Canine corner

I love your column, and I appreciate that you continually stand up for the oppressed, the repressed, and those who just need a little push to get out there and live how they really want (and often need) to.

But I couldn't help but cringe at a recent letter from RUFF and at your advice that (while you reiterate that "Bestiality is wrong, wrong, wrong, because an animal cannot give its consent") RUFF go get that house with a big yard and take his animal loving inside. I actually agree with your assertion that those of us who implicitly condone cruelty to animals by supporting industries that torture and kill them for food and clothing have little room to bash dog fuckers (or, as seems to be the case here, dog fuckees). Still, I think you'd have done well to suggest that RUFF see the shrink first and consider getting the house down the road.

Whether you wanted to or not, your suggestion that RUFF go out and get the house and yard (regardless of how many ellipses you use in your sentences to express your discomfort with the issue) suggests that secretive dog fucking is somehow OK. This, of course, stands in direct opposition to your statement that dog fucking isn't cool.

Anyway, Dan, I'm normally right there with you on matters of sexual difference, but do you honestly think that this guy (all of 25 years old) couldn't use a little therapy? If for no other reason than to work through something that is causing him pain? I say, suggest the dude go to a fucking shrink! And after a few months, if he still pitches a tent every time he sees that Irish wolfhound in the dog park, perhaps then he could start saving for that house. —Not Accepting of Dog Sex


Might there be another option for RUFF besides a life alone or screwing dogs? Perhaps he could consider "dating furries"? Or am I just naive to think that someone dressed up as a dog would, err, get his motor running? —JB


I read your advice for RUFF and, quite honestly, I don't know where to begin analyzing it ethically. But, from a practical standpoint, there are potential dangers in attempting to be fucked by a dog. If this dude is really looking to be penetrated (and not just the old "oops, I spilled peanut butter on my crotch" trick), he should be aware that during intercourse, a gland at the base of the dog's penis swells. It's called the bulbus glandis, and the purpose is to lock the dog's penis inside the bitch's vagina during the entirety of mating, since canine ejaculation comes in three stages which can take 20-30 minutes or longer to complete. If you've ever seen two dogs walking around like they're conjoined at the butt, that's what's going on. They literally cannot separate themselves!

Now, I have no idea whether this would happen during penetration of a human anus, but I see no reason why it wouldn't. The potential for physical damage here alarms me, especially since you can't communicate with a dog the way you can with another person about going slower, being gentle, etc. And imagine if something did go wrong and you were "tied" to the dog for a half hour or more. Ugh, you know what: Don't imagine it. Just let RUFF know that what you think he's thinking about doing is, besides being ethically dubious at best, a potential emergency-room nightmare waiting to happen. —Loves Dogs And Healthy Anuses


While you claim you're against screwing animals since it is clearly nonconsensual, you then give Ruff the go ahead, by justifying it on grounds that society at large already treats animals like so much dirt. So rather than you challenging yourself to exchange the tortured factory-farmed meat you eat in favor of free-range meat or, god forbid, even reduce or eliminate meat from your diet, you'd go with "two wrongs make a right."

While you can claim some authority on sex advice, you're clearly out of your range when it comes to ethical issues such as animal cruelty or environmental issues such as eating factory-farmed meat. But hey, as long as we're all happy indulging our sexual appetites, who cares about the suffering and environmental damage that will destroy life on earth as we know it, within a matter of only a few generations. —Screw The Planet


Instead of acting this out, I think the guy with the dog fetish should see a sex-positive psychodynamic therapist. Why? Because I disagree with your belief that fetishes cannot be changed. They can.

While most fetishes add to the vast and stunning variety of sex to enjoy, those that are nonconsensual, or carry unacceptable dangers, or, in RUFF's case, prison or living an extremely isolated life, may be better left in fantasy. Or better, explored to see how they come to play such a key role in our sexual responses.

I want to ask you to rethink your views on fetishes, Dan, and I argue this as someone who has worked as a therapist and also has experienced changes in what turns me on through both therapy and simply from living my life. I do not think sexual fixations are the same as sexual orientation. I disagree with therapists who claim to "cure" gays. First, of course, sexual orientation is not an illness to be cured, and, second, I believe sexual orientation is pretty well hardwired. In a few people, I have found orientation does shift over time — the research I have seen says more commonly in women than men — probably only in people who had bi potential all along.

