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A handlers point of view

The topic of today’s post is one near and dear to my heart: Bonds. Only this time, they’re not the ropey ones you might expect that often begin with lube and end with a splat or two in several directions. No, this time, the bond is an emotional one, and it’s the one I share with my handler, Kevin.

Many pups seek a handler not really knowing who they are as a group, or even knowing many of them as individuals. I can tell you that from my experience, they’re just as diverse as puppies, and when the right handler meets the right pup, their dynamic together can be as powerful as any I’ve ever seen. Now, not all puppies and handlers get into our frisky little fetish the same way, and my handler and I are a great example of that. So, let me just say how glad I am that my Daddy and handler, Kevin, has agreed to contribute to the blog and share his own perspective.

AMP:

First off, let me ask you about how you got into puppy play…

KEVIN:

Well, as you know, we came at it from very different perspectives originally. My first experience of puppy play was attending a puppy night just by accident in Amsterdam while on vacation. It was lots of heavy industrial music interrupted by “How Much is That Doggie In the Window?” Guys in tails and hoods and not much else, lifting their legs on each other and doing dog tricks in competition. I just thought it was otherworldly. My husband was instantly turned off and remains so to this day.
But about a year later, I was in a bar here in town and this cute guy comes up to me and says, “Woof.” Since that’s a common expression in the bear community, I thought nothing of it, and I said, “Hi.” Instead of responding, he put his head between my pecs and nuzzled me, looking up into my eyes. “Woof,” he said again. And then he just pulled away and wandered off into the crowd. That was when I really got intrigued as to what puppy play was. Before, I thought like a lot of people do, that it was a sort of surrogate beastiality, where guys were fucking guys pretending to be animals because it was too gross or illegal to actually do it.

AMP:

And then you found me.

KEVIN:

We found each other, that’s true. I did some reading and was very attracted to the idea of nurturing and mentoring, and puppy play seemed to offer that. But you found me through being part of the kink community — and a certain number of the people in that world do puppy play simply for fun and as a sexual fantasy and release, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I came at puppy play to be able to express love and be a caretaking mentor. As you’ve often heard me joke, “Some guys say their cocks are hardwired to their nipples; mine is hardwired to my heart.”

AMP:

And that’s led to some bumps in the road for us.

KEVIN:

True. But that’s also one of the reasons we’re still together almost a year later. I know that for some arrangements, a pair will get together and set up all their rules of engagement before they ever begin and try not to deviate from those protocols. But I was more about finding the right pup for me, and then having our bond evolve to follow the trajectory of our growth.

AMP:

Speaking of which, how do you think a pair keeps their bond solid and moving in the right direction?

KEVIN:

Well, for me, I like having the constant things, those reminders of who you are to each other. And they’re like little creature comfort things. We like to nuzzle and watch “Sherlock” or “Walking Dead,” as well as suit up for the local monthly Fetish Night at the bar or do those things that puppies and handlers will do when the lights are low (smiling). But, we’d never been to an actual cinema together until recently because for some strange reason, they insist you wear clothes. Turns out and we both had a blast going to see “Frozen” — not just because it was a great movie, but because it was something new to share. So I like having a combination of the dependable things we do regularly and each of us contributing suggestions of new adventures to come. For example, we just attended a competition, where we got to meet other pups and their handlers and watch how their dynamics are both similar and different from our own. From some, we got ideas of things we’d like to try in and out of the bedroom, and from others, we saw just how much drama there is when the rules are too rigid, too vague, or just too poorly communicated.

And with that, there are so many more questions to ask, and rest assured each will be answered. Next week we will continue to ask hard-hitting questions that reflect on what handler do and how they handle situations with pups. Got a question only a handler can answer? Well leave a comment below and we will have Kevin back next week to answer any inquiries. As always, be safe and keep wagging!

AROUUUUUUU!!

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How to find a handler…

As I fly home from Tampa, Florida, I’m given a few hours just to reflect. For those of you who might not know, I had the honor and opportunity to compete in a little competition called International Puppy 2014 . . . No Biggie.  What made the trip so exciting and wonderful were the many different types of puppies we met, the different kinds of handler and pup dynamics, and just seeing how these types of puppies conduct themselves in large social settings. We met rubber pups, leather pups, boy pups, slave pups, alphas, betas, strays, and even puppies who didn’t want or need a handler. Even better, I was able to take this trip with my handler by my side, giving me constant support as I competed. My handler was, in all respects, there for me: helping me practice my speech, which you can view here, assisting my costume changes, and ensuring I was hydrated during photo shoots while emotionally and physically holding my hand and encouraging me 110%. As a puppy, having that sort of bonding time with your handler is what makes puppy play what it should be: Fun! I have a new respect for not only my handler for all he does, but handlers in general for putting up with our butt plugs, barking and constant need of nuzzles and attention. Even at competitions like International Puppy where the focus is mostly on the pup, we have to give credit to the handler in large part. It just wouldn’t run as smoothly without them helping behind the scenes, whether it’s grabbing entire costume changes at the last minute or providing first aid for obstacle course injuries — to name just a few of my own experiences. Being a handler is by no means a small responsibility, but I want to take this opportunity to thank mine from the bottom of my heart for being my handler and making my pup self the luckiest puppy ever!

Making the connection…

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With that said, let’s get into the real meat of this topic: essentially it’s how and where puppies and handlers find one another. I’ve asked this question before of a number of people and have gotten a wide variety of replies. Often, the first response you hear is “online.” With social networking accounting for large percentages of online relationships, and puppies still being a very spread thin in many local communities, the internet has exploded with pups (which is ironic considering paws don’t actually make for easy typing). Every day I check my Pup Amp Facebook page only to discover a new friend request from a pup or two, usually accompanied with nuzzles and licks on my wall. As far as social networking goes, I think it’s done a wonderful thing for puppies and handlers: it has a given a low entry level for being a pup publically, allowed for making new pup friends, and finding potential handlers, whether they’re local or virtual. In fact, more than half the people I met in person at International Puppy this last weekend I had already interacted with at least once in an online chat — and many of them were handlers looking for pups.

