Mrs. Drysdale and her poodle Claude

michaelalreadytakenApril 30, 2007

Does anyone remember the Beverly Hillbilly's?

It was "Claude" wasn't it, the name of her adored poodle, the centerpiece of her life, whose very existence trumped all other realities?

The point being, I have neighbors down the street whose entire existence seems to center around their pets.

Now then, I do indeed love animals but am I the only one that wonders about the psychological construct of people who elevate animals into a raison d'etre?

At first glance, it seems like such a grand thing but then it begins to betray a certain emptiness, a certain emotional vacuity if you will.

Then time passes and a deeper observation, a more telling realization, sets in and one begins to realize--it's all they've got--and a feeling of sadness, for them, sets in.

Then more time passes and the realization sets in that these particular individuals would rather the company of their dogs than other humans--and a sense of je ne sais quoi arrives on the scene accompanied by the realization that, very plausibly, if it were a life or death situation between their doggies and a neighbor--that the neighbor(s) would lose hands down.

Is this the childless "me" culture at its very worst and most contemptible?

I kind of feel sorry for the dogs.


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carla17(Z7 NC)

I have some friends who treat their dogs, also poodles, like children. Never mind that they bark at EVERYTHING and are annoying little girl poodles.
Before anyone throws something, I used to have a poodle but he was not a fru fru poodle. And I've found the standards quite likeable. I truly believe if this couple had real children, they would not act like they do.
I was waiting outside the entrance of Nordstrom's yesterday and this lady came out and released her dog from the Dog pocketbook. He was really cute! So do I assume people
can't be separated from their pooches?
Now then what was Claude's girlfriend's name? Fifi?
Claude used to go to the beauty parlor.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:05PM
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Yes, "everyone" loves pets. No question about that. It's the only loves pets group that's worrisome.

On a different note, I've noticed since moving out here that it's chic to drive around with one's dog and leave it in the vehicle with the windows rolled up-- or open just a tad. I guess it's the milder climate. I see it a lot.

Do that in Louisiana and see what happens-- somebody's going to jail-- that's what happens.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:40PM
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Some folks pay thousands of dollars for stamps or coins and millions for color on canvas! Ah well to each his own!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:44PM
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MAT... I don't think you can throw rocks at people who make animals the centre of their lives. Lots of people on these forums have made their roses the centres of their lives, and will happily kill animals (who some would argue have more of a right to life) and will happily hate their neighbors who do not respect their obsession with their roses "enough."

We all do what we have to do to make a peaceful place for ourselves in the world. Some of us have been brutally hurt by humans and it's not irrational to prefer other company when that has happened often enough.

As a professional dog trainer, I see people with all kinds of relationships with their animals. Some are not healthy, some are.

Isn't it better than having a close, personal relationship with your gun collection... or only being close to humans who will allow you to beat them, then apologize, then beat them next time you have a few beers again?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 8:31PM
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Throwing rocks??? Hardly.

No, I don't think that analogy is right at all-- certainly not responsive to what I posted which was very narrowly constructed.

Lots of people have pets, lots of people grow roses, lots of people own guns-- and lots of all those groups are just fine and dandy.

The appropriate analogy would be that there's a subset of pet owners who, in they're own way, are practicing a form of isolation every bit the equivalent of some: alcoholics, rose growers, or gun collectors, i.e. "obsessed" with it to the exclusion of reality.

It's a phenomenon that's already been extensively documented in professional literature so the issue here certainly isn't whether or not I'm seeking validation. I'm not; I already know it exists.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 8:44PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Nickels, don't accuse people of "throwing rocks" if they are making a statement, opinion, comment. This country has freedom of speech, or so some people seem to. This is the kind of
"stuff" that gets fights going on, I'm sorry but this makes me really mad. Don't start something that isn't there.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 8:58PM
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If I'd been married to Milton Drysdale, I'd have loved Claude more.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:19PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Nikels, I will agree that people can be "brutally" hurt by other humans and prefer animals.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:25PM
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pete41(9ab FL.)

You should see this place Mat.The latest craze is walking dogs in baby strollers.These are not old or sick dogs but perfectly healthy ones from what I can see.I think the walkers are nut cases but they seem to think they are normal.They all seem very happy and pro people,stopping to talk and very out going.After a while you begin to take it as natural but wouldn't it be better for the dogs to walk and pull carts ? lol.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:32PM
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Sylvia, that is hilarious. True.

