Woof. Beg. Roll over. Woof! Good puppy.
There's as much chance those words can be heard at a dog-training school as they can at a place like the Folsom Street Fair. In the midst of assless chaps, visible cock rings, and latex-bedecked people being beaten, there can also be seen people dressed as puppies. It is a lesser-known fetish but no less official than some others and is defined on Wikipedia as play "where at least one of the participants acts out canine mannerisms and behaviors." The definition goes on to say that the play usually involves a trainer or master who might command the submissive to bark, kiss the dominant's foot, or eat like a dog.
But, "unlike other forms of animal role play, it is not uncommon for two or more pups to play together as equals," as puppy play is often purely about the fun of it.
I interviewed a happy pup known as Miss Minx, and she says "Puppy play or fetishism is taking joy from behaving like a puppy. There are different levels to puppy play and not all is sexual, but it is extremely freeing to get into a puppy headspace. It's basic 'animal' instinct and total simplicity. That's where my love of puppy play comes from."
Miss Minx was into puppy play as a child but she says, "I didn't know what it meant to me until later in life. I read about pony play in a book, and animal role play became something real that I had to try."
Dog people are not new and were once even worshiped. Anubis, the Egyptian God, had the body of a man and the head of a jackal. His doggy lordship ruled the underworld. He had the job of being the "guardian of the scales," weighing truth and guiding souls to the land of death.
A little while later, the Greeks merged his image with the messenger god Hermes and created Hermanubis, who was then honored with his own cult. The center of this cult was in the "city of dogs," Cynopolis. Hermanubis was celebrated all the way up to the second century and continued to appear in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Renaissance.
With such an illustrious history, it is perhaps not surprising that puppy play has found popularity with the gents.
"There is a fairly large community around puppy play, though it is primarily known for being part of the gay male leather scene. There isn't a huge scene of female pups, but most of us girl pups are a close-knit group," says Miss Minx.
Given that it is a rather specialized and uncommon fetish, I asked Miss Minx how she finds other puppies.
"Searching out partners for puppy play has been made fairly easy with the help of Fetlife.com, animal role play classes, and animal role play munches (low-pressure social gatherings for people involved in or interested in BDSM). The Internet is a wonderful tool for allowing like-minded folks to discuss and meet up to build a community around things like puppy play."
Indeed. The Internet has allowed for a great degree of connection and has aided in the finding of different pleasures and to challenge the myths that surround them. As Miss Minx says, "many people don't understand puppy play or assume completely incorrectly that it is somehow tied to bestiality. It is not in any way related to bestiality. It's all about consenting adults getting together to partake and enjoy sharing a type of role play. I teach classes about puppy play to help fill people in on what puppy play really is and dispel any negative connotations that people may have."
Miss Minx loves her puppy play and if you would like to find out exactly what it looks like, you can see her live at http://www.minxgrrl.com/archives/tag/miss
Good puppy. Woof.
The Sweet Spot is a blog column about alternative sexuality by Ginger Murray who is also the editor of Whore! magazine. Check back next week for more.