My family had relatives scattered far and wide. We typically drove to some distant town for Thanksgiving.
One year (I was 8) we were on a narrow road out in the boonies when we encountered two dogs in the ditch. One of the dogs had mounted the other one and was busy doing what dogs do. I had never seen such a thing and rose up in my seat to stare at them as we passed.
Totally innocent, I yelled out, "Look at those dogs!"
My grandmother was up front with my parents. My favorite aunt was in the back seat with me. If I'd had the slightest inkling of what I was talking about, I would certainly have kept my mouth shut.
My mother said, "Hush, Marty."
"Why? What were they doing?"
There was total silence in the car. Finally my father came up with an answer: "Those dogs were getting married to each other."
"Getting married to each other!"
Having been to a few weddings, I tried to picture dogs prancing down the aisle and barking the vows. But that didn't explain the scene in the ditch, one dog gripping another one from behind, thrusting his hindquarters back and forth.
"They're making puppies," my aunt said quietly.
That was the end of the conversation, but I thought about those dogs the rest of the way. Finally we got to our destination, a house full of relatives all greeting each other and talking at once.
"Guess what!" I yelled above the general confusion. "We saw two dogs getting married! They were making puppies!"
Everybody stopped talking. My mother snatched me by the arm and dragged me to another room where she gave my rear end a major swat.
"We don't talk about that," she warned me.
"Why?" I sobbed, but she didn't answer.
Two of my older cousins quizzed me about what I'd seen, but I was full of caution by then and wouldn't answer their questions.
Occasionally through the years I have seen other animals getting with it, and I always remember my dad's effort to explain to an eight-year-old: "They're getting married."