Diefenbaker didn’t understand two-leg mating habits very well. He could not be blamed for this, however, because the circumstances of his life so far hadn’t given him much chance to watch them while they were copulating.
While young he had slept outdoors and from what little he could gather of two-legs they mostly copulated inside their dens. Later he had gone to live with a two-leg-pack-mate of his own and stayed with him inside his dead-tree-den but that had not helped in his understanding of the subject. This two-leg-pack-mate, who answered to the name ‘Fraser’, never seemed to go seeking after two-leg-bitches from what Diefenbaker could observe.
Then had come the really big change. Fraser brought him to live in Not-Enough-Snow-Place. Since first coming there, on the trail of his Two-Leg-Pack-Mate’s sire’s killer, he had had the opportunity to made friends with other own-kinds who were house-pets and heard from them some stories that, frankly, he found difficult to believe.
Meeting Maggie was a stroke of good luck for Diefenbaker, from the point of view of understanding two-legs’ mating behaviour (as well as other reasons, which don’t require exploring at this juncture). Maggie’s two-leg friend mated often, and Maggie was able to watch from very close up – close enough to hear and smell everything that went on.
From Maggie, Diefenbaker learned that the physiology of the act was the same in principle as any other species familiar to him, but there was a very definite difference in positioning. Diefenbaker didn’t believe Maggie’s description at first. It didn’t seem physically possible. But, upon reflecting on the matter, Diefenbaker supposed that it must be something to do with two-legs’ ungainly posture (tottering ridiculously on their hind legs - look how often they fall down).
There were many other things about which Diefenbaker was curious but one in particular stood out.
“The two-leg bitches, like your pack-mate, how does anybody tell when they’re in heat? They don’t seem to smell any different at any time of the year.”
“You’re not going to believe it when I tell you. You don’t want to believe me about their positions so you’re really not going to believe this.”
“Tell me anyway,” Diefenbaker insisted.
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. They’re always in heat. They mate any time of year, any time they feel like it. That’s why you’ve never felt any change in their smell.”
“In heat all the time? That doesn’t make sense. The males would go nuts. They’d want to be copulating all the time.”
“Exactly. They do want to be copulating all the time and it does drive them nuts. Your pack-mate and his friends – aren’t they nuts?”
It was an argument Diefenbaker couldn’t counter. Bizarre as it was, this might explain why Fraser did indeed seem to act crazy around two-leg-bitches, and so did most of his other two-leg friends. They’d never be able to have a normal conversation with one of their own bitches, such as he and Maggie were able to have now since she didn’t happen to be in heat at the moment. What torture that must be for them!
“I’m not saying I believe you, but just for argument’s sake, suppose what you say is true. Why aren’t they copulating all day and all night long? The bitches must give them some kind of special signal.”
“They do,” Maggie told him, wisely from her experience “But it is very faint and sometimes the males are in doubt. I really do feel sorry for them as a species. You have to wonder how they manage to procreate at all.”
There was no way around it. As much as Diefenbaker and Maggie were devoted to their two-leg-pack-mates, it was impossible sometimes to figure them out.
Maggie gave Diefenbaker some advice: “If your pack-mate ever has a bitch of his own, keep your nose and ears wide open. You might be able to pick up the signal. But don’t feel bad if you can’t. They have trouble with it themselves.”
Diefenbaker watched Fraser for many moon-changes, hoping that one day some mating would take place. So many bitches walked by Fraser every day and Fraser never approached any for mating. Diefenbaker was beginning to think that Maggie was totally wrong.
And then, one day, a two-leg bitch showed up in their den and Diefenbaker’s watchfulness was rewarded. The two-leg bitch and Fraser mated and mated, never going outside of the den for many days. After the first day, sadly, the bitch had persuaded Fraser to make Diefenbaker stay out of their view while they were mating. Nevertheless, Diefenbaker had, as Maggie had advised, kept careful track of all the different kinds of scents that came both from Fraser and from the bitch. Diefenbaker was interested to learn that Fraser gave off an unfamiliar odour just prior to mating. This was very interesting. Not only the females but the males also gave off signals. Diefenbaker made a mental note to discuss this with Maggie at the first opportunity to see if she was aware of this phenomenon.
