Readings — From the October 2017 issue

Shaggy Dog Story

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By Eileen Myles, from Afterglow (A Dog Memoir), which was published last month by Grove Press. Myles is a poet and the author of twenty books.

Every now and then when I walked Rosie some guy would ask me whether I wanted to stud her and I always said I did, someday. I collected phone numbers and put them in my book. Tom, 549-1694. Sometimes I would write “dog” next to the name. There were also a few phone numbers in the file where I kept Rosie’s health stuff. Usually these dogs looked too tough, though. Or their owners did. They were the kind of people who asked you to fuck in the street. I wanted to be tough. I was tough, so I took their numbers. I liked it in some weird way. But I never thought of it as the way for Rosie to meet her mate.

Now suddenly she was in heat. I had all the wrong phone numbers and a vacant summer.

Then one night the phone rang. “Is this the owner of the pit bull that’s looking for a stud?” Yes, yes, yes, I replied, and what’s your dog’s name?

We set a date for Friday night. I was sure he wouldn’t show. Though she was still pretty puffy (her pussy), I was not convinced that Rosie was still in heat. It had gone on so long. Vivien came over. It was pouring. Doug lived in Westchester, he would be driving down. I couldn’t even call this guy direct, had to leave messages on his friend’s beeper. The date was for around eight or nine. Eight came, went. It was a quarter until nine. I started calling the beeper. His friend called me back. Far as I know he’s on his way. That’s what he told me. There was something about two lesbians and a female dog, waiting for this guy and his male that —

Buzz, buzz, buzz. They’re here. Doug was a blondish guy in his late thirties, kind of American-looking. Buster was beautiful. Also kind of a blond. We pushed the furniture to the side. It was still pouring out. Doug said the roads were flooded coming in. That’s why he was late. Everything felt very valuable. I had just gotten cable and we left the TV on. It added reality to the moment. Were they going to fight?

We were sitting along the sidelines on couches and chairs — Buster tailed Rosie and she trotted away and turned and reared up on her hind legs. She exposed her white chest to him and he licked. She made sweet fighting sounds, growls. Buster barked once or twice. I wondered whether I was doing something illegal, letting dogs have sex in my building. What was normal in this situation? It looked as if they were going to fight. No, this is how they have sex, whispered Vivien. Remember that dog down at the park. Yes, Doug assured us. It can be very violent. He’s done this before? we inquired. Just a few weeks ago. She seems to be quite pregnant. I think you’ll be happy with the results. If she’s still in heat. She is, he said authoritatively.

Men always say that. The women I know who have dogs consider the window of fertility to be tiny.

Buster was trying to mount Rosie now. Her response was to sit down. To cover her butt. Uh-oh. Looks like we’ve got to help her a little. We began to raise her . . . vulva. We used Doug’s word. It seemed so veterinary. If we said “pussy” it seemed like we were talking about sex. We pushed her little doggy vulva up with our palms under her butt. She turned and tried to bite. There were three of us on her now. Do you have a muzzle? Doug asked. It’s just like that guy said. Yes, they can be very violent maters. Oh, God, no — well. I tried calling Delia, who used to have Nancy, a violent pit bull. Nancy had to be put to sleep. No answer.

How about this, I offered. We wrapped an extra leash around Rosie’s jaw. I felt she liked being robbed of her choice. She stopped trying to bite. I held on. Doug was positioning Buster. Vivien held Rosie’s vulva up. Doug warned us not to let Buster get it in the wrong place. They do that, you know. Buster’s dick was pretty huge. I felt like I was hurting Rosie. What if she’s not in heat. Is it in, is it in. I can’t tell. We could use one more person here.

We got it in. They both seemed to relax. They simmered. He poked. Slightly. She wavered. Her whole body wavered. The two swaying slightly together. His leg cast over her back. She ceased to turn, their two mouths, their huge jaws slack, hanging open, panting in unison like big smiles wavering in the night. It was still pouring out. We all sat down and relaxed — though still holding on. I took off Rosie’s muzzle but held on to her collar. I felt she needed me. I was having a new experience of my dog’s body: She had one. She was being fucked right in front of me. I felt shame. Regret. Fear. Excitement.

There was a priest on TV from Operation Rescue. He was giving a long theological explanation of the Catholic Church’s deeply thought-out position. Rosie’s for life, laughed Doug, and I didn’t know where I stood. The TV had a surreal quality as news came and went, rap groups gazed out to us, enticing and threatening, the weather continued to be formidable, and the dogs kept at it. The sex was impossible to ignore, yet somehow bureaucratic.

You girls ever hear of Mainstreet U.S.A.? asked Doug. A shopping network? Nope, we replied. From his chair Doug began to explain his business. Lotta empty hotel rooms — vacations, car rentals, just stuff. Lots of extra stuff merchants would rather sell than, you know, just let sit there. You pay a small fee and you get this card. He pulled out his wallet and there was his key to all these purchases.

They had been doing it for forty-five minutes. Was this normal? Twenty minutes is normal, said Doug. They’ll stop, he assured us. Are they stuck? We threw the word “tumescent” around. His tumescence. She clamped around him. Eventually her water broke. That’s what it was. Rosie began to lick her pussy ferociously when it was over. She looked incredibly sweet and kind of spent. Buster just lay on his side with this immense pink dick with smears of blood on it — Rosie’s blood. Does a dog have a hymen? I kept thinking of the word “tool” when I looked at his dick. It was a pink tool. A deep pink. We gave them both a lot of water. They were very thirsty.

Want to go for a walk? said Doug. The rain had stopped and the street had that shimmering blackness. Doug had moved out of the East Village a couple of years ago. Couldn’t take the filth anymore, the noise, the disgusting people, the attitude’s different. I lived here for years. He went on like that all the way down 6th Street. Rosie was farting nonstop. What did that mean? We bumped into a buddy of Doug’s. Hey, he yelled. You know that straight-guy yell. People who watch Saturday Night Live. Who stayed in to watch it in the Seventies. He introduced us to the guy. I felt as if I were in someone else’s life. Who were we supposed to be? We were just all having sex. I’m starving, muttered Vivien. At the store we met Joe. Everybody was very smiley, shaking hands. Everyone smiled when we talked about the dogs. The dogs were like these girls we fucked while doing business.

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More from Eileen Myles:

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