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Walking into Bhagsu, the suburb of Dharamsala where I was staying, I saw a sight. The three members of the local dog mafia – big, black bastards who had already terrorised the poor mutt living in our house on a number of occasions – were standing in formation, barking wildly at a cow. Two of them were standing back-to-back – though butt-to-butt is probably a better terminology for quadrupeds – and the third was baring his teeth from behind this barrier, leaping at the cow whenever it lowered its horns to charge.
I stayed to watch, silently supporting the cow; after surviving Asia, I can't help thinking that a mass slaughter of dogs would be a sensible move. It was then I noticed that the dog's formation wasn't so much tactical as coital; the two dogs standing butt to butt were welded together at the base of the tail.
When dogs mate, the female grips the male's member with her vaginal muscles, otherwise he'd have no hope of finishing the act1. This is a common procedure in animal mating rituals, and is all fine and dandy as long as you've got a nice undisturbed love nest in which to complete the process; if you're interrupted, however, it's a pain in the arse. These two dogs had obviously been going at it hammer and tongs in the middle of the road when the cow had decided it wanted to wander past them, and in a mouth-foaming display of territorial possession the dogs had reacted, the male leaping off his mate only to find that he was still inextricably attached.
The result was the canine equivalent of Dr Dolittle's Push-Me-Pull-Me. What made it even more bizarre was that the third dog, another male, was obviously quite turned on by his friends' convoluted constriction, and kept trying to mount the female with a predictable lack of success. Meanwhile the cow kept attacking, the dogs kept freaking out and scaring it away, and the poor lovers kept yelping louder and louder as their bizarre love triangle stretched parts that simply don't stretch that far.
Finally the frustrated third dog decided he'd had enough of his friend blocking the tunnel of love and went for him with bared teeth and furious growls. This did the trick; scared shitless, the female managed to let go her fatal grip and limped off into the bushes to lick her injuries, leaving the bruised male to roll around on the ground, groaning the groan that any member of the male sex who has had his nether regions subjected to unwanted strain knows only too well. The voyeur, however, was having none of this, and decided to pursue the argument with his sexual competitor, leaping onto the poor bastard and ripping at him with bared fangs while the released lover teetered between self-pity and self-defence.
Quietly watching from nearby, the cow soon spotted that the dogs were scattered and no longer united, so it attacked. Neatly scooping up the fighting males on its horns to the sound of scared yelps and extreme confusion, it turned on the bitch and routed the canine camp. The dogs, realising their position was helpless, ran for it, and obviously determined to ram home its dominance the cow chased after them, demonstrating once and for all that the image of the cow as a fat, lazy cud-chewer is hopelessly inaccurate. Momentum managed to carry it past the dogs at one point, scaring the hell out of the already badly frightened mutts, and before you knew it the whole melee had disappeared round the corner and Bhagsu was a peaceful little hamlet once more.
Except for the muted sniggering of the local dog population, that is.
1 When dogs feel in the mood, they first go at it 'doggy-style', and once the male has ejaculated, he lifts his leg up and slides around until he is butt-to-butt with the bitch (this position is known as a 'tie'). The happy couple stay in this position for 10 to 20 minutes, during which time the bitch's constrictor vestibuli muscles contract behind the bulbus glandis of the male's penis, preventing withdrawal. Clearly, this is no time to pick a fight with a cow.