On Leash: Handler Social at Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend

Photography by Rene Zuiderveld

WASHINGTON — Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend: January 13-15, 2017

In the world of the Human Puppy there are puppy moshes, social events for pups and handlers, munches, and more. One of the areas that seems to be lacking is events for the Handlers.  What we are looking at in this article is the first of what is the hopes to be many events geared toward the Handler.  An event where Handlers can interact with each other and learn a little bit about each other.

In a mosh the Handlers role is different, you are there to watch over your pup and other pups, many times you are outnumbered in exponential numbers.  What the goal of events like this are hoping to do is allow a more social atmosphere for the Handlers, on a more even level.

Perhaps you’re a new Handler and want to learn a little information.

Perhaps you’re a Handler without a pup, and want to experience a pup on a leash for the first time.

Perhaps you’re an experienced Handler and want to share some knowledge with other Handlers out there.

On Leash: Handler Social at MAL by NEPAH

Liliane Hunt & Tyke Puppy
Photograph by John Goyer

Please join Northeast Handler 2017 Sir Damien and Northeast Puppy 2017 Pup Vidhra for a Handler focused social event in the Centaur Suite after the MAL Puppy Mosh.

This event is a Social for Handlers. We encourage Handlers to bring their pups, or pup friends if they wish to attend, and get to know each other. Handlers are few and far between in the pup world and we’d love to help them connect and share stories and experiences. This event does have a “leash law,” that is pups if attending must be on a leash with a Handler. We recognize not all pups have Handlers and not all Handlers have pups and will set up an “Adopt-a-Pup” area where Handlers can be paired with stag pups for a small “adoption fee” benefiting a local charity to be determined. We ask all in attendance be respectful of each other and the space we are in at the grace of the Centaurs. We also ask that all Dominants embrace their “Hooman” side as this is an event meant to encourage Handlers and help them meet each other.

One of the puppies who was behind creating this event, Pup Beaker states:

“So much inclusivity in our community has created many pockets of exclusivity. It’s time to bring opportunities for all types of puppies and Handlers into our community. Maybe some of the events won’t be for you, and that’s okay the next one will be”



Why are we doing this?
With many Puppy and Handler events focused on puppies we thought we would do an event focused on Handlers. We feel Handlers are integral to our community, and as we have events focused on predominantly pups we feel there should also be events encouraging handlers.

What about Alphas?
Alphas are an integral part of the pup community and we encourage them to embrace their switch nature. Alphas are welcome to assume either the pup on a leash role or try their paws at being a “Hooman” Handler.

What about strays?
Stray or uncollared pups are not discouraged. We will have an Adopt-a-Pup section for Handlers without a pup to adopt one for the social for a small fee to be donated to X charity if the pup agrees. A stray pup is also encouraged to bring a friend or a new Handler to the social to help them practice and socialize with other Handlers.

What about Handlers who wear pup hoods?
While we would never tell a pup or Handler how they should approach puppy play we ask Handlers to embrace their “Hooman” side for the social. If privacy is a concern party masks can be provided. If a Handler is uncomfortable with this compromise this may not be the event for them.

What if I don’t have a puppy?
That’s ok! You don’t have to have a puppy to be a handler. This is a social focused towards Handlers in a pup centric world. Come, meet other Handlers and talk with them about their experiences. There will also be an Adopt-a-Pup station where you can adopt a puppy for the social for a small donation to X charity.

What if I’m a strong independent puppy who don’t need no Handler?
Independence is an admirable quality in a pup. That being said this is a Handler focused event. We encourage these pups to try their paw and letting someone else hold the leash. They might be surprised how much they like it.

Why are you trying to divide the community?
While we understand this is a contentious topic we feel the Handler side of Pup and Handler is underrepresented at events. We want to give Handlers a more controlled environment to get to know each other and learn more about how others approach puppy play.

Liliane Hunt & Tyke Puppy
Photograph by Travis Jensen

Why are you trying to exclude puppies?
We’re not trying to exclude puppies at all. This is a follow up event to the Puppy Park for Handlers to socialize. Puppies are of course welcome to join a Handler for the social. If a puppy is not a handler we have the Adopt-a-Pup area to help pups meet Handlers and to socialize with them. This event is focused on helping Handlers and puppies connect and network in a more subdued environment than a mosh where Handlers are more preoccupied watching out for puppies.