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In the 1990s, I lived in Athens, Georgia, where I was a doctoral student in linguistics. I read the newspaper almost every day, and I started reading a comic strip called Mutts, by Patrick McDonnell. I loved the strip — the sweetness and good intentions of the dog, Earl, was paired with the slightly self-centered cat, Mooch, who also happened to be not quite as smart as Earl in many ways. These two characters are neighbors who live in an urban area that is best characterized as a city in the northeastern United States.

In the series that this strip comes from, Earl is on a leash waiting to be taken for a walk, but his human, Ozzie, gets distracted for a moment. In walks Mooch, who decides to pick up the leash and take Earl for his walk. Not knowing exactly where to go, Mooch decides to see Paris, and of course Earl tags along. After walking for an unspecified period of time, which Earl calls FOR-EVER, the pair decide to stop and ask whether they’ve made it to Paris.


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