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Schulz once said that the best idea he ever had in the strip was to move Snoopy from inside his doghouse to the rooftop. Preceding that, there was a gradual evolution of the character, from something like an actual dog to an anthropomorphic character, more like typical cartoon animals. He also thought that this would give a better image to children to use more of their imagination and characterized it as the Mary Poppins syndrome, by letting people believe that his doghouse could be anything he wanted it to be.
His earliest impersonation was of a bird on August 9, 1951. Later (starting November 17, 1955), Snoopy engaged in dead-on imitations of Violet, a pelican, Lucy, a moose, Beethoven and Mickey Mouse (to which Charlie Brown responded, "Frightening, isn't it?"). He would also pretend to be other animals, including a snake, rhinoceros, lion, and vulture. But his eccentricities did not stop there.
On June 28, 1957, Snoopy walked on his two hind legs, like a human, for the first time. This soon became so commonplace as to be almost unnoticeable, as Snoopy developed a variety of Walter Mitty-esque alter egos (often beginning "Here's the world-famous [name of occupation]"). Snoopy's transformation to walking to two feet also was accompanied by his larger snout and great body length. Furthermore, Snoopy takes his fantasies so seriously that he plays out even unpleasant elements of them such as taking lengthy penalties in hockey games or facing humiliating disciplinary actions for incompetence.
One of Snoopy's most famous alter-egos is as the World War I Flying Ace (first appearance, October 10, 1965), often seen battling his archenemy, Manfred von Richthofen, (the Red Baron). When assuming this personality, Snoopy would don goggles, a flying helmet and a scarf and climb on top of his doghouse, which he claimed was a Sopwith Camel. The Red Baron, like other adult figures in Peanuts, was never drawn in a strip; his presence was indicated through the bullet holes that would riddle the doghouse, and Snoopy's fist-shaking and cries of "Curse you, Red Baron!" while his "Sopwith Camel" doghouse plummeted to earth trailing smoke. In I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Charlie Brown's sister Sally Brown jumps on the doghouse and flies with Snoopy.
Outside of his fantasy life, he plays shortstop on Charlie Brown's Little League team; he is the best player, nearly passing Babe Ruth on the career home run list, and an excellent fielder due to his ability to catch fly balls in his mouth. Snoopy is also a "Beagle Scout", the Peanuts version of Eagle Scout and is the Scout leader for a troop composed of Woodstock and his other bird friends, such as Bill, Harriet, and Conrad. This Scouting theme reappears throughout the comic strip.
Snoopy is also a tennis player. He does tend to double-fault frequently, which sends him into rage-filled temper tantrums during which he screams and destroys his racket, a la John McEnroe. He has also played in mixed-doubles, usually pairing with the garage door (whose best quality as a player, according to Snoopy, is that "he never foot faults") and later teaming up with the short-tempered, cantankerous Molly Volley.
Snoopy loves root beer and pizza, hates coconut candy, gets claustrophobia in tall weeds, and is deathly afraid of icicles dangling over his doghouse. One of his hobbies is reading Leo Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace at the rate of "a word a day". Snoopy also has the uncanny ability to play fetch with soap bubbles, and can hear someone eating marshmallows or cookies at a distance, or even peeling a banana. Snoopy is also capable of disappearing, like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, as shown in an extended strip, whenever Charlie Brown reads the book to him. ("Grins are easy. Noses are hard. Ears are almost impossible."). Two things Snoopy dislikes are listening to balloons being squeezed and cats.
He can also use his ears to fly about as a "whirlydog". Snoopy even became a canine helicopter, with Woodstock piloting. This gag appeared in the strip several times, most famously rescuing Linus from the top of a barn after being commissioned by Sally. When asked by Linus where he learned to pilot, Woodstock replied in his usual apostrophes, which Linus interpreted as meaning "'Nam". The gag also appeared in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown.
Snoopy "understands a little French and Serbo-Croatian." His dog food brand is called "For Dogs who flew in World War I and understand a little French". He later was also depicted as a sergeant in the French Foreign Legion (inspired by the film Beau Geste from 1966), with Woodstock and his avian friends as members of his patrol. He failed his high school geometry course, which was his excuse for not being able to follow a golf course's 90 degree golf cart driving rule.
Snoopy has his own little dance, variously known as The Beagle, the Suppertime Dance, or simply the Happy Snoopy Dance. Most often he dances at suppertime and has broken his foot from being too excited. One strip includes a joke that he has forgotten the steps and another includes the joke that he needs new steps. One time, Charlie Brown gleefully revealed that Snoopy missed his suppertime and did his own song and dance gloating at his dog's mistake while Snoopy looked on in astonishment.
Snoopy climbed trees at least five times—once to rescue Schroeder's piano, once to rescue Linus's blanket, once to see a "strange creature" in Woodstock's nest which turned out to be an egg, once after Frieda's cat Faron, and once with Charlie Brown, Schroeder, and an unnamed Peanuts kid. He fell out of the tree almost every time. (Note: In his "vulture" persona and when visiting Woodstock's nest, Snoopy was depicted in trees many times.)
Snoopy has been as much a failure at love with female dogs as his owner Charlie Brown has been at baseball and kite flying. In early 1965, he met a girl beagle at an ice skating rink and fell in love. However, his girlfriend's father forbade marriage between the two; "he could never allow his daughter to marry an obedience school dropout", as Snoopy put it, and so turned to eating to attempt to forget her. It didn't work: "I'll always have a few memories and a fat stomach", he griped. Later that same year he met her again on the beach and tried surfing to impress her, only to wipe out. Charlie Brown told Snoopy he'd been making a fool of himself for nothing; the girl beagle in question had been seen walking on the beach with a golden retriever, which broke his heart all over again. In 1977, he met a female while serving as guard dog for Peppermint Patty, fell in love with her, and gave her a proposal of marriage. But he was crushed on his wedding day when she ran off with the "best beagle", Spike, although when they arrived in Needles, she left Spike for a coyote. (Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown follows this same storyline, except Snoopy's bride-to-be ran off with a golden retriever.) In 1970, he went to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm (where he'd allegedly taught Sunday school at one point) to give a 4th of July speech. However, as he was about to begin, he was beaned with a supper dish by anti-Vietnam War protesters, and a full scale riot broke out, during which police used tear gas to control the crowd. In all the confusion, Snoopy ran off the podium and was lost in the crowd. While blinded by tear gas, he felt a girl beagle's paws, but the tear gas prevented him from seeing her. By the time Charlie Brown had tracked her down, the farm informed them that she'd been sold, thus breaking Snoopy's heart again. By this time, Snoopy had regained his vision. "What do you do?" Snoopy woefully asks, and then immediately answers: "Back to eating!" And in the TV special Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown, Snoopy met a circus-performing female French poodle named Fifi and fell so hopelessly in love with her, he left Charlie Brown to join the circus as "Hugo the Great". But eventually, he tried to take Fifi with him when he ran away from the circus. Fifi, after considering a while, would have no part of it, feeling that her proper place was the circus. They parted ways, again leaving Snoopy brokenhearted. It is said that Snoopy's only regret was that he was not a Golden Retriever, as his loves usually fall for one. Snoopy frequently falls for Lucy van Pelt, and when he kisses Lucy, she yells in disgust about having been "kissed by a dog" and having "dog germs". However, he has also been seen kissing the other female characters, who are far more accepting of his gestures than Lucy is.
Snoopy also served a short term as the "Head Beagle," the dog apparently in charge of all other dogs in the world. The pressures and responsibilities of the job became too much for him, and he was replaced.