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Literature / Barkwire

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'''' is a series of articles by Josh "Livestock" Boruff posted on Something Awful beginning in 2008. The series tells the surreal story of a small town that is home to a "seedy canine underworld" and a dedicated (not to say fanatic) community of human observers. The narrative is framed as an oddly specific social network/review site, complete with its own system of rating ("?/5 bones") and likes ("Pet This Dog"). Each post is formatted as a profile page for one of the town's colorful assortment of dogs, with plot lines playing out in the reviews section, populated by an equally colorful cast of human fans.

Occasionally, the format will change to feature the personal blog of the most vocal of the humans, who goes by the handle BiGDOG. contains examples of:

  • Comical Overreacting: Frequently, notably in the case of Rusty, a poorly-groomed and slightly strange dog:
  • Crazy Survivalist: Regular contributor RandyF, who posts all his reviews as psuedo-military reports and has expressed suspicion of stray dogs as possible agents of the New World Order.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Noir
    This dog has buried more secrets than bones. She's been running from the past so long she doesn't even know how to stop. Whatever's got a hold on her won't let go.
  • Fratbro: The late Clumpy, a hard-drinking party dog.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: El Cráneo Negro, after the death of Vermin.
  • Mind Screw: In universe, the performance art of resident canine artiste Satire.
  • Mob War: A major component of the ongoing plot.
  • Only Sane Man: ConfusedGuy, who seems to have stumbled across the site by accident:
    Ummm... This is a dog, guys.
  • Police Are Useless: Several reviewers bemoan the conspicuous absence of Animal Control during the events of the story.
  • Purple Prose: The trademark style of reviewer KHunter.
  • Red Shirt: Barkwire junior editor Ron Christianson never returned after being sent to review an unusually large and unfriendly dog named Scar.
  • Serious Business: Talking about dogs is Serious Business.
  • Shipper on Deck: Dogs' relationship statuses are listed in their profiles, and reviewers often have strong opinions on the subject.
  • Staying Alive: The pound tried to put Vermin to sleep, but it just didn't take.
  • Tattooed Crook: Doublewide, a member of Vermin's gang, who runs a protection racket for local fast food joints.
  • Think of the Children!: A frequent refrain from reviewer Angie.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Angie wants to respect these dogs as God's creations, but is frequently appalled by their behavior.
  • Unreliable Narrator / Through the Eyes of Madness: It's not entirely clear how much of the dogs' personalities and social lives are imagined by the reviewers. On the other hand, the events of the "dog war" may lead the audience to believe that there was more to these reports than might be expected.
  • The Unseen: BiGDOG can't get through one post without praising Panzer, but never provides any detail. The only image ever posted of Panzer only shows as an error symbol.