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Canine Gender Politics

Whenever I’m walking Wallace and Duncan, without fail it is the guys who comment on Wallace and the girls who comment on Duncan.  And to each it is like the dog they’re not commenting on doesn’t exist.  I had a guy in a pickup yesterday call out “That is one FINE lookin’ beagle!” and say she must make a good hunting dog.  Granted, the inability to separate hounds from hunting may be a regional thing (it does get rural pretty quickly once you leave town), since the beagle I grew up with wasn’t always attracting comments about her surely incomparable hunting skills.  (And while that beagle may have a knack for it, Wallace is hopeless.  I can’t imagine a hunting dog with hayfever is very successful.)  The guy down at the diner near our apartment, when he brought three sausages hot off the griddle for Wallace to eat, said the same thing.  Damn fine hunting dog, etc. etc.  But given all the pats and ear-ruffles Wallace receives at the hands of her male admirers, it can’t all be the desire to point and shoot, and a pining for the four-legged creature that will point you in the right direction, that informs their fondness.

Duncan, meanwhile, gets squeals.  From the New Zealander who informed us with a squeak that Duncan was a dead-ringer for Hairy McClary (sp?), a dog who accompanied kids on a nature walk at some cliffs in New Zealand, to the six-year-old girl from Spain who played with Duncan through the glass window of a coffee shop she was in for 30 minutes before getting the courage to come out and ask to pet him, Duncan is popular with the ladies.  When I move over to the edge of the boardwalk to let someone with a four-legged cane go past, the lady with the cane actually bends down (it looks like it hurts a lot) to squee over him.  “It’s a cairn!  It’s a little cairn!”  And when innumerable sweaty female joggers are confronted with my dog entourage as they come toward us, it is inevitably the last, shortest dog they lay eyes on that lights up their faces.


Weirdly though, the dogs seem to return the favor.  Wallace has always been more loyal to R, and more distressed about his leaving and more ecstatic about his return, than to or about me.  If I come home from the gym she’ll thump her tail on the couch, but keep dibs on her comfy spot.  If R comes home she’ll haul herself out of a coma-like sleep to prance over to meet him at the door.  Even if that’s as far as she gets before pitching over for a belly-rub.


Duncan, though, is my permanent shadow.  He knows I’m awake before I twitch — and I’ve honestly sat there and not moved a muscle; not changed my breathing or fumbled for my phone on the bedside table — and he is clambering out of his bed on the floor, awake and wanting food and knowing too well that I am awake, too.  He camps out on the floor outside the bathroom, will curl up at my feet without even so much as a rug if I am standing somewhere longer than 60 seconds (this makes brushing one’s teeth fun…), and will contort himself into all sorts of awful shapes if it means he will somehow be able to stay flung across my knees in front of the computer/while lifting weights/during knitting.  I don’t do anything in particular to encourage this — on the contrary, I do all sorts of things any rational dog would avoid like the plague (see:  lugging around in tote bags; impromptu canine dance parties in the middle of a bone-chewing session; the wrapping and re-wrapping of diverse and sundry knitted objects the chewing of which will result in certain death).  I’m not fonder of him; I think Wallace’s expressions are much easier to read since I grew up with a beagle and since, well, you can see her face.  As opposed to Duncan’s impassive urchin’s sprawl of spikes.  But there he is, the Smithers to my Mr. Burns.  (…Except not, if you watched the candyland episode of The Simpsons.  Ew.)


So I had this theory about heterosexual loyalty in dogs re: humans, but then we came here to babysit my professor’s dogs and they threw it all out of whack.  S, above, is on my feet if Duncan is in my lap and at my side if Duncan is at my feet.  (She doesn’t like him.  I wouldn’t either, if I were too short to avoid his constant face-licking.)  She’s not needy, and tends to doze off after a few minutes of petting, but she seeks it from me, typically, before R.


…And then there’s G…who has no use for me other than food.  At all.  He’s stronger than me and knows it, and he will drag me all over the lake path if I don’t loop his leash around a tree or boardwalk post to stop him.  He’s big, he’s dumb, and women are useless to him.  Not even as sex objects — he’s failed to bat an eyelash at any number of classy labs and poodles we’ve run across in favor of his foul twisted-up pillow bed.  But before we kicked him out, R would wake up with G’s huge head resting on his pillow, staring at him.  Nevermind that I — as the person hired here — am the bearer of food and leashes.  R gets the doe-eyed stare.  So much for my theory.

One response »

  1. Wallace may not “like” Duncan, but his eyes do look “clean.” TD


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