So...on Saturday evening I attended an unusual event in Ottawa. It was a gathering of pups and their handlers. But it didn't take place at an outdoor venue or a community centre. And these were no ordinary pups.
This event took place at the Centretown Pub, where Ottawa's Leather Community regularly gathers. And the pups were actually young men who enjoy dressing up as 'pups' and 'playing' with each other. The handlers were their partners or friends who took on the human or dominant role and looked after them and made sure they behaved themselves (sometimes a daunting task).
I have only recently become aware of this unique community, since seeing a fully geared-up pup at the Pride Parade in August and subsequently getting to know him and understand the subtleties and a bit of the psychology behind 'puppy play'. I have since written some 'puppy play', both sexual and non-sexual, into my work-in-progress gay bdsm novel, Beyond the Edge. So I was very excited to attend the Ruff and Tumble night to see a group of 'puppies' at play and introduce myself to some fascinating people.
The Centretown Pub is located on Somerset Street West, only a block away from the building in which my sister has rented an apartment for almost two decades. So I know the area a bit. But I had never before set foot inside this place. It is a very cool old house that has been converted into a multilevel facility. Pub on the main floor, dance bar on the second floor, and a dark and moody gathering place on the third floor. This topmost space contained a caged off section which worked perfectly as a 'puppy play space' once fitted with wrestling matts and a posted list of rules so that all the 'pups' knew what was expected of them.
Once I found my way upstairs to the 'pup' den, it became clear to me that what I was witnessing was a truly extraordinary and unforgettable gathering. There were several 'pups' at play, some in hoods and paws, others just with collars and normal clothes. There was a very adorable 'guard pup' in full gear (whom I happen to know personally) with his handler nearby (whom I now also know personally) to ensure that all 'pups' entering the play space read and understood the rules. The event had been well organized and seemed already well attended.
I got to meet some 'pups' and handlers whom I had only interacted with online and everyone was so open and welcoming to me. I did feel somewhat out of place, being a straight, married woman and I tried to comport myself politely and with relative dignity, even though part of me wanted to dive right in there with the 'pups' and play too ;) I had brought some treats (small bags of Teddy Grahams) for the 'pups' I knew and gave them to their handlers to distribute. The music was loud but I managed to have short conversations with several people. It was most fun to just watch the 'pups' galavant around. There was wrestling, relaxing, and quite a bit of humping going on. Really nothing you wouldn't see with a real group of male dogs, except that there were rules about etiquette so nothing x-rated actually occurred, lol. It was all very innocent, friendly and, most of all, fun.
I have not met a kinder, more accepting, group of men than these guys. They really are adorable. They are regular people with jobs and relationships and family issues. Perhaps they have an unusual way of letting off steam and getting away from the stresses of day-to-day life. It may be a return to a childlike arena of imaginary play, one that addresses adult needs as well. All I can say is that if something this simple helps make and keep a person happy, then I am all for it.
I wish that every one of us could nurture a little 'pup' inside us, someone who is excitable and eager for adventure and mischief, loyal and loving and affectionate, who delights in lazy days at home and unexpected treats. We may not all feel a need to dress up like a pup in order to access this part of us, but at least we can understand those who do or who simply find inexpressible pleasure in it ;)