Frances says she loves being a good “mother” to her 13 pet rabbits — but is her obsession with her animals hurting her relationship with her daughter? And, Gary, aka “Boomer the Dog,” says he believes he’s part human and part dog, and he tries to live as much like a canine as possible. Is he using “Boomer” to avoid life? Plus, a mother says she hates that her daughter is putting her education on hold to attend “furry” conventions.
Frances says she’s obsessed with being the best mother ever — not to a child, but to her 13 pet rabbits. She says they all wear diapers and matching outfits, and they all receive daily massages. “It takes me about an hour and a half, sometimes longer, to get them all situated in their diapers and with their toys,” Frances explains. She adds, “My rabbits have more clothes than I do, actually. They have a whole rack of clothes and dresses for every occasion.” Frances says before bedtime, she sings lullabies to her “babies” and even reads them a story. “I just want to be with them every moment I can,” she insists. “I want to actually be their real mom.”
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Frances’ daughter, Katarina, says she thinks her mom’s “bunny mothering” has gone too far. “She spends every moment with them. She dresses them up. She reads to them, sings to them,” she tells Dr. Phil. Katarina says she was in complete shock when she learned just how far Frances has gone to bond with her bunnies.
“You were breastfeeding a rabbit?”
Katarina says she wants her mother to treat her bunnies more like pets — and make time to find a boyfriend. “I just wish she would get out a little more — go out with her friends or something like that,” she says. “Really all she wants to do in her spare time is be home with her rabbits.”
“If I had to choose between a guy and my rabbits, I would choose my rabbits,” Frances admits. She continues, “I don’t really know how a guy would react to the rabbits. I think a guy would say that I’m crazy, number one. And he’d say, ‘You’re spending too much time with your rabbits. We need time together.’ That’s not what I want.”
Katarina says that Frances’ bunny obsession has also taken a toll on their relationship. “When the rabbits came around, her entire focus changed,” she says. “I ended up moving to my dad’s house, and every time I would visit her, I expected us to spend time together and have normal conversation, but every conversation was about the rabbits. We couldn’t even leave the house because she didn’t feel comfortable leaving the rabbits without supervision. It made it very difficult for me to just spend time with her.”
“You’re retreating from something. When people get over-involved with things that don’t require much from them emotionally, that’s regressive.”
“The balance is gone,” Dr. Phil says to Frances. “Your daughter is telling you that you don’t do anything anymore. She can talk to you about the rabbits, and that’s it, which means that this is hurting someone. You’re missing out on your daughter.”
“You’re right,” Frances replies. “So, that’s what I want to find — that balance.”
“The only way you can do that is to re-enter the human world and have relationships with friends, go on a date — do things that aren’t rabbit-centric,” Dr. Phil insists. “Your daughter is telling you that you’re not there anymore. She’s missing you. Re-engage with your daughter.” Frances agrees to make an effort.
“Boomer the Dog”
Gary, 48, says he believes he’s half dog and half human. “I had a vivid imagination as a young boy. I was a fanatic for every kind of dog story,” he recalls. “When I was 14, I watched a TV show called Here’s Boomer
. I thought Boomer was a more independent dog, and he really reflected my views as a more independent person. So, now I’m Boomer the Dog.” Gary says he dresses in a sheepdog costume, eats dog food, carries a squeaky toy, sleeps in a dog house and loves to play with “other dogs” at the park. “I feel really comfortable with everything that I am,” he insists. “If I couldn’t be a dog, I’d feel like just an empty shell.”
“I don’t think that I’m strange. I feel that I’m eccentric.”
“Is this a way of avoiding life for you? … You’ve never been on a date. You don’t have a job. You just put on a dog suit and walk around town.”
“You’re missing an awful lot of life,” Dr. Phil says. “But if you make a conscious choice to do that, then so be it.”
“I feel it’s a good compromise for me, to be both dog and human,” Gary insists. “I’m trying to integrate my life and get a lot of human things on the dog side, and a lot of dog things on the human side — to put it all together and make a whole that’s me. That’s what I feel.”
Lori says that she hates that her daughter, Seanna, 20, is putting her life on hold to attend “furry” conventions. “To me, she’s a giant stuffed animal. I don’t understand it,” Lori insists. She says she thinks furries are “freaks” and “misfits,” and she worries that Seanna may be putting herself in harm’s way. “My concern is she doesn’t know who’s under those heads,” Lori says. “They might be someone really creepy and scary.” She is adamant that she wants Seanna to grow up, go to college and start a career. “When is this going to end?” she asks.
“I’ve mentioned to Seanna that there is no professional furry. Where do you go from here?”
“The arguments over me being a furry happen at least once or twice a week,” Seanna says. “She’s called me names before — “lowlife” being one of them.” Seanna claims she has tried to talk to Lori about furries, but her mother doesn’t want to hear it. “The best part about being a furry is that you feel like you’re in a big family,” Seanna insists. “Furries are very accepting.”
Seanna explains that her “fursona” is a red wolf named Culpeo. “He’s so cute, and I love him. I tell everyone that he’s like my big brother,” she says. “When I wear Culpeo, I get more energetic, and I just want to go have fun. I know that I’m in that zone, and I want to go entertain people and be cute.”
Seanna talks about dressing up as “Culpeo.” She insists, “It’s a hobby. This isn’t my life.”
“I actually have a problem with what you’re doing,” Dr. Phil tells Seanna. He turns to Lori and says, “It’s different from your problem, but you’re probably going to agree.” He continues, “You’re paying her cell phone bill, her car insurance. You say she can’t budget, she can’t write checks. She thinks everything is just magically going to come together, but the truth is, it’s not.”
“I’m well aware,” Seanna replies.
“I don’t care if you’re being a furry, or playing video games, or you go Goth or whatever,” Dr. Phil says. “You need to get an education, and I don’t care if you do it with a tail on or not. I couldn’t care less about that. But you have to prepare yourself for life, and you’re not doing that.”
Dr. Phil has some stern words for Lori: “You need to stop enabling her.” And, how can this mother and daughter get back on track?