The Goon Show


OK, so you know the person who shows off pictures of their dogs and cats and sincerely believes that theirs are the cutest and most special in the world?

Of course you do, and if you’re being honest, you are probably that person!

Full disclosure: I am definitely that person and to prove it, this blog is about two of our current household of five pets — three cats and two dogs. 

My British husband told me that there was a BBC radio show back in the day called The Goon Show. Apparently, it was a main influence on the Monty Python crew as well as the Beatles. Peter Sellers was one of the three goons.

I only know this factoid because I dubbed the over-the-top daily antics of our two dogs, Shadow and Stanley, the Goon Show, and was set straight that the name has a special meaning for a few generations of Brits.

The BBC notwithstanding, I can’t think of a better name to describe the performance that these two get up to. Shadow is a very large and occasionally intimidating German shepherd, especially if he doesn’t know you, and Stanley is an absurdly cute little “spanielly” something with a ridiculous underbite that makes him really hard to take seriously.

When Shadow isn’t scaring the life out of unannounced strangers, he walks around with a Gomer Pyle expression of bemused simplicity. Stanley, with his lower front teeth jutting out in several directions, always looks kind of cray cray. He can also be a tad snappy, in that small-dog kind of way. Nothing serious, but enough to get him a label in the shelter. Shadow is just so big and strong, and his leash skills so marginal, that he probably dragged his former person through a few hedges.

Shadow came out of the Los Angeles shelter system by way of our Mission Hills lifesaving center shortly after it opened in 2012, and Stanley came to us from Atlanta, where he had been languishing for quite some time before heading west.

The two are best buds and just as well, because while Shadow could probably swallow Stanley’s head whole, it is little Stanley, of course, who does all the bossing around.

The Goon Show involves a lot of pretend arguing and vocalizing. There is a friendly competition for toys, with their favorite being anything they can both get a hold of and tug. Then there’s a lot of running around, bouncing on and off furniture, with good-natured Shadow letting his little friend win.

To add to the comedy, the floor has a lot of room to run and a smooth finish. That means skidding on the turns and long slides into the home base of the sofa. Any suspicious noises outside require a mad dash across the floor, then down a long corridor, through Gregory’s office and out the dog door to their fenced play yard to woof at shadows, deer, coyotes or just the wind. I think it’s usually just the wind.

Stanley is a licker — it’s bit weird, but who’s to judge. He especially likes to lick Shadow’s ears. In fact, when Shadow went for a checkup recently, the vet made a special point to comment on how clean his ears are. I wish we could take some credit for that, but that’s all Stanley.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me about these two, like so many other “best pets ever,” is that both of these dogs were good candidates to go out the back door of their respective shelters — rather than the front — before they came into Best Friends’ care and then to live with Gregory and me. 

And, yes, they are the best dogs ever! Just like all the other adopted dogs who have shared our home with us. Each one unique, each an individual and each with his or her own very valuable life.

The thought of all the Shadows and Stanleys dying in shelters every day is what drives me. I can’t live with a system that legitimizes and justifies such killing.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle with Sunny the dog
Julie Castle
Best Friends Animal Society