Kirk Pierce aka Brue has been into the pup scene for over 16 years. He is the Producer of Woof Camp, the annual pup party held at International Mr. Leather in Chicago, IL, since 2008 and has been involved since it's inception back in the Congress Hotel. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is an active member of the SF K9 Unit. He also produces the bi-monthly SF Puppy Parks. He currently lives with his leather family, has a Handler and a boypup.
Although it is difficult to pin down when the human pup scene began, it is safe to say that the pup scene [or human animal space] has been around for decades, just hiding underground and “behind closed doors.” I know from my own leather life history, the pup scene started to slowly come out into kink public spaces about 16 years ago. It has been gaining momentum ever since. The pup scene has an appeal that crosses age, gender, orientation and national boundaries, and it intersects sometimes with other scenes such as the furries, diaper, rubber and gear crowds. Despite some claims, no one person created or started puppy play. It has evolved on its own over the years.
This scene is not about bestiality; it is about allowing the human mind to explore or enter a primal mindset or headspace where the person can feel, interact and behave as close to being a real canine as possible.
I do not profess to be an expert on Dog or puppy play and the following writing is my own opinions and experiences on my K9 life.
Why do people choose to be a puppy/Dog? For some it is a way to de-stress from the real world and center themselves psychologically. For others it is merely a new sensation or scene to experience, to be part of the “it” crowd they perceive to be happening; once experienced, they move on to the next “up and coming” scene. For some it is a way to try to get psychological needs met [to feel safe, loved, accepted, etc]. Some view it as another way to experience Dom/sub dynamics. Others may experience a spiritual awakening, enlightenment or discover an animal spirit guide/totem when they go into pupmode. But for many, being a pup/Dog is who they are, it is their core being or soul.
How do pups/Dogs fit into the kink/BDSM world? Just like any other fetish there are varying degrees and expressions of play. Some have used puppy play as a form of companionship and playfulness, whereas others treat their pups/Dogs as slavedogs to be used and abused for the Master's/Dom's pleasure. That's the great thing about pup play – there is no absolute rule on what can or cannot be allowed.
Thinking back I realize that most of my life I've had some form of a relationship with biological dogs, either owning them or having some form of interaction with them as friends. I guess you can say I have always had an inner Dogness to me. When I was younger I noticed this inner Dogness as I started picking up/mimicking traits from the canines I was around, such as sniffing my food, wiggling my foot/leg or wagging my ass when I was happy or being petted. But especially as I got older, I would make barking/growling noises during sex. This had a tendency to unsettle some people and arouse other people even more. I definitely fantasized about being a dog when I was young. Where others wanted to be the soldier or Indian or whatever when playing, I wanted to be a dog: to romp, protect and be near someone. I remember I used to have vivid dog dreams (running in fields, chasing things, etc). When I would wake I would be disoriented but feel content at first and then feel sad, realizing I was not who I had dreamed of being. To this day I still have those dreams on occasion.
As I entered my twenties, one of my former boyfriends noticed my under-the-surface persona and encouraged me to talk and explore it with him. Most of the time I had tried to hide this aspect of myself, being afraid others would consider me a “freak”. But because of his positive support I started to let my inner Dog out. I even asked him to give me a Dog name and told him that, no matter what it was, I would keep it forever. Luckily he took me seriously and thought about it for several weeks. In the end he gave me two choices and allowed me to choose one. Of the two names offered I chose Brutus. He started calling me “Brue” as a shorter, cuter nick name of Brutus. I have gone by that name ever since. I have never allowed anyone to change my Dog name, as it is who I am and it resonates, feels right in my soul. Only recently have some people started calling me by my original name of Brutus, which still feels right, especially now that I am an older Dog. But the name variation does cause some confusion among those who have known me in the S/M and K9 world.
It often helps to have either raised or been around canines. You will learn much from observation and interaction. Through personal exploration [testing my bark out in the car/home/outside, practicing movement and facial expressions in front of a mirror, etc] and by reading up on canine behavior/psychology books, I slowly discovered my own Dog behaviors that worked for me. On this subject I am very earnest in trying to encourage and remind people that, even though there are basic concepts of pupdom, it is in no way a “cookie cutter” lifestyle. Discover what works for YOU, in your heart, mind and soul and follow it no matter what criticism, rules or protocols others may have to say. In the end you have to answer to yourself.
In regards to pack mentality and hierarchy (Alpha, beta and omegas) these roles tend to be determined through attitude, voice cues and body language. Alphas are not on top because they are cruel or a bully; being an alpha is not related to being overly physically aggressive, like using human wrestling/pinning moves or unnecessary biting. The wanna-be Alphas do not understand this and usually keep up the aggression. Those who truly understand and appreciate pup mentality will pick up and perceive verbal and non-verbal cues and respond accordingly. I understand with real canines that there is always just one Alpha in a pack and when two Alphas encounter each other they normally try to reestablish a hierarchy, but in the end we are still human and need to accept that with so many human dogs out there that there will always be multiple Alphas. When human packs come together, they will negotiate the power structure if need be, but in many cases there are no such conflicts. They just want to be social, playful and interactive with each other.
My views on the difference between pups and Dogs is experience, not necessarily age. Those new to the scene I consider pups as they are experiencing their pupdom for the first time. Like a newborn pup, many are hyper, eager to please and eager to experience things; for others they are shy or tentative; but overall they have an innocence and playfulness about them. A Dog to me is more experienced, more assertive, more confident, territorial/protective and settled into their pupdom.
Things I find attractive about the pup/Dog community is that we are more of a social group, out to enjoy life and have fun with minimal drama. We have our packs and we try to look out for one another. We get excited when we see each other, whether or not we know one another and give friendly bark outs. We pass no judgments on pups who have more or less experience, we encourage pups to explore their pupdom in their own way and at their own speed. We are pretty accepting of all people and we cross over into many other fetishes and types of gear. Some of the challenges of the pup/Dog community is there are those people who see puppy play as an excuse to fondle, molest or take advantage of various pups while they are in a compromised position. Many pups/Dogs are branded as submissive, however that is not entirely true. Unfortunately there are those who perceive puppy play as a form of submission to “all” and feel they have the right to dominate and force themselves upon the pup/Dog. There is also the showing of disrespect, ie: tail pulling, leash yanking, kicking, name calling, etc.
I am currently a member of the SF K9 Unit, a social Yahoo pup group based in San Francisco founded in 2005. We have over a hundred local pack members in the San Francisco Bay Area. We get together regularly for puppy piles, dinners, outings, charity events and host the annual Friday night puppy dinners and event booths at Up Your Alley and Folsom Street weekends. I host the bi-monthly SF Puppy Parks, a four hour social gathering in a private safe space for those wanting to explore their pupdom. I also produce Woof Camp, the annual puppy party held at International Mr. Leather in Chicago, IL where last year we had over 60 pups, 32 Handlers and 650+ spectators in attendance.
Some good resources for more information or where to experience pup play can be found at some of the following websites: PupZone.com; PupOut.Org; TheDogHouse.org; WoofCamp.com or FetLife.com. Also be sure to check your local Yahoo groups or the following books: Woof! and Grrr! by Michael Daniels.