Theories on My Thrift Store Dog Mugs, Or: Who Paid Money to Have These Manufactured?

I bought two mugs at a thrift store in Los Angeles, for 50 cents each. The mugs are specially printed to feature dog-themed parodies of different media.

The first mug features a poster for a made-up movie, “Valley of the Dogs,” an obvious parody of the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls. The mug depicts dogs in long wigs looking confidently at the camera against a superimposed backdrop of colorful pills, and implores the viewer to “see pill-popping pooches!” It is a classic example of parody.

The second mug features dogs in 1950s clothing: fedoras, long coats, and collared dresses. The dogs are smoking cigarettes and drinking booze, in an obvious parody of AMC’s wildly popular TV series Mad Men.

Underneath these retro dogs is the title of this dog parody. It is “Mad Dogs.”

“Mad Dogs” is barely even a joke. It is shockingly worse than its clever counterpart, “Valley of the Dogs.” You can’t even say it’s a bad pun, because it’s not a pun. “Valley of the Dogs” is a pun. “Mad Dogs” is a phrase in which the word “men” was replaced with the word “dogs.”

It does not sound similar. It does not make an attempt to integrate the lives of dogs with the lives of Mad Men characters. It is sloppy. It is chaos. It is the worst thing I have ever seen.

The two mugs were likely made at the same time, under the same circumstances. So what went wrong? I’ve come up with some theories.

THEORY ONE: A designer stays up until the wee hours working on a huge project for his company’s most important and notoriously hard-to-please client, Dog Mugs Inc. He finally finishes “Valley of the Dogs” and drifts off to sleep, only to wake up the next morning and realize with horror that that he was supposed to turn in TWO mugs. He frantically scribbles out “Mad Dogs” and ran out the door, while his wife calls after him “what about your breakfast?!”

Then the guy gets to work, sweating and panicked because Mad Dogs is such a bad idea, and he has to present it to his boss and the suits at Dog Mugs Inc. Obviously, he opens with “Valley of the Dogs,” and obviously, that one is well-received. Then, filled with dread, he gets to Mad Dogs, which he pitches as “it’s like Mad Men…but dogs.” He flinches, ready to be fired. The President of Dog Mugs Inc stands up and says, “I don’t like it. I love it!”

The designer is promoted to head of his department and given a raise to $170,000 per year.

THEORY TWO: In her fancy office, a brilliant advertising genius—ironically, a modern Don Draper—is working on her masterpiece: “Valley of the Dogs.” This mug, she knows, will secure her place in advertising history.

Just then, her slacker brother, who’s in town while he’s figuring some stuff out, ambles in because they were supposed to have lunch. “Whatcha doing?” he asks with a mouth full of muffin. “I’m working,” she replies, irritated. “Valley of the Dogs,” he says. “Haha. I get it. You know what would be another good one? ‘Mad Dogs.’” “That wouldn’t be good,” she replies, growing less patient by the second, “it would be the worst thing ever. That’s not a pun, or a joke. No one would like ‘Mad Dogs.’”

At that moment, the President of the company is walking by on the way to a meeting. He overhears “Mad Dogs” and says, “I don’t like it. I love it!”

The brother is promoted to President of the Company and given a salary of $240,000 per year.

THEORY THREE: For a lark, a dog lover decides to make a dog parody mug. She makes “Valley of the Dogs” and is pretty pleased with her work. Her dog is watching her intently the whole time, and she laughs to herself, wondering if the dog has any idea what she’s doing.

She has a spare blank mug, and to amuse herself, she puts it on the floor by the dog, who promptly gets to work drafting designs for it. The woman is blown away—she’d had no idea her dog could write or use Photoshop with a reasonable degree of skill!

At the end of the day, the dog picks up his mug in his mouth and hands it to her. It is “Mad Dogs.” It’s pretty good for a dog, but the woman has a hard time not blanching when she reads its title out loud. “I can’t show this to the girls at the office,” she thinks, but tries to act impressed, for the dog’s sake.

The cat walks by, and says “what is that?” “The dog made it!” the woman says, trying to convey that they should put up a united front in acting impressed, “don’t you like it?” “No,” the cat says, “I don’t like it. I love it!”

The dog is promoted to Head Dog and given a salary of 480,000 treats per year.

THEORY FOUR: The two mugs were designed by separate parties at separate times, and by an amazing coincidence, bear a striking resemblance to one another.

Allegra Ringo is a writer, dog lover and podcast guy. Follow her on Twitter at @allegraringo, and check out her Maximum Fun podcast Can I Pet Your Dog?

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