7. Mistress Pixie Fyre: Barking Out! A Call for Puppy Awareness (HWC #1)


Hey Pups!  This post marks the first in a series of guest contributions to the Diary.  Every pup and every handler has a story to tell.  In 2013, IPC gave me a chance to tell mine.  Now, Big Bro Tripp is telling his.  ITPC celebrates pup-and-handler team dynamics, but handlers still seem to miss out on some of the fun.  My guest contributors span geography and all aspects of puppy play; however, within the series, I am creating a special collection called, "Handlers With Care."  This month, my close friend, and first-and-only domme, Portland's Pixie Fyre, discusses a new dimension in pup safety called "Awareness."  As pups, we have been wise to organize inclusively from the start.  By doing so, we have avoided much of the controversy surrounding older organizations as they struggle to adapt to an increasing diversity of gender identity and sexual expression in leather, kink, fetish, and BDSM play. Pups are still predominately gay men, but we also listen to other voices.  We do so because, mark my bark, someone "unexpected" will soon be leading your local pack, planning your favorite festival, or joining our Titleholder Family, and we pups will be there to embrace them.  Pixie is helping to lead the way by helping us to understand total safety and awareness, even while totally "pupping out!"  You go, Mistress!

WOOF
~Axel 




Barking Out!  A Call for Puppy Awareness
-Mistress Pixie Fyre

Someone once told me "there is something magical about handling a human puppy." I'll admit that at the time, I did what most people do who have never seen Puppy Play: I laughed.  I chalked it up to a weird fetish until I encountered my first human pup. I was at a friend's party.  The “house puppy” nuzzled his way to my feet, rubbed his hood against my boots and offered me his ball as a present!  In that instant, I was hooked. I threw the ball for him to fetch, secretly passed him treats, and offered cuddling and praise. The scritches, the barking, the nuzzles, and of course, the tail were intoxicating. It was a playful scene, both fun and erotic, thanks to that howling little bundle on the floor.

As I sat and watched what turned out to be my first “puppy mosh,” I quickly realized that the number of handlers was minute in comparison to the number of pups.  While some pups were content to mosh and play in a “pack,” many were clearly seeking the attention of a dominant partner, but being a handler means so much more than simply dominating. It means more than just routine caring. It means protection. It means identifying dangers that someone in “pupspace” may not see. It means understanding your pup’s unique character, both physically and emotionally, and responding to your pup’s communication and needs. 
  

On Being a "Handler-Full," or: How Do I Train THAT? 

For a dominant, this begins with proper training.  Many puppies thrive on training. Often, puppies need some form of training to achieve pupspace initially. Once in pupspace, it becomes critical for handlers to both engage and protect their pups - from injuries, dehydration, and yes, predators. In most BDSM power relationships, a submissive has the ability to verbalize needs.  A pup in headspace may not, amplifying the role of the handler in typical puppy dom/sub relations.

Beginners, too often, are introduced to puppy play in haphazard ways: they search the internet for sporadic information, make online friends, and cruise personal ads on multiple websites. This process of “trial and error” can be dangerous. With no guidance or training, pups may find themselves in unsafe situations where they can be hurt. It’s easy to glance over the all-too-familiar terms describing the consequences: consent violation, domestic violence, abuse, assault, and rape.  But even in the most progressive kink and fetish communities, it happens every day. Men and women alike are beaten, molested, raped.  Victims’ lives are routinely destroyed by these violent actions.  Most in our community either know victims, have been victimized, or both.  These crimes may be committed by strangers or trusted “friends.” For puppies, some escape with a few bad memories, regarding it as a “learning experience.” For others, it leaves emotional scarring that won’t ever be forgotten.  This damage may require medical attention, years of therapy, and may lead to further harm to oneself or others.  For these individuals, pupspace and puppy play will forever be altered, as will life itself.

Power exchange relationships, as expressed in BDSM, are both physical and mental, and always include the expression “limits.”  Some relationships thrive on exploration and pushing limits, while others thrive on the security of safety and behavioral protocol or other agreed-upon expectations. Across the spectrum, a core foundation lies in the cultivation of mutual respect - respect for each other and respect for oneself. Each party has right to demand safe, clean and consensual play.  This translates into the ability to pause or end a scene or to speak up when a limit is crossed.  



