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Mailman vs. Dog

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”Why do we bark at the mailman? Because by George, we cowdogs have always barked at mailmen, and we always will!””

Mailmen are courageous and unstoppable. Nothing stops them from being able to deliver letters and packages to the masses. Not even the neighborhood dogs, no matter how hard they try.

Like cats and squirrels, mailmen are often portrayed in fiction as a dog's favorite target. Mostly it's harmless encounters like barking or chasing them away. Other times, the dog outright attacks the letter carrier. Sometimes the mailman gets his revenge or the dog gets his comeuppance.

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Sometimes instead of the mailman, the target is a paperboy. In older media, one may see a milkman or a telegraph deliver as the target of the dog's wrath.

Played for Laughs if the mailman is intimidated by a comically small dog like a chihuahua. (Though if it's a particularly poorly trained and aggressive small dog, this might be a Justified Trope.)

This is Truth in Television, as mailmen routinely enter the territory of very territorial animals in Real Life.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • One Nike shoe commercial follows the Point of View of a dog on a leash, taking a brisk walk with its owner. The dog at one point encounters a mailwoman and makes a point of growling at her, eliciting an "Eek!" The dog chortles and remarks, "I love doing that."
  • There was a series of commercials for something which had people announcing that they were leaving the job they currently had and were joining the NBA. One of these showed a mailman running from a dog while announcing his intention. We then see him actually playing basketball and going up against a player with a canine nickname. The other player barks at him and makes him drop the ball.
  • A series of commercials for McDonald's showed natural enemies forming friendships over McDonalds food, including a mailman and a dog.
  • An ad for Subaru shows a family of dogs driving a Subaru and barking furiously when a mail truck passes them on the opposite lane.
  • Lovable Truly was an animated mailman mascot for Post Alpha-Bits cereal. He was always seen with a dog, its teeth firmly in his rear end. Lovable Truly would become an irregular element on the Linus the Lionhearted show in 1964.

    Comic Books 
  • Dennis the Menace (UK) has a dog called Gnasher who enjoys attacking postmen (for instance, biting their bottoms) whenever they come to deliver letters.
  • A comic book story based on Krypto the Superdog features an intergalactic mailman who's constantly being attacked by dogs everywhere he goes. The Dog Stars (even Brainy Barker) can't help but bark at him in spite of knowing he's a harmless character who doesn't deserve this kind of treatment.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield
    • Garfield enjoys harassing the local mailman, he even lampshades the trope by asking, "Why should dogs have all the fun?" Sometimes he just pulls harmless pranks while other times he will violently attack him or catch him in an elaborate booby trap. The mailman occasionally gets his revenge on Garfield.
    • In an Easy Amnesia sequence, the one thing Garfield remembers by himself is that he used to terrorize the mailman. He even implies that this must mean it's the most essential part of his nature - More so than his overeating!
    • A paperboy who is rarely seen often attacks Garfield by throwing his papers right at him, often hitting the cat hard in the face.
  • Grimm from Mother Goose and Grimm loves chasing after the mailman, to the point that the post office has a wanted picture of Grimm up in the office.
  • Buckles from his self-titled comic strip originally had a rivalry with the Paperboy, named "Rodney" in his last appearance, who always attacks Buckles by throwing his papers at him. The Paperboy was later Put on a Bus in 2005 after an incident where Buckles wrecks his BMX bike.
  • Pooch Café elevates this to an almost-religion amongst its dogs, to the point where one plotline has the doggie denizens distressed to discover that their resident mailman foe has a dog — which they try to "rescue" and free from what they assume must be some kind of brainwashing. Another plotline has main character Poncho go against the code and try to rescue a mailman who has fallen unconscious in the snow by dragging him onto a train car. They are found by hobo dogs, who screech that Poncho has brought "the enemy" into their midst; Poncho bluffs that instead of helping the mailman, he had captured the mailman — and consequently is made king of the hobo dogs.
  • Averted by Daisy, the Bumsteads' dog in Dean Young's Blondie, who bears the mailman no ill will and is harmless. It's Dagwood, zooming out the door in a blind panic, that's the mailman's chief hazard.
  • Used several times in The Far Side:
    • In one panel, a mailman comes through a door with seven dogs hanging off him. He says to his wife, "Gimme a hand here, Edna... I got into a nest of weiner dogs over on Sixth and Maple."
    • In another strip, a giant mailman is demolishing the city, Godzilla style. In the foreground, a dog is speaking to a crowd of other dogs saying, "Listen! the authorities are helpless! If the city's to be saved, I'm afraid it's up to us! This is our hour!"
    • Another Far Side strip showed a dog with a bandana and a rocket launcher standing next to a smoking hole in the sidewalk, with the caption: "They said neither rain nor snow could stop the mail, but they didn't count on... Rexbo."
    • Yet another strip showed a mailman being attacked by several dogs while inside the house a dog holding a violin watched sadly because he had to take lessons and couldn't join in.
    • One strip has a dog on a psychiatrist's couch, saying the mailman scares him.
    • And another strip has "Dog Hell", where the dogs are forced to act as mailmen.
    • And yet another features a group of dogs dressing as mailmen to pull a Trojan Horse ambush inside a post office.
    • A dog sits up in bed at night nervously reading The Mailman Carried Mace by lamplight.
    • One strip had a couple dogs playing a cruel prank on a sleeping leashed dog involving a fake mailman puppet.
    • Another strip titled "Creative dog writing" had a dog named Zeek writing a book titled Call of the Calf based on the feelings that drive dogs to bite mailmen.
    I sensed the mailman's fear as he opened the gate. It was like a warm stench in the air — so thick you could cut it with a knife. Suddenly, I felt myself growing dizzy — as if the fear was a powerful drug. The entire yard began reeling. And then I heard his soft, plump calves begin calling to me: "Zeeeeeeeeek...Zeeeeeeeek...bite us, Zeeeeek...biiiiiiiite uuuusss..."
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    Films — Animated 
  • Played with in Olive, the Other Reindeer where Olive, the protagonist is a dog and the Big Bad is a mailman. However before the start of their conflict, Olive was actually friendly to the mailman.
  • This trope happens in Mad Mad Mad Monsters, the prequel to Mad Monster Party. While delivering Baron von Frankenstein's wedding invitations to his guests, Harvey the mailman gets chased by the Invisible Man's dog as well as Ron Chandley after he changes into his werewolf form.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • See Spot Run stars a mail carrier who hates dogs. The beginning of the film has him delivering mail to a neighborhood full of dogs ready to attack. He outsmarts them with creative ways using his gadgets...except for one.
  • Referred to at the end of the first The Naked Gun movie, when a baseball park brawl ends with everyone apologizing to each other and embracing, including a mailman and a dog.
  • Garfield distracts a bunch of dogs chasing him by lying to them about the mailman. They all fall for it, thus giving the fat cat a desperately-needed head start to continue running.

