Since it looks as if we're in for an inferior version of the previously-used Obedience school arc, let's remind ourselves of one thing: the Pattersons are horrible pet owners who have no idea what they're doing with their dog. I can think of a lot of reasons why this might be:
- They forget he has instincts; a smarter owner would remember that Farley is a dog and use said instincts to his advantage when training him. The Pattersons seem to think that if they speak English sincerely enough, he'll agree to do things their way.
- They accidentally train him to do things they don't want him to. We're going to see that Elly's stupidity teaches Farley to prefer garbage and table scraps to the canned food she buys.
- The fact that they would rather he bark instead of scratch the door tells me that they have no idea what other people would consider a nuisance.
- They didn't bother getting him a collar until he was picked up by Animal Control and it took them years to realize that he maybe shouldn't be able to wander all over the neighborhood.
- We have to contend with the fact that each person has a different idea about how to train him; this leads them to issue contradictory orders.
- They fail to train the alleged owners to care for the pets they claim are theirs.
- One is left with the distinct impression that Elly doesn't actually want Farley to be trained. If he cannot be trained, she can mock John for bringing a stooooopid dog into the house (despite her obvious hatred of animals) and make more work for her. If he can, that would mean that she not only would have less work, she'd have to admit she was wrong and we cannot have that as it would militate against Elly's hope that she could keep her house animal-free.
The end result is that what could have been a positive asset to the family is simply a shaggy, lumbering annoyance whose only star turn was dying well.