John Swartzwelder is the most prolific of Simpsons writers, and he was responsible for this particular episode as well.
As a reward, sharp-eyed viewers can note that Springfield is located in Swartzwelder County in whatever state that is.
Lottery fever has gripped Springfield, and Homer has no impulse control, so you know he spent too much money on tickets. Marge reminds him–again–that they are on a tight budget. Both seem to ignore how sick the dog looks.
Now, obviously the family doesn’t win the lottery. That’s for Kent Brockman. He’ll use it to buy a Ted Kennedy-biting Llama.
The world’s most buff and handsome vet tells the family Santa’s Little Helper has a stomach problem that will require surgery. And it comes at a price the family maybe can’t afford, which is something many people have to come to terms with in the real world. Unexpected medical costs for pets is a real problem for some people. I know it is for me, because it has happened.
A couple years ago, my job got hit with budget problems and we got furloughed for one day a week for a few weeks. My wife wasn’t working at the time, and we had four weddings to attend. She was a bridesmaid for one, and another was a destination wedding in another state. It was rough. And in the middle of it, one of the cats got sick.
The illness in question was related to an allergy and the weird scabs that popped up on the back of her neck under the fur. It turned out to be something that could have been serious had we not caught it in time. I took her to the vet and she was treated, had to go back a couple weeks later, and the whole thing cost about $300. We had a problem paying the bills, but we managed. Gracie is still alive today, but there was this thought running through my head at the time of whether or not I would be taking her home when I took her to the vet, especially since she hates to travel in the crate and gave off a small, sad mew every ten seconds or so.
So, it is entirely understandable to see both Homer and Bart’s perspectives as they leave the vet. Bart wants to keep the dog. Homer knows they can’t afford it. Fortunately for Santa’s Little Helper, the family figures out how to cut some corners to pay for the surgery, though after the dog recovers, each member of the family finds cause to be angry at the dog.
Whether it was due to that or the usual Simpson carelessness, SLH slips out in the night and goes for a long walk, where he fights bears, rescues babies, and chases cats up trees. Then he goes to the pound, but doesn’t stay there long since Mr. Burns needs a new attack dog to scare away, oh, anybody and everybody.
SLH isn’t the kind of dog that takes to attacking people, but Mr. Burns clearly saw A Clockwork Orange for his doggie brainwashing techniques because that crap works, dammit.
That would be where Bart finds his dog, since apparently he was the only one to actually try looking. After a brief scare, SLH remembers Bart, scares off the other attack dogs, and then goes home to the Simpson house. Everyone wants to pet the dog.
No one wants to pet the cat. Oh, and we’re told a duck got shot.
Thems the breaks.