He never got the chance. The two-leg-bitch hurt him and he had to stay in a very small place, in terrible pain, for a long time. When he got out, he ended up not in his own den at first but in a very much larger one with many more females in it than Diefenbaker had ever seen in one place.
It was a pleasant big den. The two-leg-bitches like him and he liked them. They fed him, and gave him water, and took him on regular walks. A few of them gave off the faint but tell-tale odour that Diefenbaker was now alerted to, but Fraser didn’t respond to them. Fraser smelled sad to Diefenbaker, but even so he knew that if he or any other own-kind were at all able to move without pain, no amount of sadness would prevent them from reacting to the blandishments of an own-kind female in heat. Here was Fraser ignoring these bitches, even though they gave off the invitation that Diefenbaker was now alerted to and could detect.
There came a time when both he and Fraser were over their respective hurts and came back to their own den. Fraser’s good friend, who answered to the name of ‘Ray’ spent a lot of time with them and the two never seemed to be apart very much, except when Ray went away at night. Ray had a den of his own – Diefenbaker had been there on a few occasions and found it a happy place full of noise and romping and tasty food. Diefenbaker readily understood why Ray would want to go back there rather than hang around Fraser’s den. Fraser smelled so unhappy these days it depressed Diefenbaker just to be around him.
In the past, before the hurting, Fraser had smelled of so many moods: sometimes playful, sometimes serious, sometimes worried, sometimes relaxed. No more. Since coming back from the big den, Fraser had only one scent – sadness.
One evening as it was getting dark, Fraser suggested to Ray to stay to eat dinner in Fraser’s den. Ray agreed and Fraser opened his box-with-cold-inside to take out some food. Ray sat watching Fraser and Diefenbaker lounged beside him. Suddenly Diefenbaker was startled by a smell he hadn’t felt in long time. He got up and sniffed closer to Fraser. Yes, definitely. It was Fraser’s pre-mating scent. Pleased as Diefenbaker was to finally see his pack-mate’s mood change, this didn’t make sense. There was no bitch anywhere around.
Then a second strange smell hit Diefenbaker’s nose. It was coming from Ray and it smelled very similar to the odour given off by Fraser. Two males giving off mating signals with no bitch in smelling range? Rather than drifting off to sleep, as he normally would have done after supper, Diefenbaker listened and sniffed all evening long for anything out of the ordinary. Except for the inexplicable smells coming from both of them, there was nothing unusual about Fraser or Ray, except that Fraser was no longer sad.
“I’m sure it was a mating smell. I can’t be wrong about it,” Diefenbaker poured out his confusion to Maggie the next day.
Maggie gave the matter some thought. “Two-legs can only smell things from very close up. He’d never be able to detect on a bitch outside your den. He had to be reacting to something right there.”
“We were only the three of us there: him, Ray and me,” Diefenbaker said.
“There’s a possibility. It’s a little strange but I’ve heard of it. Diefenbaker, all the things I’ve told you about two-leg copulation – you didn’t believe them at first but now you learned I was telling the truth.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I’m going to tell you something now that’s even stranger than anything yet. I know you’ll think I’m raving.”
“I promise I’ll believe you. Tell me.”
“Diefenbaker, listen carefully. Sometimes two-leg males mate with each other.”
Even though Diefenbaker had sworn not to doubt her word, he knew what Maggie said couldn’t be true. It went against all reason and Nature. He just stared at Maggie, then rubbed his face with his forepaw as though to wipe the absurd image from his mind.
“That makes no sense,” he said, finally.
“No, it doesn’t, but it is true.”
