Latest Letter (January 25, 2023)
How're you? Recently, I have had a difficult time with my sexuality. I have found that I don't just find women attractive, but [I am attracted to] my parent's older dog, Ozzy. I grew up with this dog, and it's bothering me. I went home for the holidays and found that I was getting erect from looking at Ozzy. I do not know how to deal with this issue. Do I need a release? Or should I seek psychiatric help? This has overall been a difficult and confusing time for me. What do you think? Have you ever had a similar issue or had someone write in with something similar?
Tiennan (age 23)
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Thank you for your letter. This is an important issue to many people in the fandom, as you might guess. For one thing, furries are often suspected of being all zoophiles (attracted to animals), which is simply untrue. However, there are a few zoophiles in the fandom just as there are in the general population. Zoophilia is rare, but you might find it occurring more often in a fandom that is based on an interest in animalistic characters (this should be unsurprising).
A great deal has been changing in the mental health profession community in recent years regarding attitudes toward paraphilias (atypical sexual interests and behaviors). The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the official guide for diagnosing mental health problems, now distinguishes between "paraphilia" and "paraphilia disorders." This is important because it essentially says that just because you have a sexual interest that is not "normal" doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem.
When is a paraphilia such as zoophilia a problem, then? Well, as with addictions, a paraphilia becomes a problematic disorder when it has a negative impact on your job, school, or personal life. For example, going to a Vegas casino to gamble once in a while is not a problem; gambling away your life savings and ending up living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass is.
So, as long as your attraction to dogs is not affecting you or those around you (especially if you keep this attraction platonic), you don't technically have a disorder.
Why, then, do some people (you're not the only one) have this attraction in the first place, you might ask? Psychologists are still debating this, but there are a few hypotheses. One is that some people are attracted by novelty--in this case, how a dog's penis differs anatomically from a human penis. Another possible reason is the attraction to the forbidden. People can be stimulated by the idea of something being "naughty" because it is unconventional and frowned upon. A third reason might be that a person has difficulty forming close relationships with people and therefore turns toward, in this case, a dog for intimacy. Among animals, dogs are ideal candidates because they are so sociable, friendly, sweet, loyal, and unthreatening. Still another way one can develop paraphilia is by conditioning. For example, a person might develop a foot fetish if they had one or more sexual experiences in which erotic foot play was involved. Over time, they might become focused on feet, causing their arousal, because they associate feet with sex.
Any of the above might be a cause for your interest in dogs in some way. Since I am not a psychologist, it could, indeed, be a good step for you to speak to a professional about your concerns. They might be able to dig deeper and help you discover why you are having these feelings.
I hope this was helpful.
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