What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me—nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
The text came up on my phone at 5:34 P.M.
“Just saw chihuahua with human-sized penis 🙁 ”
I tried to think of something comforting to say.
“Don’t worry,” I wrote back. “He can mate with bigger dogs!!”
“:( ” came the response.
In conference with another friend, Dan, later the same day, I mentioned this anomaly.
“It’s at times like this one wonders how self-aware dogs are,” he wrote. Then:
“I hope he knows”
“He must know.”
Something about this sighting made me sad. Had the owners chosen this particular dog as an act of charity? Or maybe because they thought it was funny—maybe the dog was a conversation piece, and was called Ron Jeremy, or Dirk Diggler, or maybe Dillinger. Was that better, or worse? Did the dog have medical trouble? Was he too big to breed with his own kind? Did they give him a codpiece in the winter, to go with his little Chihuahua coat?
I woke up at two A.M. and thought about it for far too long. Then I did a very ill-advised Internet search, which, in the spirit of public service, I urge you not to do.
Modern civilization is constantly coping with the frank, exuberant sexuality of dogs. We snicker, or we blush, or we ogle, and some of us pretend to be very matter-of-fact, which is the silliest of all. Putting a dog in a little outfit does nothing to neuter it. Although I guess neutering probably does.
On the Disney Wiki, “Man”—the killer of Bambi’s mother and, later, the cause of the fire that devastates the forest—is described thusly: “Being a mere hunter, Man is not truly evil by human standards, but from the perspective of the animals whom the film follows, he might as well be the Devil.” Incidentally, “Man” was ranked twentieth on the American Film Institute’s list of the top fifty film villains of all time. And he wasn’t even exploiting an animal’s deformity, that we know of.
Of course, that Chihuahua’s owners probably aren’t, either. They probably love him, and care for him, and chose him, and, if they laugh a little now and then, it is with affection and in any case, he has no idea. “The dog seemed totally at ease,” my friend said, when I questioned him later. “Back pain notwithstanding.”