“You’ve heard and smelled this yourself?”
“No, but my pack-mate talks about it.”
“It makes no sense,” Diefenbaker repeated.
“That’s what I thought at first, but when I came to think about it – own-kind sometimes hump things just for fun. You do it yourself – all males do.”
“Sure, just for fun, but I wouldn’t confuse that with the real thing. This is different. He smelled like he was ready to mate and Ray smelled like . . .” Diefenbaker stopped short. He had proven the case himself. Both two-legs gave off the same smell and there was no one else around.
“No wonder he always feels sad. He’s sick in his mind,” Diefenbaker concluded sadly.
“You can help him,” Maggie said, “Get them to mate with each other. Then they’ll both be happy.”
“Ewww. That’s disgusting.”
“Not for them. Two legs do it all the time, according to my pack-mate.”
“How can you get them to do it?”
“No, Maggie. How do two males mate? I mean . . . you know . . . how?”
“I don’t know. I never heard my pack-mate get that specific. You listen and smell them while they’re doing it and you can tell me.”
Diefenbaker had doubts. He wanted Fraser to stop smelling depressed all the time but it was hard to even imagine what Maggie was describing.
With the patience of any good hunter, Diefenbaker waited and listened and noted the odours for several days before taking action. Once he was sure of his ground, he next had to wait for the right opportunity. It came one evening when Fraser was once again serving supper to Ray in their den and it looked like Ray was planning to stay well into darkness.
Diefenbaker lounged on the floor of the kitchen and listened to their conversation.
“Benny, you’re getting to be a decent cook.”
“Funny, I never used to think of cooking as a pass-time. Just as a necessity. I guess having an audience makes a difference. I like making things you enjoy.”
“Oh please, now you’re starting to sound like my mother.”
“My intentions aren’t exactly maternal, Ray.”
A sudden jolt of pre-mating smell slapped Diefenbaker so hard it nearly hurt his nose.
After a bit of quiet, Ray spoke again.
“I’ve got something for you, Benny.”
The air in the den was now heavy with scent of sexual desire. Diefenbaker’s own penis twitched, so overpowering was the odour, but he forced himself to focus on business.
Ray had been sitting at the table. Now he got up and walked over to Fraser, standing very close. “It’s something I think you’ve wanted for a long time. But you haven’t had the courage to say anything about it. I think you’re ashamed to let anybody know.”
“Ray . . .”
“This is going to be on my head, okay? I forced it on you. Just remember that.”
“Oh, Ray. That’s not necessary. I can take responsibility for my own choices.”
“I know. But if you have any regrets, well, at least you’ll be able to tell yourself it was my idea. Now, you sit down right here.”
Fraser dropped into a chair by the table and waited.
“Benny, I need you to sit right there while I go out to the car. I’ll be back in a second.”
The sex-smell that rolled off Fraser was so thick now that Diefenbaker gagged, and Fraser, misunderstanding the reason, shot him an annoyed look and said, “Well, of course, if you eat too quickly.”
Ray was back a moment later, struggling under two large cardboard boxes. Fraser’s scent changed, just a little, to exude puzzlement.
“I know you want this but you’re ashamed to admit it. So, my treat and my responsibility.” Ray dumped the boxes, with grunt of relief, onto the table. “Open this one first, Benny.”
Diefenbaker came over to observe. No particular smell came from the box so he had to wait for Fraser to actually open the box to see what was inside. Fraser withdrew a device that Diefenbaker knew as a “tee-vee”. It was one of those things that showed pictures and gave off sounds, but emitted no scents so it wasn’t something Diefenbaker paid much attention to when he saw one in other people’s dens.
“Brand new. Even a built-in VCR. And so’s you won’t have to pay for cable, I got you this.” Ray opened the second box himself and held its contents up for Fraser to see. Diefenbaker had noted things like this on the outside of buildings but never known what they were for. A disk with a small protrusion, like a penis, sticking out of the middle of it.”
