Today, a friend texted me that he'd just learned his dog had a penis…in her mouth.
Let me explain.
Adam is a new dog owner, and I'd recently recommended that he buy a "bully stick" for Clover to chew on. Someone — not me! — then clued him into what a bully stick is. "She loves them!" he said to me. "But did you know each one is a little cow penis?" It is indeed. Yes, Adam, your dog loves dick. But who doesn't!
If there is one thing in this world that I have a lot of, it's bully sticks. Looking for bovine schlong? I'm your girl. At School For The Dogs, we have a fridge that contains nothing but bully sticks. Kate and I hand them out like they're samples, but they're not. We bought them to resell, but we suck at retail and the peace and pleasure caused by a dog with a cow penis in his mouth is worth more than the $1 profit we'd make if we dealt in a non dog-behavior currency. Bully sticks are all natural — they contain just one ingredient! — and the choking hazards are far less than with rawhide. They can keep a dog busy for a long while. I usually recommend that people give them to their dogs as often as once a day. A dog who is chewing on a bully stick is a happy dog–and is also a dog who is less likely to chew on your couch.
Bully sticks are brown and they look kind of like a cross between a ligament and a cigar. People ask me what they are all the time, and usually, I lie. I say, "They're some kind of bull tendon." Actually, this is not a complete lie. I've always known that they're made from bull penis, but I guessed that maybe a tendon is a kind of muscle? Which is what the penis is? Or maybe it's a tendon that attaches to the penis? I don't know about these things. And could a bull penis really have such little…girth? I suppose I just chose not to dwell on it. I mean, whatever it is, it's gross. But lots of things we eat are gross if you think too much about them. Anyway, I'm not the one eating the bull penis. The dogs are. And they don't seem to be at all effected by the "yuck" factor. They also like eating poop.
But, today, I decided to try to educate myself about what bully sticks actually are. The ones that Kate and I buy in bulk from BestBullySticks.com are usually only about eight-inches long. I imagine a cow penis would be bigger than that. However, I think they've been chopped up from something longer. I've seen bully sticks that are as tall as I am… and that doesn't seem right either. Maybe they are stretched when they're dried? A penis that is longer than the female cow seems like it would be evolutionarily a bad idea! Then again, I guess most calfs are the product of artificial insemination now, so perhaps the size thing doesn't matter so much. Are we breeding cows to have long dongs for our dogs' chewing pleasure?
To attempt to answer these questions, I did some online research about cow penises. What do they look like before they're chopped up into small pieces? Is the "bully stick" the actual penis or is it a tendon that attaches to the penis? Or is the penis a tendon? Should they have let me graduate high school without this knowledge?
What followed was some online research done while I was sitting on a long bus ride this morning; if the guy next to me was looking at my screen, he sure was in for a treat.
First of all, I looked up a diagram of the human male anatomy as a point of reference. After all, it is the kind of animal penis most of us know best. Above is an arrow to what I'd imagined possibly corresponded to what a bully stick might be.
But a human male penis is not exactly like a bull penis. Thank God! It is also not a dog penis or a ram penis. WikiVet offers this helpful breakdown:
To get a bit more of a visual idea of what this thing looks like when it is still attached to its owner, below is a screenshot from the Louisiana State University Vet School. Of course, according to the caption, the guy at left is not a good example. And I feel a little sad that the heifer has to be restrained… But let's try to stay on topic.
How long is the bull dong? I spent quite a while trying to find measurements. I couldn't find a good figure anywhere, but the LSU Vet School site did provide some idea:
An adequate length for a bull's penis is that it should come almost between the front legs during a full erection and extension. A bull with a too short penis will not be able to breed.
Holy moly! Well, this is indeed about the size of some of the biggest bully sticks I've seen.
In fact, they're so long that on Etsy, some people even turn them into canes.
Want a more intimate view? Here are some students at Sam Houston State University disecting one.
According to BestBullySticks.com, the bully sticks we buy are from South American cattle, and are hanged and cooked to dry them out. While I've tasted other kinds of dog comestibles, I've never tried a bully stick. But there are other people who are braver than I. On Serious Eats, blogger Chichi Wang experimented with various ways of cooking bull penis, which, when consumed by humans, is usually called "pizzle." She writes that, when stewed, she found pizzle to be "soft and sticky with a gummy texture…the chunks tasted curiously neutral-not even bland but simply lacking any flavor whatsoever."
In a later post about cooking with lamb testicles (these proved to be yummier), she explains that the dried pizzle we give to dogs is likely tastier than the stewed version eaten by people (mostly Asian people looking for a non-synthetic ersatz Viagra) because "it is nearly impossible [for us] to digest unless it's stewed for a long time, in which case the vascular tissue breaks down into a gluey, flaccid mess of a dish with virtually no flavor." Noted.
But, lo, there is someone who is able to make bully sticks into something palatable for beasts other than dogs. In the National Geographic video below, a Taiwanese chef is commended for his ability to cook bull penis to perfection. Skip ahead to the three minute mark for a choice bit of voiceover translation, spoken as this Chinese woman picks penis bits out of her soup.
"It's a little scary," she says. "It's just like eating a piece of beef, with tendons. That is why Chef Cho is so great. He was able to serve bull penises in such a way that you can't tell what part of the penis you're eating."
Who's ready for lunch?
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Image via Simone van den Berg/Shutterstock.