Nero is staring
at me the way a teenage boy gapes at a woman on a topless beach. His eyes reflect
light from my desk lamp, letting me know for certain that he is in need. Away
from the light, his eyes and his coat blend like a mixture of caviar and coffee
grounds. Sometimes he looks downright demonic.
I had never
thought much about dogs and sex until one morning last year in Central Park.
Nero stuck his nose into the rear of a mixed breed bitch whose oblivious owner
was letting her roam free. He began strutting alongside her, breathing hard.
He tried to hook his neck over hers, the way a stallion snags a mare before
mating. I yanked him away. For him, this was natural behavior. The bitch was
in heat, and he was a two-year-old show dog, which means he wasn’t neutered.
home and I tortured myself with questions. Should I have let him fuck the bitch?
Did I harm his psyche by interfering? Do dogs get frustrated when they can’t
have sex? None of my reference books on canine activity addressed this issue,
and I don’t stay up late enough to use those doggy chat rooms that all
start on Pacific time. I thought how lucky people are. They can relieve themselves
or find a partner. Nero is not so fortunate. His future mate, if he gets one,
must be genetically compatible, and that requires a time-consuming search of
pedigrees. For the present, the only partner he can have is me.
I turn off
the lamp and go into the living room. Nero follows me. We sit on the floor.
He nudges me with his head, then positions himself near my hand. He pulls at
it with his front paw, then pushes it toward his penis. I open my palm and he
starts humping. He whimpers. Only a few seconds pass till my hand gets wet.
I feel both
caring and perverted. I suspect this is a well-kept secret in the dog world.
I am sure I’m not alone in bringing relief to a virile, young dog. Here
and there, I’ve dropped questioning hints, but none of my dog show pals
ever has picked up on the topic.
I am careful
with my lay friends. I’ve already shocked them by telling them Nero is
so clean they could eat off his weenie. But what I didn’t tell them is
this: sometimes I kiss it.
time, it just happened.
One afternoon he was lying on the bed, revealing himself in his favorite way,
lying on his back with his penis and testicles exposed. I stroked his belly.
It was so soft and white beneath the fine black hairs. Then I lowered my nose
and sniffed him. There was no doggy odor, only a fresh anti-odor that I can
best describe as clean. I looked at the hole in the tip of his penis. It was
moist, and I sniffed that, too. I expected to smell dog pee, but it, too, smelled
clean. I kissed it, a quick touch of the lips to the target. Nero didn’t
budge. I figured that meant he liked it.
He had an erection.
His penis was hard and larger than normal, but it was still inside its sheath.
There were two little knots (the glans) at the base. I touched them. They were
firm, warm and smooth as chestnuts. I traced my finger along the shaft. Thin
hairs grew there like freshly sprouted grass. Nero’s “lipstick”
came out. Some dog breeder somewhere is probably still feeling smug for coining
this phrase. Red at the tip, shiny with wetness and life, it emerged from its
sheath, like its cosmetic namesake. Nero was watching me out of the corner of
one eye. I could see a small sliver of white above his dark iris.
He stood. His
penis grew longer. I stroked it. The fully extended organ was black, hard and
hot to the touch. Nero tried to take a step but seemed paralyzed by this fifth
leg protruding from his underside. I recalled reading that in a first-time mating
of an inexperienced stud dog, the breeder often helps guide the penis into the
bitch. At the time I thought this was weird, but now I understood. Clearly,
Nero had no clue about this thing sticking out of him. I pulled him toward me
and offered my hand.
When I was
in my early 20s, teaching in a junior high school on Long Island, I had a colleague
who was friends with a couple who bred Great Danes. I wasn’t a dog person
then, but I was eager to experience life. The Jasons (not their real name) also
had a collection of adult 8-mm black and white movies, and in one of them, a
woman was being fucked by a Great Dane. I can still picture those frames, the
jerky movements, the insane speed of the film. It was meant to be titillating,
to show something outrageous and perhaps even disgusting. I certainly thought
it was all of these. The actress was probably a prostitute, a drug addict or
both. Only a real sicko would consort with an animal.
But now, years
later, my thinking has changed. In Clintonesque terms, though, Nero and I are
not having sex. We’re fooling around. I know he needs my help, but he is
becoming more demanding by the day. I worry that he’ll forget himself when
we have company, or worse, when my mother is visiting. I speed up my research
on breeding. In pure-bred dogs, it’s not just a question of “You got
a boy, I got a girl, so let’s go.” To do it right, to try to produce
puppies with good health and good temperaments, requires lots of legwork, personal
interviews and attendance at hundreds of dog shows. I know that owners of bitches
can be very picky, and some downright insulting.
I look at Nero.
If I had him fixed, he could be a normal pet and I’d just be his human
buddy. There’d be no more dog shows, since males must have both testicles
to qualify as breeding stock. But then there’d be no more of these lust-relief
I pick up the
phone and call the veterinarian.