When Pleasure Becomes Pain

Just as puppy play crosses lines of gender and sexuality, so does abuse and violence.  Men are raped, assaulted, and have their consent violated.  Men, often young men, find themselves radically changing their life and values for a dominant they barely know. Men serve Dominants in spite of devastating unhappiness because that is what is expected of a 'good sub.' Men are victims just like women. We see women in our communities forced into violent, abusive relationships. We cry out for justice and seek to protect them. It is in our nature to. Men are no different. And in the world of Puppy, men are even more susceptible to predators, substance abuse and situations where they become victims. 

I have seen countless heartbreaking cases working over the past decade working professionally as a Victim’s Advocate. Last year, I spent a great deal of time with one young man who opened up about his reasons for refusing to explore pupspace again. He confessed that after a year as a “stray,” he met a man at local bar who offered to adopt him. After a night of drinks, this young man went home with his new “Sir.”  before That night, he was forced into violent anal sex, bondage, and other abuse, leaving this young man’s body covered in bruises and cuts – all from “play.” The pup was then out to the street, broke and alone, forced to find a way home.  Months later, while still under treatment for the anal damage, he could not even think of walking near the bar he had once enjoyed.  Amid his story and his tears, I asked quietly to myself: “Why?”

Why, amid the increasing popularity of puppy play, is so much of the dialogue concerning safety focused primarily around moshing?  Moshes are, indeed, notoriously dangerous – sometimes more like a wrestling match than a dog park.  It has become standard practice to have an EMT on the sidelines, and wisely so.  “Puppy First Aid” classes are now being offered for the first time. Now, we as handlers must lead the charge towards a broader definition of safety – one that goes beyond mere hurt paws.  It is time we talk with and train pups to understand sexual safety, sexual predator awareness, and most importantly, consent. We have the opportunity to empower our beloved pups, in all their playfulness, to achieve an outward sense of awareness that will enable them to truly play freely.  Now, all of us, pups and handlers alike, must instill the values of physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy kink sex in our community.  Given the independent nature of most pups and the diversity inherent in puppy play, how might we come to agreement on a few safety protocols?  Finally, how do we help packbrothers and sisters who have been sexually assaulted? 



“Puppy Awareness

Puppy Awareness is fostered when we collaborate to create a culture of safety. Through communication, training, information, and empowerment, Puppy Awareness means affirming the right to safe play, becoming aware of risks, establishing consent as fundamental, and helping each other.  Puppy Awareness is puppy mindfulness.  Together, we can teach each other how to identify danger and to be aware of predators while taking new steps to protect our own. We can train each other to gain a clear sense of the world around us in the midst of, rather than in spite of, pupspace.  In this way, Puppy Awareness is key to truly “pupping out!”  We need look no further than the alertness, bravery, and devotion of our bio-dog companions to see this in practice.

How do we work together to create a culture of Puppy Awareness?

            Pups:
 
·      Start talking!  Talk, as a pack about safety: physical, emotional, and sexual.  Experienced pups and alphas: teach how to identify safe people and places in your local community.
·      Remember: there is always safety in numbers. Don’t travel alone. Travel as a pack, even if it’s a small one.  Public moshes are often great, safe spaces, where we come together in numbers.
·      Establish a “safe call” among your pack (a distinctive pup sound that means “I need help”).  Use something high pitched and unique.  Practice it together.  Learn to listen for it.  If someone is hurt and can’t make the call, do it for them.  Run, don’t walk, when you hear it.
·      Do not meet a new, unknown dominant alone.  You might ask for references before hand (this practice is known as “vetting” and is quite typical before bondage and other kink/BDSM scenes). 
·      Always let someone know where you’re going, who your with, and how to contact you.
·      Submissives: teach the core principle of submission to new pack members: submission is given, never taken.  Submissive pups should always clearly state limits and establish safe calls before play.
·      Remember that not all puppies are submissive!  Be true to yourself.  Don’t compromise!
·      Most importantly, remember that, as a pup, you can always, under any circumstances, say “No.”  If you feel that something is wrong, you have an obligation to.