In the very same way that social networking allows for “easy access” when searching for a pup/handler, another popular answer to “how did you meet your handler/pup” is “through online dating apps.” With apps like Recon, Scruff and Growlr, we see a whole community of handler/pup candidates at the very tips of our puppy paws who are virtually available 24/7. Ironically enough, Scruff is where I found my handler, Kevin, as well. I recommend dating apps for finding new people in your area, but with an additional word of warning about catfish as well (you can read that post here)  Never assume anything about someone you’ve only met online. Always be cautious and aware that you, as a pup or a handler, have rights and can make choices when looking for your pup play counterpart.

Last, but far from least remains another fairly typical answer to finding a handler is to simply not to look in the first place! I like to think that being yourself is ultimately what someone will be drawn to or put off by, and if being a puppy just happens to be the icing on the cake — hey, even better! You’d be surprised how many times I hear how someone goes on a date, totally unsuspecting that the other person might have their own kinks, only to find a pup or handler sitting across the table from them.  Similarly, I’ve even had a pup friend approached at a bar by a stranger who got the pup’s attention by calling him “puppy,” out of nowhere. And it was all downhill from there. Not looking and keeping options open is the most stress-free way to find a pup or handler,  and that approach will provide for less desperate circumstances and pave the way for a more organic relationship to form.

Always protect yourself…DSC_6688

Once you’ve gotten through all that risk-taking and connection-making and you’ve found a prospective handler or pup, then what? First and foremost, you have to test that person out, make a checklist of need/wants/red flags and start chatting. Make sure this person is who you want and who he/she says they are. I’ll be the first to admit to doing some cyberstalking of new love interests, be it puppy or not. Everyone in today’s day and age has at least some sort of Facebook presence, and you should never feel bad for doing a discreet background check of your own to keep yourself safe. And well before you start the negotiations, you should make sure you click with the person. Get to know the person you’re interested in and consider your chat a kind of job interview, but with a lot more lube. Speaking from the personal experience my handler and I had, we moved after chatting on Scruff to very detailed e-mails back and forth where we really got to know each other and began to make a deep connection. These e-mails were also well before making any plans to meet in person. (The funniest part, we found later, was that we had more than a few common friends and had actually met at a birthday party a month or two before we found each other online and started to discuss puppies.) We made ourselves as transparent as possible and began our negotiations and stated expectations from there. While some of those initial expectations have stayed the same over time, a relationship such as this tends to also evolve as involved parties work to maintain open lines of communication.

When it’s all said and done, the most important thing is to be yourself — and expect no less from any perspective pup or handler.I can promise you will know if that next person is right for you when they come along. Explore and experience the pup community, but know that a handler does not make a pup, and a pup does not make a handler. Be open, be safe, be consensual, and don’t forget to have some tail-wagging and squirrel chasing fun along the way!

ARRROU!

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The Eeveelution of Handleritis

Look closely, and you might notice an epidemic in the puppy community. Let’s call it Handleritis. It’s a very common ailment that most pups go through when first getting into the community. Some experience a full recovery, while others become so obsessed that they can think of nothing else.  Now, while handleritis is far from fatal, it is a chronic problem many puppies face: they want a handler, a trainer, Master or Sir of some kind that they can call their own. They seek someone to share a very strong bond with.  While many puppies are “strays,” so much depends on the individual puppy and how he/she goes about finding their ideal counterpart. Some might they feel they need a handler, while others might feel empowered being a stray, a wolf, or just “a strong independent puppy who don’t need no handler…”

So what is a handler? What are the expectations between the pup and handler? Finally, what are the differences in the types of handlers out there? At face value, a handler is usually the dominant figure, more assertive of the two people in a pup and handler relationship; he/she cares for the pup, guides the pup and provides a safe and consensual space to explore and be a puppy. Beyond that definition, handlers come in all shapes, sizes, levels of experience and with different expectations, respectively.  Expectations are sometimes negotiated, sometimes found through play and building a stronger pup/handler bond, and sometimes protocols are specifically given by the handler to the pup.

Expectations are what determine what sort of handler a pup wants or is looking for and visa-versa.  Handlers have a lot of latitude as far as how they want to relate to a pup, and that’s where the magical evolution lies.  A pup/handler relationship is what both parties agree to (or consent to); it can be about bondage, leather, rubber, cuddling, eating out of a dog bowl, etc., so long as both are happy and one identifies as a pup — you have a handler.
EeveelutionsThat said, there are a few specific types of handlers, let’s travel to the Pokémon world: a handler can be compared to an Eevee (who can be downright powerful without evolving via stones), the other handler types are simply different Eeveelutions: Flarion, Vaporean, Jolteon, and so on.  One such handler is what’s known as a trainer. Trainers are handlers who specifically train pups. Usually, they have a curriculum, or a game plan as far as how pups are trained and at what speed; a trainers goal is to have a trained pup by the end of their encounters.  Trainers are not expected to be significant others or have sexual relationships with pups. Another sort of handler might be the Sir.  Sirs can be handlers to their boy pups, training them as boys at times, a puppy in another instance, or a mix of the two respectively. Masters, like the Sirs, train their slavepups in a similar but slightly different fashion.

So some of you might be curious – how does one search for a hander? How did I find mine? How and where do handlers and pups look to find each other? While I can’t guarantee that Amazon has them available to order, I can guarantee that we will dive right into that topic . . . next week!

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