“Satellite dish,” Ray announced proudly, which told Diefenbaker what the machine was called but, unfortunately, nothing more about its function. A dish was something from which to eat but that didn’t look like any eating bowl Diefenbaker had ever seen. Diefenbaker dismissed the whole issue and focused on what he could pick up from Fraser.
Fraser’s smells went all wonky: sadness, shock and sex all in such a jumble that it made Diefenbaker’s brain swim.
“I . . . I . . . this isn’t what I was expecting, Ray.”
“Hey, you need some distraction to take your mind off – stuff. I’m not leaving this apartment until all this is up and running, even if it takes all night.”
Finally, Diefenbaker heard something promising. Ray was planning to stay for a long time before going back to his own den. Tonight may be the night to push them together after all.
How could Fraser and Ray concentrate on their silly, odourless machines when the air was so thick with mating signals? Diefenbaker had to marvel at two-leg self-control. Maybe something other than their thumbs was giving them the edge to dominate not only own-kind but all the other species as well – perhaps this ability not to do what Nature urged on them was some kind of strength? They wanted so badly to mate and yet did nothing about it. There might be something for own-kind to learn from this, but he doubted any of his own species would be interested in hearing the message.
It was well into the night when Ray finally said, “Well, that’s got it. See, here’s the list of everything that’s on.” Ray waved a smaller machine, small enough to fit into his hand and both he and Fraser stood watching the tee-vee with interest.
Fraser took the small machine from Ray and waved it at the tee-vee himself a few times. The pictures on the tee-vee changed again and again.
“Welcome to the nineties, Fraser. I’ll turn you into a couch potato yet.”
With a final wave of the machine, Fraser caused the tee-vee to go dark, then set down the little machine and looked at Ray. “I hope not.”
“Everybody needs a little down-time, Benny. Even you.”
“Well, I better be on my way. I told Ma I was going to be late but she still worries.”
So, they weren’t going to come together on their own, as Diefenbaker had been hoping they would. He would have to interfere. As Diefenbaker was thinking this, Ray was putting on his extra skins in preparation to leave.
No putting it off. Diefenbaker got to his feet and stood by the entrance to the den, between Ray and the door.
At first Ray didn’t realise that Diefenbaker was trying to prevent him from leaving. He just ruffled the top of Diefenbaker’s head saying, “Good night, pal.”
Then Ray took a step towards the door but Diefenbaker did not step aside.
“Dief, let me through, will you?” To Fraser he said, “Something wrong with Dief.”
“Diefenbaker, please let Ray out,” Fraser said.
Diefenbaker stayed put. It was a crude way of making his point but since Ray didn’t understand own-kind speech the way Fraser did, it seemed the most expedient way of getting across the message: you’re not going anywhere.
‘Diefenbaker, Ray has to get home,” Fraser insisted.
With a few woofs, Diefenbaker told Fraser he didn’t want Ray to leave.
“But, why not?” Fraser asked.
Diefenbaker wasn’t sure how Fraser would react to the truth, so he didn’t answer. The most expedient thing would certainly be to explain to Fraser what he knew. But two-legs reacted strangely to talk of copulating. Whenever Diefenbaker tried to raise the subject with Fraser in the past, Fraser had refused to talk about it, explaining that humans (as they called themselves) didn’t take these matters as casually as canines (as they called own-kind) did. Diefenbaker’s objective was to make Fraser feel better, not worse, so he only repeated that Ray should not go out of the den at this time.
“Is he in danger?”
Diefenbaker told him no, it was not because of that.
“Yeah, well this is all very interesting but I’m more afraid of Ma than of you, so if you’ll excuse me.” With this, Ray tried to shove Diefenbaker aside.
Diefenbaker not only stood his ground, but lowered his tail and shoulders in a belligerent attitude.
“Hey, come on, fella. What gives?”
