As you all know, we've just begun another arc in which Farley is put in needless danger because his foolhardy and incompetent owners cannot be asked to do anything like understand him or anticipate how he's going to behave. Just as we have to put up with the annual "Elly sees Christmas as means of nailing herself to her cross" arc and the endless loads of dirty laundry, we have to bear witness to the poor dog being turned into a sort of punching bag because it's funny watching a big, shaggy goof get mauled by idiots who think that he's a very stupid man in a costume. Eventually, he dies of bad pet ownership. The reason that I mention this is that babsbybend has figured out something that should shed some light on things. It seems to her that since Farley never really had any sort of emotional bonds to the Patterson family, he really isn't 'their' dog as such and would go whereever it is food might be found. This makes of him a canine analogue to the rest of them. Just as he's simply the dog that happens to live and stay there, the other people are a group of unrelated people who happen to share a surname and address. They look like a family to the outside world but their living the compartmentalized lives they live mean that they aren't. He's just another isolate along for the ride.