It would seem that we're about to see yet another sequence wherein the Pattersons grumble and snort about how Farley is a great big furry imbecile because they're all really bad at understanding how dogs think. As you know, I use the strips in which Elly yells at Farley because he uproots her bedding plants as an example of this idiotic tendency. What I see is a dog who has a favorite warm spot on the property he likes to sleep on. For some reason that his brain simply isn't able to understand, there are plants growing out of it that simply have to be removed. Also for some reason, the loud creature who is loud yells angrily at him and sticks more plants in the ground to make him uncomfortable. He can no more understand the fact that the loud creature who is LOUD wants the plants there and him to nap elsewhere than he can fly to the Moon so screaming at him and insisting that he's trying to oppress Elly because he's bad is somewhat on the unfair side.
This is because none of the brains trust at the Pattermanse have ever figured out that a dog has something called an associative memory. What this means is that if you train him to sit when he hears the word sit in one room, his inability to make the sort of generalizations that human beings do means that you actually have to do that for every room in the house. Since the Pattersons don't take that to heart and would bray and moan about the unfairness of it if they did, we're in for another week in which they growl at him for their own ineptitude. If the reprints go on for another ten years, we'll see the end result of their massive incompetence: a dead dog by a riverbank and stupid people blaming a four year old for the fact that the dimwit in the ponytail doesn't know how to talk to kids and never bothers to learn.
Of course, the really interesting thing is that we should have already talked about the whole Greg and Jim thing about a year ago. As I've said before, Lynn would have done better to simply drop the first year of strips and started with straight reprints seven years ago. If she had, she wouldn't have had to mess up her continuity bringing Farley in too early and wouldn't have to insert filler strips to line up the holidays better.
If that were the case, we'd right now be dealing with the Pattersons trying to cope with his being an older dog who's starting to get health issues. The health issue in question this time next year is the hip dysplasia he's always had and how it's aggravated by their overfeeding him. They respond pretty much as one could expect when we have Mike try to deny the problem exists because he's too stupid to realize that dogs age faster than people do, Elly not letting the problem get in the way of her bellowing at the poor thing and John using it as a springboard for being an irritating wise-ass.
The reason that I mentioned all of this is that it still irritates me that Lynn pulled the inane stunt Beth talked her into when it'd have been a lot smarter to simply have the poor old fellow die of old age. I'm still on the fence on whether it would have been more true to life to have him simply die in his sleep and not have the fact been noticed or them having to take him down to be put down because he was old and sick and suffering but it would have taught a better lesson than his heroism. Unfortunately for all of us, her successful attempt to gain attention by sacrificing the credibility of Greg, Connie and Lawrence on the pagan altar of the heathen god Ratingsstunt had given her a taste for cheap theatrics that drew crowds while destroying the characters. It wasn't just Farley that died on that river bank, after all. Elly's credibility as a parent died, got cremated and put in an urn right next to the dog's ashes.
Of course, John is not the only person whose flaws are magnified by an over-reliance on the use of media archetypes. Knowing that his stupid envy of his children is made worse because of the idiot lantern is bad enough without having to remember that Elly isn't any better off. If anything, she's worse off owing to being around the kids more often. Piling media imagery on top of her default assumption that her children are little more than extensions of her will placed on this Earth to abase themselves in her name is akin to trying to put out a tire fire with kerosene in terms with the damage it did to the children.
The reason for this is that when Elly looks at her children, she's convinced that their reality of being born helpless and ignorant is unrealistic not just because she has to give up her precious free time raising them but because having them be the tiny adult joke machines would give her someone to talk to about things she's currently experiencing. Having to listen to Mike, Lizzie and April bore her with useless things like what's happening in their useless little child lives makes her feel bad because other people expect her to do something strange and care about something that she isn't experiencing. If only the kids could be made to realize that since Mommy no longer has to deal with it, it's no longer important.
That being said, it's not just her connection with her kids that got screwed over by the flickering blue parent. Most of the reason she's been a crappy friend to Connie is that she looks at a messed-up, angry and confused woman who doesn't know what she wants out of life and sees a horror freak from a day time drama having it all. Eventually, Connie had to leave town to get away from the damage her idiot gal pal did. It's like how she treated Annie like a leper because television told her that the only reason she didn't toss Steve out was because she caved. The other archetype of the matron having a club to beat a weak husband over the head with intimidated the Hell out of Elly and made her feel like a weakling and thus had to be ignored.
Finally, we have to remind ourselves that she still thinks that the reality of Farley's not being a dumb guy in a dog suit is unrealistic and unfair is that if she admits to being a loud, angry woman doing something futile and confusing, she'd have to cop to being stupid and bad and that would be bad.
The problem with trying to apply common sense to the whole "Death Of Farley" situation is that Lynn seems to have certain fixed preconceptions as to how the world works and tends to react to any sort of murmur of disagreement with either a flippant remark or a sullen accusation of persecution. While I have made a bit of a meal of her not seeing how much drama she could derive from the Pattersons having to take Farley down to the vet to be put down, it seems to me that her inability to see that they'd be stuck with a difficult and painful decision that resulted in a heart-wrenching necessity that they'd be dealing with for years to come isn't the only means by which her lack of vision screws things up.
First off, we have to deal with her insistence that There Must Be Continuity as a means of stiff-arming objections to the concept that any new pet the Pattersons might get when they feel up to pet ownership again must be Farley's offspring. The objection seems to be that if they just go down to a shelter to pick up some random dog whose origins they don't know, any connection to Mrs Baird would be lost and so on and so forth. This despite the fact that most of the people who cried when Farley died had to wait until 2008 to learn where the Pattersons got Farley in the first place.