But I doubt very much that this guy's sexuality is hardwired. I think it is a fetish, and fetishes, unlike orientations, do change over time in many, many people — not necessarily because they seek to change them, but because they outlive their usefulness to our psyche.

How not to change a fetish? Try to repress, ignore or deny it. Hate yourself for it. Fear it. Wallow in a self-perpetuating cycle of fantasizing or acting out a taboo followed by shame guilt and self-punishment.

There is no guarantee that his fetish can be changed, or that the guy who wrote to you would discover sexual feelings for people, men or women. But I believe there is a fairly good chance of some significant change — if he can commit himself to explore his inner life along with his sexuality and his feelings about people and talk frankly and honestly with a nonjudgmental, confidential, skilled person. I'm not saying it wouldn't be hard. He would have to be willing to change as well as to risk sharing such feelings when the usual reaction is revulsion — but there are skilled therapists who would not judge him for his physical feelings, although they would require a commitment to not act on these fantasies while in therapy.

The key would be to find a psychologist with experience working on sexual issues and an understanding of developmental theory. In addition, he should interview potential therapists and make sure he finds someone whom he can trust. —Fetishes Alter In Therapy


Your understanding of fulfilled sexuality as an integral part of a happy, good life has influenced me more than you'll ever know, Dan. I point at your advice to show my religious relatives that even (gasp) a homosexual can have a strong, well-thought-out moral stance, and can lead a meaningful, upright, family life.

I won't be showing them your most recent column, however. Your advice to Really Unsure For Future, the 25-year-old zoophile, gave me "paws." (Sorry.) Yes, if dogs could give consent they would much rather roger their owners (or a shoe or a potato or a fencepost) than be killed and eaten. Yes, as a society we cruelly use animals in many sickening ways. And, yes, it's unlikely that the letter-writer will magically start being attracted to his own species.

Does that give him license to get his funk on with Fido? (Sorry again.) Dogs can't give consent. Neither can children or mentally retarded adults. They are off-limits because they can't give consent, because the act is between inherent unequals. —Keep It In The Species


Dan, there's no reason why RUFF can't enjoy that backyard with a very high fence with a partner. There are lots of people out there who share his interests. Please send him the following links so that he can find like-minded people to at least talk to, if not date: and —Handball Top


I realize there aren't really good answers to RUFF's problem, but the answer you gave could only be considered less evil at best. Here's what I got: So, a RealDoll is an accurate, fully fuckable replica of a human woman, right? Well, maybe it would be possible to construct an anatomically accurate, fuckable RealDogg. I know it takes a lot of imagination to make a RealDoll seem as good as a living woman (to most), and the same challenge will exist with a RealDogg. But there is no risk of cruelty to the nonliving silicone and internal metal bones that make up a RealDogg, and it doesn't poop or need food, and there's no guilty temptation just to have it put to sleep if RUFF gets bored with it.

There are people out there with enough skills to construct a RealDoll. They probably have the skills to make a RealDogg too. Expensive in cash, but probably the most affordable way morally for RUFF to indulge this hunger. This will just have to do until the animated, heated, self-lubricated, friendly but certified-nonaware AI fuckable robot dogs can be invented later this century. —Shane


You said it yourself in paragraph two of your response to RUFF: "Bestiality is wrong, wrong, wrong." So what happened at the end of your response? You're going to tell this writer to go ahead anyway as long as he doesn't get caught? Even if animals have the instinct to procreate, it doesn't make it right to abuse that natural urge for some guy to get his rocks off. An analogy: A 13-year-old boy might take pleasure in having the erect penis he awoke with rubbed, so does that make it all right for Uncle Jimmy to rub it for him? No, no, no!

Kids and animals can't give their consent. Period.

It troubles me that despite your clear grasp of the cruel practices of modern agribusiness, leather and fur industry, etc, etc., Dan, you truly believe the only outcome for an animal's life is to be either "screwed or stewed." Vegans are just as freaky and kinky as the rest, but we try to have our fun without exploiting those that can't speak for themselves. Go vegan and try for your fetish needs.

