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He swayed his arm a few times, the men in front of him following every move with their eyes—and then, with a quick flick, he tossed the ball into the middle of the crowd, provoking furious barks as they all clambered over each other, desperate to snatch the ball and return it to him, or maybe just retreat to a corner to blissfully chew on it. All a puppy has to do, he explained, is relax and switch their brain from that of a logical calculator to a reactive animal.
This was the scene at the monthly mosh held by Seattle Pups and Handlers (SEA-PAH), our local puppy-play group. When he's in pup mode, he said, he has "no real inner monologue. Affectionate and loving and sharing myself." One of Amp's first encounters with pups was on a camping trip with some friends, two of whom were a puppy and his daddy. A lot of people, when they go into a relationship, they tend to hide off parts of themselves that they're embarrassed about.
Whatever the case, puppy play has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
"We tend to have waves," said Daddy Jeff, owner of Doghouse Leathers on Pike Street.
Making friends, calming nerves, overcoming fears, understanding yourself—puppy play seems to serve a psychological function that other kinks don't always reach.
(You'll note that we haven't even talked about sex.) But why pretend to be a dog?
"There are always sheep that need their heels nipped at," he said, looking down as Chance nuzzled his shoulder.
Chance's eyes were closed and he was gently yipping.
(Calling himself a shepherd, he said, felt a little too presumptuous after all that religious instruction.) These days, Fosse runs training programs at a corporate day job; by night, he's often rounding up his fellow burlesque performers to put on a show.
"It's not having to think about work, e-mail, calendars.
That's all left at the door." Other pups take a more integrated approach.
And finally the dom looked at me and said, 'You're still thinking. Just play.'" Learning to let go, reacting to the world instead of staying in his head, and just playing helped change Tugger from a nervous shy-guy to the proud leather-poodle who turned every head at this year's IML. Phoenix Leather and is a voice for puppies of all stripes, including cuddly nuzzle pups, watchdogs who guard the group from the sidelines, playful pups who like to pounce, and wrestlers who push each other over to establish dominance.
You're thinking about how to do this and worried about looking dumb. As for himself, he said, "I'm very proud of the fact that I'm a standard poodle." In other words, he presents as fluffy and effeminate, but he's also loyal and oriented toward stereotypically masculine endeavors like hunting (though not necessarily for animals).