Here in New York City, not much raises an eyebrow anymore.
But in the city’s dog parks, many of our hairiest residents engage in one of the few acts you’ll see in public that can make New Yorkers uncomfortable: humping.
Whether it’s fast humping, slow humping, hard humping or soft humping, there’s a chance that at least one pet owner will be none too happy about it.
I Take a Look Around
On a crisp fall day at Madison Square Park’s dog run, I saw first-hand how canine couplings can bring a range of emotions.
On the outside at least, most of the people in the park seemed unperturbed by dogs humping other dogs, and took on a “live and let hump” attitude.
“This is just what they do,” said Sue Levine, a creative consultant in advertising who watched as her maltipoo, Tony, made the moves on a much larger Doberman. “If you take your dog here, this is going to happen. I mean, they are fixed, and it’s not a sex thing — it’s more about dominance.”
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Levine’s acceptance of the act comes with a qualifier, and one that repeated itself over the course of the afternoon: Why should it make a difference if it’s just one mutt trying to get his no-longer-attached rocks off, or an instinctive urge to mount and conquer?
Those who seem comfortable with the act prefer to couch it in terms of dominance, perhaps to spare themselves the embarrassing prospect that it is indeed the alternative.
After all, many pet owners like to view their animals as extensions of themselves, and in this day and age, it simply isn’t appropriate to go around mounting whatever catches your eye. As a result, the owner of the “top” is often embarrassed, as if the dog’s randy behavior reflects on themselves. Likewise, the guardian of the “bottom” can feel as if their pet — and as an extension, themselves — are victims of an unwanted advance by a stranger.
Just Not Into It
Attaching such human baggage to this might explain why some people don’t like all of the free and open dog sexuality.
A younger woman stopped in mid-conversation to yell, “Oh no!” as her Beagle went after a shih tzu like a prisoner on a conjugal visit. “Stop it! Stop it!” she yelled, with her pooch, lost in the moment, ignoring her cries.
On the other end of the run, a Labrador Retriever mix went after a larger Saint Bernard–type mix, and the Saint’s human lashed out at his 20-something counterpart. “Will you please control your dog?” he pleaded. “My dog has a bad back!”
With both people declining to go on the record (and the mutts not talking), we may never know if there really was a concern for the larger dog’s well-being, or if it was just unpleasant for the humans to see their pet “turned out” in such a fashion.
Just Let Them Be Dogs
Madison Square Park dog runner Brian Fisher, who was supervising a gaggle of dogs for clients, might have the most logical view. He believes you can’t stop it, and the dogs can take care of themselves.
Much like a scene that will play out at any bar on a Friday night, when one of the potential humpees doesn’t want to buy what the potential humper is selling, a scowl and snarl is generally enough to send the suitor on his way.
“You can’t stop ’em, you can’t tell ’em no — they are dogs, and it’s just what they are going to do,” Fisher said.
“They are generally pretty smart,” he continued. “If they aren’t interested in the other dog’s advances, they’ll break it up. They will work it out, and maybe all the humans around here shouldn’t be so uptight about it.”
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Live in the Moment
So next time you witness a dog (or your dog) humping other dogs, try to look past all the emotional burdens we carry around with us, and live in the moment.
See it as what it is: a natural act that represents a wide number of things for the animals involved, who generally know better than we do whether or not it’s appropriate.