    Literature 
  • One of the trials of the postman in Going Postal is a pack of dogs, and several of the postmen have scars from dogbites. Not only that, there is mention of the other peril of dogs; their droppings. Apparently dogshit can be as frictionless as oil.
    Worshipful Master of the Order of Postmen: Postmen, what is the Second Oath? ... Dogs! I tell you, there's no such thing as a good one! If they don't bite they all crap! It's as bad as stepping on machine oil!
  • Hank the Cowdog sums up the reason why dogs bark at mailmen in his own way.
    Hank: Why do dogs bark at the mailman? Because by George, we cowdogs have always barked at mailmen, and we always will!
  • Conversational Troping in the Hercule Poirot novel Dumb Witness. According to Poirot, the dog is a reasoning animal and reasons thusly: The postman regularly comes to the door. The postman is never allowed into the house. Therefore the dog's people don't like the postman and want rid of him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cliff Clavin from Cheers has had a number of run-ins with dogs in his postal career, or so he says. (All of the incidents take place offscreen.) In one episode, he tries to impress a girl by comparing himself to Indiana Jones because of his canine incidents.
    • The episode that introduces Margaret O'Keefe has her and Cliff commit a postal infraction and Cliff's punishment is to be reassigned to a district he calls "Rottweiler Ridge". (She got fired.)
    • Another time, Cliff falls down the stairs to Cheers and gets knocked out of his normal wits. While trying to regain his senses, he acts out checking a mailbox and shaking off a dog attack.
  • Supernatural: In "Dog Dean Afternoon" Dean takes a potion which lets him speak fluent animal, so he can talk to a dog which was the witness to a murder. But he starts to take on doglike personality traits including an urge to play fetch, scratching behind his ears, and yes, yelling at a mailman for no reason.
  • Seinfeld
    • Newman has a great disdain for dogs as a mailman as shown in "The Engagement" episode.
      Newman: I see many dogs on my mail route. I'll bet there's not one type of mutt or mongrel I haven't run across. If you ask me, they have no business living amongst us. Vile, useless beasts...
    • At the end of "The Doodle" episode, Kramer gets petty revenge on Newman by untying a dog that ignores everything else and chases Newman.
      Kramer: Look, Beauford, it's the mailman! You remember the mailman, don't you?
    • Another episode had Newman mention that he had been assigned the former mail route of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. "Son of Sam", commenting that the route had a lot of dogs. Although Berkowitz claimed the dogs told him to kill, Newman was told to "lay off the snacks".
  • An episode of The Story of Tracy Beaker had Marco dress up as a dog. When the postman arrived with the morning post, he made growling noises and bit the letters like a dog.
  • An episode of Bear Behaving Badly has a robotic postwoman arrive at the block of flats where the characters live and force them to be members of her family. Then, when Aunt Barbara mistakes Nev (who is a bear) for a dog (as usual), Barney plays along with this and claims that Nev is a dog too. The postwoman gets scared.
  • One episode of Malcolm in the Middle has Reese start hanging out with a pack of stray dogs and start taking on their behavior. At one point, he yells at the mailman.
  • It's Me or the Dog: Dogs that are aggressively anti-mailmen get extensive training (via repeated bribery with treats) so that the dog sees the mailman's coming and going as a good thing.

