Confessions of a Doggie Dyke
I'm beginning to believe that there are two types of lesbian dog owners: those who wish their wives would let them have cats instead, and those who have canonized the canines to the equivalent of astounding, postmodern children. After spending several thousand dollars on frozen sperm - to no avail - my wife and I have joined the latter camp, and we're certainly not alone. Forget all you've heard about the gayby boom; there's an even bigger explosion of doggie dykes.
Somehow, while we were focusing on our careers, our marriage, and reruns of America's Top Model, our 12-year-old border collie, Free (named for a character in a Dennis Hopper movie, not the Fourth of July), suddenly became a teenager. She's now aloof, sullen, independent and sometimes downright belligerent. She won't dress the way we want her to. She won't sit for family photos. She's lost interest in her old friends, and keeps gravitating toward a crowd of dogs we definitely don't want her playing with (mostly because they're twice her size, salivate at small animals and live in a yard with a terrifying "Beware of Guard Dogs" sign).
With all this teen posturing in our home, the wife and I started daydreaming about puppyhood again. That new puppy smell, the little teeth, the tiny warm body you could hold in your arms for hours - it all sounded so alluring that we decided to jump back into the adoption process. Doggy adoption, that is.
We had all the usual concerns. How far were we willing to travel to adopt? Did we want a boy or a girl? Could we deal with special needs? What kind of cultural differences could we accommodate?
At first, we were working with an excellent but expensive agency where all the puppies were guaranteed with adoption decrees that recognized the importance of their lineage. We spent a few agonizing months looking at picture after picture of smiling, happy puppies, all glossy coats and sleepy eyes. There were thousands of dogs seeking homes, and their differences, after a while, became exhausting. When I was a little girl, we had a German shepherd: a straightforward-sounding dog. Now, suddenly, we were looking at chi-doxies, maltipoos, powder puffs and dozens of other dogs whose origins we could not decipher.
No matter. We soon realized this agency, with its pampered pooches and thousand-dollar price tags, was just not for us. We didn't think it was right to adopt a dog that had, at 12 weeks, already lived a more luxurious life than we would ever be able to give it, much less experience ourselves. Imagine the disappointment the wee one would feel when we got it back to our tiny suburban apartment.
So we hit the Internet again, this time scouring dog shelters all along the West Coast. There were thousands of dogs looking for homes, each one heartbreaking in its desire for a family to love. After a while, I was so overwhelmed with options I began pestering my partner. "We have the resources," I insisted. "We could adopt more!"
My wife, ever the pragmatist, reminded me that we live in a 400-square-foot studio and our landlord will allow us to have only two dogs.
Crestfallen, I looked even harder for the right little fellow to join our home. Just as we were about to give up, we found him. A few hours' drive to the resort town of Sonoma led us to a tiny shelter called Pets Lifeline. There we discovered - and, in half a second, fell in love with - a year-old skipper chi (half Chihuahua, half Schipperke to you novices). His name was Skippy, and it was love at first sight. Free even tolerated him, a very good sign for a teen.
So a week later, after Skippy had been microchipped, neutered and vaccinated, we had a new baby in the house. That's when the real trouble began. Not Skippy; he's a doll. And not Free. No, the trouble was me.
Skippy, this nine-pound bundle of joy that insisted on being held for at least eight hours a day, somehow recharged my mommy batteries. I went crazy. I shopped at 12 different pet stores in six days. I hit the going-out-of-business sales at Kids 'R Us. I bought giant stuffed frogs that squeak, plush lambies to cuddle, felt baby rattles to entertain. I filled my cart with swaddling blankets, purple felt dog beds, cozy pink rugs, matching leashes, chewy toys, rope friends and tons of doggie breath mints.
I took Skippy to buy a whole spring wardrobe - three argyle sweaters, two T-shirts that read "Little Devil," a black biker jacket, a sailor suit and an adorable pink sweater with faux fur trim that my wife, the butch gender activist, won't let him wear in the family photos because it's "too fruity."
We spent days interviewing doggie daycare joints, finding a special nanny and setting up play dates with other dogs in our social circle. We hit the dog park, too, where we ran into a giant cocker spaniel who reminded me of those 13-year-olds playing Little League: too big and powerful for the group. After we shot a few snide glances at the cocker's mom, she put an end to the bullying. Now Skippy's not afraid to stand up to anyone. And everyone. He barked furiously at our 250-pound UPS guy today.
I've also discovered the biggest joy for doggie dykes: the handbag. Thanks in part to celebrity dog lovers like Sharon Osbourne and Cameron Diaz - not to mention dog-centric films like Legally Blonde - the hottest fashion item these days is the puppy purse. The top-of-the-line bag every femme wants is custom-made (with no animal skins, thank you very much): the Puchi Bag, a $400 designer handbag that comes in designs with names like Martini, Swinger, Cosmopolitan and Penelope (the latter, seen in Vogue recently, has pink and white polka dots).
Puchi has bags for career dykes (houndstooth), travel mavens (the black patent-leather train case), and large families (the Double Dutch Bus holds two). And, of course, there are bags for butches. The most popular: the Urban Army, a rugged, camouflage-cotton bag with road-construction orange trim. Butches hardly need dog accessories; after all, gear for outdoorsy dog dykes is everywhere. There are even dog backpacks, so if you're single, Fido can carry your keys while you focus on the other dog dykes at your Sierra Club outing. Plus, there are dozens of athletic bags that cuddle your dog in stain-resistant neoprene for when you're hiking, camping or just going to the grocery. (Ours is blue.)
Of course, it's not the accessories that are giving birth to doggy-dyke expansion. Dogs can be like the best kind of kids; sure, they won't take care of you when you get old, but they won't get pregnant or run off with a skater boi either. There are no diapers, no middle-of-the-night feedings, and no terrible twos. There's just tons and tons of love, and, if you're like me, entree to a whole new world of accessories.