Fact or Farce?
This article from The Onion was written (I think) as satire. Ironically, as a professional trainer who specializes in problem dogs – it struck me as fact rather than farce:
FLAGSTAFF, AZ–”Mommy, Woofers is lonely out there in the doghouse! He wants to come in and play!” says attention-starved Billy Tobin, 10.
“That dog doesn’t care about being in this house! He just wants to run around,” counters mother Janet Tobin, 44, an unhappily married homemaker.
“Will you two be quiet? All that poor dog wants is to be left alone!” says Bob Tobin, 50, world-weary father and unfaithful husband to Janet.
So goes a typical exchange with the Tobins, a dysfunctional Flagstaff family whose members possess an uncanny ability to project all of their various neuroses onto the innocent psyche of Woofers, the family dog.
“It is not unusual for a neurotic personality to project unresolved issues onto an infant, pet, house, or other neutral entity that is incapable of expressing its own opinions and feelings,” said University of Arizona psychology professor Dr. Jonah Douglas. “But while such projection is far from uncommon, the fact that this family has managed to project every last one of its problems onto a single being, Woofers the dog, is truly exceptional.”
The use of Woofers as a third-party neurosis receptacle is a daily occurrence within the Tobin household, with unspoken dissatisfaction, pain, and anger constantly displaced from its true source and transferred to the tabula rasa that is, for them, the dog’s psyche.
Said Douglas: “Thanks to Woofers, the Tobins need never directly confront any of their longstanding personal and interpersonal issues, enabling them to perpetuate their self-defeating behaviors in an endless cycle of collective denial. He is the emotional glue that keeps this horribly maladjusted clan from tearing itself apart.”
Though the Tobins are deeply troubled, they can feel confident that they will not have to confront any of their problems any time soon, thanks to the heroic, if unintentional, role that Woofers plays in their lives.
“To the best of my knowledge, in the annals of modern psychiatric science, there has never been a case of one creature serving as an essential emotional proxy to so many people,” Douglas said. “Woofers must indeed be a profoundly exceptional animal. A lesser dog would have cracked under the strain of so many mutually contradictory projections long ago.”