A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled Diversity and Why it Scares Us about my experience of seeing a person dressed as a dog at the Capital Pride Parade. Through a happy coincidence, I was able to discover the identity and gender of the proud pooch. His name is Karl and he has graciously allowed me to interview him for this blog.
Karl, was this year's Pride Parade the first time you have dressed as a dog in public?
This year was the first year going all out as I did. I did go to Montreal Pride 2010 with a different puppy hood, mitts, and my collar, as well as Toronto's Church Street Fetish Fair 2011 with my spiky puppy hood, paws, footies, and my tail.
This year, during Ottawa Pride, I just wanted to go all out and be the puppy I've known I've been inside for years. What motivated me was the fact that I've alway's hid this side of me, a side I love, and I was tired of it. Pride is a time for people to embrace change, and I wanted to change for myself!
That's awesome. I'm so glad you felt confident enough to come out as a puppy in downtown Ottawa, or I might never have 'met' you :) Your full puppy outfit is gorgeous. How much did it cost and where did you get it?
Full cost after shipping, taxes, and duties would be approximately $1200. I got my spiky puppy hood and paws from a wonderful online store that, unfortunately, no longer exists. The footies I got from Priape. The harness (under the suit) and the tail I got from Mr. S. And the suit I got from SlickItUp, a site that specializes in spandex and making it look like leather or rubber. And, of course, my dog tag we got at Petsmart! The hood, paws, harness, tail, and suit were purchased online, the footies were bought in store. And, knee pads, of course! Can't be a successful puppy without them!
Are you in a relationship with the person who was holding your leash? If yes, how do you define the boundaries of this relationship?
I am in a committed, four-year strong, relationship with the man who was holding my leash. Our primary boundary is that we are equal partners, we share, communicate, and live as equals. However, we each have other boundaries. When I'm a puppy, he's my handler/owner. When he dominates/tops me, I'm his submissive/bottom. However, we switch and I can equally make him my submissive/bottom. We both have our sides that we explore, and each side has a boundary that we know and respect.
I love that you are able to switch back and forth. And, obviously, you've had discussions about what each of you wants and doesn't want. That's wonderful. How often do you take on the puppy role?
Recently, I've been trying more often, now that I am truly out as a puppy. The puppy inside has been there for years, but only now, after Ottawa Pride 2011, has it truly come out to play!
Do you mind revealing your age?
Twenty-seven and a half.
Do you define yourself as a gay man?
I define myself as a man. I enjoy the company of other men, but having to be defined as a gay man is just splitting hairs. If I can't just be a 'man' then the world's population of 'real men' is diminishing pretty quick.
Great answer. What is 'puppy space' and what do you get out of it?
'Puppy space' is a mindset of being, acting, and feeling like a puppy; acting like a puppy would, eating and playing as a puppy would, and craving attention like a puppy. By taking on this space, you're getting rid of anything human. Speech, hands, standing, thinking! All that needs to get pushed aside, locked up inside your head to let the puppy take over.
What I get out of being a puppy is relaxation. It helps me to forget about my human side - the worries, the work, the bills! It gives me a freedom from all of that and lets me be the animal I am inside.
I really get that. I mean, human beings are animals, but our brains are so complex that we think ourselves away from our basic nature all the time. I can see that this is your way to get in touch with that part of yourself. Can you describe a typical scene that you would enjoy as a puppy?
Getting all geared up, tail in, and then just being a puppy. Sitting or laying at my owner's feet hoping for pets, watching the world go by out the window, or just simply eating or drinking from my bowls. Anything a puppy would do is what a typical scene would be, whether or not I'm behaving or being rebellious!
Is this a fetish, where you need to be a puppy to achieve sexual satisfaction, or do you engage in so-called vanilla sex as well?
This is a fetish, but slowly becoming a constant part of my life. I classify it as a fetish when I'm getting sexual pleasure from being a puppy, but I classify it equally as part of my life, my world, when I'm not seeking sexual satisfaction.
I engage mostly in sex while involved in bondage, but the rare occurrence will happen without any gear or toys. I don't actively seek sex but I will not turn it down if the momentum is there.
Do you enjoy the non-sexual aspects of being a puppy as much as the sexual aspects?
There are always two sides to every coin, sexual and non sexual being just that. I enjoy mostly the non-sexual side of being a puppy, but I also enjoy the sexual side of being able to hump and get off like a dog.
Dogs are great, huh? They're not embarrassed or hesitant about their sexual needs at all. Do you use a different name when you are in puppy space?
It took me the better part of five years, but yes, I go by Rolph when I'm a puppy. Either that or pup/puppy. Anything else will throw the momentum off.
Now that you are 'out' as a puppy, what has the response been like?
The response has been surprisingly very supportive. My family couldn't be more proud and many of my friends have been supportive and equally proud. Even from the public during Pride I was surprised by how many came up for a pet! However, I know that out there are people who are opposed to how I portray myself. I am fully aware that not everyone can accept everything.
What would you say to someone who thinks they might be interested in this lifestyle?
I would tell them to honestly give it a try. Like everything in life, you won't know whether or not you like it until you try it! However, research should always be done as there are many resources to help a person learn whether or not they'd fit the persona of a dog, or any other aspect of BDSM as a whole.