Feghoots and Shaggy Dogs


Not familiar with a feghoot? I bet you really are. You just don’t recognize the name yet.

A little history: Ferdinand Feghoot is the fictional creation of sci-fi writer Reginald Bretnor (1911-1992), who published under the name Grendel Briarton. The stories involving Feghoot were always brief and concluded with an elaborate pun.

A feghoot today doesn’t need to be science fiction, but it must be brief and ridiculously punny. They are also known as groaners or shaggy-dog stories.

Mark Rapacioli, Editor of Planet Relish E-zine says, “A feghoot isn’t just a short short story with a joke at the end. A Feghoot is a short short story that ends in a very groan-worthy pun.”

Enough explanation. Let’s get to some examples:

Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at them and says, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger.”

A dog on crutches walks into a bar in the Wild West and says, “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.”

Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (you must prepare yourself for this) A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

This one stakes its claim as the “original shaggy dog story”:

In the days of yore, a knight on an important mission, rode his horse so hard that it became lame. Spying a village ahead, the knight headed straight for the stables there.

“I must have a horse!” he cried, “The life of the King depends upon it!”

The stable keeper shook his head. “I have no horses,” he said. “They have all been taken in the service of the King.”

“You must have something–a pony, a donkey, a mule, anything at all?” the knight asked.

“Nothing. . . unless. . . no, I couldn’t…”

The knight’s eyes lit up. “Tell me!”

The stable keeper led the knight into the stable where they saw an enormous dog! It was almost as large as the knight’s horse. But it was also the filthiest, shaggiest, smelliest, dog the knight had ever seen.

Swallowing, the knight said “I’ll take it. Where is the saddle?”

The stable keeper was adamant. “I can’t do it.” he told the knight.

“Why won’t you give me the dog?” cried the desperate knight.

The stable keeper replied, “I wouldn’t send a knight out on a dog like this.”

For more of these, check out: Gendertree


Please leave your comments or original feghoots in the Reply section below. 

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Eric Simpson
    Eric Simpson07-19-2015

    You don’t specifically credit the author of your examples; it’s unclear whether they all were written by Bretnor/Briarton, or if they are merely examples of “feghoots” written by someone else. I read the “knight” story years ago, and I (rightly or wrongly) remember it as being written by The Good Doctor (a.k.a. Isaac Asimov).

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko07-21-2015

      I don’t credit the authors because I have no idea who authored them. I wrote them from memory. I don’t know where I heard them first.

  2. James

    A Count was caught spying on the King for a neighboring Kingdom. Thinking the Count may have useful information, the King called his executioner to scare him into spilling the beans. “You have until the count of three to talk or lose your head,” the King said, and then counted, “One… Two… Thr—”,

    “Alright, alright! I’ll talk!” the Count cried, but it was too late: the axe fell and the Count would speak no more.

    Irate, the King turned to the executioner and hollered, “If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times, never hatchet my Counts before they chicken!

  3. Lydia Barr
    Lydia Barr04-25-2013

    You forgot the one about the page and the yellow giant.

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko04-26-2013

      I didn’t actually forget. I left it out intentionally. Nobody know what yellow pages are anymore.

  1. Reduplication05-17-13

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