When I reviewed the Complete Peanuts Vol. 1983-84, I promised a strip in there was slated for this blog's Bleak Peanuts feature. Well, it's a couple months later, but here it is:
Spike, of course, is Snoopy's brother who lives in the desert near Needles, California. In the 1980s he became a frequent guest star in the strip, displaying a sort of wry fatalism about his desert life among the cacti. Most of his strips have him forming clubs or making friends with the cacti, or writing letters to Snoopy of the humorous minutiae of his arid environment.
But this strip from October 1984 (and a few others that appeared in the couple weeks following), are a little different. That Ha! at the end is not much of a punchline, is it? How did Spike arrive in the desert, anyway? After all, he was raised at the Daisy Hill puppy farm just like Snoopy and his other siblings.
Well, clearly, he must have been adopted but his new family decided they couldn't or didn't feel like taking care of him, so they dropped him off in the desert to die or scratch out whatever existence he could. And ever since then, Spike's been waiting out his boring existence, hoping, as we see here, for some new owner to pick him and take him with her, somebody to love him and provide him the shelter and food that he cannot provide for himself.
The bleakness here may not be quite as obvious as some of the others, but once you understand the situation, this one cuts to the bone.