Second, she doesn't seem to want to face up to how stupid, reckless and unsympathetic the Pattersons in general and Elly in particular ended up looking. This habit of hers of assuming that people understand things as she does failed her when it ended up looking as if Elly was too damned stupid to understand how to talk to her child, too lazy to bother neutering Farley and too blasted cold-hearted to realize how scared April was after nearly drowning. All Elly seems to have learned is that for reasons that no one would ever be able to comprehend, nearly dying made April clingy and panicky around water.
Lastly, it looked to all the world that they all just shrugged, said "Oh, well. Farley's dead. That's too bad but we've got a new dog so we don't really have to care" owing to her seeming belief that showing the Pattersons feeling strong emotions would scare people away. We had to contend with the same noise when she told people off about how boring the Fauxposal had to be for much the same reason.
As all of the strips that have as their premise the self-serving and stupid idea that Elly's children must actually be out to destroy her, it's sort of obvious that Lynn really doesn't understand how a lot of things work. Since she's sort of lazy, sort of childish and sort of gullible, it is fairly obvious that she relies on the imagery from network television to help explain things to herself. What appears to be happening is that she assumes that no one would let the writers say things that weren't true despite the fact that the only reason that the authorities would actually step in is if whatever nonsense is being promulgated would offend enough taxpayers to cause a disturbance.
What this meant to the strip is that in the very early years, we had to contend with a rather derivative cast of characters. As by way of example, it's fairly obvious that Mike started out as an evil genetic experiment in which she combined Linus Van Pelt with Dennis the Menace. Later on, of course, she turned him into a means by which she could nag Aaron about how everything he did disappointed, confused and angered her. The problem is that while she was able to make her human cast comprehensible by turning them into means by which she could nag real people, she was never quite able to figure out how dogs think despite having a veterinarian as a relative. This means that Farley died pretty much as the bad photocopy of Scooby Doo he always was. Instead of asking Beth what a real dog might do, Lynn remembered what cartoon dogs do without realizing that her former bosses were under no obligation to warn the public that in real life, a severely off-type Great Dane isn't actually a really dumb human being in a dog suit.
The reason that this becomes a problem of sorts in the Middle Years is that Elly can never quite wrap her head around the way Farley thinks. What we're going to see as the years go on is Elly either screaming at him or pleading with him to get him to do what she wants because she just doesn't know enough about dogs to realize that that will not work. As by way of example, he can't connect his uprooting those plants that keep showing up on the nice cozy spot in the front yard where he likes to sit on warm summer days with the angry yelling the alpha female carrying more plants always does any more than he can make the logical inference that he isn't allowed to mark territory in the yard no matter how many times they scream at him when he's about to do so. All Elly ever managed to do over the years is frighten and confuse him because she won't understand him.
The interesting thing about the endless struggles Elly had co-existing with Farley is that just as she looked back at her career of being a stifling, inflexible, narrow-minded, paranoid, fearful, hypocritical, spineless monster martyr Mom who made a point of not listening to her children and saw a loving, caring, firm and fair super=parent, she looks back at her life of treating Farley as a shaggy, stupid, destructive hindrance who refused to understand English out of spite and sees a friend to all living things despite it being quite clear that she has no idea that she did actually train the creature to flee the loud, booming voice that was always angry and always wanted to hurt him.
The reason that I mention this is that it very well could have ended up that Farley 'adopted' another family on his peregrinations; what is more, said new family would actually treat him like a pet instead of a punching bag. This would lead to a rather interesting scenario in which the Pattersons would have to contend with their self-concept being set against something that they've tried to avoid seeing all their lives: the reality of what they are. As by way of example, the sole reason he's there in the first place is because Mrs Baird slipped a clutch and forgot that pets aren't supposed to teach children to be responsible. She might have thought otherwise but any major dude could have told her that Farley was just another thing that Mike waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanted until he got bored with it and that Farley would pay the price. This means that when those responsible award the other people ownership of the poor creature, we can start in early with all the stupid blathering about how the law is an ass because it doesn't give slithering, undeserving vermin like the Patterswine a pat on the head for being stupid and blind and malicious.
As we all know, Lynn spent an ungodly amount of time five and a half years ago engaged in promoting the return of Farley to the strip. This is because one thing that she was aware of is that most of her fanbase remember one thing about him: his "heroic" exit from the strip. While it's true that we got a lot of mileage out of commentary about how everybody cried when he died saving April from her refusal to realize that she's not supposed to remember being lied to, it's also true that the people who expected him to be a sort of beloved fixture as well as a Canadian Content version of Lassie ended up being disappointed. After all, they had no way of knowing that Lynn used him as a means of expressing her belief that dogs are shaggy, stupid, smelly, dirty lummoxes who refuse to understand English no matter how sincere we poor, long-suffering pet owners are and are willed on us to keep us from the public sphere by cheating cheater husbands who cheat in the first place. I should think that this need to say "Dogs are stupid, right?" to a cohort of people who thought that Farley wasn't put on this Earth to be the butt of jokes about how having pets equates solely to Elly suffering because her family hates her soooooooooo much, they leash her to a stupid creature to keep her from expressing herself is pretty much most of the reason why Lynn's garage is filled with stuff she can't sell. They want to be part of the heroic legacy, not to aid and abet Lynn's need to avenge herself on something she had killed merely to avenge herself on her ex.