Clockwise: Pups Hoodie, Ranger, Copper, Carnage, Tex, and KodaI have been a card-carrying member of NYC-PAH since last summer. That stands for "New York City–Pups And Handlers"; it's a social group for people who identify as Human-Pups or Handlers, or those looking to learn more about the practice. I had been playing fetch and barking to receive belly rubs in private for months, and as many do, I decided to seek out like-minded individuals.
What I learned from my time with the boys at NYC-PAH is that being a pup is about a headspace first and foremost. Its about getting down into the mindset of a dog, releasing all human traits and instincts and occupying the blissful existence of a cute lil pup, or a menacing guard dog—you choose. Some pups do sex stuff while in pup mode, and others don't. The handlers look after the pups, throw the ball, give them scratches behind the ears, treats, etc. Some pups have a dedicated handler, many do not. Often pups run in packs, with an alpha, betas, and an omega, though some pups are strays. NYC-PAH is a pack, of sorts. For all intents and purposes, they are my pack.In mid-January, I took a trip to Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington DC, which is like Comic Con for BDSM enthusiasts. Every year, about 1,000 kinksters take over an entire Hyatt and run wild for the weekend. For the last eight years at MAL, there's been a mosh—a place where puppies can romp around, play with toys, and generally "pup out."Moments after the doors opened at 11 AM, the entire conference was filled with pups and handlers who had been waiting for this for a year. The walls echoed with techno, barks, and cries of, "Who's a good boy?… Yes you are!… Yes you are…" A Dalmatian wagged his tail as he fetched a nylon bone, two rubber pups held a third down and tickled him mercilessly. The pups wrestled, chased toys, nuzzled each other, licked, sniffed, and occasionally let out a big howl. These are the photographs from Puppy Park 8.