If you spend a significant amount of time with more dogs than people, you’ll find they have this way of becoming your people. You start referring to them in human contexts: who’s crushing on whom, who makes up the old married couples, who had scandalous flings in the past, existing love triangles, who the ladies men and the mean girls of the kennel are. You create these detailed back stories in your head, giving the dogs complicated emotions worthy of the most angsty teenager, filling their heads with imaginary canine hopes and dreams. You start talking to them as if they were your peers, fully believing they understand you when you spread gossip about what just happened four kennels over.
So you can imagine my horror when we caught Suohpan in the act with her son Quasar.
Talk about awkward.
I got the same feeling in my stomach as I did when I read about (or worse, watched) Jamie and Cersei Lannister doing their own indelicate dance in Game of Thrones (ewwwww, make it stop), yet at the same time, fell victim to the infamous American reaction to disaster and horror: I couldn’t look away.
I felt weird. I felt helpless. I was uncomfortable. I was fascinated. And I am sure my face reflected a combination of all four as I stared at them, trying to comprehend the situation. They stared back, both faces devoid of any emotion, as they awkwardly stood butt to butt. And for the record, all you Don Juans out there: you’re doing it all wrong.
But…but…Quasar is just a puppy! A child! And on painkillers for a muscle injury from running the day before! And Suohpan! She is supposed to be taking care of him! SHE’S HIS MOM! How could she take advantage of a cripple under the influence?! HOW?
How? Biology. No emotions, no thought process, no right or wrong. Dogs do not mate for pleasure. If given a choice, they mate with dogs who smell least like members of their own family. If given a choice. But Suohpan was in heat and Quasar was the only available dog. Science dictated the scene before my eyes. Just pure, natural, science. You might not even know a dog is in heat until after a secret rendezvous occurs. And when you have 60 dogs, finding kennel combinations of unrelated dogs, females not in heat or dogs who won’t tear each other’s ears off, can be very tricky. And even then, you have the escape artists who visit their lovers in the chill of the night, combining The Maury Show and I Didn’t Know (My Dog) Was Pregnant as random puppies start popping out and you have to get a paternity test because logic states it is impossible for two females to create life.
It’s a complicated, unromantic business, this dog dance, and hormones are raging at the kennel. With all the unreachable bitches in heat, I’ve seen brothers mounting brothers, sons mounting fathers, males just humping the air (quite amusing to observe really), driven purely by their strong animal nature to reproduce, to survive. And last Friday I experienced my first doggy blind date. We took Juoksahkka, one lucky lady in heat, and drove three hours up to Ivalo to meet the potential father of her first litter, a magnificent retired race dog named Sujoz. We were hoping for a hump at first sight type deal, but quickly discovered Juoksahkka was much too classy for her first time to be outside in a gas station parking lot, so we hauled Sujoz back to Korvala to give him a chance to wine and dine her.
And oh, how he tried. It was almost painful to watch as she rejected him, again and again, his tired old body trying to ungracefully get her in the mood. She couldn’t have been less interested. Maybe he missed his heated window. Or maybe she isn’t into the older men (he’s like 70 in people years; she’s in her 20s). Or…OR…maybe she’s got the hots for someone else. We set the would-be lovers loose in the inner kennel circle, giving them more room to run around and less dog houses for Juoksahkka to hide within. I watched as she snapped at Sujoz, sauntered over to Hyrrä’s (Suohpan’s husband, though I haven’t checked in since the incestual infidelity) kennel door, raised her backside, and presented herself to him. She then trotted over to Suohpan’s kennel, made a little eye contact that I swear said, “Listen, I know what you did. Hyrrä is fair game now,” and then casually made her way back to Hyrrä, snapping Sujoz off her back once again.
Seriously, it’s like Dog Days of Our Lives over here.
Yeah…I may be getting too involved.