It was a chilly walk down the street to “The Bunker,” as it was called. So much bouncing around inside my head about this new kink I was about to venture into; puppy play. As I walked, the city was the same; cars honking and sirens blaring in the usual chorus of city sounds. Everyone in the city was up to their usual antics, but today, today . . . I was on my way to a mosh. The Facebook invitation had given the address and time of what was called a “puppy mosh,” and I still wasn’t sure what to think of it all. I mean, it was so overwhelming, and I didn’t have any of that gear I had always pictured on puppies: tail, mask, mitts, kneepads, and who knew what else was expected of me! Overwhelmed and excited and just a tad scared, I remember those being the biggest sensations in my stomach as I arrived at the big brick building and rang the buzzer. It was my first step into puppy play, in educating myself on what it means to be a puppy, but it certainly wouldn’t be my last. As I’ve already stated, this blog is simply one pup’s experience of what puppy play means and involves, and telling the tail of my adventures thus far. Like any typical journey there is a beginning, where the protagonist is just getting his bearings and only beginning to understand the potential within himself, then learning the history and the basics of what lies ahead. So rather than bore you with my personal history again, lets discuss where puppy play has come from, some of the basic pup archetypes that exist, and go from there!
A Brief Hirstory in Pet Play
So we’ve already established what puppy play is, a typical situation involves a top/dom handler and a bottom/sub pup, but how did this dynamic begin? Puppy play itself actually sprang from a larger category of animal roleplay, or pet play, which includes pup play, pony play, kitten play, pig play and whatever animal identity the players choose to represent themselves.
While much of this activity has been nailed down to specifics today, pet play didn’t start out so well-defined and, in fact, it’s been around much longer than many realize. Some say that the notion of pet play came from the myths and legends we’ve all heard while growing up — with heroes and villains who told us stories of might and magic in order to teach lessons, usually with some moral encoded within. We can even draw parallels to comics in contemporary life from the pantheon of superheroes: Catwoman, Wildcat, Batman, and one of my favorites, Wolverine, just to name a few of comic’s iconic characters who take on animal characteristics.
Others would say that culturally, therianthropy was the first form of pet play and a common ritual part in many tribes, in which members of the tribe would take the role physically and often spiritually of an animal revered orhunted. Therianthropy is the metamorphosis of humans into animals via shape-shifting. Other terms you may have heard of that fall under this include: lycanthropy (werewolves), cyanthropy (weredogs), and ailuranthropy (werecats). In this way, the construct of pet play was seen by the surrounding society as empowering and mystical.
How does this fit into BDSM community?
So knowing all this, how has pet play been incorporated into today’s BDSM world? Even in modern pet play scenes, some continue to regard it as a type of therianthropy, where an “inner pet” is a spirit animal of sorts, a totem, in which the participant seeks to become spiritually closer to his or her pet nature by acting the part and visualizing yourself at one with whatever totem you choose. Some people find this use of pet play and totems similar to how furries in today’s society use “fursonas” (a furry persona) to portray themselves — but that is another blog post entirely.
For some, pet play can also revolve around power play, degradation, humiliation and any sort of headspace and scenario acceptable to those involved. For others still, this type of play can exist in any space between a 24/7 living house pet, or just the occasional play for a few hours meant to help an individual unwind and forget the shackles and worries of everyday life. Pet play is up to each consenting adult as to how it is used and for what duration and all parties have a say as to how it is performed and to what length.
But what about puppies!?
Puppies, as we’ve discussed, have come from the play in which a person takes on the behaviors of a canine, with a handler or owner caring for that pup. But what sets puppy play apart from other pets lies in the different classifications of puppies that exist. One classification of a puppy exists within how puppies are organized or identified on different levels: The Alpha Pup is always top dog, and under them romp the Beta pups, and lower on the scale there are even Omega pups, too. This type of hierarchy is something often discovered during play scenes — who can top who — or is sometimes determined by a puppy owning another puppy via a collar, or a chain around his neck. In this collaring example, a Handler could collar an Alpha pup, and the Handler or Alpha could then collar a Beta pup and so on. Within the BDSM community, a collared puppy is owned, accounted for and has a handler or master who should always be asked for permission before approaching their pup.
Other classifications of pups help to describe what they are into, and for what periods of time. Dogs are one such subset, which tells us that they are seen as a dog, treated as a pet and that they behave as any real four-legged dog would. They exist to service a master the same as any pet, and they are more comfortable on all fours; the main difference between a dog and a puppy is his goal. Where a dog is on all fours and looks to physically and mentally portray a canine, a puppy looks to play, be it sexually or not, as a pup with the understanding that they are human at times standing up and doing things for themselves when need be. Then there are dogboys (or pupboys) who act as a human pup at times and a boy to their Daddy at others. There are also slavepups, who are sometimes a Handler’s pup, other times their Master’s slave and sometimes even a mixture of the two. The constellation is a big one, and growing all the time to incorporate leather pups and rubber pups, which are pups with gear fetishes of one kind or another, and pigpups or pigdogs who have a certain fondness for filth, piss, scat, mud, pain, etc. Puppies can even be described by their profession, as in Devil Dogs, a term used to describe puppies who are or were once members of the United States Marine Corps.
So how does knowing all this help you become a better puppy? For starters, knowing what you are and where you came from makes for clearer negotiating as a knowledgeable puppy. Understanding what is expected, and what classification of pup you are will only help you and a potential handler connect on a deeper level. And finally, knowing you have rights and a say in what you want is crucial. Some handlers will say there is only one way to train a pup, when in fact, there are many ways in which puppy play has been and can be interpreted. Does that make any one method wrong? Absolutely not! I am simply stating that what works for one puppy and gets his tail wagging will not necessarily be what another puppy has in mind.
When I first stepped foot into that bunker so long ago, I knew nothing of any of this history or even the most basic classifications of pets or pups. This knowledge has been something I have had to pursue through reading books, or scouring the internet, because puppy play is something I wanted to pursue. Its an activity I love and enjoy, and hope to share with all those who read this blog. I offer this information not only to those considering making that first step into the puppy play scene, but as an invitation to anyone interested in puppy play to educate yourself even further. Puppy play is about being yourself in a different state, a state where you are comfortable, able to relax, be silly or spiritually close to your pup self. But puppy play is also about educating yourself: Learning, being safe, and finding it out what it feels like to truly let go and romp!