Thanks to my friend, Paul Moor, for passing along this link to a delightful site called “Tarzan’s Tripes Forever and Other Feghoots,” an assemblage of Shaggy Dog stories and other humor, maintained since 1995 by the father and son team of Alan and Brian Combs. This quote is from their 1995 introduction to the site:
It appears that this charming art form has gotten more than a small bad rap from history. For example, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1977, G. & C. Merriam) indicates that a shaggy dog story is “a long-drawn-out circumstantial story concerning an inconsequential happening that impresses the teller as humorous but the hearer as boring and pointless; also: a similar humorous story whose humor lies in the pointlessness or irrelevance of the punch line”. Even James Charlton (Bred any good rooks lately?, Doubleday, 1986) indicates that shaggy dog stories are “those interminable stories that spiral downward to a flat punchline”.
I will always say, “Nay”, to this vile characterization of my beloved stories, even though my voice becomes hoarse in the effort. A modern shaggy dog is one that tells an entertaining tale in its own right, and which ends in a ripping pun as the punchline. When done properly, there are clues given through the story that make trying to guess the punchline part of the pleasure and challenge. A special version of the shaggy dog story originated in a long-running series in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This was “Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot”. Typically, these would tell a science-fiction story that ended in a PUNchline. Such stories and their imitations became known as feghoots (see Charlton referenced above).
The shaggy dogs in this growing collection are flowers (chickens?) that have been plucked from here and there. Several might be rated PG13. Many have been on the Internet so long, it is difficult to know where they originated. Clearly, very few are new, though I have tried in a few (unidentified) cases. Enjoy them, or run from them as if they were the plague, ’tis your choice.