Monday, September 13, 2010

James Dobson's dog-beating story

In James Dobson's 1978 book, The Strong-Willed Child, he writes about using a belt to beat his dachshund into submission:
Please don't misunderstand me. Siggie is a member of our family and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority.

The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain.

At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.

On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater...

When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"

I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me "reason" with Mr. Freud.

What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!

Dobson's book is a promotion of corporal punishment in child rearing. This story is complementary to Jerry Falwell's cat-killing story, written at a time when Christian fundamentalists didn't seem overly concerned about abuse of animals--the 1970s.  It's also complementary to the story of Mike Huckabee's son killing a dog, and Mormon Mitt Romney's dog abuse story.

Thankfully, most of us today recognize that abusing animals is a sign of psychopathy.

UPDATED: To lengthen quote and correct source book title, as per Snopes.  The original 1978 hardcover version of the book is available for $0.01 on Marketplace.


Bartimaeus said...

They probably thought Sigmund's behavior was "cute" up to the point that he started biting them. Sad that he did not realize he was creating a monster and then resorted to physical violence as his first and only option. Even more disturbing that he uses it as an example for raising children.

Here is an interesting post by someone who actually understands dogs better than most, just for a little contrast;

cerbaz said...

I once believed everything James Dobson said and wrote. How foolish we can be when we do not think critically.