.
  • Pet Heir: Orlando.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Poo Poo.
  • Sanity Slippage: In one vacation story arc, Hudson's canned food is making Poncho go downright crazy. What he does, well, you'll have to read it to believe it.
  • Scenery Censor: In a series of strips starting July 17th 2014, Poncho goes to a beach where the dogs run around without their collars, which they call a "nude beach". In the following two strips (July 18th and July 19th), after Poncho takes off his collar he is shown with an object covering up his neck, as if the area covered by the collar needed to be censored.
    • One strip features one of Carmen's bunny slippers Flipping the Bird right in front of Poncho to disturb him, having an object covering the middle finger.
  • Shoo the Dog: The strip for March 20, 2014. Poncho and Hudson have saved a mailman from death.
    Poncho: Look! There's a pack of other mailmen. It's time to return him to the life he was born for.
    Hudson: [To the mailman] Well, there you go. Go on. Look, one of them is a female. Doesn't she look enticing?
    Hudson: [Shouting] Go! We don't love you anymore! Don't turn back! Just go! Go! [mailman leaves]
    Poncho: You did the right thing, Hudson. He's back where he belongs.
    Hudson: <sniff> Goodbye, mailman. May all your letters have correct postage...
  • Shout Out: In the strip for September 11th, 2013 a cat is wrapped around a postman's face. Poncho says "Kitty drool. Great defense mechanism. You don't dare remove it or you get cat saliva all over yourself." This is a reference to the film Alien, in which Kane had an alien facehugger wrapped around his face. After Ash tried to cut it off with a laser, it dripped powerful acid and Parker said "It's got a wonderful defence mechanism. You don't dare kill it."
    • The whole Vacunator arc from January 2016, from beginning to end, is a reference to the first Terminator movie.
  • Spit Take: Chazz does this in the strip for November 2nd 2013 when his wife Carmen yells at him.
  • Surreal Humor: This strip has lots of it. Here are some examples:
  • Talking Animal: Poncho and other dog characters.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill: In one story arc, a powerful, aptly-named dog called Bone Ripper tore up a tree and picked up a car just to injure Poncho. Here is the strip:
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Chazz and Carmen.
  • Visible Silence: Poncho has done this a couple of times.
  • Warm Milk Helps You Sleep: Currently provides the page image. The June 8, 2014 strip, in which one of the "Human Cures for Insomnia" is a glass of warm milk. The "Dog Cure for Insomnia"? Turn around in a circle and lie down.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In one story arc, a squirrel named Peanut began exercising to take on Poncho. When Carmen came outside (she was acting as a replacement for Poncho because he had a broken leg), Peanut accidentally attacked HER instead. Poncho implied that when he met the muscular squirrel for real, he just teased him. Peanut is last seen exercising some more. He is never seen after that.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Poncho has a phobia of squirrels.


Example of: