There is a philosophical musing floating around that goes like this: Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can.
It is also a universal truth. Anyone who has been around dogs knows that once in a while they are going to witness the ungainly sight of a dog licking his privates, totally unbothered by the spectacle he is making of himself.
Dog people ignore it, brush it off, treat it like normal behavior. But I, a non-dog person, am still learning to cope with this phenomenon without coming across as a total jerk. Because for me, this is not normal behavior.
You see, l am mildly traumatized by testicles. When I was eight years old I saw, for the first time, a grown man’s testicles hanging out of his loose shorts, kind of glued to the side of his thigh. I was so horrified by the sight that for years to come I could not believe that any pleasure could be derived from that region of the human anatomy. Later in life, a childhood friend whispered to me that she thought men did such things purposefully to provoke little girls with their male parts. I can’t prove it, and neither can she, but the image has stayed with me for life.
Now a dog’s testicles are not the same as human testicles, I know that. But they are there for the same purpose. Right?
So the eight-year-old in me wants to scream every time I see a dog attend to his testicles and sometimes to his sperm dispenser, which emerges in slow-motion onto the scene, without giving a flying hump about innocent bystanders. And this is where I notice the cognitive dissonance of dog people when it comes to their beloved dogs pleasuring themselves in the presence of total strangers.
No dog loving person would do what their dog does in front of me without asking for my consent, or let anyone else do it in front of me in public without interrupting them. Then why is it acceptable for their dog to do it?
Because they are dogs, my dog people friends say. You have to give them a break. They are animals doing what animals do. What do you expect?
Well, animals do it in their animal world. Not surrounded by furniture and baby clothes. And we only get to see this stuff on YouTube, or National Geographic, or nature shows on PBS. Besides, these are wild animals; ferocious creatures engaging in procreation and female subjugation, not domesticated masturbators.
It’s an urge, they explain. It’s uncontrollable. They have to do it.
But if you can train your dog not to pee on your carpet or chew your shoes, why can’t you train him not to compromise himself like that on the kitchen floor or by your potted plant. Or in front of me for that matter. You don’t live in the African savannah, for crying out loud. These exposed dog testicles being licked so nonchalantly for all to see are a testament to dogs’ unabashed machismo: Hey, look at me, I’m a top dog, I have balls and I can lick them if I want to.
But that’s not how dog people see it. They think that when their dog tries to have intercourse with himself, or with the leg of the coffee table or the throw pillow they bought at Pier 1, and forgets that there are humans out there who can actually see what he’s doing, that’s okay.
Not to my inner eight-year-old! Nor to my inner thirty-year-old, for that matter. I have bumped into more than my fair share of male human specimens who could not control their urges and had to indulge themselves, like under a tree in Central Park, where unsuspecting female New-Yorkers were known to walk by. Or at the entrance to my apartment building in Tel Aviv at eleven o’clock at night, when I was absolutely not in the mood to watch. And that’s just the top of the list.
Being the non-dog person that I am, I feel that compulsive masturbators should be sent to their room and have the door securely closed behind them.
Otherwise, perhaps I have to resign myself to the thought that maybe some of my dog people friends are entertaining a secret wish when they watch their dog in action: If only I could do it too.