Mary had a tremendous sense of humor, a dancer’s body, and an utterly devastating smile, but she was also an insufferable dog person.
I’d faced off with romantic rivals in the past, but Dutch was the only one who’d ever tried to lick my asshole.
Mary had a tremendous sense of humor, a dancer’s body, and an utterly devastating smile, but she was also an insufferable dog person. Worst of all, and despite being an exceptional woman in almost every other regard, she didn’t seem to mind that her emotionally needy 100-pound mastiff insisted on being present while we made it.
While I could overlook the “I heart mastiffs” bumper sticker on her fur-filled Subaru and the disturbing number of YouTube clips of costumed dogs she deposited in my inbox throughout our relationship, I drew the line at canine analingus.
Dutch, who Mary rescued from the pound as an awkward little puppy, was now a massive slobbering beast, equal parts “Turner and Hooch” and “Single White Female.” Dutch suffered from terrible separation anxiety. After his marathon howling fits almost got her evicted, Mary was forced to spend hundreds of dollars every month kenneling him during the workday. It also meant that we were essentially tethered to her apartment for the several months we spent hanging out.
Despite my initial attempts to win his favor by slipping him leftovers when Mary wasn’t looking, Dutch insisted on growling at me every time I came over. He’d sprawl out on the floor and stare at me with a look of victorious smugness as we made it yet another Blockbuster night.
It became apparent that Duke wasn’t going to let up with the Cujo treatment. I began resenting the sacrifices Mary made for him. I grew sick of being limited to ordering Chinese food between daily trips to the dog park, where he’d glance unimpressed at the Frisbees I’d throw his way and then wedge himself between Mary and me as we attempted to stroll hand in hand. Soon, I found myself whispering “fuck you” to him whenever Mary left the room.
At first, I was embarrassed of how jealous I was of Dutch. He was a simple animal; surely he didn’t know that he was interfering with our blossoming relationship. Then he pissed on my shoes, twice.
I’d come over. He’d growl. Mary would go to the kitchen for a glass of water. I’d give him the middle finger. She caught me once and looked at me as if she had interrupted me downloading child pornography. I lied and said I was just joking.
If all Dutch did was chew up my socks and fumigate every room with his unbearable gas, things might have worked out between Mary and me. Unfortunately, there was the whole screwing thing.
Mary refused to close the door to her bedroom lest Dutch kick into one of his epic howling fits. So I struggled to ignore him while he sat inches from the bed, often moaning and panting louder than either of us ever seemed to. In the unfortunate instance I’d glance in his direction during the act, I’d find the moment completely ruined. I pleaded with Mary to lock him out, arguing that he’d eventually calm down and get used to being alone. She told me I was being ridiculous. Once, when I told her I didn’t want to sleep together with the dog in the room, she suggested I was gay.
Mistaking her unnatural comfort with her dog’s obsessive behavior for some kind of misplaced compassion, I soldiered on until that one fateful night that culminated in a double whammy of ménage a trois and reverse bestiality.
Like every night, I was doing my best to ignore Dutch’s incessant panting as we paused occasionally to pull his errant hairs out of our mouths while we kissed. Unlike the other nights, however, I suddenly felt something cold and wet dart between my ass cheeks. I frantically leaped from the bed to see Dutch perched nonchalantly with his front feet at the edge of the mattress where he had just violated me.
Mary erupted with laughter. I grabbed Dutch by the collar and pulled him from the room, slammed the door shut and told him to stay the hell away from me.
Before the Milkbone-scented slobber had even dried, Mary pulled the covers tightly around her and began shouting at me. If I ever talked to Dutch that way again, she said, it was over.
Standing there, I began to understand why it was so easy for Mary to put more advanced connections on hold for Dutch. It lent her an escape route: She was a dog person. If she couldn't surrender herself to a normal human relationship, at least she had her bumper stickers, DVR archive of "The Dog Whisperer," and chit-chat with leash-towing strangers at the dog park to fall back on. In that moment, I realized that not only was I not a dog person—in Mary's eyes, I wasn't even her dog.
I pulled my pants on and headed for the door, joyfully punting dog toys across the room as I went. I’ve dated girls with much friendlier pooches since. From time to time, I still tell them to fuck off when no one is looking. Just in case.
Illustration by Dylan C. Lathrop