The Secret Life of Pets premiered this past weekend as a box office hit generating $145 million worldwide. And of that group, a good half were likely gay. You see, we LGBTs are major pet owners–some 70 percent of us have them in our homes. We are, however, not your typical pet owners. Just ask Andrew DePrisco, author of Woof! A Gay Man’s Guide to Dogs (Bow Tie Press, amazon.com, $16.95).
This is the book that Joan Rivers called “my dog bible.” Woof! is the quintessential queer guide for dog lovers, offering a hilarious take on gay dog ownership unlike any other book out there! Author Andrew De Prisco and illustrator Jason O’Malley have created a LGBTQ classic that defines the 28 “breeds” of gay men and recommends which breeds are best for each.
From Drag Queen and All-American Boy to Twink, Leatherman, and Log Cabin Queer, every gay man will find advice and hilarity on every page of this award-winning gift book. (For gay men who are not sure of their breed, there is a temperament sorter to help determine their homo DNA.)
In addition to being a breed-selection guide for the dog-loving Q-set, Woof! provides no-nonsense information about how to purchase a dog from a breeder, bringing the puppy home, training, caring, and feeding for the dog. It also offers tongue-in-cheek pointers along the lines of choosing the best gay name for the puppy, shopping for extravagant accessories, throwing a gay puppy shower (for the gifts!), hiring the right staff to take care of the puppy, and using the well-cared-for dog as a man magnet.
DePrisco, who has been actively involved in the dog (and gay world) for over two decades, has tapped all his doggy resources to bring readers the most fabulous advice from some of the nation’s Top Dog Men, including breeders of Westminster Best in Show winners, world-revered judges, and international canine experts. The chapter “Studs and Bitches: The Secret Sex Lives of Dogs” addresses hot topics such as homosexual dogs, promiscuity in the dog world, and getting unleashed and hooking up at dog parks.
In the book’s final chapter, “The Rainbow Tour: Stepping Out in Gay Society,” the author throws a virtual pride parade of doggy activities, from the über-queer world of dog shows to vacations, gay resorts, and camping (with actual tents!). The true message of the book—beyond the campy humor, wildly funny illustrations, and off-color remarks—rings out from every page: Woof! is for everyone who wants to be the most responsible and devoted dog owners on the planet.
Here are some of thoughts, directly from the author’s mind.
“Dogs welcome any chance to be outdoors with a group of half-dressed homosexuals, whether it’s for a gay pride parade, a Lady Gaga concert, or a Log Cabin convention in the Ozarks,” says the charming author, who counts Joan Rivers and Carson Kressley among his book’s many fans.
As it turns out, there are a few key factors making dogs grateful for its gay owners. Following are just three:
1) The gay ‘family’ dog usually doesn’t have to play second fiddle to two-legged children.
2) Dogs are, by nature, greedy. They don’t like to share their meals, their toys, or their owners (men). Gay men are essentially just as greedy, though we will share our toys with men if they buy us a meal first.
3) Dogs love to be the spoiled ‘kids’ of a gay couple — two incomes and all the toys, clothes and nylon bones that money can buy.
What’s the biggest difference between gay dog lovers and straight ones? “Regardless of sexual orientation, any sensible, responsible person can make a great dog owner,” DePrisco is quick to point out. “There are wonderful gay and straight dog owners out there. When a sensible, responsible gay man commits to a dog, the dog becomes his family, his kid, and a truly important part of his world.”
When breeders, rescuers, or shelter-dog adoption counselors see a potential dog owner/adopter who is gay, they tend to jump for joy, figuring that the dog will enjoy a great, pampered life. Is there truth in this stereotype? “Truth exists in all stereotypes, even the positive ones like this one,” DePrisco says. “Yes, gay men tend to spoil their dogs, treating them like true family and giving them high priority. For lots of gay men, dogs exist as substitutes for lovers, children, close family, and maybe even good friends. Unlike most of our lovers, dogs truly enjoy being used and don’t panic when they decide that you’re devoting too much time to them. Dogs believe in commitment and are defined by their loyalty. Secretly, most gay men want to be like dogs, even when they’re standing.”
Acceptance, tolerance, unconditional love, these are things dogs give everybody, but gay people haven’t always been the beneficiaries of such gifts from their fellow humans. Are gays especially appreciative of that canine love — more, perhaps, than someone who’s never experienced intolerance or prejudice? Gay men have a lot to learn from dog love. Dogs are not judgmental — they will sleep with you any night you come home, even if they smell a raunchy Poodle on your breath. Dogs accept you for who you are. They don’t care whether you sleep with men, women, or stray cats. In fact, they’d prefer you share your bone with everyone as long as they’re not left out in the cold.
Many gay men feel a disconnect with their own families. Dogs live to connect, and the unconditional love a dog offers when he raises a paw or rubs his nose in his new owner’s crotch may be the first true moment of family a gay man experiences. A dog can really make a person feel like he’s come home, especially if he’s bearing a bag of groceries or a smelly pepperoni pizza.
“Dogs love to be used, as companions, playmates, bedmates, pets, and accessories! As long as they are loved and properly cared for, they will bloom into wonderful, happy dogs. Unlike gay men, dogs are fairly indiscriminate about the details of their lifestyle. They’d just as happily dwell in a $90 million penthouse on the Upper East Side as they would in a double-wide in Dollywood.” DePrisco says.
One of the wonderful takeaways of Woof! is the idea that commitment doesn’t have to hurt — anybody. Is a gay man quicker to give his whole heart to a dog? “I don’t see gayness having much to do with how open you are to giving of your heart or yourself,” the author says. “I know plenty of gay men who wouldn’t expend the energy to water a Christmas cactus, much less care for a needy, four-legged animal. But I think it’s fair to say that most gay dog owners are equally, if not more, as devoted to their canine companions as our straight counterparts.
All of which brings us back to why the movie The Secret Life of Pets is so successful? Just maybe it’s because we LGBTs are unafraid of exaggeration, are moved by strong emotion and passion, and tend to go a wee bit over the top. And, of course, gay men who truly live for their dogs. We put them right up on the top of the list–above our partners, parents, and (yes, even) personal trainers. One might wonder if the things that happen in the movie, actually happen to us when we are away from our pets, and if a scene or two was actually inspired by this book. Either way, the movie is a must see and the book is a hilarious must read and the illustrations are works of art.
Illustrations from Woof! by Jason O’Malley