    Video Games 
  • Averted by the mailman in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: If ever you're in wolf form whenever he has a letter to give you, you automatically switch back to human form. Then again, he might not even be scared of dogs, since one of the places in which you find him is the very bottom of the Bonus Dungeon.
  • A paperboy variation occurs in... well... Paperboy, where the occasional dog is one of your many obstacles in the game

    Western Animation 
  • CatDog:
    • Dog attacks mailmen for sport and keeps a piece of their pants he rips off as a trophy. In one episode he has a long going feud with a paperboy, who harassed him as a puppy, who later grew up to become their mailman.
    • In another episode, Dog has chased away too many paperboys so he and Cat are hired to deliver papers. Unfortunately, the other dogs consider Dog a traitor.
  • Hey Arnold!
    • Oskar is chased and bitten by a small chihuahua while delivering newspapers.
    • During a heat wave, Mr. Green's dog growls at Harvey the mailman. Harvey asks the dog to not give him any trouble today since it's so hot out.
  • The Fairly OddParents!
    • In the Christmas Episode where Timmy wished for it to be Christmas every day, there was a scene where a newscaster says that the worst of enemies are now the best of friends, as it is Christmas. When he said that, we are shown on a postman and a dog becoming friends with each other. After it ceases being Christmas every day, the newscaster says that the worst of enemies are back to being the worst of enemies and we see the dog and the postman again, who are now enemies again.
    • In another episode, Timmy almost gets attacked by a group of vicious junkyard dogs because he accidentally falls into a cat costume, gravy, and mailman-scented air fresheners.
  • In Bojack Horseman, Mr. Peanutbutter (a Funny Animal dog) has a bizarre obsessive hatred of mailmen and the postal service and will even try to chase them down with his car.
  • One episode of The Huckleberry Hound Show, "Postman Panic", has Huck as a mailman dealing with a dog who won't let Huck make his delivery. A big case of Furry Confusion, as Huck is a dog himself.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Quagmire accuses Brian of not understanding his feelings for the mailman. Cut to Brian barking and chasing away a mailman using some very rude language, and immediately after that begging him to come back next time, saying that he gets really lonely when he doesn't come on Sundays.
  • Invoked by Minnie Mouse in the Mickey Mouse short "Doggone Biscuits". After trying to get Pluto back into shape (she made him fat because she fed him too many treats), she gets the idea to motivate Pluto into getting into shape by dressing as a mail carrier and getting Pluto to chase her.
  • Rugrats:
    • In "Tommy's First Birthday", Tommy wants to eat dog food, believing that it will turn him into a dog. When Angelica hears this, she wants to become a dog so she can bite the mailman.
    • In "Special Delivery", Tommy sneaks into a mailman's mailbag thinking that a doll being sent there is a new baby after a miscommunication from Didi, thinking that all babies come from the mail. Not only does the postman get attacked by a dog during the trip back (with the whole street seeming to have a dog at each house), there's even a medical ward for all postmen who were injured in dog attacks, showing several other postmen looking similarly mauled.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy has the paperboy variant. With all three Eds doing a route, things are going decently until Edd tries to rescue Ed, who got snagged on a fence door trying to jump over it when he couldn't pull it open (since he was too stupid to realize it was a push door instead), only to get bothered by a tiny dog who then bites his sock. He then spends the next few scenes trying to shake it off, looking ragged by the time he finally succeeds.
  • Sharky the Shark Dog will savage any mailman that enters his yard in Eek! The Cat. Of course, Sharky will try to savage anybody that enters his yard.
  • Completely averted in, of all series, Postman Pat. Apparently the good burghers of Greendale are extremely responsible pet-owners. (Which kind of makes sense in a rural community with lots of livestock.)
  • The A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode "Catcher on the Sly" had Buster McMuttmauler attempt to disguise himself as a mailman to get to Scooby-Doo. His disguise backfires because a bunch of other dogs promptly attack him.

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