Whenever live animals are used in a Saturday Night Live sketch, the writers’ best-laid plans almost never go on without a hitch — and this is always for the better. An off-screen donkey making Aidy Bryant cackle during an apple-picking bit with Kate McKinnon and Woody Harrelson? Check. McKinnon and Tiffany Haddish struggling to round up a bunch of unruly kittens? You betchya. To keep the tradition alive, the latest episode (with returning host Kristen Stewart) pitted McKinnon and Cecily Strong against a silently hilarious German Shepherd.
In “Hero Dog Press Conference,” McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway and Strong’s “special forces canine interpreter” present Conan, the aforementioned pup whom military officials credited with helping to take down the late ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Both the news of the dog’s involvement in the military raid, as well as President Trump’s recent sharing of a fake photo of himself giving the dog a medal (and his later announcing the pup will be visiting the White House), evidently stirred the SNL writers’ imaginations.
“You can translate everything the dog is saying?” McKinnon’s Conway asks. “That’s correct,” Strong’s special forces character responds. “I have a master’s degree in linguistics from Dr. Dolittle University.” Yet when the former thanks Conan for appearing, the dog doesn’t budge. It doesn’t even make a sound and instead remains focused on something, or someone, behind the camera — probably a trainer who’s trying to get the pup to pipe up. So, when someone off-camera begins making “dog sounds” that sound more like snoring, Strong struggles to keep it together.
But hey, at least she had a dog who was more than willing to repeatedly lick her face throughout the sketch.