Nickels, I understand completely what you're saying. I do. For many, who use pets as an avenue to inclusion they are a very healthy outlet. There's no questioning that. Of course, it's true.

I would harbor a concern that those who, for whatever reason, find a pet to be a source of strength and acceptance in lieu of human contact--would "stop" the process at that stage. It may be healthier than the alternative of not doing so--in that context--but it is still not optimal.

My observations go to those who implement it as an exclusionary device, which isn't healthy by any measure.

Pete, yes, I've seen that too. Some of them are actually very cute.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:44PM
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Michael, it really wasn't clear from your initial post that you were ONLY talking about people who loved their pets "to the exclusion" of reality. It SOUNDED like you condemn people who choose to remain childless as being contemptible, and it SOUNDED like you condemn people who make their pets an important part of their lives as being sick. You've clarified, but believe me, what you said in subsequent posts didn't come across in that first post. I'm sure that was not intentional. I certainly didn't mean to cause offense, and I hope you did not either.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:00AM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Hey, how does Ellie Mae strike you? A little wonky but happy, or emotionally "vacuous" and a symbol of "the childless "me" culture at its very worst and most contemptible"? ;)

She wasn't putting her ovaries to their best use, either, lol!

Seriously, yes, any neurosis is sad, of course. Any "-aholic" is defined by the abuse, rather than use of something, and that's not "right" or healthy, and sometimes it causes great pain to themselves and others.

Personally, I don't see how someone could accomplish this solely through the animal part of the equation... surely if they spent no time with friends and family 'because of it' they'd spend no time with them because of something else instead, for example.

But that's true for alcohol, drugs, etc., I guess. I suppose I'd rather they be a petaholic because it avoids drunk-driving and won't kill them and such. They probably won't lose their job... just not in the same league, IMHO, and relegated to the ranks of general neuroses, I think. Sad, OK, but they could do much worse harm in this world.

Now, figuring out who has it is also a tricky part, I think. If a couple can't have children and that breaks their heart, for a hypothetical, many clinicians would consider their compensation a healthy step towards healing their grief over that situation. If an elderly, feeble-bodied lonely lady has her pets as her biggest companions, could we blame her, etc?

I think I'd have to hear more about what they are doing that seems harmful, and their reasons why, before deciding how big [or certainly hurtful] a problem it is.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:49AM
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With all due respect--no--the elderly that've been "discarded" by our society and couples that can't conceive certainly aren't what's under discussion here.

(although each is certainly worthy of discussion)

What is under discussion here, as was clearly laid out in the initial post, are people who choose a lifestyle that's largely devoid of contact with other people in favor of animals.

What drives that?

I simply don't accept the notion that every instance has been precipitated by some psychological wound--although I'm sure many probably have.

It's equally feasible that just as many cases or more have been precipitated by utter failure to matriculate into psychological maturity.

If it's not an "-aholic" condition, then what is it???

Is it narcissism? Pets don't criticize? Pets don't talk back? Pets aren't candid? Pets give unconditional love?

Is that it?

Or is it just plain old economics? In a society such as ours where the average number of children has plummeted largely due to economic reasons, is it too extreme to think that some people have taken it to the next level and just abandoned the idea of children altogether? While I could see that, it doesn't explain the isolation.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 4:29AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

'Excerpts from a Dog's Diary'

6:00 am  At last! I Go Pee! My favorite thing!
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
6:00 pm - They're home! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

'Excerpts from a Cat's Diary'

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre
little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the
other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although
I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless
must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing
that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust
them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their
feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it
clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made
condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am.
Bastards! There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices
tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the
event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I
overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I
must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my
tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try
this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs. I am convinced
that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog
receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to
be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has
got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards
regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have
arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe

- for now...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:33AM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

"Is it narcissism? Pets don't criticize? Pets don't talk back? Pets aren't candid? Pets give unconditional love?"

Well, I'd probably say yes, then. I knew a girl in High School who was quite the narcissist who planned on having a baby as soon as she could because she mistakenly thought that children were like that.

I would not be surprised if that line of thinking has been shut down significantly by all the talk of how difficult it is to raise children, and that the fixation could switch to animals.

In her actual instance, she had to have tremendous amounts of attention from people, too, though [histrionic personality disorder]. So she clearly would not fit the bill. But yes, her reasons would be for the adoration, etc... so I'm sure there are folks who do that and dislike people as well.

