I’ve noticed something. Lately, I’ve been having a lot more opportunities to pup-out, but I’ve not been able to (or had the opportunity to) go as deep into pup-space.
So, if you are wondering, pup-space is a term frequently used for the headspace associated w/ puppy play. Puppy play can be a simple (and fun) form of role-play: the boy or girl acting out the role of a dog. For some of us, at least some of the time, however, it can be a real mental transformation; I call it psychic shape-shifting, and it’s the kind of things shamans have practiced for thousands of years. It’s still not very well understood by science, but we know it’s possible to “switch out” the image/understanding you have of yourself in your head w/ something that may be radically out of line w/ objective reality: e.g. the anorexic who thinks they are too fat while they are wasting away, or (my favorite example from The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat) a Caucasian woman who was perfectly normal in all respects except that she was 100% convinced that she was Asian. It is possible for the pup to reach such a level of mental involvement that (almost like self-hypnosis) he really starts to think of himself as a dog, w/ a dog body (I was once wrenched out of pup-space by catching sight of myself in a full-length mirror – I totally expected to see a wolfhound, not a human crawling on all-fours), and (for me, personally, this is the most striking element) loses the ability to speak or even understand English beyond a few names, words and phrases.
I used to be a regular at the Zen Center of Asheville. I practiced Zen meditation once or twice a week there for 2 or 3 years. When I first began doing puppy play, I found it very easy to reach when Zen calls No-mind: that mental state where the language centers of your brain dial back enough that you begin to get a more direct, immediate experience of the sensory world, taking in sights, smells, textures, and sounds w/o having words and labels in your mind to “think” about them. For many years, it was very easy for me to get on all fours and very quickly drop into this state. I didn’t feel like I was role-playing or play-acting doing this; I really “became” a large, shaggy dog.
I began doing pup play in 2004. Throughout most of those years, I was about the only pup I knew. Very few other people in the Carolinas or even Atlanta were doing puppy play in the previous decade. Frolicon is one of our largest regional kink gatherings, and I was the only pup seen at Frolicon for many years. Finally, around 2010 and 2011, the pup scene began to take-off… and it really started to explode in the last two years. Now we have new pups coming out of the woodwork, and god bless them! Yay for more puppies! I actually got into my first mosh a couple of years ago at Atlanta’s Spring in the South. I was really surprised that most of the other pups didn’t get into a pup headspace as I experienced it – most of them were talking and laughing, being silly, having fun, but not really giving-up their human thought patterns. So I learned then that pup-space wasn’t really an integral part of puppy play – for some pups’ that’s not what it’s about. At that same event, my Alpha gave me a good way to analyze different types of pups. Those who did the psychic shape-shifting thing like me were most likely “innate pups.” For us, being a pup really is a major part of our personality and identity. “Pup” is part of who we are – not just an activity we engage in. Those who enjoy puppy play as an activity are more likely to be “play pups” or “gear pups” (those who get off on the sexy gear associated w/ pup play – this would especially included rubber-pups). (I would totally be a rubber pup if I could afford it.)
Since that time, my opportunities to mosh and play around w/ other pups has continued to grow. What I’ve realized is that, while I’m puping-out a lot more these days, I rarely go as deep into that headspace as I used to. I’m still having lots of fun! I really do love human-puppies, and I love to just get down and play and chase and tackle and lick and pin and hump (or be humped)… but I’m now staying mostly in a human-ish mind while doing so.
I think there are two causes behind this. (1) The last few times I’ve puped-out (the last couple of CAPEX and last few Dominion events), we haven’t had a dedicated Handler watching over us specifically. In that situation it’s both difficult and unwise to go very deep into pup-sapce. Pup-space generally requires that you have a trusted Handler there watching and protecting you, so that you can really let go of human thought and act on animal impulse. My favorite example of this was a pup friend who told me that one day she was pup-playing in her back yard and a bird flew by close enough that she was able to actually catch the bird in her teeth. That’s crazy enough that a bird would get close enough for that to happen, but also wild that she did this w/o even thinking about it: just reached out and snapped down on that bird. You probably don’t want to be in that deep a headspace when you don’t have someone dedicated to keeping a close eye on you.
(2) For many years, when I puped-out, it was just my Owner and I playing together. Like I said, there generally just wasn’t anyone else around to pup-play with. Puppy play was never a primary fetish for her, but she nevertheless used to absolutely delight in playing fetch w/ me, petting me and rubbing my tummy, and leading me around on leash… and in those situations, whether it was just the two of us at home or at Frolicon in front of 200 people, it was easy for me to just let the human mind go and let the wolfhound take over. Well, while I’m getting in more pup time and interacting w/ other pups more (wonderful things) I haven’t gotten much of that kind of one-on-one Handler-puppy time lately. Ma’am and I got to play one-on-one some at Columbia TNG last month, and that was fun. But I think there was something about when it was just Ma’am and I doing this together that made it easier to be in that deeper headspace, maybe b/c it was a more consistent, ritual-like thing.
So, while I really enjoy the increased opportunities to get down on all fours and play w/ other pups, I also miss that ability to just drop quick and easy into a really deep puppy headspace and stay in it, potentially, for several hours. One thing I’m putting on my wish list is to go to an event (a party or bar night…) w/ a Handler and (like Bootbrush often does) just be in pup-mode the whole time w/o “breaking character” – to come and go from an event w/o speaking a single word the entire time. I got close to that at the Charlotte Woodshed during Trademark w/ my Owner and Poet, and I would really love to do more of that...
For my fellow pups: How important is pup-space to your play? How often do you reach it and how deep do you usually go?