“Dogging” in Great Britain


There’s a chapter in my book about all the weird things that dogs  pick up and bring to you.  I tell the story of how, on a walk in a neighborhood woods,  my dog found a sex toy – a king-size vibrator – and didn’t want to give it up.  I describe my efforts to get this thing away from him.   I thought this was  pretty unusual.

In my experience, sex is not one of the major themes of dog walking. I’m not talking about dog sex or the intimate face-in-the-rear-end way that dogs have of greeting one another.  I mean sex between human beings.  If I were to make a list of all the things that dog walking has taught me – about the animal-human bond, about the beauty of the natural world, about the surprising joy that can be found in a daily chore – sex would be at the bottom of the list.

I have, on a few occasions, come upon a parked car in which two teenagers (I assumed they were teenagers) were making out, or whatever, but this was just an inference. And my response has always been to walk in the opposite direction.  I have always assumed that people who seek out these out-of-the-way “fringe places,” which I also find congenial for walking the dog, do so because they want privacy and this is the best they can do.

A few months ago, however, I came across an article in the New York Times that made me realize how naive I have been.  The story, “Puttenham Journal – Ancient Church, Welcoming Pub and ‘Public Sex …” is by Sarah Lyall and tells of pastime in Great Britain called “dogging.”

“Dogging” means having sex in a public so that others can watch.  For some reason, a lot of this has been going on in the village of Puttenham, about an hour’s drive from London.  Puttenham, the article says, has fewer than 2,500 residents and “is famous for its ancient church; its friendly pub, the Good Intent; and its proud inclusion in the Domesday Book — an 11th-century survey of English lands.”   Now, it is prominently featured on Internet lists of good places to go “dogging.”  So many people come to a particular woodsy field for this sport that the police have designated it a “public sex environment.”

One of the protagonists in the story, I was pleased to see, is a local dog walker, Ms. Jules Perkins.  On a recent walk, she told the reporters, she encountered “two blokes sitting side by side, watching a man and a woman having sex. Nearby, there were two men sunbathing together, wearing nothing but tight little white underpants.”

Later, Ms. Perkins found a pink vibrator in the bushes. “I gave it to the police,” she said. “They said, ‘What should we do with it?’ I said, ‘Put it in Lost Property.’ ”

Here, I admit to feeling slightly disillusioned. I could no longer claim that my experience of finding a vibrator in the woods was unique.  Perhaps it isn’t even unusual in that part of England.

This all came to mind because the United Kingdom edition of my book is out this week. It has a different cover and also uses British spellings (“manoeuvres” instead of “maneuvers”) and substitutes some British terms (“ mobile” instead of “cell phone.”)  However, it doesn’t include the term “dogging” in my speculation of how a vibrating dildo found its way into our the woods.

But if there’s another edition, it definitely should.

4 Responses to ““Dogging” in Great Britain”

  1. I found your blog title while looking through the Saturday Blog Hop list and of course yours interested me immediately because I am a professional dog walker/cat sitter, etc, who has come across some bizarre scenes while out walking dogs.

    This blog post and others brought to mind how interesting my life really is and I had nearly forgotten that fact until I started reading your posts. I started my blog because our clients (the humans, of course) so enjoyed hearing about our adventures and misadventures of pet sitting and now they can sit back and read all about my life at anytime of the day or night.

    Your post reminded me of a time when I was walking a basset hound through a public park during the summer and all was going as expected until I thought I saw a naked man walking towards his lawn chair. I was both intrigued and horrified so we continued walking towards him and discovered he was not naked but he was in fact wearing a sheer thong! So there he was in all his “glory” sunning himself. Sophie the basset hound’s response? She pooped a few yards away from him and then ran down the trail as fast as her short legs could take her!

    I am following your blog and I am your newest fan who will be buying your book also!

  2. Weird! The most exciting thing that ever happened to us on a walk was seeing a possum almost get run over by a car!

  3. jan says:

    I really feel that my dogs are letting me down by not finding interesting things on our walks. Mostly what they find are dead fish and seals and various roadkill to roll in.

  4. John – great articles about walking your dogs. This is a skill that’s not utilized enough. Take the dog out for a walk – that’s an order!

    Dropping by on the dog blog hop today and would love a guest post or comment love from your blog:


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