"Home is Where the Bark Is" is the first episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series. It aired on September 13, 1997, and won the 1998 Silver Angel Award for "Excellence in media," along with being nominated for the 1998 Annie Award for "Outstanding individual achievement for storyboarding in an animated television production."
Nanny is taking all the Dalmatian pups for a walk in the city of Topstown when all of a sudden, she is mugged for her purse. The Dalmatian pups chase after the mugger with Lucky in the lead before they get separated due to heavy traffic.
Lucky corners the mugger in an alleyway; however, he is quickly overpowered. When Nanny and the other Dalmatians arrive in anger, the mugger flees (dropping Nanny's purse and an afterward-barking Lucky) and Lucky gives Nanny her purse back. She thanks him (with a pet) and commends his bravery, and he brags that someone has to take a bite out of crime, to Cadpig's sarcasm.
Back in the Dearlys' brownstone, Roger claims to have had enough of the pollution and crowds of the city, especially now that Nanny’s been mugged. When questioning on when the family is ever going to get a place in the country like they always talk about, Anita and Perdita show Roger that the Smedley Farm is up for sale; Roger agrees to make an offer. This news doesn't go down well with Lucky, Cadpig and Rolly though, for Lucky loves the adventure of the city, Rolly knows every deli dumpster in town, and Cadpig fears of leaving their city friends behind.
The Dearlys soon arrive on the farm and the pups take a look around, Lucky first meets Mooch and while questioning on Thunderbolt, Mooch reveals he doesn't know what cable television is, much to Lucky's shock. Rolly is petrified to learn that there aren't any restaurants for miles, and Cadpig doesn't make the best first impression with the cows, Duchess and Princess.
Cruella then arrives, revealing she lives right next door to the farm and attempts to buy the farm from the Dearlys, offering double what they paid, Roger turns her down and Cruella drives off setting herself a memo to come up with a scheme to steal the farm.
During the night, Lucky, Cadpig, and Rolly find they can't sleep with all the farm noises, causing Lucky to snap at one point, Rolly complains on how hot it is, and Cadpig claims to have trouble getting centered, the three agree the only place that they’ll feel a sense of place is back home in the city.
On their way there, they come up against Cruella, who chases them through the streets, but is only able to grab their collars from them. The Dalmatians soon arrive back at the Brownstone but are locked in by Cruella.
Cruella then hires Horace and his brother Jasper to deliver an anonymous ransom note to the Dearlys, so that to get the pups back, the Dearlys will have to sell the farm to Cruella and they give her own money back to pay the ransom.
Hearing that the farm will have to be sold to pay the ransom, Pongo and Perdita send out a message via the "Twilight Bark" for help in finding their missing pups.
Meanwhile, Rolly is now cold, Cadpig still can't feel centered, and Lucky begins to miss the family.
The following morning, Lucky tries to get the door opened, but learns it's locked. After other unsuccessful escape attempts via the chimney and toilet, the pups see Horace and Jasper enter the house to collect the puppies when Roger and Anita pay the ransom. The pups trap Horace and Jasper in the attic and race back to the farm before Cruella can buy it.
Getting a message on the barking chain by a fisherman's dog, the Dalmatians and farm animals attempt to delay Cruella as long as they can, eventually resulting in Cruella's car getting crushed in a combine harvester.
Cruella is able to catch the pups again; however, right on the Dearlys' doorstep, Cruella bluffs her way out of it by saying she found the pups wandering about before leaving, setting herself another memo to come up with another scheme to steal the farm.
Cadpig thanks Duchess and Princess for helping before reviving her name tag distribution program; Rolly learns that he is able to get some snacks from the apple trees; and Lucky is happy to be home.
- The episode title is a play on the phrase: "Home is where the heart is."
- Unlike the novel and movies which are set in England, this series seems to have moved the characters to America.
- The series is not a continuation on either the original animated or live-action movie, but instead takes elements and plot points from both:
- The cake that Cruella tossed out and Rolly ate in one gulp was likely a chocolate cake. This is a factual error, as chocolate is toxic to dogs and other animals.
- When the clip of Cruella trying to buy the farm is reshown in "Humanitarian of the Year", Cruella's writings on the check are rewritten and made much clearer.
- Cruella offers to buy the Dearly Farm for double what the Dearlys pay. This may be a likely homage to when Cruella wishes to buy the puppies (in both the animated and live-action films), claiming she's paying twice what she thinks they're worth, with Roger not listening to Cruella in both cases.
- Spot makes a cameo in the episode, but doesn't have any speaking lines.
- Horace compliments Nanny's eyes; this marks the start of a relationship he will share with Nanny throughout the series.
- While trying to escape through the chimney, the pups get covered in soot with Lucky claiming on how it feels very familiar. This is, of course, a reference to the climax of the original animated movie.
- During the chase back to the Dearly Farm, the pups ride on top of a subway train. If viewers look closely at the silhouettes of the passengers riding the train, they will notice that these outline shadows are of Aladdin and Genie (Aladdin), Mowgli (The Jungle Book), either Cinderella (of the movie of the same name) or Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck.
- It is possible that the family which Lucky looks in on is the one from Lady and the Tramp, with one of the canines looking like Lady.
- The fisherman's Scottish terrier is Jock, also from Lady and the Tramp.
- When speaking to the Colonel, Sgt. Tibbs has a different voice than he does for the rest of the series.
- This episode features Towser's only spoken line in the series.
- When the Dalmatians cover up the Thresher, the Puppies on the pile resemble numerous things.
- One Pup resembles Snoopy from Peanuts.
- Three are making a pose which resembles the Three Wise Monkeys.
- Two appear to be conjoined.
- After getting her car crushed, Cruella says, "I picked the wrong week to quit smoking." This is a note to how Cruella doesn't smoke as much as she did in the series (although there are some episodes where she does), along with being a reference to the 1980 comedy, Airplane!
- This episode's reruns on Disney Junior cut out two of Cruella's lines: "Are there still 101 [Dalmatians], or did I take out a few of them when I drove up?" and "I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."