Friday, May 26, 2006

My pet emotional support goat

Another vein of satiric possibility from the mother lode that is the Sunday New York Times Style section (May 14): The appearance of "emotional service animals." For those of you who thought service animals were limited to seeing-eye dogs, emotional service animals are pets that the overentitled Manhattan professional class -- a.k.a. Yuppie scum -- insist deserve a seat in restaurants, offices, health clubs, and even on planes.

The Times reported that according to those people who train such animals, the catalyst for this phenomenon was a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation. This ruling clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, "stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness."

As someone who has traversed the black pits of depression for most of his life, I would never equate it with blindness, deafness, loss of a limb, or other severe physical impairment.

But such niceties of perspective are lost on the monstrously vain, fathomlessly empty, pet-owning Manhattan parvenus who are exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act to justify bringing their spoiled Labradoodle -- this is an actual breed, not a cartoon character -- everywhere they go. Oh, they have a disability, alright; it's called egomania.

And their selfishness is aided by the psychiatric profession, which recommends the use of animals for emotional support. Shrinks will do anything to avoid actually treating you, even if it means outsourcing (or is it "downsourcing") therapy to a Doberman pinscher.

It gets better:

Now airlines are grappling with how to accommodate 200-pound dogs in the passenger cabin and even emotional-support goats.

You think the airport security lines are long now? Wait till people start queuing up with their goats. Or worse. The writer quotes a spokeswoman for American Airlines, who says that in addition to dogs and goats, the airline has had to accommodate support monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. "Its owner dressed it up in clothes."

Let's see. What kind of outfit would an emotional support duck wear? How about a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, and corduroy slacks? Does it smoke a cigar, like the toy duck in Groucho Marx's old quiz show, "You Bet Your Life"?

Now, here's my favorite character in the story:

One 30-year-old woman, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., said she does not see a psychotherapist but suffers from anxiety and abandonment issues and learned about emotional-needs dogs from a television show. She ordered a dog vest over the Internet with the words "service dog in training" for one of the several dogs she lives with, even though none are trained as service animals.

"Having my dogs with me makes me feel less hostile," said the woman, who refused to give her name. "I can fine people or have them put in jail if they don't let me in a restaurant with my dogs, because they are violating my rights," she insisted.

Oh, I see, because you have unresolved anger issues, you decide to act out and buy a bogus badge that enables you to coerce commercial establishments to cater to your whim? Sister, if you ever run into me, you will find yourself redefining the word "hostile."

This Macy's parade of psychic freaks continues:

Completely Bare, a chain of health spas in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., has a policy barring animals in treatment rooms, Cindy Barshop, the company's owner, said that she made an exception for a customer who insisted that she needed her large dog for support while she had laser hair removal. "We had to cover the dog with a blanket to protect its eyes during the procedure," Ms. Barshop said.

Boy, the rich feel entitled to everything, don't they? Another example of the aggressive victimization that permeates our society. This woman -- who will get hers when the revolution comes -- is so brittle, she can't even undergo a spa treatment denied to ninety-nine percent of the planet without making outrageous demands.

And, finally:

Aphrodite Clamar-Cohen, who teaches psychology at John Jay College in Manhattan and sees a psychotherapist, said her dog, a pit bull mix, helps fend off dark moods that began after her husband died eight years ago. She learned about psychological support pets from the Delta Society, a nonprofit group that aims to bring people and animals together [and from whom she got her dog, Alexander, last year]...

What is this -- an interspecies dating service? I'm sure they get a lot of action from dogs and cats looking to find a pampering owner. "What kind of situation are you looking for?" And they'd have to fill out a questionnaire: "Five things I can't do without ... fire hydrant, Alpo, other dogs' butts..."

The story then quotes Ms. Cohen:

"When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog," she said. She acknowledged that the dog is not trained as a service animal. "He is necessary for my mental health," she said. "I would find myself at loose ends without him."

That this woman teaches psychology at a respectable New York City university proves once again what I've learned from bitter, surreal experience: Nobody is more fucked up than the shrinks. This pathetic, affected, pretentious, self-pitying excuse for a human being needs more than a dog to help shake her out of her self-absorbed delusions. More like a lobotomy. "Alexander Dog Cohen." She's not only made the dog into a Jew -- which is odd, since I didn't think they were allowed to proselytize -- but also a pretentious canine who will undoubtedly develop neurotic symptoms, if it hasn't already.

Hey, Ms. Cohen: If you claim your animal is such an irremovable emotional support, why don't you ask him to psychoanalyze you? After all, he couldn't do worse than some of the shrinks I've had.

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