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Cartoon Black History: McGruff the Crime Dog

August 4, 2011

Some people do bad things and that’s it. Other people do bad things, but learn from them. But there’s nothing greater than when that lesson helps others. Plus, everyone loves a good comeback story… ask Micheal Vick. Vick is naturally tangential to dogs. Speaking of which…

Vincent McGruff was born in the south side ghettos of Chicago. His mom always tried to hide him from the negativity to a fault. The way he defied her efforts to shelter was to be naked. His mom hated it. She would routinely grab her trenchcoat and throw it over him. that stuck with him into his adulthood.

Trenchcoats became Vincent’s favorite clothing because he could be naked underneath with no one knowing. Too bad for that one kid who pissed off Mr. McGruff. He thought the best way to fight a child was to be childish himself (to McGruff’s defense, he didn’t know it was a federal offense).

McGruff was promptly jailed when the kid told the police. This was the first time trenchcoats and sexual assault went together like peanut butter and jelly. The police, who thought it was hilarious at the time, had no idea they’d be arresting people indiscriminately for wearing trenchcoats in the near future.

But that’s not as historic as what he did after spending 15 years in jail for indecent exposure. He swore an oath to stop anyone from seeing what he witnessed in jail. When McGruff was released, all that was returned to him was his trenchcoat. He decided to make it a symbol for good. His initial thought was he could be the black version of Uncle Sam. So he took pictures in the “America Wants You” format to get more teens signed up for the Army and off the streets.

The Army ended up putting that black youth on the front lines to be massacred by Iranian soldiers. So his first attempt at redemption failed. Attempt 2: He knew he wished to combat crime. McGruff hated it and wanted others to, also. He wanted Chicagoans to be ashamed of crime to the point of wanting to eat it like a small dog trying to hide an “accident” from its owner (JEEZ… foreshadow much, Rufio?). So Vincent came up with a pretty catchy slogan for the people of Chicago.

With that, Vincent became known as McGruff the Crime Dog. The campaign was effective… too effective, actually. People took it literally. Victims of misdeeds would chase their assailants and bite them repeatedly until authorities arrived only to be arrested themselves for attempted manslaughter. McGruff, though it made him (in)famous, didn’t feel victorious and categorized the second attempt as a failure, as well.  His third attempt, which was to quit trying altogether,  was mildly successful. Moral of the story: Keep on keepin’ on… until you don’t feel like it anymore.

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