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Marcus, P. (2007). “I'm Just Wild about Harry!” A Psychoanalyst Reflects on his Relationship with his Dog. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(4):639-656.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(4):639-656

“I'm Just Wild about Harry!” A Psychoanalyst Reflects on his Relationship with his Dog

Paul Marcus

It really explains why we can love an animal… with such extraordinary intensity; affection without ambivalence, the simplicity of a life free from the almost unbearable conflict of civilization, the beauty of an existence complete in itself…. Often when stroking Jo-fi [Freud's dog] I have caught myself humming a melody which, unmusical as I am, I can't help recognizing as the aria from Don Giovanni: “a bond of friendship unites us both.”

—Sigmund Freud (quoted in Steadman, 1979, p. 108)

Like Freud, and for that matter, like any devoted dog owner you happen to meet on the street or in the park, I love my dog. “He is my best friend,” I often say to people. Harry, a one-year-old cocker spaniel, was a “rescue” dog, a code word for a pup that was given up by his owner and either left on the street or given to a dog pound. In Harry's case, he was abused and abandoned, a stray found on the Brooklyn side of the Belt Parkway, starving, filthy with fleas and tics, and very frightened. According to the foster lady, Shirley, a remarkable woman from whom I obtained Harry and whose life mission is to rescue cocker spaniels from certain death in the pound or on the street and find them a good home, Harry was a sweet dog, though a traumatized one. When we first met Harry in her Queens, New York, home, he was still very skinny and fearful, with long floppy ears and sad eyes. Nevertheless, within a few minutes it was clear that both my wife and I, child and adult psychoanalysts, respectively, felt a summoning call from Harry, “Help me, love me, take good care of me.”

Pausing

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