It’s no secret that June 19th is the birthday of Garfield the Cat–that being the annual anniversary of when the first “Garfield” comic strip appeared in your daily newspaper. Lesser known fact: Garfield’s slobbering dog pal Odie also celebrates his birthday on August 8th. Yep, it’s the anniversary of when cartoonist Jim Davis first introduced the rampantly lovable pooch into Garfield’s life. There’s even more to know about Odie, too. He’s not just some generic yellow-haired mutt. He’s supposed to be a beagle. That’ll confuse the kiddies who’ve seen the two live-action Garfield movies, though. Odie is played by a real-life dachshund in those films. (Garfield himself is an elaborate computer-animated creation.)
Odie has grown up over the years, too. He first showed up in 1978, and was clearly more of an animal than the sophisticated Garfield. That was mostly indicated by the dog walking around on all fours like some kind of household pet. That changed sometime around the late 1990s, though. Nowadays, Odie walks around on two legs. He’s still not nearly as sophisticated as Garfield, though. Well, the early animated Odie was walking around on two legs back in the ’80s on some television appearances, but we’re concentrating on the comic strip here.
Odie also made a clear transition from puppy to mature adulthood. Nobody else ages in the Garfield universe, but Odie eventually dropped his whiskers and became…well, less puppy-like and more spazzy. Odie also doesn’t get to have thought bubbles. That must mean something. We still remember lots of strips where it seems Odie is a lot smarter than he lets on to Garfield.
The really strange thing about Odie is that he’s not even really part of Garfield’s family. We all know Garfield’s long-suffering master Jon, of course. But when Odie first began to appear, he was the dog of Jon’s roommate Lyman. Remember that guy Lyman? With the mustache? Yeah. Odie probably doesn’t remember Lyman, either, but that was the story. Lyman eventually disappeared, but Odie has been around for 35 years now. That’s one old dog. We’re proud to remember his birthday today. In fact, we better remember his birthday today. Garfield actually celebrates a birthday every June 19th. Odie’s birthday has only been mentioned once in the strip. Real nice, Jim Davis. Anyway, let’s celebrate Odie with this short cartoon from the ’80s…