I don't understand misanthropism as a personality disorder, but I do get it as a reaction to past trauma like mentioned above. They are both sad, but I'd be very wary of the first type of person for sure.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:49AM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Carla, LOL. I posted at the same time.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:53AM
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Pathologizing life seems to be all the rage these days! From Oprah to the View it's the favorite game in 12 step recovery circles that went from programs to of recovery for aholics to name that neuroses and maintain perpetual illness! I'm relieved there was a question at the end of the original post but I wonder at the choice given contempt is so easy in general.
I put this forward for consideration I reserve contempt for individual situations and for those with whom I have personal realtionships and interactions everything else might be stuff to wonder at. In an age of (reality? not?) TV I refrain from the current cultural invitation to engage in psychological voyeurism! More alarming for me is the need to diagnose. I like Petes plain and simple (I) think they are nut cases it seems like good old fashion American straight forward (would you look what they are doing now folks) bemusement! Even drear old Freud rejected his own theory of maladaption in the end he did'nt see any reason for anyone to adapt.
I had an old psychiatrist friend once tell me that (all interpretation wounds) of course the 2 of us immeiately went back to dishing the dirt on someone such a human past time)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:46AM
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kathwhit(z8, West OR)

I am appreciating this interesting discussion.

I just watched a show on tv last night...."Its me or the dog". The segment I watched was about a woman whose husband was sleeping on the couch because the dog ( a tiny pekinese) would bite and growl at him if he tried to get in bed. And the wife wouldn't do anything about it. She loved her hubby and the dog, but was sleeping with the dog. Hmmmm.

Sometimes people put up with bad behavior from animals because they "love" them, and the animal's behavior puts off other people. That seems strange to me, but I grew up in a family where the people were the masters, and the dogs and other pets were there as companions who better have good behavior.

That said, I am amused at the length some people will go to to "baby" their pets. My DH and I saw 2 people with their lap dogs in front carriers at a casino in Reno last summer. I just can't imagine having to have your dog with you at the blackjack table.

It seems that if people are choosing pet company instead of people company, they are getting more satisfaction from their relationship with their pet than their relationships with people for whatever reason. I find that sad, but from their perspective, it works. To each his own and very interesting to think about. Thanks for bringing it up, MAT.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:11PM
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dove_song(WA State Z6b)

I think spending a couple of nanoseconds with my lapdogs at the blackjack table would be a whole lot of fun, under the right circumstances of course!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:13PM
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I think interpretation can wound-but so does skillful surgery--of necessity.

The ultimate goal, risks and benefits, all have to be considered and then an informed decision has to be made.

Then there's the inherent difficulty of defining what's "normal" anyway. At one end of that spectrum you have people with personal belief systems that are so reactionary as to be truly dangerous. Ditto for the other end of the spectrum where absolutely anything goes.

I'd agree that Pete nailed it: some people are "nuts" and it's best to just leave it there.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 2:09PM
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Carla I laughed out loud at the diaries. However, I think I might have cats disguised as dogs, except that car rides are not one of their favorite things and they do disgust us by vomiting on the carpet.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 2:33PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Kathy, lol. I won't sleep with either.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 6:44PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Kathy, I'd love to have seen that. I watch Nanny 911 or whatever at times and my eyes are big as saucers about some of the kid stuff that way... I didn't know they did kooky dog 'relationships' too.

Yep, psychological voyeurism... but they are on TV.

I love this quote Joe: "I put this forward for consideration I reserve contempt for individual situations and for those with whom I have personal realtionships and interactions everything else might be stuff to wonder at. "

I'm interested in the psychological enough to have gone to school for it, but I like the anonymous, nameless patients in the textbooks better.

In real life, it can cause hurtful consequences to be wrong in a diagnosis, obviously: the professor who called my mom and said not to take me to the doc in college 'cos I was too certain I 'had something' and I must be wrong, mentally unhealthy, etc.

He was dangerously mistaken, and he should have known he couldn't have all the details to make his Dx!

Now gossip is different, lol ;] But caution nonetheless, IMHO :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:34AM
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Ah I live in Soho Greenwhich Village 3 blocks north what fodder for title "King or Queen of The Whack Jobs" which only means wow would yah look at that one!
I really have no problem with tiny pink doggy sneakers and ankle sox but a Rottweiler in spike heels would be a bit much. This all seems to be a digression from what I thought the original post was about cultural cut out icons (hysterical dithering women of Hollywood) neighbors with questionable defense strategies and the idea of community I thought I did hear that in all of it. Would I be able to count on such folks in an emergency or would the ELOI out on me!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:54AM
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I'm not sure what this post is about (anymore) either.

