Freud Friday:  Freud’s Last Dog (It’s Not Who You Think)

Freud Friday: Freud’s Last Dog (It’s Not Who You Think)

Talk about shaggy dog stories.

I thought my series on Freud & Dogs — see Pt. 1, A Case of Late Life Puppy Love; Pt. 2, A Dangerous Method (If You Fear Dogs) for background — was finished. In Part 3, I described how Freud escaped to London from Nazi-occupied Vienna with his chow, Lun. It’s a sad last chapter of Freud’s life. Lun was quarantined for several months and the father of psychoanalysis visited him frequently, but during the final weeks of Freud’s life, when his jaw cancer had become so advanced that the site was necrotic, Lun shied away from him.

Not Jumbo

But then I found a mystery, involving a picture of Freud with chows on the balcony, which I wrote about in Part 4.

And while researching that story, I made a startling discovery. Lun was not really Freud’s last dog.

The Replacement Pekingese

According to Anna Freud in her narration to a home movie (more on which in a minute), “When Lun, our chow, had to go into quarantine, we bought this little Pekingese, Jumbo, hoping that my father would take to him as a temporary replacement.” Perhaps the choice of breed was no surprise, since Pekingese and chows, which Freud came to love, are both lion-like dogs from China. “Foo” dogs are among Freud’s many precious exotic tchotkes.

I’m afraid I was unable to find a still photo of Jumbo. I chose an arty Pekingese to represent him instead.

Anna goes on to note that the new dog never won Freud’s heart. “I think he remained very loyal to Lun,” she says.

Another explanation is offered in the introduction to Topsy: The Story of A Golden-Haired Chow:  Jumbo had become attached to the Freuds’ housekeeper, Paula Fichtl,  “the provider of nourishment.”

A Final Birthday Scene

There is evidence for both perspectives in the home movies taken over a span of several years by family friends Mark Brunswick and Marie Bonaparte, narrated by Anna Freud in her old age. Embedding is not allowed, but here is a link to it. It’s nearly 24 minutes long but has a lot of fascinating scenes of Freud with his successive chows, Yofi and Lun — and with some people too.

The Pekingese comes in at minute 19:27, a scene of Paula and Jumbo playing happily. Freud is nowhere to be seen. But the footage of Freud’s final birthday celebration, May 6, 1939 — it starts at about 20:45 — shows a lovely domestic tableau: Paula, keeping up with the family tradition that started with Wolf, Anna Freud’s first dog, attaches ribbons with birthday message around the necks of both Lun and Jumbo. Sweet.

The final scene shows the guest of honor retreating into his studio, followed by Jumbo, who seems to like Sigmund Freud just fine.

Note: Don’t worry — I have not suspended Funny Freud Friday. But I’m trying to post a minimum of twice a week, working my way up to more, and I’d like to vary the subject matter — and avoid psychoanalysis overload. So for now all posts on Freud, funny or not, will appear on Friday.

8 Responses to Freud Friday: Freud’s Last Dog (It’s Not Who You Think)

  1. Wonderful video. Wish there had been more video of Freud and his beloved dogs. The Viennese embrace of Hitler and the Nazis was utterly chilling.
    Deborah Flick recently posted..Interview with Alexandra HorowitzMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I’m glad you took the time to watch it, Deborah. You know, my mother always told me about how the Austrians embraced Nazism enthusiastically but I didn’t realize the extent of it until recently.

  2. Don’t you just love Youtube sometimes?

    I really like the footage of the table at the birthday party, with what seems to be an early photo of Freud sitting next to a small figurine of a dog.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I do love YouTube — often! I gather they show this film at the Freud Museum in London because I read a description of it — which gets it wrong, i.e., the dog is described as a “jumbo Pekingese” rather than a Pekingese named Jumbo — in a tourism book.

      I noticed that figurine too, but I wasn’t sure if it was a dog or a lion so didn’t mention it. This time…

  3. Clare says:

    Freud provides a bit of funniness even when unintended (maybe it’s just me, but the cigars, the dog figurines, the Mephisto-beard, penis envy, etc.) so he fits in fine with your previously announced Friday plans.

  4. […] loved dogs. I’ve provided abundant proof on this blog. He didn’t have a cat. Nevertheless, cat people have used his tossed-off statement that […]

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