(Above: Check out Belgian artist Umi’s self-portraits and photography here.)
I was on Scuff a few weeks ago and saw a handsome gentleman from the global feed. He resembled my friend Eric Paul Leue, Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2014 (pictured below from his sexy photo shoot with Eric Schwabel). Honestly, at first I thought it was Eric. This guy was a dominant top, a rough handler of sparky and submissive pups. I sent him a woof.
After a few minutes: Hey pup.
Hey. May I see more of you Sir?
Only if you beg for it. Show me your cutest puppy face. I’ll scratch your ears and give you a treat if you do.
At this point, a friend I was sitting with looked over my shoulder and read some of my messages. “Are you into bestiality?”
And that’s how it started.
No, not into bestiality. I’m a pup.
Here I would like to disambiguate between two terms in the world of sex. “Bestiality” is the practice of humans having sex with animals, which is legal in Alabama. “Puppy play” is a kink practice between two humans, and does not involve any actual canines.
Puppy play is a form of “pet play,” which is a role-play that is implicitly, if not explicitly, sexual. It’s on the kink/BDSM spectrum because it typically involves some form of power relationship, in this case between a human “pup” and his or her human “handler” or “owner.”
Most role-play, sexual or otherwise, involves people impersonating nurses, doctors, cops, or some other fetishized profession. Pet play is where people act like their animal counterparts.
There are different kinds of pet play. A friend is into kitty play. She likes to dress in a cat suit and crawl around on all fours while her girlfriend dangles a toy mouse on a string over her head.
Pet play can simply mean barking or chasing a ball, but sex usually goes with it. Pups enjoy roughhousing, licking, getting petted, getting “rewarded” for good behavior, or “punished” for playful disobedience.
My friend, at this point, was aghast. “You act like a dog while you’re having sex?”
I explained that the word “pup” is a little new to me. I first heard of “dog training” and I still understand the word “dog,” when applied to this context, to mean a rougher form of pup play, with spanking, verbally abusive tops, really rough fucking, boot licking, service, etc. This is still what I go for.
He then asked what seems like an obvious question: “Why?”
Well, because it’s fun. But his question really made me think. Why do we do this? I cannot explain why some people enjoy wearing puppy tail butt plugs, or pony tail butt plugs (for pony play), or enjoy any of this kink stuff.
I do not know why there is a whole industry dedicated to producing leather and latex gear explicitly for pet play. Maybe the reason is simply because humans are strange and have limitless kinks and fetishes — our ability to be sexually stimulated is limited to everything that we can possibly experience, and after several thousand years on this planet, that list is rather long. I am personally tempted, however, to believe that kink, and pet play in general, comes from something deeper in the human psyche.
Human sexual practices are more than surface detail. Our sex lives reveal deep truths about ourselves. For instance, someone who has allowed themselves to experience and enjoy BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism) has discovered that they have an innate violence, along with a wider breadth for pleasure than conventional, vanilla people. They are typically more adventurous people in bed and in life.
Desire to them — to us — is something that must be explored, reappraised, and studied. Assumptions and placid acceptance of “standard” sex is not a reality for us — we need more.
Most people don’t want to admit their need for violence. But from rugby to bar brawls, there is endless evidence of a violent urge in our species. It’s a human urge that too often releases itself in ugly ways: people ganging up on a gender-ambiguous person in broad daylight, prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib, and teenagers suddenly attacking an old man.
As a species, we like inflicting pain on others, and sometimes we like pain inflicted on us — because these things feel really good. BDSM allows people to explore these feelings and these sensations safely, smartly, and with a community of others who share their interests and can teach them.
During one of my hardest sessions, I felt myself getting angry at my dad. I realized that I hold a lot of pent-up anger against him that never gets released in my daily life. When the scene was over, I felt like a weight had been lifted from me. It was like yoga or meditation, except with rope.
If BDSM is my way of releasing anger, what is dog/puppy play, and what does it reveal about me?
The answer I provide is simple. I want to shed the stress, responsibility, and control that come with being being an active, busy person.
Being a human dog isn’t stressful, and has become a side to me that I love and have devoted hours of play to. This side of me is named “Beastly.” My nickname was originally my pup name.
I stopped believing in god several years ago. After dabbling through Pagan and mystic philosophies, I realized religion and faith were not for me. That trend of disbelief and questioning continued to ethics, law, culture, and the basic assumptions of man-versus-animal, right-versus-wrong, and male-versus-female that most of us accept at a young age.
In the end, I believed almost nothing. I believed man is an animal with thumbs and good brains. My religion became a journey of breaking down assumptions and cultural constructs and discovering underneath them the animal in me — permitting my carnal desires to be what they are.
That is why this play connects with me on a deep level. That’s the heart of my headspace. Underneath my interpretation of puppy play is a philosophical potpourri of godlessness, savagery, and self-discovery that hints at something spiritual. My sex life is the only “religion” I practice.
I tried fruitlessly to explain all this to my friend, but I lost him with the puppy tail butt plugs.
“It’s not for everyone. But I have to send this guy a picture. Can you take one of me on all fours?”