            Handlers:
 
·      Start talking!  Handlers often complain of feeling isolated, lacking venues that address their needs.  Make change.  Talk, as handlers, with each other about safety, about looking after pups, about protecting them.  Talk to your pup and your pack about the rights and responsibilities of being a pup.  Puppy Awareness requires personal responsibility and common sense.
·      Research and learn before you train or collar a pup.  Adopting a pup is unlike any other BDSM relationship.  Learn the differences.  Make sure this is what you want – that you have the desire, patience, and temperament to train, care for, play with, and even love a pup.  As with bio-dogs, it’s a major commitment!
·      Take your time.  Each pup is unique and must be understood individually.  Many handlers do not engage in sexual activity during early training sessions.  Some handlers do not engage in sexual activity at all.  Your goals and desires should be stated clearly and negotiated up front, before play.
·      You must be able to control yourself before you can expect to control a pup. Setting a good example is often the most powerful way to lead.  Strive to be a positive influence in our community. 
o   Establish honesty and trust.  If you have skeletons in your closet, you are not alone.  Be up front about them.  Offer to provide references and encourage community vetting.  Ask your pup similar questions and listen attentively.  Openness allows for informed consent and creates an environment of sharing and exploration.  Do not lie.
o   During training and play: demonstrate respect and self-restraint by moving slowly and emphasizing positive reinforcement as one would when training a bio-dog.  Be mindful of your pup’s reactions and respond to them.  Remember that you have entered into a power relationship with your pup.  You are therefore more responsible for the safety and well being of all participants in the scene. The pup will likely be eager and excited, but you are the “adult in the room.”  As a general rule, exercise caution.  As you come to know your pup over time, play may become more adventurous, but this usually occurs in gradual steps, taken together.  Be patient!
·      Handlers have the extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in any pup’s life.  Whether in a brief greeting, months of training, or a loving partnership, a Handler should always strive to leave pups better off than they found them.

            Community Leaders:
·      Start talking!  You have the opportunity address these issues more broadly at events, in the media, and through policy.
·   Most puppy competitions have bylaws disqualifying convicted felons from competing.  Similarly, convicted sex offenders or other abusers should also not be permitted in puppy organizations.  To allow otherwise would be catastrophic to any public organization, likely causing a public relations scandal and exodus in membership.
·      If sex offenders are required by law to notify their local communities of their status, they should also be truthful with pup-and-handler organizations.  Our organizations and social clubs must be equally vigilant in doing background checks on leaders and competition entrants.  This information is available as a matter of public record.  Again, honesty and openness are key.  Those who lead by example set a powerful standard as to the type of community we want to be.
·      Develop new safety resources that teach pups how to research new handlers via background checks and community vetting and enter into relationships carefully and patiently.
·      Have an emergency policy: when a pup call in alarm, take the matter seriously, address it honestly and promptly, and to communicate information.  Thoughtful, clear policies can save lives.  Take note: these issues are also a matter of public record.  Withholding information may put individuals you are responsible for at risk.  Ignoring such information is not only unethical, it’s illegal.



Even With Squirrels Around, Just Remember This

Most importantly, as pack brothers and sisters, we can all commit to one, basic premise:

Human pups have a right to train, serve, play, mosh, and otherwise fully explore themselves and their relationships with others in a safe and accepting space. 

Despite recent growth, the puppy world is still an often-misunderstood sub-community.  With increased numbers and exposure, the need for Puppy Awareness is growing as well. Watch out for each other. Regardless of where we live, our sexual orientation, our gender identities, our breed, color, fur or ownership status, we are one pack.  We all need a nuzzle now and then.  Take care of yourselves, be good to each other, and stand up for each other.  Help make our community a better place and show the world what it means to be a pack!

*scritches and loves*
~Miss Pixie
                       





Pixie Fyre is a Professional Dominatrix in Portland, Oregon. She is the Mistress of the House of Fyre and host of a popular monthly fetish event in Portland featuring puppy play. She is an Ambassador for the PDX League of Gentlemen, an active member of MAST and STEEP.  She is the proud owner of both a human pup, and a bio Husky. She is Slavepup Axel’s Oregon handler and partner in fun.

Connect with Miss Pixie on Facebook (Pixie Fyre), Fetlife (MsPixieFyre), and by

Calling All Handlers!  Would you like to author a post in the “Handlers With Care” series?  Please email and 2-3 sentence proposal, short biography of your experience with puppy play, and describe how getting your message out fits in with the work that you do on behalf of pups.  I’m excited to work with and learn from you!  slavepupaxel.gmail.com