FBorFW News

In Memory of Farley Patterson

Farley—the Pattersons’ beloved shaggy dog, has sadly passed away. He went out as a hero saving little April from a raging, spring river.

Farley was by far the most loved and most popular character of the For Better or For Worse® series. He was based on Lynn’s real dog: an Old English Sheepdog that she got as a puppy shortly after her first marriage in the early 70s.

Elizabeth Hugs Farley

Lynn was married to Doug Franks. They had bought a small house in Dundas, Ontario that backed onto a ravine. This home was the inspiration for the Patterson family home. Lynn and Doug had a stressful relationship. Occasionally, Lynn and Doug would take a drive into the country to get away from things. One weekend, they ventured off to Walsingham, Ontario where they came across a sign that read, “Old English Sheepdog Puppies For Sale.” They decided that it would be fun to go see the puppies. They had no intention of buying a dog, but before they knew it, they had a new, squirmy pup. Lynn named the dog Farley after the author, Farley Mowat.

“I had met Farley Mowat several times at the Different Drummer bookstore in Burlington, Ontario. Like many independents, the Different Drummer provided exceptional opportunities for readers to hear their favourite authors speak and to meet them afterward. I did many illustrations for this lively and innovative shop, and when I was asked to draw caricatures of Farley, I was thrilled. I was able to get to know him personally, and it gave me great pleasure when he later accepted one of my original Farley comic strips as a gift.”
- Lynn

Farley the dog had brought Lynn and Doug closer together. They adored him—he was funny and fun and good company; a constant source of entertainment and dirt! By the time the dog was fully grown, Lynn and Doug had welcomed baby Aaron into the world. Farley was jealous of the baby and became increasingly antagonistic towards him. On top of that, he was hard to train, he shed everywhere and needed more attention than the new family was able to offer. The marriage didn’t last. Lynn, now a working, single mom, decided it was best for everyone to rehome the dog.

“Friends from The Old English Sheepdog Owners Association rescued him and took him to a farm in the country where he lived a fine, long life. I was grateful!

Years later, when I was producing a syndicated comic strip based loosely on my own family, I decided I needed a dog character. Farley was the perfect choice. He was bouncy, funny, fuzzy and fun to draw. Farley added a great deal to the comic strip with his antics, his expressions and general dogginess. He soon became a favourite character.”
- Lynn

Farley lived on in the pages of For Better or For Worse until he was nearly 13 years old. If Lynn had one regret about having her characters grow and change in real time, this would have been it: the dog was already beyond the average lifespan of an Old English Sheepdog. With the advice and support of her veterinarian sister-in-law, Lynn came up with a storyline that would have Farley’s genes carry on with puppy Edgar, and when the time came for Farley to pass, he would pass as a hero saving little April from the flooded ravine behind the family home.

Farley will always be missed.

Farley rolls in the dirt

Lynn talks about Farley here: