Parents of actual, human children tend to get a wee bit grumpy, and perhaps the slightest bit offended, when you attempt to equate your experiences with, and depth of feeling for, your furry children with theirs. However, you will occasionally find the perceptive parent who allows that the experiences, at least in the early years, offer little to distinguish themselves from each other.
I can tell you from personal experience that all the confusion, bafflement, and guilt that parents feel as they navigate child-rearing are also bestowed upon people like us whose children wear collars BEFORE they turn 14 and start attending public high school.
I am, if you ask Athena, the meanest mommy in the world. My crime against caninity? I put a leash on my dogter, with the nefarious plan of taking her for a walk the other morning. We haven’t done much with the leashes yet with the puppies, because they’re only 15 weeks old, and we were waiting until they had adequate shots (and until we stopped being lazy slugs) before we took them out into the world. However, Ms. Thang, world’s bossiest puppy, thinks she’s in charge of the other 4 of us, so I got all Cesar-Millan on her ass, and broke out the leash. We’d see who was boss.
I put the leash on her, and she put the kibosh on me, fighting me all the way out of the house while her twin brother (who has become my favorite by virtue of not driving me absolutely batty) blithely trotted down the walk, yanking her along, since they shared a 2-headed leash. She pulled back, forcing me to tug her along, until she pulled out her very best passive resistance moves, flattening herself to the sidewalk, and when I’d pick her up and put her back on her feet, she’d put her butt back down, and put her front paws straight out, and resisted (somewhat less passively) with all the might in her 4-pound body. We did half a block this way, and I was literally dragging her in some cases, like some sidewalk dustmop. I’d had enough at that point, so I picked her up and carried her home. I have never known such a stubborn animal. Never in all my life.
She was so exhausted from her fight against the forces of maternal evil, I was concerned that I’d broken her. She pouted all the rest of the morning, staring sorrowfully out from under her eyebrows while I drowned in guilt. And I’m still not quite sure what to do with her. We’re working on it.
We are assured by various dog experts that faux mounting behavior is very common, and is not at all sexual, but actually is a sign of dominance, and dogs of both genders will do it to each other in attempt to enforce their priority in the pecking order. However, Monte seems to be confused about the “faux” part. He has been fixed since before he hit doggy puberty, and neither his father nor I ever felt the need to explain to him what might happen if he were to get…um…excited. And until recently, it seemed an excellent plan, because he’s never been that excited about anything.
However, while playing with Rocky, he’s gotten a little over-excited by their rough-housing…okay, he’s gotten A LOT over-excited, and the faux mounting has become a little more realistic. Monte doesn’t have good aim, and Rocky is in no danger of being buggered, but Monte’s full engagement in the activity is appallingly evident. I could’ve lived a good long time (read: my entire life) without seeing THAT. And what’s more, he cannot stop himself once he gets going, so if I pull him away, his hips keep going seemingly of their own accord and he can’t stop them. He looks up at me with this confused look on his face while his back end continues thrusting away.
Of course, then he’s got this GROWTH that he doesn’t know quite what to do with; it’s never happened before. So he does what any dog does with any kind of owie: he licks it. This is rather counterproductive, as you might imagine. To make matters worse, Rocky, always on the lookout for dangling things he can chew on, gets into the act, and it’s about this time I scream, separate the two of them, and subsequently begin to drink heavily.
If my sons are gay, that’s fine with me. I can live with that. It’s the incest that really bothers me. This is a fine, upstanding, Yankee household; that just doesn’t play here.
The fact that we have 3 dogs each out of control in their own inimitable, whacked-out ways only reinforces our wise decision not to have our own kids. Because if we had, we’d totally be that family raising a ruckus in the Walmart: “Listen, missy—you get in the god-damned cart now! We’re going!” “And you! How many times have I told you not to hump your brother???”
Okay, so maybe parenting dogs and parenting kids have a few differences.