While the human divorce rate skyrockets, many people look to animals, especially our pets, as a better example of how to love and treat one another. Do animals really know how to have long-term meaningful relationships with one another? In this week’s episode, Taboo explores some weird weddings, including one that is specifically for dogs.
Marriage is for the Dogs
While not everyone will agree, Floyd and Ramon are certain that their imperial Shih Tzus, Karmen and Dante, are in love. They explain an initial indifference to one another that gradually grew into something more than puppy love. Now the two dogs dote on each other and seem to be smitten. So Floyd and Ramon decided that the two dogs should get married and threw them a lavish ceremony. Some would argue that a dog wedding is not just a waste of money, but taboo as well. Floyd and Ramon, who married during a brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in California, feel the canine nuptials are a wonderful example how anyone in love should be able to vow to cherish one another. Do animals really fall in love though and should they be expected to stay together until “death do they part”?
They Mate for Life, Don’t They?
One of the most common arguments people make in favor of fidelity is that so many birds mate for life. The image of two swans, necks entwined, has become the very image of long-term loyalty. Birds and many other animals preen one-another and engage in other pair bonding activities, but is this love or just temporary infatuation? Even scientists are not sure. “Mating for life” in the case of birds is just ornithological shorthand for species that stay together for more than one breeding season. Sometimes these birds stay together until one of the pair dies, but in the wild the death of a mate is a frequent occurrence and the bird does not wait around to mourn. Birds are not even strictly monogamous in their relationships. DNA analyses have revealed that many birds once thought to be faithful to their partners may actually have “cheated” on them by mating with others.
Even animals that have lived together for long periods of time may not be able to make their marriage last. The media was fascinated by the contentious pre-divorce behavior that spelled the end of perhaps the longest marriage in history. The Austrian Times reported in June that two giant tortoises at the Austrian Zoo that had lived together for 115 years had finally called it quits with no reconciliation in sight. After Bibi took a vicious chunk out of her partner Poldi’s shell with her strong horned beak, the zoo keepers realized that the love affair had ended. Nothing the keepers did seemed to convince the pair to resolve their differences. This left many asking, if two wise old tortoises can’t make a marriage work, who can?
So are Dante and Karmen in love enough to get married? It is hard to say. Perhaps dogs can find true love with another canine partner or perhaps a wedding ceremony for animals is just taboo. Tune in this week’s episode of Taboo: Weird Weddings August 5 at 10 et/pt and decide for yourself!