Duane had difficulty admitting it, but he wished his girlfriend would treat him like she did her dog. He watched Tina talk to Andy, nuzzling his little toy poodle face and cooing softly how wonderful he was, and he wished she spoke to him in that same loving way. Andy soaked up her attention and gave little in return. A dog’s life looked so easy and carefree to Duane, but he envied dogs because they were loved without even trying, loved for simply existing. Tina wasn’t even half as affectionate toward him.
Duane made all the effort and Tina was like Andy, soaking up all his love and attention without feeling any need to reciprocate. When they had sex, if he didn’t have an orgasm at the same time as she did, she made no move to notice. The first few times he let it pass. He didn’t feel he should have to ask for her to reciprocate, and no guy wants to sound like some whiny bitch by saying something like, “What about me?”
But when it became the norm, he realized that he was the dog, just not her dog. He was that dog banished to live in the garage next to the boxes for Goodwill.
Andy liked to hump Tina’s leg, and if she had a few drinks in her she’d coo at him how she wasn’t some slut who let just any dog on her leg. No, you had to be a real stud to mount her leg. One night when Andy wouldn’t leave her leg alone and she wouldn’t do anything about it, Duane realized he would never be able to compete with that dog, and when Andy tried to hump his leg, Tina said Andy must think he’s gay. Not that the dog was gay—no, he was a stud, the hottest leg humper in town—but that Duane, her boyfriend, was gay. He just shook his head in disbelief.
In the bedroom he started to worry about his moves. Did too much attention to her breasts make Tina think he was trying to nurse like he needed a mommy? What about squeezing her ass? How will she take that? There was nothing he could do without second guessing it. His spontaneity was gone.
Finally, what he’d been worrying about most of all happened. He couldn’t get it up. He tried but his penis wouldn’t cooperate, and if Tina found out, he wouldn’t hear the end of it. She’d tweet it and post it and he’d have to change his name to get away from it.
It was the dog that saved him. Andy ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed and wouldn’t leave. When Tina went to push him off the bed, he growled at her, something he had never done before. Sure, he had growled at other people, but never her. This upset her so much that any thoughts of sex were now miles away. For the first time Duane was thankful she had that dog.
With her relationship with Andy strained by this incident, she became very testy with him and entered a phase where he could do nothing right. She’d bathe him with scented shampoo and he still smelled too doggy. She trimmed his bangs and he looked too much like Prince Valiant. Then one evening he tried to mount her leg and she kicked him off with such force he rolled halfway across the living room carpet. Most would’ve stopped there and felt bad about what they had just done, but Tina doubled down and really laid into him, saying how dare he try to hump her leg.
Instead of treating her with his usual disdain and walking away, Andy began to whimper and fawn for attention, which angered her even more. He was a pathetic little dog she wished she’d never gotten. It was then that Duane saw his relationship with Tina clearly for the first time. He and Andy were both now in the garage.
That night while Tina slept, Duane decided to disappear from her life and gathered up the few things he kept at her house, a change of clothes, his shaving kit, and quietly let himself out. He stood on her stoop, feeling free like a dog taking itself for a walk, and was about to drop the key through the mail slot when he heard the scratching on the other side of the door.
He knew how that dog felt, living at the whim of an emotionally stingy person, so he slipped the key in the lock one last time and opened the door a crack. Andy darted out onto the stoop, and together, the two of them left.
As they walked down the sidewalk, Duane spotted Andy eying his nearest leg. “Don’t even think about it,” Duane said. “In the morning when Target opens, I’ll buy you a Teddy bear you can go at to your heart’s content.”