Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Puppy Triangle: Playfulness, Obedience, & Loyalty

Another fun Atlanta Dominion weekend – this one made all the better by having a pup mosh.  We had a great time w/ Soma and Ace acting as Handlers for myself, packmates Hunter and Bishop, and two other fun puppies (including a Pup Rex who was visiting us from way out West, and who, hopefully, I’ll be seeing again at the IML Woof Camp mosh – can’t wait).  Lots of fetch, lots of puppy wrestling, lots of biting and nipping, and I discovered that Bishop really does laugh like a hyena when he pups-out…  And my Fetishzone.net tail did great in the mosh – nice and snug, lots of wag, no slippage.  (This is the first time I’ve moshed w/ it since I up-sized to the bigger plug.)  *wags*

So… what I wanted to write about now was something like the “puppy triangle” of attributes.  I was thinking of this as the flip-side of “Handler triangle” stolen from Caesar Milan: Exercise, discipline, and affection.  That’s what the Handler offers his pup.  I think there’s a puppy complement: playfulness, obedience, and loyalty.


Certainly it’s one of the first things people think of when they think of a puppy (either bio or human).  Pups are often curious, upbeat, silly, and game for an adventure.  In their Leatheratti article, Master Dan and Loki wrote about how Dan would always great his pup at the door w/ a big smile on his face – incapable of playing the role of “big, scary, serious leatherman.”  One of things pups do is lighten the mood and make their people smile.  I see our playful spirit, our inherent sense of silliness and humor, as something important (and sometimes needed) in the leather community.  Pups tend to take the piss out of a lot of Leather pretensions in (I think) a healthy way.  One of my favorite comments on pup play was a revelation someone expressed after Sir’s pup play class at CAPEX last year: “Oh, I get it! It’s about fun!”  As PupBoss Jyan recently wrote on the Sirius Pups blog: “Good humour in pup play simply means recognising the ridiculous - that a human is pretending to be a dog - and enjoying that incongruity, rather than being confused or repelled by it.”

I’ve always really loved this commercial, b/c to me it seems to capture so perfectly this sense of playfulness and lightness of spirit puppies bring to others:


Obviously some pups are more obedient than others.  For some (especially the young ‘ens) their sense of playfulness can appear to overwhelm the obedience aspect – but I think something that really distinguishes puppy play (and separates us from furries and primals, our close cousins) is that pups do tend to like the D/s relationship dynamic.  Even when we get extra-silly and playful, we still want to be reminded that there is a Handler or Alpha in-charge.  But going along w/ that sense of playfulness, I’ve found (and I’m sure there are ample exceptions – notably the “slavepups”) that the D/s among pups tends to be very low protocol.  The oft repeated joke w/in our pack is something Sir once said: “I have very few protocols, but one of them is YOU DO WHAT THE FUCK I TELL YOU!”  Funny as it is, I think that seems to perfectly capture the loose, organic style of D/s among pups.  Where other leather folk based their D/s relations mostly on military etiquette, pups have a natural, organic approach based on what you see at the dog park.

 Looking at our pack, we sometimes refer to what we’ve come to call the “core pack” and the “extended pack” (or, I like, “expansion pack”).  The pup community in Atlanta has exploded in the last 2-3 years (as has seemed to be the national trend).  We’ve got new pups popping-up every month or two.  We have a lot of friends and playmates in the growing pup community that are, in a loose sense, part of our pack.  But then there are also basically six of us have some form of D/s relationship w/ our Alpha/Handler Loki – and most of us can be recognized by our matching pack vests and breed pins (although finding a hyena pin may be a bit difficult).  Now, I emphasize “some form” of D/s relationship b/c (and here’s my point – thanks for bearing w/ me) that relationship is very idiosyncratic and organic between Sir and each of the betas.  There’s Bishop, who calls Loki “Daddy” (which disturbs me almost as much as it does Loki – I’m a year and half older than Sir).  For me, when I petitioned Sir to join his pack, he, Ma’am and I had to talk kind of specifically about what that relationship would mean and what authority he had – b/c I’m submitting to two Dominants now.  For others in our pack, they have a much looser situation more like Mentor/mentee.  I think this is, again, one of those things that separates a puppy pack from a old school Leather House or Family.  There’s no specific (or elitist) process for “earning your way in” and, for that matter, being “in” means something different for each of us – each according to his or her wants and needs.


Canis lupus familiarisFamiliaris means “Family member.”  And did you know that Fido is Latin for “I am faithful”?  It’s related to “fidelity.”  In art, the dog is commonly a symbol of devotion and faithfulness.  Notice the little pooch in Jan Van Eyck’s famous 15th century wedding portrait?  That’s what he’s doing there.

One of my favorite characters from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign was a thri-kreen (mantas warrior) I played for about 5 years.

 Now, the old AD&D 2nd-edition Thri-kreen handbook is now online at http://danaki.net/downloads/PDF/Darksun%20-%20The%20Thri-Kreen%20of%20Athas.pdf
At some point I was re-reading it, and it occurred to me that  you can read the section on “The Law of the Clutch” (p.12-13) and swap “pup” for “thri-kreen,” and swap “pack” for “clutch,” and it really works. See:

“Belonging to a pack determines the pup’s place in the
universe, and gives the pup a set of parameters within
which he or she must operate. The requirements of a pack
transcend alignment. Pup might be good or evil, lawful or
chaotic, but the pup still behaves the same way toward
pack and packmates. Regardless of the pup’s true alignment,
behavior toward pack and packmates is essentially lawful

 People are often surprised to hear that I’ve been close w/ my circle of best friends for over 20 years now… but to me it’s unthinkable that it would be otherwise.  I guess, like other canines, once I bond w/ someone, I tend to stay pretty glued to them.  I would walk through fire for those guys.  But to my Owner, above all, I will be her loyal hound until the day I die… and if I can find a way back to her after that, I will.


  1. Beautiful thoughts, my friend! I don't think I could identify three better attributes that truly make for a pup than those three of Playfulness, Obedience and Loyalty - and you describe and explain them perfectly.

    with playful wags

  2. *Waggy Tail*

    Reading your writings lifts my spirits, even on stupid, fucked up days. Thank You.