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Friday, June 30, 2017

Dog Love V

                              Flickr/Angela Antunes
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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dog Love IV

 If a wall is going to be built on the Mexican border, it need not be taller than two feet, because as far as I understand, Chihuahuas will not be able to jump over it. To be clear, I don’t have anything against anyone who takes the risk of crossing the border into California without documentation in search of a better life; but I do have some serious reservations about Chihuahuas.

When you think about the quintessential dog, what image comes to mind? I bet you anything it’s not a Chihuahua. Maybe, like me, you see a German shepherd. Others might see a border collie, an English this or that, or a Siberian husky. But a Chihuahua? Is it even a dog?
Just being near one makes me jittery. That startled look in their eyes and their nervous energy stick to me like a piece of used chewing gum melting in the sun on the sidewalk. It takes me only five minutes near a Chihuahua to lose my cool. 
I have a friend who brings her Chihuahua mix on our nature walks. She says the dog needs to be walked in the outdoors. That’s fine with me, but…. this dog has really short legs. So it doesn’t walk. It kinds of runs alongside an average sized human. So on top of the ADHD sensation I get from being near it, I can’t help but feel sorry for this little thing that has to do a full-speed trot just to keep up with us.
And then she sees a squirrel.
Let me tell you this: nothing gets a Chihuahua more excited than a squirrel. Maybe because a squirrel is the only thing that’s smaller than she is. Maybe because in a past life she was actually a squirrel. Who knows? So she bolts out to the trail in blind excitement to catch the squirrel; or just bark at it. Whatever her Chihuahua brain tells her to do. Her tail shoots up in the air at a ninety degree angle and she disappears in the bushes.
And then, we humans who were until that moment enjoying a nature walk, have to stop and look for her. To make sure that this tiny ball of nerves doesn’t disappear into a squirrel tunnel or get kidnapped by a larger critter, like a coyote for example.
The first time it happens, I feel a little sympathy for my friend, who stops in her tracks and starts yelling the dog’s name—“Chiquita! Chiquita!”—in the hope of bringing her out of her squirrel-induced trance and back on the trail.
The fear of losing a dear one is familiar. It reminds me of the day I took my three-year old daughter to a store in San Francisco and suddenly I didn’t see her. Being in the middle of a big city, I did not dare scream her name, like my walking partner does every time she brings her dog on our nature walks. I just stood there, looking under the clothes racks, feeling the panic rise into my head and my heart sink to the bottom of my feet until I saw her after no more than two seconds. So I can empathize with a dog owner who screams the name of a tiny dog swallowed up by the bushes.
But the dog seems totally oblivious to the shouting. Maybe Chiquita’s Spanish is not that good. Maybe she resents her name. Maybe a big bad squirrel caught her. Maybe she is too far away to hear the shouting. Whatever the case, I start to lose patience and find myself hoping that a nature dweller did me a favor and snatched her, or that she fell into a squirrel tunnel and is never coming back.
I beg my friend to put the dog on a leash so we can walk more than two minutes at a time without stopping, but she laughs and says the dog is having fun. Yes, the dog is having fun. But I’m not. And that’s my point. As long as the dog is having fun, we human friends of dog people don’t matter.
So we keep walking, and stopping, and waiting for the stupid little thing to come back from its futile squirrel hunts and run by our side again, until it collapses from exhaustion, because remember, those tiny legs have to do a lot more work than we do to keep up the pace.
My friend picks her up from the ground and ties a leash around her neck. And then she keeps the dog in her arms, because Chiquita is too tired to walk. But she soon recovers and is back on the ground, allowed to run as far as the leash can stretch.
But my troubles are not over even when she is attached to a leash, because that hybrid Chihuahua is clueless. She thinks that just because she can bark, she can scare people we meet on the trail and their much, much bigger dogs. And I have to endure the embarrassment of being seen in the company of a mini-dog who entertains delusions of superiority.
Where is that coyote when you need it?