As for RUFF, maybe he can purchase an inflatable doggy to play with. Or try fucking a person dressed up like a dog while having old Lassie reruns on in the background … —Izzi


Tell that sick fuck RUFF to do us all, especially animals, a favor by blowing his brains out.

If RUFF had admitted to wanting to rape children would you tell him to build a "nice tall fence around that yard" and do whatever he was going to do "inside, please, shades drawn"? Having sex with animals is against the law, as is having sex with children. At the very least this sick fuck should go and get a nice big dose of Depo-Provera, or become a plushie. Good grief, what a freak. —No Sympathy For Dog Fuckers


Like 99 percent of your readers, I am disgusted by RUFF's sexual interest in animals, and while I strongly dislike your advice to him on this matter, I'm sure you'll receive plenty of outraged e-mail about it. I instead wanted to thank you for your brief mention of the misery and cruelty factory-farm animals endure every moment of their lives.

Each year in the United States, nearly 10 billion land animals are raised and killed for food. Just like the dogs and cats we welcome into our homes, chickens, pigs, turkeys and cows have their own personalities, inquisitive natures, likes and dislikes, and — most importantly — the ability to feel pain, suffer from boredom and frustration, and experience joy. Yet, as you know, these animals are routinely and horrifically mistreated and there is no federal law protecting them and practically no state laws. The only way to truly remove yourself from involvement in this violence is to adopt a vegetarian diet, but this is a personal decision that not all will make. I do however urge all to consider purchasing meat, eggs, and dairy that come only from animals more humanely raised.

With the growing interest in natural and organic foods, it is continually becoming easier to consume animal products in a more compassionate way. You can find more information at —Jenn F.


I was once in RUFF's situation. I'm 30. I was a zoophile by age 14 and practicing by 18. Making that fantasy happen took long jogs in the country at midnight. I was also into making and collecting "furry" entertainment (comics, etc.). When I was 19, I lived with a male dog and was putting out a handmade Xerox newsletter on the subject. This was when "zoophiles" first started coming out and making rare contacts (like trading zines) and getting on the Internet, and through the Internet I met a number of people. A few were in my town, and some I met at "furry" conventions.

Looking back on those experiences, I know now that they were a desperate way of rationalizing fucked-up feelings and looking for perverse approval — both the "philia" and the urge to communicate about it. (RUFF had to share with you, right?) It was more than a fetish too. I desperately wanted that house with the tall fence and I never dated. It was all compensating for deeper problems, and a wish for unconditional love. There's empty sexual pleasure, and the adrenaline thrill from the taboos, but it's never fulfilling, and it leads to worse problems. Really, you're missing something significant: any mutual connection with other people.

I tried some shrinks, and RUFF should beware, sympathetic people are few and far between. The experience can be very negative. One of the few good things one told me is to imagine being a soldier coming back from a war: You may want to undo the unspeakable, but you don't. You just move on and look to the future.

When I was the same age as RUFF, I cut off all connections with that fantasy world. The way to do it is to destroy all collections of stimulating material, end communication with other people into it, and make a new goal for your life. Instead of pursuing temptation, get a hobby, make friends and call them when you need to talk. If lapses happen, leave the house and do something positive.

I realized that I was badly affected growing up around people who were alternately smothering and abusive, and I cut off contact with them, while making an effort to have more and better friends. I took my hobby of drawing for fetish purposes and turned it into a career of making stuff that can be shown in public. I started dating and have been enjoying it more each time for three years. (Oh, and sleeping with women is OK — it hasn't blown my mind yet, but the cuddling part is the best.)

RUFF may want to try the things I mentioned, then try meeting people through asexual dating services (there are Web sites for it), or just go for it. "Master giving head since my dick won't want to join the party," as RUFF wrote, is actually a very good idea. Making your dick happy and fucking your head up worse just sucks. It really, really sucks. There's nothing like being affectionate with a person, having them compliment you, and being treated like you're something more than a two-legged animal. —Suggest No Animals For U

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About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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