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Interview with a Handler

In the last post, I interviewed my handler, Kevin, about the ins-and-outs (both physically and mentally ;D) of establishing and nurturing a puppy/handler relationship and we put out the word that we’d be happy to answer any questions from those seeking more detail or simply want us to address a topic that wasn’t covered in our first exchange.
The questions, much like the pups and handlers themselves, varied widely in topic, scope and seriousness. And you know how they say there’s no such thing as a stupid question? Well, some of you out there were definitely trying to see if you couldn’t challenge that idea.
So… without further ado, it’s time for those burning questions (and if that burning continues, you might want to consult your doc), and our attempt to answer them.

Q: )What is it about being a handler while having a PUP that makes you transcend?

KEVIN: Having a puppy, a human one, is for me one of the most precious gifts a guy can be lucky enough to get. Some handlers regard their pups as slaves, some regard them as boys with tails, and others just think of them in the sense of playing out back with a ball, or attending a mosh. For me, it’s a sacred bond. The pup in question (the amazing Amp, in my case) is laying himself bare, and all that you see before you in its beauty is something that is your responsibility as a handler to care for, to nurture and to keep safe. Transcendence, as I understand it, means entering a different plane of mental existence. Certainly when I’m in handler space, all I’m concerned with is growing the bond of love between Amp and myself.

Q: Can we be friends?

Amp and Kevin: Until we know a reason you shouldn’t be … sure, why not?

Q: Being a handler, what kind of enjoyment do you get from having a pup?

KEVIN: I get the unfiltered, unconditional pure rush of affection and devotion from a human being that most only get from a pet. Seeing Amp in real headspace (not the quasi-headspace of a mosh or competition where you have to keep some form of mindfulness in order to not get yourself or anyone else hurt) is a magical display of what two people can do when they’re both dedicated to helping the other find joy and release from the everyday world — and they trust each other to do just that.

Q: What’s your opinion of The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis (really guys? lol)?

KEVIN: It’s a B+ sci-fi flick in which Willis’ character refers to himself as a “meatsicle,” which I’ve always thought very funny. However, Willis is also a raging conservative who once cheered Pat Buchannan’s speech at the Republican National Convention calling for a “culture war” against abortionists and homosexuals. I think he’s a terrific actor and a complete douche. Have I gone to the multiplex and seen him since? Yes. And I always buy a ticket for another movie that’s showing around the same time so that he doesn’t get a single dime from me.

Q: How do you, as a trainer, put and keep a pup in headspace?

KEVIN: Well, from having put half a dozen or so pups into headspace over the last year, I can tell you that no two are identical, but they all have common traits. I do have a series of meditations that I use to help escort a guy from his normal plane of consciousness into a deeper communion, primarily with himself. A handler who makes headspace about himself (being worshipped is a common theme) is focusing on the wrong person, if you ask me. I like to “show” through visualization, the person what his pup persona looks like — to him, in his mind’s eye. Rather than forcing my ideals of a pup on them, they can form their own persona and pup self as they see it. And once they’re eyeball to eyeball in that trance moment, I will ask the person to slip over and feel what it’s like to look out from the pup’s eyes. I’ve used mirrors, waterfalls, lakes, and memory as triggers, and I’ve had a pretty fair success rate, if I do say so myself. Happy pups tell you all you need to know. Keeping them there? You have to keep actively reinforcing the metaphor of person-as-pup. You go for a walk (which you could do actually, or in an imaginary world), you play ball; you feed your pup treats (we like lunch meat. It’s healthy and full of protein.), you let him nap on your chest. Activities will reinforce the trance, and make it that much easier to access headspace the next time.

Q: What does being a pup mean to you?

AMP: Well I’ve gone over this topic a number of times, but, in short, being a pup means that I’m into kink, leather, wrestling around and acting like a human puppy.  Being a pup means that I’m playful and cuddly, loving and loyal to friends and handlers I hold close and that I’m putting myself out there to be a part of a community that is supportive and all about fun.  Similarly, it is a way for me to mentally connect on another level with people I hold close, more specifically, a handler I hold close.  I use puppy play and call myself a pup because I enjoy the activities it brings, the people it brings into my life and the open and honest expression I can express.

Q: What does being a handler mean to you?

KEVIN: For me, it means that I have accepted the role of guardian to my pup. No one will hurt him, approach him, scare him, or do anything I don’t approve of, and I do that as I was selected to by the pup who wears my collar. That said, I try to make my choices based not on my own ego, but on Amp’s needs, wants and what I think will most likely nurture or fascinate him. I have stumbled, on occasion, as has my pup. But that’s the nature of who we are as fallible individuals. You make a mistake, you apologize, pick yourself up and move on.

Q: What (as a handler) do you gain from training a puppy, apart from the experience of just owning a puppy?

KEVIN: I get the deep satisfaction of knowing that every bit of tender loving care I put into our bond comes shining out whenever Amp is present. When we attended the International Puppy Competition last November in Florida, you can ask anyone: No one was more proud, more devoted to his pup, or closer than the two of us were. What I gained, beyond that, was a deep sense of who I am and what I do. I mentor, and I nurture, and Amp gives me plenty of opportunities to do both.

And with that last question, I think it’s about time to wrap this posting up.  If you guys have any other questions or comments to myself or to Kevin, please send them our way.   Puppy play is a magical activity that is performed in many different ways, share your experiences here or tell us what you think we should talk about next.  Until then, keep those tails wagging and we will catcha later!! AROUUUUUUUU

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