How Our Female Dog Helped My Family Break All Taboos About Periods!

Today, my kids are 14 and 8 years old and know a lot about menstruation. They are not repulsed by the sight of blood, and understand the importance of making her comfortable.

On our first trip as a newly married couple, I fell sick. I could hardly move around or eat. The husband did everything for me until I requested that he wash the soaked undergarments. “What? You are on your period!”

“Yes, so?”

“I can’t.” He said it bluntly. That was enough to ruin the romance.

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Today, the same man sits beside his youngest, talking to her as she lies on her bed, writhing in pain from the cramps. He even removes her ‘panties’ and soaks them in a tub.

To see him change over the years is a revelation

Now, I can’t blame him, right? He grew up in a typical environment where menstruation was a ‘hush hush’ affair. He had no inkling why his mother took to bed every month complaining of stomach aches. No one in the family gave her any medicine or took her to the doctor. The boy grew up unaware and tight-lipped until his path crossed with Khoi.

Khoi is our four-year-old rescue—a mixed breed and a female pup. We brought her home in 2020. Everyone had warned us not to bring her home, for she would be a mess during her ‘cycle’. But my 11-year-old boy held his ground. He had reminded me that, as a female, if I did not give the pup a chance, then who would? We brought home our bundle of joy. Well-wishers advised us to get her spayed* (surgery to remove her reproductive organs) immediately. But we didn’t.

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It’s been three years since Khoi has been with us. And it’s that time of the year again when red spots line the floor. Red stains on the bedding. On the sofa. Everywhere. The children patiently take turns wiping them away. Yes, ‘tis the time when Khoi bleeds. She experiences heat in October or November. Heat is when a female dog is fertile and can become pregnant. She bleeds from her vulva.

How everyone at home pitches in

We had never witnessed a dog in heat before.

The first cycle started when I was away for a walk. The children immediately called me up to say that there was blood. We checked her thoroughly for a wound and then concluded that it was nothing but her cycle. The daughter offered her panties and we cut a hole in it for the tail to stick out. For the first time, we saw how it is to bleed. Writhing in pain. Lethargic. Vomiting frequently. Refusing to eat and demanding more and more cuddles. We researched on the internet and spoke to doctors for more information, only to realise that not many people have much idea about a ‘dog on heat.’ My children, especially my son, deduced a checklist to attend to our menstruating dog!

The idea was to make her comfortable. Layers were added to her bedding so that, even if they were stained, they could be removed and washed. Her bedding was regularly washed and sprayed to avoid any stink. Wet wipes are used to clean the stains. The children are always hovering around to massage her tummy. They have ‘discovered’ that if a tummy massage is given, the restless dog immediately calms down and falls asleep. Homeopathic medicines are given to relieve her of the cramps. I have been instructed to cook whatever she likes and not force-feed her. The helpers have strict instructions not to disturb Khoi while she is resting.

Over the years, I have seen my children grow with every cycle

Today, they are 14 and 8 years old and know a lot about menstruation. While the boy’s introduction to ‘periods’ began after his sister’s birth, the younger one has learned a lot over the last three years. They are not repulsed by the sight of blood. Nor do they feel uncomfortable soaking a stained panty in warm water. The sight of blood dripping from the dog’s vulva doesn’t make them uncomfortable, for this is just a natural process.

‘Periods’ is not a restricted topic. We talk about my cycle. They know whether my dates are regular or irregular or how I am faring in comparison to the last month. It’s exciting to see them actively involved. It’s equally rewarding to raise a boy who advises his mother to take it easy during her periods and keeps talking to his sister about the biology behind it.

How others who interact with us responded to this

Khoi’s cycle lasts for almost 21 days every year. Over the years, our helpers have gotten habituated to it. My helper remarked, “I never knew dogs could get periods. It’s a shock to me but also a learning experience. I have become more empathetic towards female dogs.”

When we have guests, we have a standard protocol. We explain the concepts of ‘heat and cycle’ to them. It’s interesting to note their varied reactions. Watching a dog roam around in panties is a strange sight. Some laugh. Some ridicule us, while others sit back and listen to the whole story. Some have left our house in a huff, probably disgusted at the sight. We can’t blame them. If we can’t accept women menstruating, how can we accept a dog?

My daughter, who knows every detail about menstruation at the age of eight, shared the knowledge with her friends. Unfortunately, when the parents of her friends heard about it, they termed my child ‘paka’, a Bengali word, negatively used to label a child ‘too ripe for her age.’ Reports were also made to the concerned teacher that my daughter was spreading age-inappropriate information. The incident serves to show how backwards we are.

As parents, we need to prepare ourselves before we start preparing our children

We need to drill into our minds that this topic is not ‘taboo.’ If we, as parents, still consider menstruation taboo, then how can we expect people around us to act better? How can we create a society that is more sympathetic to our daughters? And remember, this is not just meant for our girls. It applies to our sons. As partners, they will play a huge role in supporting our daughters and defeating these restrictions on menstruation.

Let’s engage in a conversation. Let’s talk more about it. Openly and freely. And remember, it always begins at home.

Image source: by Aleksandr Potashev from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

46 Posts | 180,170 Views

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