May 15, 2002



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by andrea nemerson


DEAR ANDREA: My boyfriend has a new sheepdog puppy, whom we'll call Madge to protect the innocent. My problem is that he (the boyfriend) is genuinely concerned about keeping her innocent about the birds and the bees and the humans. He is worried that our having sex in front of her will affect her psyche and she won't grow up to be a well-balanced pooch. (She will grow up to be fixed, though.)

We've had sex with her in the room, and she usually ignores us, but the other night when we were doing it doggy style, it triggered some form of recognition with her, and she became a little too interested. She stood straight up and started wagging her tail enthusiastically and barking her encouragement. I guess some people would love an appreciative audience, but not me, and not when it's "our baby" doing the barking.

Should we banish her from the room? It seems like that would be punishing her too. So far my boyfriend has been a little distracted by the thought of her watching us, and he talks about it after the fact, but during our lovemaking he has had no problems performing. Is little Madge going to be messed up, or are we? Please put our minds at ease.

Love, Doggone It

P.S. Before writing this I scanned your past columns to see if you covered this topic before, and instead I found letters about doing it to the dog. Now I don't feel so bad about our situation ... but still would like the advice.

Dear Doggie:

You're telling me you've never seen Best in Show, aren't you? So you've never seen the opening sequence, where Parker Posey, her bladelike jaw quivering dangerously, tells the shrink about young Beatrice's accidental exposure to the Primal Scene and how they worry it might scar her for life? Meanwhile, Beatrice herself stares blankly into space as if she hasn't a care in the world or a thought in her head. Which she hasn't, because she's a weimaraner. Go rent it.

Dogs don't care about your sex life. They care about food, chasing squirrels or whatever there is to chase, smelling things, and sleeping. Sometimes they like their bellies skritched. That's about it. While it's true that you can crush a dog's spirit through outright cruelty or puppyhood abandonment, having sex in front of them cannot affect their psyches. They barely have psyches. As much as we think of our pets as part of our families, they are not children, nor can their innocence be corrupted by their seeing their humans going at it. Not even doggie style. You'd think your boyfriend would know this. In fact, I bet he does know it and is just being cute. If not, he needs a stern lecture about the perils of anthropomorphizing.

Having her watching, barking, and wagging along is bothering you. It certainly isn't bothering Madge. Madge doesn't care. And while I find the idea of her responding to your doing it doggie style rather intriguing, I'm not even sure that's what happened. While dogs do often show interest in their humans' sex lives, she may just have thought you were playing. Try getting down on your knees sometime when you're not having sex, and bounce around with your tail in the air, grunting and going, "Ooh! Ahhh!" What do you want to bet that Madge comes bounding over and barks at you? She just thought you had the Frisbee, I swear.

I'm a pushover for dogs and vaguely follow the fashions in puppy rearing with the intention of eventually rearing one myself, but I am not an expert in these matters. Still, I would venture to say that being put out of the room on occasion is not punishment (except perhaps for you if she takes to whining and howling for the duration). It certainly isn't cruel. You are the humans. She is the dog. If she has to go sit in the hallway for an hour or so, so be it.

Love, Andrea

P.S. I have, indeed, answered questions about doing it to dogs, but never, I assure you, with much pleasure. If I haven't yet gotten over my initial "Oh, ick" reaction to even the most loving and consensual of zoophilic acts, I must assume I never will. And you know, I am so OK with that.

You can reach Andrea at, Bay Guardian, 520 Hampshire St., S.F., CA 94110, or