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Puppy Dog Pals theory I am ABSOLUTELY sure about

24.06.23

This entry was originally posted elsewhere, but the only thing that has changed is that I have watched more episodes since. This changes pretty much nothing.

Recently I finally downloaded the first three seasons in normal quality and started rewatching them. Previously I only had either TV broadcasts or an outrageously blurry Rutracker download. I used to obsess over this show back when it was on its first season. I was looking forward to the second season, and fondly remember finally watching it. I had lots of fun writing Cinema Sins-esque nitpicks about the first two seasons while trying my best to explain the inconsistencies I noticed. And even back then, something felt odd. I thought the second season had a slight decline in quality, but now, in retrospect, I treat Seasons 1 and 2 as equal. However... I cannot say the same about the later ones.

When the third season came, even the trailer did not give me high hopes. I analyzed all the trailers for it, watched the first episodes very closely, but then kind of lost interest. One of the most egregious memories was a cyclist's dog riding a bicycle, even though bikejoring exists and they could've easily made the "cycling partner dog" less unnatural. When it came to the fourth and fifth seasons, I stopped caring entirely. The series has lost its charm, and the episodes started to blend together. The old characters were sidelined (I am still sad about what they did to Hissy - as many would agree, she was the best part of the show). The new ones were incredibly bland: they introduced SIX main characters and I can't even tell what their personalities are. I haven't even watched that much of the fifth season because I lost interest, maybe I'll get to that later.

But anyway, even back at Season 3 premiere, I had a guess that something big was happening in the show's universe right during the events of the show.

In Season 1, the animals are treated pretty much like they are in real life. They're perceived as decently smart, but not sapient. They're not expected to do much aside from simple commands. But as Season 2 came, things became weird. Notable examples:
- "How the dog park was won": Bob trusts the puppies with complex and potentially dangerous machinery that you can barely trust even a human child with.
- "Double Doggie Dare": The pets are performing in a game show. Not just a regular agility competition - for this one, more awareness is expected.
- "The Bark Bowl": perhaps the most egregious example from this era. The dogs are expected to not just play a game by the rules, but to do so WITHOUT A HUMAN TRAINER. No way people would do so if they didn't know dogs are actually sapient.
- "The Legend of Captain Wunderbark": Not really relating to the issue (sorry for going off-track), but this is just weird. I had no idea how to explain it myself, so by now I stuck with an idea I found on TvTropes that it's an abandoned amusement park.
- "One Small Ruff For Pup-Kind": This one also just makes zero sense. I normally don't handwave nonsense by "it's just a roleplay/dream", but this is an exception. The only way this could make sense even in-universe is if it was unreal.
Same goes for other "space" episodes.

After this season, I was convinced that some important shift happened in the society between first and second seasons. Namely - humans discovered that animals are sapient. They don't yet know how much, but seem to be moving towards understanding this. In hindsight, it might've actually happened back in the first season. Ever noticed how A.R.F. is able to speak to both humans AND animals? I am still a little bit confused about how this could happen. For now I handwave it as "another thing AI did by itself that humans cannot understand". But... At some point, Bob sure would have noticed. Maybe he was even one of the first to ring the bell. And the later seasons make us think that he actually did.

Season 3 takes this even further. The very trailer of it depicts dogs performing some complex (for dogs) tasks, such as reading a book (even if the dog was just looking at pictures, she was still flipping the pages like a human), driving a toy plane and doing skateboard tricks. But the most baffling change is the "going on a mission" section.

In the first two seasons, it took place in their regular doghouse. While the machine on top (which was used for putting on the pups' collars, plus a once-per-episode gag) was kind of weird, everything looked like it was just built for the pups' games and not for missions. However, it's not the case in Playcare. There is an unnecessarily giant complex built into the Playcare specifically for the pups. I have no idea why it has to be so big. Anyway, because of this thing existing, there's NO WAY Bob, as well as other humans, doesn't know about the puppies' missions. Given just how many things there are in the collars, I'd be surprised if they didn't also have GPS trackers inside, especially given how hyperactive Bingo and Rolly are.

This leads me to believe that Playcare was built not only as a kindergarten for dogs, but as a research facility. As the show goes on, the humans continue learning about the animals' intelligence, so who knows - maybe after the show's end, there would be a moment where humans and animals would exist as equals.