Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Puppy Play Book We've Been Waiting For

I’ve been a human-pup since 2005. For most of that time, pups were very few and far between in the BDSM world – as were pup groups and resources. In just the last few years (since around 2011-2012) we’ve seen an explosion in the pup population: with new pup-and-Handler groups, more moshes, puppy title contests, pups turning up in every leather bar, and more pups showing up on social media than you can shake a stick at. Some great online resources (blogs and podcasts) have cropped-up in the last couple of years, but the only resource in print was Michael Darnels’ Woof!, an adequate, if rather outdated, book… until Bark! by Justin St. Clair.

This book is extremely timely and written by the right author for the present moment. Sir Justin’s year as the International Puppy Trainer titleholder took him to a variety of groups and events in 30 states and two Canadian provinces, so he got the lay of the land. He’s a passionate educator, a great teacher (I attended one of his Pup 201 workshops and it was one of the best kink classes I’d been to in years), and writes in a casual, but very intelligent, style.

He sufficiently covers the 101-level nuts-and-bolts of puppy play, but where his book really shines is when he muses on the emerging puppy community, it’s evolution, and how it fits into (or doesn’t fit into) the larger Leather community. His work is personal and opinionated but never authoritarian; he’s always quick to say, ‘These are my observations, others will disagree, and that’s fine.’

Another real strength of his book is the chapters about puppy packs, Alpha/beta/omega roles, and pup-polyamory. I think he gives a very accurate assessment of how the pup community is organizing itself and the important ways that puppy packs are different from traditional Leather clubs or houses.

It’s breezy, enjoyable, insightful, and a great book for both old dogs like me and new pups/Handlers – or anyone in the BDSM/Leather community with a curiosity about this whole, kooky puppy play trend.

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