Or the One Where
The Simpsons have to cut their expenses to pay for Santa's Little Helper's expensive operation.
Caught up in lottery fever, the family fails to notice the dog's failing health.
The veterinarian in this episode is based on the main character from TV's Ben Casey show.
In addition to referencing several films (notably A Clockwork Orange, in which Santa's Little Helper is brainwashed into becoming an attack dog via scenes of animal cruelty), the episode also refers back to several previous episodes: Flanders is seen wearing his "Assassains" shoes from "Bart's Dog Gets An F", Homer places a missing poster for the dog over a missing poster for Principal Skinner from "Bart the Murderer", Santa's Little Helper gets picked up on a street named "Michael Jackson Expressway", a reference to "Stark Raving Dad" and Homer, upon learning the book The Lottery doesn't contain any tips for actually winning the lottery, tosses it into the fireplace, where Bill Cosby's Fatherhood book from "Saturdays of Thunder" can also be seen burning.
Marge: Honey, $750 is a lot of money. We really can't afford this operation.
Bart: You're gonna just let him die?
Marge: I know you're upset...
Bart: Darn right, I'm upset!
Marge: Bart, watch your language! ... Oh, you did. Sorry.
Marge: I found a way to stretch the food budget. Fried chicken night will now be organ meat night. Ham night will be Spam night. And pork chop night...
Marge: ... will now be chub night.
Homer: Chub!? I don't even know what that is!
Homer: Marge, I've figured out an alternative to giving up my beer. Basically, we become a family of travelling acrobats!
Bart: I'm not giving up. I don't care if I have to knock on every door in this two-bit town. I'm going to find my dog!
Homer: And I'll be right here watching TV.
For whatever reason, this is probably my least favorite episode of the season. It's not bad, and the weakest episode of this strong season is still pretty good, but I've never been a fan of it. Frustratingly, I'm not entirely sure why. There's plenty of good material here, from Homer's lottery fever to the family's reactions to their cost cutting and a sweet ending in which Bart's love for his dog overcomes Mr. Burns' attack dog training that make the episode a spiritual sequel to the last Santa's Little Helper-centric episode, "Bart's Dog Gets an F". Maybe it's just because I'm a total sap for pets and not a fan of "animals in peril" stories so I feel too bad when the family gets angry at the dog post-operation to truly enjoy it. I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone loving this episode, but for me it's a rare misstep in an otherwise strong season.
A decent Santa's Little Helper episode with plenty of callbacks to past episodes and some strong pop culture parodies earn it some points, but for me, this is one of the least classic episodes of the season.