Behold! An instant classic letter from deep in the Savage Love archives. This one is from March, 2018. —Eds. Note
This has been weighing on my conscience for years and I hope you can help me resolve it. When I was a little kid, I was playing with my little puppy dog and somehow the dog ended up sniffing my crotch and I let him lick me there. It was an amazing experience for a 5-year-old—until Mom walked in and smacked the shit out of me for it. That was the end of it until I was bout 11 years old and then, bam, new puppy, same experience, except this time I was more careful about where and when the puppy and I played this little game. So many amazing orgasms! This went on for a while and then I moved on to other interests. Years later, as a very horny and very frustrated 20-something, I again found myself with a cute little pet who was only too happy to lick me. I indulged myself a time or two but felt so horribly ashamed that I actually gave the dog away and never ever indulged again. It bothered me so much that I talked to a therapist about it. I guess I felt I needed to confess to someone. Luckily my therapist was a very gentle gay man and he was not shocked, he was very accepting, and he assured me that I was not a pervert and that I would still go to heaven when I died. He even made a little joke about me and the little poodle at the pearly gates. No shit! He was a good guy.
But I digress. Cut to the present. I am 68 years old, and I still feel horribly ashamed of my past forays into "bestiality." Honestly, sometimes when I recall the experience, I feel like a monster, like I am some sort of subhuman. And I also feel a bit aroused. Those were some powerful orgasms for sure. But then I feel rotten about it, like an evil person and I think that if people "knew" no one would ever speak to me again.
I know all this self-hatred and shame is not good for my mental health and I really want to find some sort of peace about it but honestly do not feel I could sit across from someone and talk about it face to face, that's how ashamed I feel. I hope you can help me.
Dan, how common is this sort of behavior? And how do I get over feeling so horrible about it?
Problematic Uncensored Puppy Play Is Eroding Sanity
Zoophilia is more common than most people think, PUPPIES, but we don't have solid numbers.
First, let's quickly define our terms: zoophilia is a sexual/romantic interest in animals, PUPPIES, whereas bestiality is the legal term for the sometimes criminal, sometimes not offense of sexually engaging with non-human animals. Not all people who engage in acts of bestiality are zoophiles, not all zoophiles engage in acts of bestiality. Some non-zoophiles mess around with animals because they lack a human option; some zoophiles mess around with humans because they don't wanna violate an animal and/or risk going to prison.
Alfred Kinsey—whose renowned sex research institute is currently being dismantled—wrote in the 1940s that roughly 8 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women engaged in some type of sex act with a non-human animal. Those numbers are disputed and this isn't a frequently researched subject, PUPPIES, precisely because it's so taboo. So I can't tell you how common acts of bestiality are. But if Kinsey's numbers or the results of later studies come anywhere close then millions of your fellow Americans have had sex with animals. A few have even stooped so low as to have sex with Donald Trump.
So you're not alone, PUPPIES. That doesn't make having sex with animals okay or advisable—there seems to be a link between men having sex with farm animals and penile cancer—but you're not the only woman or girl out there who has allowed a pet to lick her genitals.
It isn't just the frequency of zoophilia/bestiality that's in dispute; America's laws are likewise all over the place. You can look at zoo porn in Washington State but you can't sell it—bestiality was also legal in the Washington until, you know, Mr. Hands. If you rape a dog in California you're on the sex offender registry, but you can fuck your cat in Kentucky. In Idaho and Michigan, though, sex with animals will get you life in prison.
Most of the laws were introduced between 1999 and 2012, a time when many states still had sodomy laws on the books—so, yeah, rather un-hilariously it would seem that consensual man-on-man sex was illegal for a lot longer than the man-on-dog variety that Rick Santorum is still sitting up nights fantasizing about.
You have my permission to stop feeling bad about what you did way back when. There are a lot worse things you could've done over the course of your life, PUPPIES, to other human beings or to those dogs or other animals. (I'm pretty sure worse was done to the lamb I had for lunch.) You didn't torture your pets and, given your descriptions of what went down, it's highly unlikely you traumatized them. Your first interaction was accidental and innocent (and swiftly punished), PUPPIES, and you made the mistake of not so innocently and not so accidentally exploiting two other dogs later in your young/young-ish life. But all those incidents took place decades ago. It's well and good to recall a bad action with regret and sometimes feelings of shame are necessary useful, PUPPIES, if those feelings prompt us to be more conscientious about the choices we make in the future.
But there's no point in torturing yourself endlessly about those dogs decades after the incidents—and decades after those dogs went dog heaven, PUPPIES, particularly since no one, human or non-human, was likely harmed. Want to stop feeling so horrible about it? Change your will and leave a nice chunk of your estate to a charity that works to rehabilitate and re-home abused, exploited, or neglected animals. Instead of picking at scabs and reopening wounds, take action. Make the world a better and safer place for the dogs in it now, PUPPIES, and then you can tell yourself that more good flowed out of these incidents than bad.
Guilt tripping yourself is a waste of time. Instead, do some actual, useful penance, PUPPIES, and then make up your mind to redirect all of the energy you're currently devoting to feeling terrible into finally forgiving yourself.
Reminding yourself that the harm done here was mostly to you might help—again, it's highly unlikely those dogs were harmed. You didn't penetrate them, you didn't tear at their insides, you didn't leave them in state where they couldn't be trusted around other humans or be placed with other families. In addition to lacking opposable thumbs, those dogs lacked the moral capacity to sense the wrongness of what they were doing—you were the only one left with psychological scars, you were your chief victim, you have the right to forgive yourself.
You had an early, formative experience with a pet, it created a powerful and pleasurable association, PUPPIES, one it took you a decade and change to learn to resist. But you've resisted it for four decades now. So let it go—finally and forever. You're not the Harvey Weinstein of the dog world. You're not even the Al Franken of the dog world. The guilt, the feelings of shame—let them go. Let yourself off the hook, crawl down off that cross, stop flagellating yourself.
And please tell my mom I said hi when you see her in heaven.