Otherwise, just to be "academic" about it, I don't think I've ever met a Nazi but I'm a tad certain that "contempt" might fit the bill as an appropriate descriptor-- because, in the end, what were they but a bunch of self-absorbed narcissists? (albeit, narcissists with weapons). Several of them, were crazy about their pets. Too bad that affection didn't extend to their fellow humans.

I guess the case could be made (and has been made) that they'd been "wounded" by the treaty of Versailles. OK.

--but looked what happened as a result--Neville Chamberlain running around with his umbrella, trying so hard to be "nice" and appease them--

It was, "it's peace in our time" when he gave away Czechoslovakia.

And following rapidly on the heels of that statement was Churchill's: "What sort of people do they think we are."

Polar extremes.

One, Churchill, went down in history as a genius. The other, Chamberlain, went down in history as, well--contemptible--LOL.

And the Nazis, ... they got firebombed didn't they?

Just idle digression.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 2:13PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Never having met a Nazi, I'd have to agree, lol. There was a contemporary movie on recently wherein the characters were all upper class and polite, and they shot a sympathizer houseguest in their living room in the end. Wowza, but yeah, who wouldn't?

The biggest thing that freaked me out about Nazis [other than the obvious] was the emphasis [in my school] on trying not to make waves and fitting in. Not making waves may be good in some cases, but about that?? Tell me it isn't so. There was a great foreign flick written by a German girl about her town and their misdeeds that was wonderful, but I'm so bad on names... if you hear about it, it is amazing and a true story.

We had to read Elie Wiesel's NIGHT too early in school, I thought. Somewhere, somehow there was no doubt that a doggy sweater was being knitted up for my future self as I sobbed through that book ;]

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 2:01AM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Oh here it is about the movie.

And they even throw in discussion of Bertolt Brecht, which is always a brain treat ;]

Here is a link that might be useful: Schreckliche Mädchen, Das

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 2:11AM
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WHOA, ya'll are getting far to intellectual for me at this early hour. from neurotic characters to Nazi's!! Personally, I love my puppy and my flying furballs and don't think I could get by without either. For me they are preferable to most relationships that I have had with people. Course, I am speaking from a slightly unusual perspective of being in pain all the time. Most people tend to get annoyed or don't understand the lifestlye that comes with never knowing from day-to-day how one will feel or what one is capable of doing. The dog and furballs, OTOH, don't seem to care whether I change plans at the last minute...

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 8:59AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Pets don't criticize? Pets don't talk back? Pets aren't candid? Pets give unconditional love?"

Vs. people who criticize, talk back, lie, and base love on what you can do for them.

I'll take the pets, thank you.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 10:23AM
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I agree far to intellectual next we'll be discussing Sir Charles Portal and his propensity to play with matches.
Christopher Lasch wrote a pretty good book in the late 70's about the me genneration, The Culture of Narcissism.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 10:25AM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Hey, that's another thing: pets are good for discussing Nietzsche when no one else will, I swear [well not so good around other folks]... although BeeBee gets that glazed-eye look when nihilism comes up [well yeah gotta give him that]...

Don't knock it till you've tried it ;-)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 3:42PM
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Elevating the "intellectual" component just a tad ;)

Comparing and contrasting Mrs. Drysdale's relationship with Claude to Ellie May's relationship with all her animals may be the distinction I'm searching for.

Mrs. D on one side, driven by her need to climb the social ladder (which is, of course, an illusion, a temporal reality at best)-- and Claude's function in that scheme was merely to be an extension of it.

Ellie Mae on the other side, surrounded by animals--all animals-- her interest(s) being solely their welfare.

To paraphrase JFK: "Ask not what your poodle can do for you, ask what you can do for your poodle."

I think that's it.

Hoov: I think you nailed it; I've made the same statement before in so many words.

Meredith: I bet the movie works because of the enormity of the disaster of WWII, to which many people can still relate.
At a more pedestrian level, I imagine all people are in denial about all things unpleasant--to an extent. It's the stuff of comedy. Seinfeld comes to mind.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 7:26PM
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