Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In The Grip Of Venus

Bisou is in heat, and I've been thinking about Racine's "Phedre."

In this 17th century version of the Greek myth, Phedre falls in love with her stepson Hippolyte. She can't help this. She is fated. She is the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and Pasiphae. Pasiphae was famous for falling in love with a white bull. She had the best sculptor around make a nice-looking cow out of wood. The cow, which was hollow inside, was covered with cow skin and, at the right moment, Pasiphae crawled in, totally fooled the bull, and eventually gave birth to Phedre's little stepbrother, the Minotaur.

Thus, poor choices in love are in Phedre's genes. She is madly--in the truest sense of the word--in love with Hippolyte, driven by an external malevolent force which she cannot control. In perhaps the most famous line in all French theater, she is described as "a prey in the grip of Venus" ("C'est Venus tout entiere a sa proie attachee").

Well, that's my little Bisou these days--a prey in the grip of Venus.

So far, however, and much to my surprise, the Goddess's grip has proven mild. Bisou, who has until now flung herself headlong into every single aspect of life--food, ball-chasing, Wolfie-bothering, agility--is taking this heat business rather philosophically. I had prepared myself for drama on a Racinian scale, ululations of desire, desperate flights in search of fulfillment. Would she make demands on Wolfie that he, neutered at 19 months, could not fulfill? Would she ask me to carve her a wooden dog?

The last bitch I saw in heat was our own Tinchen, back when we were in graduate school. Our heads in the library stacks, I'm ashamed to say we misread her completely, and she had gorgeous puppies for which we found good homes. But then we were failing magnificently at birth control ourselves....

In subsequent years I became a responsible pet owner, and had my dogs spayed and neutered at the earliest possible date. But now veterinary thinking has changed on what is best for a dog's health--hence our waiting until Wolfie reached full male splendor before neutering him, and letting Bisou go through a first heat (we've been advised to hold off a further two or three months to have her spayed).

With the full moon beginning to wane, I'm optimistic that Bisou won't go off the deep end. She's at the spotting/licking state right now, and I understand that the receptive/ovulation stage comes after that. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that no drastic behavioral changes will ensue. At the moment, she's playful with Wolfie, and he does enough sniffing to let me know he knows, but it's nowhere near a Greek, or even a French tragedy. May the Goddess* protect us....

* And I don't mean randy Venus, but chaste Diana--two versions, one Goddess.

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