Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Woof! Arf! Bark!


Brue Pierce and Wolf Freed at Woof Camp,
International Mr. Leather 2011. photo: FireHawk Photo, Inc.    
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The world of pup play is a growing segment of the leather and kink sexual subculture. Pup (or puppy) play is a predominantly gay male phenomenon, but in recent years a small number of people with other genders and orientations have begun to join the ranks. In addition to the joy people derive from such play, some also view it as a "gateway kink" that can gently introduce people to other forms of kinky erotic expression in a playful and nonthreatening manner. Of course, many enjoy pup play as their sole or primary erotic outlet.

Brue Pierce, an avid pup enthusiast, describes it this way. "Puppy play encompasses a variety of activities, but at its very basic level puppy play is when one person takes on the persona of a pup or dog and another takes that of the Handler. The pup acts like their canine counterpart and the Handler, for the most part, handles the pup like he would a real dog. It's not necessarily sexual play, though it can be. For some it is a way to de-stress from the real world and center themselves psychologically.

"For others, it's merely a new sensation or scene to experience, to be part of the 'it' crowd they perceive to be happening. Once experienced, they move on to the next 'up and coming' scene. For some, it's a way to try to get psychological needs met (to feel safe, loved, accepted, and so on). Some view it as another way to experience Dom/sub dynamics. Others may experience a spiritual awakening, enlightenment or discover an animal spirit guide or totem when they go into pup mode. But for many, being a pup or dog is who they are. It is their core being or soul. There is no right or wrong way to do puppy play."

I asked Pug, a leatherwoman who identifies as a pup, how she saw pup play fitting into the overall leather and kink scene.

"The leather and kink realms allow and encourage the mind and heart to open up and 'play'; to imagine and explore various fantasies and scenarios," she said. "As adults, we tend to forget play and imagination. Kink often becomes a means of enabling us, as adults, to be open to exploring the creativity and imagination of the human mind, spirit and body. So, for those people exploring the various realms within kink, they may find an open and encouraging situation that enables them to tap into that inner pup that they would not have otherwise discovered or dared to explore."

While the term pup is used to encompass a variety of human canine enthusiast pursuits, I asked Wolf Freed, who is wolf identified, what some of the other terms used are and how they all differ?

"The commonly used term of 'pup' or 'puppy' is a general, all encompassing term," he explained. "There are two common conceptual modifications: prepending it, or defining it more specifically. Prepending usually adds a descriptive adjective such as rubber pup, leather pup, bondage pup, boot pup, slave pup, and so on to further clarify the canine's specific interest or kink. The other is a clarification of canine identity: pup vs. dog vs. wolf are three common ones. Pups in their headspace tend to have a more carefree, innocent and playful approach. Dogs are more mature and dog-like and often may be service dogs or playful dogs, but with less of the impishness that is associated with pups. Wolves often have an aggressive and wild streak in their canine personality, but they can also be fiercely loyal with a strong sense of pack hierarchy."

Counterparts to pups are Handlers. Handlers watch over and train pups during their playtime. Being a Handler has its own erotically fulfilling rewards, and Handlers also promote safe play environments and make sure pups get the attention they deserve or seek. So Handlers play an important role in the pup network and they get their own special energy from the role they play.

Pug, a leatherwoman who identifies as a pup.

Richard Sprott, a well-known Handler, offers this. "When I'm in Handler space, my dominant side comes out differently than when I'm with a boy, slave or sub. It is similar to being a daddy. There is certainly a lot more time and attention paid to the pup since you are in charge of making sure they are safe and that they are not getting into mischief. I often have to do the same with boys, but not as intently or with the same focus."

If a Bay Area person is interested in perhaps exploring puppy play, the San Francisco K9 Unit ( is a local pup group that hosts social events and activities where those interested in this form of play can meet others and explore. I know many folks within the pup community and have always found them to be incredibly welcoming and friendly to everyone.

Also, a big pup event called Woof Camp Weekend is coming soon to the Bay Area, April 18-20, 2014. The event is designed for anyone on the pup experience spectrum, from curious newcomer to longtime player, to meet and share time getting in to pup headspace and being able to be on all fours in a non-threatening, non-judgmental, non-sexual environment. There will also be several social meal functions planned where the group can break bread, make new friends, share histories and network within the pup community. Through this event the SF K9 Unit wants to foster camaraderie on a local, regional, national and international level. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit

To close out this issue's column, I would like to congratulate the leather and erotic businesses that won Besties this year: Folsom Street Fair for best fair; Mr. S Leather for best adult store; Good Vibrations for best place to buy sex toys, and Steamworks for best reason to cross the Bay Bridge. We're lucky to have these businesses in our area, and they contribute to fostering a fun and robust local sexual culture. Let me offer my resounding woof, arf and bark of congratulations.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist.

Wolf Freed and Brue Pierce riding in gear in the Homoto Motorcycle Club Contingent of the 2013 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.

Leather Events, Apr. 4 – April 19, 2014

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.


Fri 4

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.


Sat 5

Fist City @ Mr. S Leather

Men's fisting party. 385A 8th St., $20, 8pm.

Sun 6

Meet-n-Greet Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Meet the 21 men competing for a spot on the 2015 Bare Chest Calendar. 398 12th St., 3pm.

Wed 9

Golden Shower Buddies @ Blow Buddies

A men's water sports night, Golden Shower Buddies, $15 with membership, 933 Harrison St., 8pm.

Thu 10

Interior. Leather Bar. @ Rialto Cinemas

Showing of movie to benefit Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network. Rialto Cinemas, Sebastopol, 7:15pm.

Fri 11

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.

Sun 13

Satyrs M/C @ SF Eagle

The Satyrs M/C are riding to San Francisco for their annual beer bust at the SF Eagle. 398 12th St., 3pm.

Wed 16

Red Hanky Nite @ Powerhouse

Bar night for men into fisting. 1347 Folsom St., 9:30pm.

Fri 18

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.

Fri 18 – Sun 20

Woof Camp Weekend

Event for pups and Handlers, $29-$49. Advance registration required.

Sat 19

Kink 101: An Interactive Workshop @ The

Kink education class. 1800 Mission St., Noon, $20.

Golden Dildeaux Awards @ SF Eagle

Humorous awards intended to poke fun at various sexual activities while at the same time provide a unique charity fundraising opportunity. 398 12th St., 7pm.

GearUp Men's Play Party @ Mr. S Dungeon

Friendly erotic space where kinky men can socialize with, learn from and play with other men. 385A 8th St., $20, 9pm.

BLUF Invasion @ SF Eagle

Bar night for all gear men. 398 12th St., 9pm.

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