Diefenbaker really didn’t want to be rude but didn’t feel he had much choice. He fixed his eyes on Ray and snarled.
“Dief!” both two-legs cried out together.
Diefenbaker took a step towards Ray, curling his lips even further back to expose angry teeth. He growled and shook his head to make sure Ray got a good look at his bared fangs from all angles. Instinctively, Ray took a step back.
Diefenbaker took another step and then another, with Ray inching backwards each time. He drove Ray across the kitchen and towards the bedroom. From Maggie he had learned that two-legs often mate in the same place they sleep (what a disgusting notion!). Meanwhile Fraser was protesting loudly but Diefenbaker wasn’t interested. He kept pushing Ray until the two-leg was leaning right against Fraser’s bed. Then, carefully so as not to hurt Ray, Diefenbaker made a sharp snap with his jaws within an inch of Ray’s left ankle.
Ray, unharmed, screamed in alarm.
Diefenbaker then snapped Ray’s other ankle. As Diefenbaker expected, Ray got up onto the bed and pulled his feet under himself. Good, now he wasn’t going anywhere.
But all was not well. The sex smell was gone and replaced in both Fraser and Ray by a strong aura of fear. I’m scaring them, Diefenbaker realised. They’re losing interest in mating. That wasn’t good at all. Diefenbaker would have to be clearer in telling them what to do.
After a couple of parting snarls to tell Ray he shouldn’t move from the bed, the wolf turned to Fraser. His pack-mate flinched as Diefenbaker approached but to his credit he did not back away.
I’m not going to hurt him, and I’m not going to hurt you, Diefenbaker assured his friend.
Diefenbaker approached Fraser, stretched his neck upwards and pressed his snout against his pack-mate’s crotch. Fraser demonstrated his ultimate trust in his friend by not trying to move away. But he did protest “I don’t understand.”
Diefenbaker then turned back towards Ray, cowering on the bed. He crouched in preparation for a jump. Ray saw and understood the move. “No, stay back!” he cried.
“It’s okay, Ray. Diefenbaker says he won’t hurt you.”
“Oh yeah? Well, you may be willing to put your pecker at his mercy but I’m . . .”
Diefenbaker didn’t wait for the end of the comment but jumped up onto the bed. Ray by now was leaning against the wall at the head-end of Fraser’s bed. He flattened his body against the wall, not daring at this point to get off the bed.
Diefenbaker bared his teeth and reached his jaw over to Ray’s crotch. The wolf still didn’t know what the mechanics of two males copulating was supposed to be, but he figured the penises of either one or both had to be involved. Ray, terrified, didn’t dare move. Carefully the wolf caught up the fabric of Ray’s trousers between his teeth and gave a sharp yank. Cloth ripped. Fraser stared. Ray trembled in terror.
Is this clear enough? Diefenbaker asked his pack-mate, are you getting the message here?
Fraser must have understood something because his fear-smell faded.
“You can’t be suggesting that . . .” Fraser started to say and Diefenbaker interrupted to say that, yes, that was what he was suggesting.
Fraser swallowed hard. “That’s what this is about, then.”
The wolf assured him it was.
A very small, very cautious smile curled at Fraser’s lips. “But what about Ray? Does he want this too?”
Diefenbaker told him Ray’s smell was almost identical to his own. Yes, he wanted ‘this’ very badly indeed.
Fraser came over and sat down on the bed beside his frozen, wide-eyed friend. “You can relax, Ray. Dief won’t hurt you. He’s just trying to tell us something.” To Diefenbaker he said, “Dief, would you give us some time alone, please.”
Diefenbaker would rather have stayed in the room to witness the events first hand and report back to Maggie all the details. But, that objective was secondary to making his two-leg pack-mate feel good. He went out of the bedroom and Fraser came with him just long enough to shut the door behind. Diefenbaker settled on the floor by the door, ears and nose open, ready to learn whatever he could.